Two things that I’ve read about white German shepherds is that they are smart and they are peaceful.  The only one I ever knew was Thor, and he was neither smart nor peaceful.  In fact, he was just the opposite.  He was stubborn, stupid and mean.

Growing up in the country, I was exposed to quite a few different breeds of dogs.  My friends across the street had a cute little red cocker spaniel.  After visiting the cute little redhead, dad decided he was going to become rich by breeding and selling puppies.  He chose miniature Schnauzer which is a breed of cute little indoor dog similar to my friend’s cocker spaniel.

For some reason that I didn’t understand yet, liter after liter of dad’s puppies tuned out to be mutts that looked more like the neighbor’s long haired Siberian Husky than a Schnauzer. Both the neighbor’s husky and our mutts had the prettiest blue eyes you ever saw on a dog. One thing I learned from dad’s puppy mill was that purebred dogs with papers can be worth hundreds of dollars, while mixed-breed mutts are only worth whatever love and affection a kid can get out of them.

I also learned that most country folks prefer larger dogs such as the Irish Setters who marched into church one day right in the middle of our vacation bible school.  Country people also like big dogs like the Dobermans at the local junkyard or my friend’s German Shepherd which could take a baseball size chunk out of an intruder’s fleshy hind parts.  My first hint that Shepherds are not as smart as many people think is when my friend’s Shepherd confused my hind parts to that of an intruder.  After that experience, I didn’t care much for dogs.

It wasn’t until the roommate merger after my first year at DeVry that I would once again have a dog around the house.  Phil Hughes and I lived the first year in housing that the school recruiter had arranged.  To get to Greenbriar apartments from DeVry, you had to drive through Bexley.  Bexley is one of the fanciest neighborhoods in Columbus. There are huge stone-faced houses with a beautifully manicured landscape. The mayor of Columbus at the time lived in a huge mansion in the middle of Bexley. It was a beautiful suburb and right next door to where we would be living.

Little did we know that Greenbriar Apartment complex was the center of the drug trafficking trade of Columbus.  Phil and I rarely ventured out of the house except to go to school for fear of being murdered.  Hardly a day went by when there were not several police cruisers or fire trucks in the complex.  We never hinted to our mothers that we lived in such a dangerous place.  Anytime they came to visit, we drove through the heart of Bexley and then locked them in the apartment hoping they wouldn’t notice the gangs of murderers and drug dealers in our back parking lot.

The day that our one year lease expired, we both moved in with my buddy Brian Myers and his roommates.  Steve Shreves had just moved home to Virginia to get married and fulfill his lifelong dream of raising enough kids to start a football team.  That left only Brian, Buzz and Paul E Bratz Jr. in the house at Rotunda Court.  With Phil and I, it was a little cramped, but splitting rent 5 ways, and getting out of the war zone at Greenbriar was good.

Soon after the merger, Paul decided that we should have a pet. Paul was a city boy from the state of Deleware and wasn’t quite as experienced in the knowledge of dog breeds as I was.  Instead of a cute little indoor breed such as a Schnauzer or cocker spaniel, he chose a Shepherd.  Given my previous experience with Shepherds, I was not too keen on the idea of having a large dog living in an already crowded townhouse. Even though he was a cute little white fur ball when Paul brought him home from the pet store, I knew that he would grow up fast.

In the country, dogs have wide open outdoors to run and play. Thor was destined to be a city dog, but he wanted to run like a country dog.  From the first day Paul brought him home, he turned our house into his own personal race track.  Starting at the top of the basement stairs, he sped down the front stretch into the dining room.   Quickly he flew around turn one under the dining room table, then turn two into the kitchen.  He ran down the backstretch into turn three through the living room.  In the living room, he would run under the coffee table, out the other side into turn four and back to the front stretch.  He would run laps around this circuit every day.  Day in, day out. Week in, week out.  Thor continued running laps as he began to grow older and taller.

