Sunday, April 22, 2007

Let's Use Common Sense

It is a photograph I love: A young boy kneeling in prayer beside his bed. Next to him is a brown hound, paws on bed and eyes closed.

But the message just forwarded to me raises my dander. Excuse me, but who is the simpleton who wrote this to “send around” the internet with the picture?

This is the picture of the week !!!!!! I hope you will pass it on. Amongst all of the junk we get over the internet, occasionally we get something like this. It's just too good not to send around. If a dog has time to pray so should we!!!

“If a dog has time to pray?” Let’s be real, folks. I love animals. I have several. I volunteer to do whatever I can to try to fight animal abuse, encourage spay/neuter, and help with local shelter photographs.. This photo is absolutely adorable, but a praying dog?

Some forwarded messages are cute, inspirational, or informative, but the amount of garbage that floats about under the guise of “religious” is – well, disgusting.

My relationship with God will not suffer because I click the delete button instead of sending a “religious” message to everyone in my address book. I’m not going to hell because I choose to not share “those who love God will pass this on to everyone they know” emails, or because I’m offended by the “send this to ten people and something will appear on your screen,” or because I detest the “prayers” being passed around to “bring special blessings."

Even if there is something of actual value in the body of the message, does anyone actually believe tacking on these directives to pass on if you love Jesus types of messages honor God in any way? These forwards seem more like mocking God. They certainly do not fit in with worshipping God, spreading the gospel, encouraging the brethren, etc.

Please folks, don’t send me any “if you love Jesus, you will pass this on” messages. If I love Jesus, I will obey whatever he commands, not whatever someone with too much time on their hands and an overblown sense of self-righteousness directs.

If this message offends you, think about it for a moment.

Let’s use common sense when we receive forwarded emails purporting to prove we love God. There is nothing in the Bible about the way to heaven being paved with all-my-contacts religious forwards.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pit Bull Stereotyping

There is great confusion over the term pit bull. The American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Bull Terrier are dogs generally classified as pit bulls, but according to a 2000 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report, there are 20-plus breeds that are mistaken as pit bulls. The breeds commonly called pit bulls make loyal, fun-loving, companionable pets, and these traits remain with many of these dogs even while they are being abused. Yet it appears they are unwelcome in my city and automatically classified as “dangerous dogs.”

The term pit bull has a bloody history. This is not due to the nature of the dog, but due to the horrid ways men have used and abused these dogs. They were once used as bait dogs to control bulls, or as entertainment to bait bears, boars and other animals. A true pit bull in today’s society is one trained to be an animal aggressive killer so the owner can make a monetary killing by putting him in the pit to fight another pit bull for “entertainment.” But those who train fighting dogs do not want them to be people aggressive because owners often have to separate their fighting dogs in the pit. This type of dog is generally kept locked away and would rarely, if ever, be found loose in the city.

As with any animal (or human being), dogs have varied personalities and traits, but they are not born attack dogs. They learn to attack or bite for a variety of reasons, including abuse. Some owners – and I’m not speaking of fighting dog owners here – are deliberately responsible for their dogs’ aggressive nature, and if denied one breed, will merely choose another dog to sic on helpless animals and let loose on unsuspecting people.

Biting or aggression is not truly breed specific. Any dog can bite or attack, if provoked, startled, frightened, abused, taunted, in pain or protecting their territory. Dogs that live on chains or are denied social interaction – remember dogs are pack animals and fare better living inside or socializing with a family than being isolated – might bite, no matter what the breed. My county’s shelter manager believes every dog can be rehabilitated, but it takes an investment of time, training and patience.

If you see a dog running loose in the city, it does not necessarily mean the owner has been irresponsible. There are occasions when a dog can get loose, such as when someone accidentally leaves a gate open. And if you see a dog running loose in the city, it is not necessarily a pit bull, and if it is a pit bull, it is not automatically a dangerous dog.

