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Getting Buddy’s Trust

My experience with my son’s American bulldog has been an on-again, off-again kind of relationship.

Although I’ve occasionally helped to take care of Buddy while my son and his wife were out of town, and even though I’ve never raised my hand or voice at the big boy, every once in a while he acts like I’m a total stranger. Watches me as if I’m not to be trusted.

Maybe if I didn’t know that dogs have a reputation for being a good judge of character, I wouldn’t take his suspicions so personally :-)…

The other day it happened again. Tried to coax him to me, but he would have nothing of it, until I got down on the floor, lower than him.

It worked. Immediately he came over to me and let me scratch his neck—to the point of not wanting me to quit.

Yeh, I know that is exactly what you’re not supposed to do with a pet. Have heard enough about dog training to know that you have to let them know who’s in charge. But I’m not the owner and don’t think it’s my place to try and act like the “alpha male” at my son’s place.

So instead, I’ve decided to let Buddy remind me something about people.

Seems to me that “Buddy” illustrates insecurities and fears that dog us as people. Haven’t we all seen how easy it is to scare one another especially when it comes to comparing notes on things we feel deeply and strongly about–like “religion” and politics.

Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul goes to such lengths to encourage followers of Christ not to be overbearing, or to come on too strong—especially when talking to those who don’t believe as we do.

For instance, in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, he writes, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth (2Tim 2:24-25).

What Paul here asks of us—is what we see first in the One who—more than anyone else who has ever lived—got low enough to let us know that the Eternal God can be trusted with our lives (Philip 2:1-11).

Yeh, guess Buddy has gotten me to think about one of the most important principles of Christ, and relationships.

Or at least that’s the way I’m seeing it. Would be interested in your thoughts or questions about earning the trust of those who have their suspicions and fears about the spiritual company we keep.

PS Son thought it might be good to show a brighter side of Buddy. So here’s a happier bulldog :-)

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41 Responses to “Getting Buddy’s Trust”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Some of the pictures you’ve provided of “Buddy” looks as if he should not be trusted….

    How to share spiritual knowledge without sounding “superior”? How to gain the confidence of people who do not agree politicly or spiritualy?

    Two tough questions.

    Here in this, vehicle, we are handicaped by not being able to hear the tone of anothers voice, see the expression on ones face or be able to touch with a reasuring gesture. So often our comments are misunderstood.

    Trying to find common ground or build a base for understanding, seems to me to be critical in approaching any person with whom we have not yet become familiar with.

    A beginning point for learning to trust.

    But trust, too often has to come with experiance.

    I also think that listening to another, without being critical of their beliefs, is critical to not only sounding superior, but also critical in the other person listening to you as well. In this area I failed, with my first conversations with Sakoieta. Though my position never changed. I had thrown up an offence against what I would call his wall, right away. The results were mistrust and the shrinking back into the defensive mode.

    Of course since none of us know it all, we all must be willing to learn from any sourse.

    Though I love dogs, I do have an opinion about some breeds of dogs I feel are too dangerous. There was a story here localy a month or so back where a young mother brought home her 2 day old baby from the hospitial. Her rotwiler (sp) killed the baby in only moments of first seeing the child. The mother had trusted the dog.

  2. refump says:

    We obviously have an eclectic group that contributes to this blog & it never more evident when a topic comes up that is somewhat polarizing. I think it is great to hear different sides to each issue or hear it from different angles. What “scares” me is when the “in our facers” blog so aggressively to defend or purport what they believe to be the “right answer”. At times, doing so in an attacking manner. I know passion for what we believe & think is good & this will sometimes lead to overbearing responses but this a great reminder for us as “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility.” I’ve been impressed at times with the how gentle & patient some of the blogs are but have also been “scared” at times with how Pharisitic sounding the responses have been. We have a couple of people in our office that openly declare their Christianity but are also 2 of the more caustic & in your face type people I have ever known. Sometimes I wish they would quit telling people they are Christians because there actions have left deep wounds on those who don’t Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior that they have “spoken their mind” to. When our 16 month granddaughter comes to visit she loves to go after the cat & the dog. In her exuberance to get a hold of them she sometimes hurts them. We have to constantly reminder her, be nice, nice, nice.

  3. foreverblessed says:

    This is a very good question, how to bring the gospel without feeling superior.
    I just had a falily weekend, and found out after many years that no matter in what way you present it, they do not want to hear the name Jesus.
    They go to all sorts of other sources, yoga, accu punctuur, zen, you name what, but no Jesus.
    The thing is, I pray a lot about it, and ask God to lead them all. And for me to be a good example of a loving person. Which is not always easy. Calmness, patience and all these other attributes we need to develop.
    The first thing I need to remember is that God rescued me out of the pit, no credit goes to me. So that should at least keep me humble.
    It is better to have a deep sincere humility about your own salvation, which is the beginning of a humble approach. If we think we have a big part in our own righteousness, then here starts the problem already, without any word coming out of my mind yet.

