Monthly Archives: February 2014



Image  A Little Bull

My brother Al was fresh out of high school when he began managing a sixty-acre farm.  I was eight years old.  Among Al’s animal menagerie was a brown and white bull calf named Bell Ringer.  He’d lay like a big lazy dog in the field, gently chewing the cud; his soft young fur making a perfect pillow for my head.  It was spring- a meadow-lark spring, and the pasture smelled like fresh-cut cilantro.  I’d traipse down there after school to hang out with Bell Ringer, who greeted me by licking with great interest, the salt from my sweaty-little-kid arms and hands.  My brother warned me to stay away;  “Bell Ringer’s a bull, not a puppy,” he’d say, but I paid no attention to his caution, heedless of the growing girth and strength in the little bull I loved. I did notice Bell Ringer scramble to his feet now, when he saw me coming.  How polite, I thought, ignoring his edgy restlessness.  One day I approached with a fistful of alfalfa held out in greeting, and Bell Ringer suddenly pawed the ground, dropped his chin to his chest, and charged me! He was absolutely out-of-control, chasing me across the pasture, over the road and up the stone steps, right up to the front porch screen door. Only when I slammed two doors on his nose was I finally safe. I was shocked- my pet had become a total bully! My days of lazing in the pasture ended abruptly.

There’s another bull to guard against: pet sins- those things that seem small and manageable, and so we are blind to its growing strength until quite suddenly, it overtakes us. Like Samson, ignorant of his weakening status, he falsely assumed, “‘I’ll go out as before’…but he did not know that the Lord had left him.” Judges 16:20. Genesis 4:7 warns us, “…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

There’s only one way to deal with an out-of-control bully: RUN- and slam the door in its face. Better yet, heed your brother’s warning and stay the heck away from that seemingly greener pasture. 

image-1I can’t fix it. These are my least favorite words, especially when it comes to relationships, which as you’ve probably noticed, can be really tricksty. “I’ve done everything I know to do,” or so I say, but God probably has other ideas. But even if I make it my goal to live at peace, and love deeply, I can still find myself in conflict. I can train my children, but I can not produce salvation inthem. I honor my parents, but I can not change their opinion of me. I submit to those in authority, and someone else gets promoted. We live in a fallen world, starting with our own wicked little hearts. We can apply all the Biblical principles to the best of our ability, but we can not control the heart of another, which means we can’t fix everything. So when all is said and done, what are we to do? Put on the armor and stand firm-not in our self-righteous huffiness, but in the love and humility of Christ, who though a martyr, never acted like one. He was wronged, misunderstood and killed. He suffered and so will we, but it doesn’t mean something’s not working (“I prayed, but nothing happened…”) Suffering, even in relationships, is beneficial, if we allow it. We can learn something, just as He did. “He learned obedience through the things He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8) Jesus had to LEARN something??? Is it possible that I need to learn something? Ummmmm….yeah, start with that martyr thing.

Can’t Fix It