A few years ago, while walking my dog, she was set upon and bitten by 3 animal-aggressive dogs who escaped their yard through an open gate – and not one of them was a pit bull. The meanest dogs I have encountered on my local walks were an itty-bitty ankle-biter and a huge German Shepherd (not at the same time). So, let’s not spread prejudice, seeing a blood-thirsty “pit bull” where a frightened, playful or lost pet exists. (Personally, I'm afraid of all dogs running loose, until I am sure they aren't aggressive toward me or my animals. There is nothing breed specific about my fear.)

In order to be judged a potentially dangerous or a dangerous dog, the dog is supposed to have bitten someone without provocation! As I write this a small purebred “pit bull” sits in a cage at the shelter. The crime - running loose, reason unknown. As I understand it, this small dog neither attacked nor bit anyone, but it has been labeled a “dangerous dog” and has been condemned to death tomorrow by the city. If I were the dog’s owner, I would probably not claim it either because I would be unable to afford the strict and expensive requirements attached to owning a dog titled “dangerous.” Why does the city not have a dangerous dog board, as does the county? Surely, even a dog deserves better than this.

The above is a slightly revised version of a recent newspaper column. I thought it appropriate to post on mercyandpercy.com in order to bring up the subject of stereotyping.

We have all heard blonde jokes. Everyone knows blondes are dumb. (What a crock of bleach!)

And we all know all men are – beer drinking sports zombies, deaf when their mate speaks, couch potatoes, and garbage detail avoider who can’t tell a safety pin from a cement nail when it’s time to change the baby’s diaper. Okay, some of them are deaf beer drinking sports zombies who avoid garbage detail, but in today’s society there are not only many who are proficient at taking care of the baby while mama mows the lawn, but a growing number of men who are are electing to emulate Michael Keaton in the 1983 movie, Mr. Mom.

And, of course, we all know that after a certain age, we begin to forget where we are going, why we were going there and what we were doing. (Excuse me for a moment. I can’t find my glasses. Oh, there they are, right where I left them – in the refrigerator.) In reality, there are many older folks who are clear-headed and can tell you what they had for breakfast this morning and also on this date twenty years ago.

We really shouldn’t stereotype people of whatever age, hair color, gender, ethnic background or religion. People have different personalities and character traits, and just as a neer-do-well can come from a highly educated, hard-working family, a gentle, loving person can come out of a background of abuse.

People laugh at stereotypical jokes, but it isn’t funny when we auto-stereotype a person unfairly and someone is hurt or a reputation is ruined.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Friday, April 13, 2007

Dudu Didn't Die

Seven hours after he died and was buried in a shallow grave, a bloodied and staggering Dudu was sitting at his owners’ door.

No, this is not a joke. Dudu was most likely in shock when his owner’s couldn’t locate a pulse after the Chinese puppy was hit by a car and presumed dead.

The moral of this story is, when all seems lost, don’t give up – keep digging!

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Keep Swinging

A 102-year-old woman recently made a hole-in-one while playing a round of golf. I believe she has been playing for 80 years and this is her first hole-in-one. I could be off on the number of years, but nevertheless this is a wonderful bit of news, because it illustrates the sage advice to persevere. I was surprised to learn a 102-year-old woman is still playing golf, but she broke the previous age record of a 101-year-old man in 2001.

So, if you have a goal or a dream, don’t give up on it merely because the years are passing. Time will pass whether you persevere or quit.

Perseverance is especially important if your goal or dream is God-given or God-inspired. Man is impatient. He wants everything yesterday. God, however, moves at his own pace, working things out according to his own blueprint and timetable.

Are you middle-aged or a senior citizen who believes God only works in and through the young, healthy and strong? Don’t despair. He doesn’t toss aside the sick, the weak or even the elderly. Not only can God use you whatever your age, but sometimes he has a better purpose for you when you have some experience and maturity under your expanding belt.

Golf is just a game. Elsie McLean attained her goal of a hole-in-one because she continued to play the game and she kept swinging.