  4. ttl7praz says:

    Good morning everyone! I just want to say that if we as Christains remember not “who” we are but “whose” we are it is a great remedy for keeping pride and self-righteousness in check. It is a practice that I try to practice daily and a concept that I have try to instill in my children. If you notice that even in this blog I use the word “try” in that I am aware that at any moment humility can be ever so subtly replaced with pride given our enemy is forever on the prowl seeking whom he can devour. Stay strong my brothers and sisters in Christ and remember it is not about “who” we are; its all about “whose” we are!

  5. xrgarza says:

    Mart, it is easier said than done. I have been an empty nester for a little over ten years, after I left Intel I went into full time ministry, then my whole world came crashing down, and so as a result I am now a truck driver.

    Years ago having a conversation with the Lord I hear His response speak to my spirit “Rocky you are going to be a father to the fatherless” Mart that scared me, because the Bible tells me that He is the Father to the fatherless. I responded back with this knowledge again I get this response to my spirit “Exactly, and you are my son and you are following in my footsteps”

    Knowing that God’s word is never returned void, I knew His promise for my life was still alive and well I just couldn’t see it.

    I didn’t want to be rhetorical or hypocritical about my faith. Recently the Lord has been bringing men into my life that never had a positive role model in their lives. Some of these men are scarier than Buddy.

    I never really knew what it meant to humble myself until I let Bill move in with me, a 42 y/o man that has been in and out of jail/prison since he was eight y/o.

    No one has ever loved him or cared enough for him, but everyone was afraid of him. I myself prayed I don’t want this man in my house, I’m gone all week I can’t have a man staying at my house while I’m gone all week, but your will and not mine.

    As I got down as you described with Buddy, I now see a different person he is virtually like putty in my hands, like an obedient child and to see what God is doing in His life is even more humbling because I didn’t want anything to do with him now I am honored that God thought enough of me to allow me to be part of his life.

    The most profound thing that I have learned in my life spiritually and otherwise is this: That I don’t have a clue.

    God bless you and be with you this week,


  6. emyrick says:

    I attend a non-denominational church in which we concentrate on a relationship with Christ, not just religion. I have a dear friend who for the entirety of their life has been Episcopalian. I wish to share my thoughts, experiences and my church with this person however I am deeply concerned with this topic of trust as well as not appearing to be superior.

    In dealing with acquaintances of mine who are non-believers, I try to handle that very subtle and careful; I remember before I was saved that I felt all Christians were trying to “brain wash” me. I felt that they were beating me with the Bible rather than sharing it with me. I deeply believe that we must be connected with an outstanding church that we can simply invite our acquaintances to repeatedly. Once they decide to attend with us (so we will leave them alone) all we can do at that point is pray that God will “hit” them during the sermon. Once their heart is softened, then we can be there and share the word of God in an unoffensive manner. It is Gods will and it shall be done.

    Of course every person is different according to their background, therefore different tactics should be used. This particular one I described today is simply the issue that I am thinking about this week. I pray that my friend gets hit.

  7. poohpity says:

    When I was young I used to trust everybody until they gave me reason not to. As I have matured, gosh that sounds old, people have to earn my trust and respect. What I once gave openly was an open trail to get hurt. We are to guard our hearts. God even told us to test the things that are from Him to see if they are true.

  8. Loretta Beavis says:

    I explain that God gave us and respects our free will. I will offer to describe the grace of God in my life.
    I listen for opportunity to clarify the difference between religion (legalism) and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who IS God.
    I don’t hold my life up as an example of Christian life, it’s more like what the consequences of self-will looks and lives like.

    If I get slapped in the face with “why” questions I frequently recommend the person ask God for the answers themselves. What I believe keeps people away from Christianity is fear. Fear is spiritual warfare.

    I have read some posts here, where people who don’t have security read about those who do, and respond by putting us “on trial” for the past rather than opening themselves up for the possibility of a better life than a past that keeps repeating itself.

    I have learned a lot these past weeks from ‘Help for My Life.’ I told my son about it because he won’t take his ‘family’ to worship services or get connected with the Church again. They will be able to get questions answered about their relationship(s) where other resources haven’t worked.

    My spouse resumed drinking and the abuse cycle again…I was comforted by the video about hopelessness and other videos & printed material.

    My question is about forgiveness … do we forgive when there is no repentance? I don’t hear “I’m sorry, or forgive me” from my controlling spouse. (I have read of criminals apologizing to their victims/families). But the Christian spouse who continues to abuse me? Don’t tell me the 70 times 7 Peter got from Jesus-

    I love my Jesus, who has set me free …

  9. rokdude5 says:

    Your story Mart about “Buddy” certainly raised a couple of points. To me, dogs respond only to a few words so like Buddy when talking to unbelievers, we need to be selective in what we say. We shouldnt be critical because we are no better. John 8:7 We can say how we were so lost until we found Jesus and how Jesus impacted our lives.

    Secondly, our actions speak louder than our words. In your case, when you lowered yourself to the floor, Buddy’s trust in you increased. So how we “walk the walk” is so critical in getting people to trust us. We cant be hypocritical in our daily affairs. “Do as I say instead of what I do” isnt effective. “RJ”

  10. wretch-like-me says:

    I like this topic. I guess its because I recently had this verse hit me squarely between the eyes at a study called the ‘The Truth Project’.

    I have long been a fan of Francis of Assisi who once said,”Preach the Gospel everywhere you go… and, if necessary, use words.” BLAM!! Right on the sweetspot.

    People who knew Francis have written that he was the kindest, gentlest man they ever knew. Quite a contrast between Franciscan Monks and Jesuits (known as Warrior Priests). I find it interesting as well that the Jesuits were primarily responsible for ‘evangelizing’ the New World. No wonder Sakoieta has hard feelings for missionaries.

    Incredible how our ‘filters’ can change the heart of the message of Christ from Love to Persecution and be blinded to the treatment we first received from Christ.

    He wept for us as He looked across Jerusalem, He healed us, taught us, chided some of us, encouraged all of us, suffered, died and rose again that those of us who accept Him as Savior may share in His Kingdom.

    “We love because HE (Christ) first loved us.” 1John4:19

    PS On a political note: Ben Franklin is quoted as saying, “The US Constitution guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness… but, we must still catch it.”

  11. daisymarygoldr says:

    To earn the trust… is a timely topic and Buddy is one handsome, healthy and superior:) dog! Speaking about the “servant of the Lord”, I never cease to thank God for those members of the Body that are called and equipped with the gift of teaching.

    Mart, you are yourself are a very good example of being gentle and able to teach with patience and humility. And it is also a privilege for me to have learned during my growing years and still learn from gifted teachers that faithfully feed the flock with healthy food both at church and in Bible study. You are all always in my prayers!

    Speaking of “insecurities and fears that dog us” and personally having faced sickness and suffering due to death of loved ones, poverty and jobless situations… even I cannot understand why someone would not trust God or one another within the spiritual company i.e. the family of God. Buddy reminds me of a dog story which helps me understand trust/ faith…“one of the most important principles of Christ and relationships.” I’m sure you must have heard this before but this is how it goes:

    Long time ago, in a faraway land, there lived a God-fearing man and his barren wife. To compensate for their want, they fondly raised a puppy as one would tenderly nourish their own child. One day, however the woman conceived and gave birth to a fine baby boy. When the day of her purification came, the mother went to the bath and left the baby in the cradle under the father’s care. It so happened that some pressing matter diverted the father away from watching over the baby. During this time an old serpent from the garden outside, crept into the house and under the cradle. The faithful dog that stood guard by the baby’s side fiercely attacked and sliced the snake into several pieces. Pleased at having saved the master’s son—his human brother, the dog ran out joyfully to greet the master’s wife at the gate who was now returning from the bath. One look at her dog’s blood-smeared mouth said it all: “The dog has killed my child.” One strike was all it took to kill—destroy the dog that had delivered her child. When the woman ran in to find her baby alive and the serpent dead on the floor she saw the real clear picture which said it all once again: never doubt a faithful friend…

    Is there ever a friend as faithful as Jesus? …that knows our weak framework, our frail nature and our faults n’ failures? A faithful friend sticks closer than a brother and lays down his life for his brothers (1 John 3:16).

    Although followers of Christ are accused of “legalism” and will surely get killed for being counted as “superior”, “Pharisee”, and “eclectic”, the faithful few that diligently guard His house to repair the breaches in the walls and fill in the gaps with their very own lives have certainly earned my trust. That is the price that needs to be paid and the pain that has to be endured for every disciple who has dared to deny all and follow Christ!

    I don’t know about you, but as for me I am grateful for faithful friends who did not deny Christ but have persevered to keep His Word to remain faithful till the end just like Dr. Luke. And not like Demas who forsook Paul when pressing matters of the world diverted his devotion to love the world more than he loved God.

    Faithful brothers and sisters do not scare me but it is a blessing to have friends who love God’s Law and His righteousness. “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers” Ps 141:5

  12. bubbles says:

    Had a boss several years ago who previously worked at a large homeless shelter. Many times the homeless men were just freed from jail. Some of them were experiencing hard times, loss of job, home, family, etc.
    The boss spoke about how hardened these men were. They had ‘the look’ in their eyes and a chip on their shoulder. My boss was the one who dealt with the newcomers to the shelter.