What might God accomplish in you and through you if you persevere toward your goal or dream? If you want to find out, keep swinging.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Squeezing Through

A dog looks upon a cat pan as an all-you-can-eat buffet. This is a nauseating fact of pet character for those of us who mix canines and felines in the same household.

Pet owners block canine access to a cat pan. The canine figures a way over, under, around or through the barricade to reach the pan. The owner tries a new strategy. Eventually, the dog finds a way around that too. Dogs can be devious and very adept at overcoming obstacles when they really want something or think they are playing a game.

There are two large cat pans in this house and I thought I had finally found a way to keep the dogs away from them. The problem is that the cats can barely squeeze through the blockade to reach their pans and I have to move a number of items in order to scoop the pans.

The past few days I noticed the rattan three-sided “gate” was rapidly coming apart at the hinges. This morning I discovered the reason why.

Buddy, my 45 – 50 pound hound was caught sitting in one pan and dining out of the other. He was busted! There was nowhere to run or hide. He could barely turn around and squeeze through the small opening to crawl between the rattan piece and an auto ramp shoved onto a narrow shelf. I was amazed his body could maneuver in that cat-size space. But he was tempted and succumbed.

Gross? Definitely! But does God view a man’s (or woman’s) flagrant sin any differently than I view a dog’s aberrant appetite? God abhors sin and those who deliberately continue in sin are not Christ’s.

Some have fallen for the misconception that God does not exist or does not mean what he says about sin. Some believe they can live an anything-goes lifestyle and knock on heaven’s door at the last moment. And there are some who think it is appropriate to squeeze through a narrow space to sit in a cat pan of sin because God is all-forgiving

Buddy doesn’t know any better. He’s a dog. Man has the Bible, the word of God. What is man’s excuse?

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shock Jock Imus

The recent remark by shock jock Don Imus on his radio show has earned him a two-week suspension, beginning next Monday. It has also brought him so far into the limelight that in the unlikely event his employer agrees to fire him over the public outcry, he could easily snap up a similar job for more pay.

A “shock jock” is a radio broadcaster who uses “humor” to offend people. There are a number of them who are well-known for offensive comments, and every so often a furor such as this one over Imus hits the headlines.

Personally, I think the airwaves would be better off without this type of “entertainment,” and I could happily go through life without ever listening to one of these “comedians,” but they exist because there is a large enough audience to make such shows profitable.

What are you listening to on the radio - men trashing others for the shock value and ratings …music … non-shocking talk radio ….Christian radio … news?

There is an old saying, Garbage in, garbage out, and it is applicable here. Watch what you allow into your mind. If you listen to programs that exist solely to humiliate, denigrate or poke fun at others, you might not recognize it in yourself, but it will change you – and not for the better.

Whether Imus returns to the same station after his suspension ends or moves on to another station, his type of programming will continue to air.

I didn’t listen to him before this hype began and don’t intend to start now, and from what I have read about his show, it isn’t funny anyway.

God gave us our sense of humor. It’s healthy to laugh. But I would rather stick to clean humor, humor that doesn’t offend or insult others.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Monday, April 09, 2007

Accidental or intentional

The pet food recall is still news. And it isn't over yet. I found another story of interest on the Anderson Cooper 360ยบ Blog, called “On the toxic pet food story” and posted on April 5, 2007

If the wheat gluten in the pet food was not accidentally tainted, but deliberately laced with melamine to increase the protein level of the wheat gluten, and thereby raise the profit level, something is terribly awry with the minds of those who consider money more valuable than life – any life!

The Food and Drug Administration puts out recall alerts at an alarming rate. You can click here to go to the FDA site and sign up for their email alerts.

There is nothing new under the sun, so greed is not a recent phenomenon, but it will grow worse in the days ahead.

If our only hope was in this society, we would be without hope. But our hope is in Christ.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Sunday, April 08, 2007

RESURRECTION DAY

Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

Without the event this day commemorates, Christians would be without hope.

Have you gotten completely swept up in the hype of Easter - egg hunts, Easter baskets, plays, time off of work, and family dinner- and neglected to thank God for the hope we have through Christ?