    He always called the man “Mr.” _______, rather than just their first name. He bent over backwards to show them kindness and respect. He said he just listened to them, and valued what they said.

    When these men saw that they were being respected, they responded in a cooperative way towards the shelter and the workers there. My boss said several of these homeless men said that NO one had ever called them “Mr.” before. It meant so much to them. He made them feel valued.

    This boss was such a shining example of the Lord Jesus.
    He carried this over to our little Christian School. He expected the faculty, staff, and students to treat everyone who walked through the doors with respect–regardless of who it was.

    Any one of us could be in a terrible situation quickly.
    It’s by the grace of God we’re not in a bad situation right now. The one person who says, “it could never happen to m,” is the one it happens to. I guess remembering that the person we’re trying to witness to is just like us–they have a mother who loves them, and our Heavenly Father loves them more. II Samuel reminds us that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Jesus touched the lepers, he ate with hated tax collectors, and helped the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. (when she was caught in the very act, where was the man??) always wondered that.
    We need to look to Jesus, our perfect example to see how to treat others.

  13. foreverblessed says:

    This is for WLM, about us fearing not getting there in the end:
    Read the evening meditation of Spurgeon for this night, and read it often.
    who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5

  14. kaliko88 says:

    Mart, I don’t know how to even answer it. I used to think I knew, but it failed so miserably with my husband. I tried to be kind, attentive, and did not push my faith or beliefs on him. But he still felt pressured just having a “Christian” wife. I am still trying to be a faithful, quiet presence to those around me. It’s not easy when I’m so tainted right now with hurt and a touch of cynicism. I do know that even though I’m still learning to show a good picture of Christ and earn other’s trust, I can at least support those who are already good at it.

    Loretta, I’m not sure how to answer your question. How to forgive when trust is lost? My few instances of abuse occurred so long ago and I was so little, I don’t even remember who did it. But one day, I simply got tired of carrying the hate. I’ve never been able to confront my abusers, where as you are still living with yours. But I think it still matters what happens in our heart, because God can see that. I pray you have someone there who can help.

  15. Loretta Beavis says:

    Thank you kaliko88.
    Tonight we had another secular, group counseling session on communications for couples. It was very interesting in that one man asked questions about how the aggressive spouse could be shown or helped to look at him/herself.
    The answer was in the aggressor being counseled alone and the counselor being able to gain the aggressor’s trust. I pictured a counselor getting down low on the floor not physically but in some realm that an aggressive spouse could trust or accept him enough to start the process of self-awareness. God gives gifts to everyone, saved or not, and he uses people (saved or not) to help people. My hope is for my spouse to trust the counselor at least for a time … .
    Along with other handouts, we got one about … personal wisdom :)

    There’s an old saying about leading a horse to water but can’t make it drink … my response is that it will after I run it for four miles. My Lord just let me run ’til I got thirsty for His living water.

    I don’t hate my spouse anymore or others (God does promise vengeance), I just don’t understand forgiveness when it wasn’t asked for. It’s like when I get lower on the floor (submit or give in) to a demand or standoff, I receive more aggression.
    This is something that creates suspicion and fear in others about the spiritual company I keep.
    I am glad that God’s ways are not my ways; I still believe He separately has restoration for me and peace for my spouse-in His perfect timing.

    I love my Jesus.

  16. Chuck Franke says:

    You said “Would be interested in your thoughts or questions about earning the trust of those who have their suspicions and fears about the spiritual company we keep.” Here’s my thoughts and a question.

    Two times now I have tried to have a Christian exchange with good friends through email or on facebook and they ended up running away screaming, “he’s a religious nut” (but what they meant was “fruitcake”). I told them I was proud to be a nut for Jesus and left it at that…they are still friends but there’s been a rift that we avoid getting near.
    The subject centered around homosexuality. I tried to establish the tone of the discussion ahead of time (find common ground) and indicated it would take patience and persistence on both our parts to discuss the subject. Both indicated a willingness to proceed and an openness to look at the subject (they, openly leaning toward liberal; me, openly leaning toward foundational). After about 20 or 30 exchanges, they couldn’t back off seeing the good in a loving, committed relationship whether two people are of the same sex or not, and I could not back off seeing homosexuality as a sin (in the same category as adultery, lieing, murder, stealing). I was trying to get agreement that we all sin and need God’s forgiveness but couldn’t get that far.
    Obviously, I’m doing something wrong. For some reason I seem to be obsessed with this subject and am looking for the right words to say that will be loving and accepting but at the same time adament and unbending.

  17. SFDBWV says:

    Loretta Beavis, You have answered your own question. Jesus has set you free.

    I know of several people who live and have lived their lives in an unballanced marriage. For some it is a life of misery and tolerance. For others they love the offender and that love transends the differences. Still others find a numbness and go on with the union as if everything is just fine.

    Abuse is a different matter. No person should stay under the heel of an abusive person. No matter the gender. The sooner the confrontation and seperation the better for everyone involved. If the offender cares and seeks healing then the union can continue. If the offender likes being the abuser and offencive, then the matter is clear. Leave the marriage and seek to repair your own life, as directed from God.

    Then, when clear of continued abuse, you can learn to forgive. God will heal you. Christ has already “Set you free”.

    Just my thoughts for you


  18. SFDBWV says:

    Chuck Franke, Curious, are these friends you speak of, people whom you have met face to face and are friends with? Or are they friends you have met through the internet?

    Are they themselves living in a homosexual relationship or is it simply their liberal opinion that homosexuality is acceptable behavior?

    I ask this because if you are going to be able to be “trusted” by them, they need to know you very well. They need to see that you live what you talk. As the world is filled with judgemental people.

    I can remember a time, when men or women lived together, for their common survival. Both for financial reasons and companionship. This had nothing to do with their sexual behavior or the lack of it. Because they lived together didn’t mean they were living in a sexual relationship.

    But this is a different world now, darker and closer to the end. Being a light to the world as we Christians are to be, is seen more and more in sharp contrast to the world around us. The result is more confrontational than enlightening.

    Prayer and patience are your best approach to your friends with whom you find disagreement.


  19. refump says:

    I think one of the causes of suspicion among those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ is we “categorize” sins. We have this mentality that all sins are not created equal. We choose to go to battle over sins we may not involved in or be guilty of (i.e. homosexuality) which gives us a false sense of spiritual superiority (PRIDE). It takes the focus off the sin in our own life & makes us feel better because “at least we are not as bad as they are”. We come out feeling we have won the battle but in reality we have lost the war. We are not going to convince an unsaved person that homosexuality is wrong/sin no matter how convincing our argument might be. We need to ask God to give us a “Winsome” spirit that draws the unsaved to the only living God. He, then, will change their hearts & open their eyes to see & admit the sin in their lives. Observe what it is in others that you are drawn to the most & try to identify what it is that draws you to them. I am willing to bet that it isn’t because they are adept at pointing out your sins or are unwilling to share their own shortcomings with you or come across as spiritually superior when you are in their company.

  20. SFDBWV says:

    Over on Wonders of Creation is a very excelent conversation, between Dean and Sakoieta concerning many of the things we have been discussing.

    I would recomend that everyone go to WOC and follow Deans directions to the Sept 14 and 15 conversations.


  21. InHisHands says:

    As I read your thoughts here,Mart, I was drawn to Proverbs 3:5-..”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding…” I believe when we get “in your face” with what we believe may come from a lack of “trusting” that God will use us for what He has called us to do – share Him with others. Jesus was never an “in you face” witness. He gave the Word and let the Father do the rest. If we want to be ‘great’ witnesses for God we must believe that He use His Word to do the work He wants to be completed and just be ready, “in season and out of season” to share it.
    I find that I get asked often about what I believe because those asking have seen in me a character that is not in line with what the ‘world’ considers normal and what a lovely opportunity to share my Jesus with them.
    As far as your comments of regaining “Buddy’s” trust, seems as though we are always ‘testing’ to see if we can trust God – and He has never done anything to prove that we couldn’t – but we still test.

  22. poohpity says:

    Amen, InHisHands. It is God and God alone that convicts us of our sin and restores us. Sin is a sin is a sin and every human being sins. Even and especially the Saints however we know ours are covered by the blood of Christ and that is what our job is to tell others that their sins can be covered too!!! All the Saints need to be on the floor face down asking the Lord to forgive us then we may not be so quick to look at the sins of others.

    Forgiveness is for your own benefit. It does not mean that whatever was done to you was OK, it was wrong. It does not mean you will ever forget. It is giving up the right to punish and trusting God with that person. Christ forgave us while we were yet sinners. He forgave the whole world of sin. It would be good to ask Jesus to help you forgive because He is so very good at it.

    When people are in a relationship that is destructive it is hard to let go of because that is what we are used to. Even though it is bad it is what we know and it is scary to venture out to the unknown. What advice would you give to your daughter if she was in an abusive relationship. You are God’s daughter and sister of Jesus and I do not believe that he would have any of us living in a toxic relationship. I do not believe divorce is always an option but separation for a time is scriptural. He has to gain your trust again because he has abused that trust currently. This may be a time of learning to love yourself as Christ has loved you and wants the best for you.

  23. phpatato says:

    Thank you Steve for the WOC referral.