Good, I'm glad you remembered what is most important, because the physical is only temporary!

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Saturday, April 07, 2007

AGING YOUNGER

As someone well past her 20s, it was a surprise to stumble across an article online today regarding aging younger. These folks aren’t actually aging younger; they just want to hold back the hands of time at a younger age to retain their “looks.”

Why would any woman seek Botox injections at age 21 to try to prevent wrinkles from forming? Has this self-centered society driven women crazy, or has the desire for the approval of the opposite sex driven young women to fear the effects of aging more than the possible side effects of toxins, chemicals or surgery?

I suppose the lack of respect people exhibit toward the natural, God-mandated process of aging marches in step with society’s view of life in general. God did not create us to be vain, living for esthetics rather than building character.

Have you ever heard someone stand at a funeral and eulogize the recently departed? The deceased might have been a philanthropist, a community volunteer, an advocate of the handicapped, a leader of industry, a parent, grandparent, an animal rescuer, a race car driver, a horse trainer, a fireman, policeman, social worker, secretary, accountant - I have heard many words of praise for the dead, but never have I heard anyone eulogized as “she was beautifully young and unwrinkled to the end.”

You can not change society’s view on aging or beauty, but you can change your own, if you have been caught up in the hype of youth and beauty forever and ever.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7.

This applies to the wrinkled and white-haired, the wrinkled and dyed-haired, the ones with beautiful internal character, and those with artificial/superficial outer beauty.

www.mercyandpercy.com/

Friday, April 06, 2007

DON'T CROSS THAT STREET

I enjoy walking my dogs, although they can be an unruly handful when they see another dog, a squirrel, a bicyclist, a skateboarder, a stray morsel of food, a stick … You get the idea. Anything and everything can excite them.

We set out recently on an evening walk. Before we reached the sidewalk, a neighbor’s dog appeared from behind the bushes across the street. Beside him ran his visiting friend, and this time the visitor kept running. I yelled for him to stop, but he raced in front of a passing pickup and stopped directly in front of my dogs. I watched the hair along his spine bristle.

My dogs were unnaturally quiet and well-behaved. No barking, growling, leaping or attacking each other to claim the latest find. That is normal behavior for them, behavior that generally scares off any potential new friend they come across on our walks. I would have told them how proud I was of them, but this new dog had all my attention.

I do not believe he intended my dogs any harm. His original objective seemed to be making new friends, until he suddenly realized the other dog had not followed him across the street, and if the new dogs were unfriendly, he was outnumbered. He retreated across the street, with me yelling over and over, “You stay over there. Don’t you dare cross that street!” Both dogs wanted to cross, even tried to cross, but my yelling confused them.

I think it also confused the poor man on the other side of the street at the end of the block.

I noticed him several times, just standing on the corner looking in my direction. Finally, he crossed the street, stood on that corner and again stared in my direction. At the time, I felt a sense of relief that there was someone nearby in case anything did go wrong. But later, as we were returning home from our walk, I realized that from where he was first standing, he could not have seen the dogs I was yelling at because of the curve in the road and the steep slope across the way. No wonder he stood on the corner longer than necessary.

Don’t cross that street. It sounds like good advice for someone about to unload anger on an unsuspecting passerby. An angry man tends to vent at whoever is handy – children, mate, subordinate, stranger or even friend – and often wanders afield of what is actually inciting him to verbally attack another person. The one on the receiving end can’t see the “dogs” that initiated the outburst.

We live in a fast-paced, stress-filled society. It is easy to become overwhelmed and yell at innocent bystanders, but it doesn’t solve the problem or dissipate the anger. Part of growing as a Christian is learning to stand against the temptations of the devil, and anger is certainly one of his ploys.

I can laugh as I wonder what the man on the corner must have thought when he first heard me yelling, although I wasn’t angry at the dogs, just trying to protect myself from the prospect of going down in a tangle of leashes and flailing paws.

www.mercyandpercy.com/