    Janice, I enjoyed your post. As a lover of animals, and having grown up with a dog sleeping at the foot of my bed for as long as I can remember, I agree with your outlook.

    I am reminded by what someone once said. “A Christian is nothing more than a forgiven sinner”. When it comes to building trust, I try to “wear” this in my approach.

  24. jody says:

    I am very interested in this subject for a couple of reasons. Firstly, in my work spirituality is usually the biggest struggle for poeple to deal with. They lack some of the basic understanding (the love of God) because they grew up with people who punished them physically, emotionally and sexually in the name of God and Jesus Christ. What amazes me…is they have never judged me for being christian and wearing a cross around my neck. They accept the help I can give them and sometimes find a loving God along the way, not because of what is said, in my office or some 12 step meetings but because of what is done to help them feel valued and worthy.

    My next comment stems from a wonderful summer where I worked with a lady who was Ba’hai. Her and I dialogued not discussed)about our different cultures and beliefs. She made one observation that I think is very pertinent as we comment on this blog about giving The Message and building trust with none believers. I must admit her comment changed me… She remarked that there are many christians, but for some reason it seems we can’t get along.” In my own experience I have seen this as well. We are all christians, yet we have different denonimations and can be quick to point out why the anglicans, catholics, pentacostals, baptists, etc. etc. etc. etc. are wrong in what they do and how they worship God. I myself, have been told I am not christian because I am catholic. So on the basis of trusting the believer….I wonder what it looks like to the person on the outside looking in….when us christians spend time fighting one another about denominations, rules and interpretations. Now when someone askes me this same questions I tell them: God doesn’t have the same journey for all of us, some of us will connect with the catholic church some of us will connect with the Luthern and some the pentacostal church. What is most important is Christ in your heart, not the person preaching the surman. Once your there, let God do the work and take your own inventory, not someone elses.

    Just a thought.

  25. dependent says:

    Mart, when you described lowering your posture to gain Buddy’s trust, I thought of Jesus extending himself to the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus, and Levi the Publican. It drove the religious high-and-mighty folk into a frenzy–that this Rabbi would actually interact, much less enjoy a meal, with these ‘unclean’ folk.

    And when he did dine with the Pharisees at a lavish dinner he used it as an occasion to teach this same priniciple as he watched the guests maneuvering to be seated at the places of honor. He advised humbly entering and choosing a lower position thereby avoiding the disgrace of being ‘demoted’ and the chance to elevated in status. “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Jesus modeled a humble approach when encountering those who were considered outsiders or insiders. Interestingly, this is one of the issues with which the Apostles and early church struggled (and argued over). With whom do you dare fellowship? And to what extent do you embrace their terms? (i.e. what they eat, customary rituals)

    And to this day I believe we Christians still struggle with being approachable, or better, extending ourselves to the world. Paul said it this way in 1 Cor. chap 5:

    I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
    But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

    And so often it is the language we choose that tells the potential “Buddys” of the world that we are reluctant to ‘stoop down’ for meaningful dialogue about life.

    One of Mart’s endearing terms that serves to open dialogue is “seems to me”. It was that term and the attitude behind it that attracted me to this blog. That posture which says, “here’s the way I see it, but I acknowledge there are other ways to interpret this concept”.

    I’ve learned with believers and non-believers alike that meaningful dialogue thrives and trust develops when such terms as “perhaps” or “seems like” or “in many cases” are used.

    Too often we present our deeply held convictions as absolute Truth, our debatable interpretations as rock-solid proof and mold our personal experiences into universal truisms. And when I use language that strays into this turf, I’ve essentially told “Buddy” to “you come here now”–on my terms.

    I’m convinced, that as believers in transcendent Truth and its Author, we can learn a lot about presenting ourselves as bearers of the Good News and examples of righteousness WHILE exhibiting the approachable and magnanimous humility that admits we too are still on a journey and smart enough to know that we don’t know it all.

    I tend to trust people that are as comfortable with saying, “Hmmmm…I haven’t totally figured that out myself”. Or “most times”, “I suppose” and “in my experience”. And conversely, I tend to equate immaturity or arrogance when encountering someone who liberally sprinkles their conversation with terms like “always”, “never”, “only”, “every”.

    There’s ‘only’ one person’s words whom I can ‘always’ trust to ‘never’ lead me astray with ‘every’ word he spoke. And he approached me before I approached him. He humbled himself to the point of public shame in order to lift me up. And for that I’m forever thankful.

  26. emyrick says:

    Loretta – “My question is about forgiveness … do we forgive when there is no repentance? I don’t hear “I’m sorry, or forgive me” from my controlling spouse. (I have read of criminals apologizing to their victims/families). But the Christian spouse who continues to abuse me? Don’t tell me the 70 times 7 Peter got from Jesus-”

    Honest and complete repentance is one key for the victim to heal but not completely necessary, however I never received a complete and honest repentance from my former spouse and that has played a role in my feelings. Gods will is for marriage to last until death, just as His will is for everyone to find salvation. However not every marriage will last and not every person will find salvation. That is a testimonial to our free will. I battle with forgiveness as you do and have asked the same questions repeatedly, I came to the conclusion that it is not up to me. It is Gods will….Sometimes God will put us in a situation to bring us closer to Him, isn’t that the goal anyway? for us to be closer to God? I would even go so far as to say that sometimes God will remove the things that stand in our way to become closer to him, even if that is a marriage. I do not believe in divorce but I do believe that there are biblical justifications for a divorce, I am dealing with one now. At the same time I know that I can not justify my divorce by using Gods word. On the other hand, you may the one person that God has sent to bring your spouses heart to God. There are more qualified people on this forum than I to give advice and comment, I am still an infant in the word. I will pray for you.

  27. Chuck Franke says:

    One is a life long friend who I see a couple times a year. Another is from a group we were in together for a year or so (monthly meetings) when he moved to another state a few years ago.
    They both have friends who are homosexual but they themselves are not.

    So what I hear you saying, Steve, is that life as a Christian will get more confrontational but I should leave my friends out of it? I’m twisting your meaning, aren’t I?
    Maybe that’s what gets me in trouble. Maybe I unconciously become manipulative and then loose trust. Umm.

    InHisHands, I like what you’ve said but I hope that what I’m doing right now (thinking and talking things out with Christian Friends) is part of the process of getting me ready “in season and out of season.”

    I feel like I’m still missing something.

  28. pegramsdell says:

    Our God is merciful and compassionate. I know that He would not want anyone to suffer abuse. He instructed husbands how they should treat their wives for a reason. He does not want spouses abused or anyone else either. Get help, find someone you can trust to help you. I had to do the same thing.
    We did not get married in the church and were not born again at the time, so God did not ordain our marriage, and my husband divorced me. We are friendly now, but I’m glad we are not married anymore.

  29. SFDBWV says:

    Chuck, I too have had a friend who was homosexual. I say had, because he killed himself when he was 23 years old. He was a wonderful friend, someone I can say I loved as a brother. He never once tried to develop anything other than friendship with me. He knew I wasn’t interested in that and that I was Christian as I often shared my faith with him.

    So that I am clear to you, I will say that Judgement for sin is reserved for God.

    Do not abandon your friendship with your friends unless their influence on you causes you to sin. And you are not able to resist.

    But becoming a Christian and growing in spirituality will cost you many friends that you may had had before accepting Christ.

    It is best to associate with other believers, but continue to keep a friendly relationship with everyone you meet or already know. Because you are now an admitted Christian, they will be watching you closely and ready to judge you as a Christian for your mistakes.

    The missing part you feel may be the awareness of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ will fill you to overflowing. Pray for the baptisim of the Holy Spirit. Keep to His Word, He is faithful to aid you in your relationship Him. If you like, I will pray with you and for you as you have need.


  30. Loretta Beavis says:

    Thank you, kaliko88, SFDBWV, poohpity, emyrick — all, so much! Your availability for fellowship and all these “now” kind of topics are what’s been helping me hold on for months now.

    I’m set free spiritually, I’m pursuing getting a job and doing all I can think of to prepare for what is next.

    You are all His Light in my dark world. Your needs will be in my prayers too.

    I love my Jesus.

  31. mstins says:

    As a bulldog, Buddy has probably been in contact with people that fear bulldogs even before approaching him. An intelligent dog will sense the feelings of people and it eventually effects how he feels about people approaching him.
    People can be the same way. We come in different colors, shapes and personalities and are rejected by other people before the first hello.
    We do not have to carry that burden when we identify ourselves with Christ. Christ came down to our level so that we could be lifted up. Incredible, glorious freedom.

  32. cherielyn says:

    Being able to trust someone can be difficult, especially if it is your spouse or another close loved one. They can hurt you over and over, but you keep coming back, with forgiveness, like a whipped puppy who “forgets” that it was treated cruelly and comes back looking for a friendly pet on the head.

    Loretta, I can identify with you. I was in a similar relationship many years ago. He was a drinker and physically abusive and I feared for my life many times. YOU ARE IN MY PRAYERS (and have been for a long time). God bless you in your struggles. I pray that He will be your comfort and strength in your daily struggles. Just know that He will never leave you nor forsake you and He knows what you face every day.

    I have been married for nearly 40 years. My husband is not a drinker, but he is verbally abusive. Having been in a previous physically abusive relationship, I can attest to the fact that verbal & emotional abuse is just as, or even more hurtful as the physical is.

    We went to a Christian marriage conference in May, 2008. It seemed, at the time, that as a result, the hard things in our relationship were turning around for the better. I once again opened myself up, but my trust has been violated again. He has reverted back to the person he was before we went to that conference. Only God knows what the outcome will be. I don’t believe in divorce, but it sure is becoming more difficult to stay in this relationship. I keep praying for the Lord’s return to release me from it.

    Loretta – As an aside, a few weeks ago I gave you the link to the online version of the JW bible. Has that been helpful to you?

  33. cherielyn says:

    I hated to have to open up in my post, above. I was holding back on commenting, but this morning the dam burst and I just had to share. I am really in need of prayer for my present situation.

  34. cherielyn says:

    Correction about the marriage conference: I meant to say Spring, 2008. I don’t know why I said May. It was a couple months earlier than that. I must have had other thoughts running through my mind.

  35. daisymarygoldr says:

    Cherielyn, you are in my prayers…

    “ his mouth is full of cursing, deceit, oppression (fraud); under his tongue are trouble and sin (mischief and iniquity)…[The prey] is crushed, sinks down; and the helpless falls by his mighty [claws]…

    Arise, O Lord! O God, lift up Your hand; forget not the humble [patient and crushed]… You have seen it; yes, You note trouble and grief (vexation) to requite it with Your hand. The unfortunate commits (herself) to You…

    O Lord, You have heard the desire and the longing of the humble and oppressed; You will prepare and strengthen and direct their hearts, You will cause Your ear to hear… to do justice to…the oppressed, so that man, who is of the earth, may not terrify them any more.” (Ps 10: 7-18)

  36. poohpity says:

    What would make you dabble in the JW bible? That scares me and I am feeling concern for you. Help me to understand or tell me it is none of my business. Obviously their beliefs are way different than those who follow the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

  37. cherielyn says:

    dmg: Thank you for your prayers & the Psalms words of encouragement. I really appreciate it.

    Pooh: Not to worry!! Loretta shared, a few weeks ago, that she had a JW friend she was trying to witness to. She shared that the JW friend would not let her see her bible to let her see what it said or how it compared to the “real thing,” so I sent her a link to an online JW bible.

    I was in the same position for several years, visiting with a JW woman & also trying to witness to her. She was more open and shared many resources which were very helpful to me in understanding what she believed and leaving many opportunities to point out inconsistencies in their beliefs and for asking questions she could not answer, hoping that in her search for the answer, her eyes might be opened to the truth. Unfortunately she was too brain-washed. I had to discontinue our visits when I felt that it was becoming a waste of my time and I can only pray that someday she will see the light before it is too late.

  38. foreverblessed says:

    about abiblical topics:
    “Preaching the Gospel of Christ through farming, carpentry, tax collection, fishing, golfing, gardening, cooking,”

    Someitmes God does tell us to do just that:
    I know of an example, it is Rees Howell, a man from Whales 100 years ago, he was part of the Revival that took place there. When he started his ministry the Holy Spirit told him to be a buddy to an alcoholic man in the village. The HS explicitely told him not to preach to him, just to keep company with him.
    So he walked with him on the streets, wandered where he wandered. Just read the book if you can. Rees Howell had a great ministry in his later life.

    I know of another ministry; Of an man in Cambodja. God told him to start an orphanage, not churches, but orphanages. The man was very unsure what his organisation that had sent hin would think of him. Because he was not starting churches as he was supposed to do. But Gods ways are not always clear to us. We must hear His voice.
    The orphanages started to grow and grow, and are now sort of churches. The gospel is preached.

    This topic of lowering to a level where we can meet people is very much God’s way.
    Hear His voice.

  39. Loretta Beavis says:

    Thank you also, cheriellyn, for the prayers.

    There is way more in the Bible about how to treat each other than the topic of divorce. It just doesn’t get spoken.
    I need to leave, and so do you. But, you have to have a plan and help. Like the Buddy dog, some will reach out to help you, but you don’t know if they are kind and have Christlike love for you. Buddy is blessed to have Mart–another man after God’s heart–care for him.

    I’ve been through the “help” cycle so much. When you trust, open up, you become the problem, the one who gets worked over and punished, while your abuser doesn’t because he doesn’t give the “helpers” anything to work with. So ask God to give you discernment with help and to find the right church group or organization or individuals or a lawyer who will stand up for you. I do. It isn’t easy. The enemy works create doubt in us that God will not meet our needs and it’s a lie.

    Awhile back poohpity used the word “institutionalized” and it has been ringing in my ears. That’s what we have to stop accepting, and the first step is faith that Jesus has set you free.

    I didn’t get to the JW site because I’ve had a lot of distractions. But I haven’t forgotten.

    I love my Jesus ’cause He first loved me.

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