I’ll never forget the day he grew a little too much to fit under the coffee table.  That morning, he ran the course the same as every other day until he came out of turn three. He sped to the coffee table tunnel the same as every other day. Today, his head went smack into the side of the table. Seeing as how white shepherds are supposed to be a smart breed of dog, you would think that a headache would teach Thor to go around the table, but this wasn’t the case.  Every day on the racecourse brought the same results, the same headache, the same THUMP into the coffee table.  Another day, another headache.  Day after day, headache after a headache he continued.  Despite the pain of the coffee table, he continued willfully thumping his head because of his stubborn habit.

We may think that we’re smarter than dogs, but don’t we sometimes do the same stubborn things over and over even though we know better? Hebrews 10:26 tells us that if we continue willfully sinning, that there will be no sacrifice to cover that sin.  How does a child learn what is right from what is wrong?  Good parents will allow a little pain to discourage bad behavior, and offer some positive feedback to reward proper behavior. THOR ignored the pain over and over and continued the actions that brought more pain. God sometimes will use the painful situations in our lives to change our behavior. When God reveals the truth, we need to turn from our sin and walk in the light.  Ignoring the prompting of the Spirit will only lead to continued pain and separation from God.


Hebrews 10:26
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

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The Beans

spoiled beans

The Beans

Growing up, I had an addiction to baseball cards.  Whenever I found a quarter in my pocket, I biked three miles to Glenroy store to buy ball cards.  By the time I was in High School, my addiction had grown worse.  I was no longer buying in packs of 15 cards at the drug store, I was buying cases of 12000 directly from the factory.   I know you are probably asking yourself “what does a baseball card addiction have to do with beans?” Hang on and we’ll get there.

As with most addictions, I was spending every penny I could get my hands on.  When I was in grade school, my only source of income was the few dollars a week my parents gave me to buy milk at school.  I never confessed that I took my milk money to the candy store every week.  The habit continued and grew stronger as I grew older.  I have no idea how many lunches and afternoon milk breaks I skipped before  junior high school.  I do know that I was a very skinny young boy.

The Summer of my 8th-grade year, I started mowing grass for our neighbors.  I now had a real income of seven dollars a week. Combined with my milk money, I could now feed my addiction properly. The baseball card collection started to grow.  I was buying other peoples collections by the shoebox full.  I picked up several other mowing jobs that Summer.  While in 10th grade, I landed a contract at the nursing home where my sister worked.  It was a large estate on the side of the tallest hill in Wellston.  Since it was a difficult yard, it paid quite well.  I made twenty-five dollars a week on that lawn. That is when my addiction went full tilt.  I now had enough money to meet the $1000 minimum order from the factory.  By the end of high school, my collection consumed most of the attic closet.

We’ll get to the beans soon.  Please be patient.  Until this point in my life, I could always count on mom and dad to feed me.  Even when I had spent all of my lunch money to feed my baseball card addiction, I could count on a good breakfast and good dinner at mom’s table. After graduation from high school, that changed.  I moved to Columbus to attend DeVry Institute of Technology.  Columbus was two hours away from mom’s bountiful kitchen table.  I had no job, and now I was responsible for rent utilities, tuition, gas, car payment and a thousand dollar a year habit.  I needed a job fast.  Landing a job at the local grocery store, I had dreams of cheap food and enough money to support my habit.

Well, the job didn’t pay enough to cover all of the new bills let alone support the baseball card habit. I started selling cards in order to put food on the table.  I needed to take quick action to prevent my precious collection from dwindling. The plan was to find more roommates to help with rent and make more trips home to mom’s kitchen on weekends.  At the end of my first year at DeVry, I moved in with my buddy Brian Myers and his roommates Brian “Buzz” Green and Paul E Bratz Jr.

We now had more people sharing the rent, but that also meant more mouths to feed. I guess we didn’t think that one through too well. Monday meals were always the best since I usually went home on weekends and raided mom’s kitchen. By Wednesday, we were normally eating beans and rice or ramen noodles. By Friday, it was just a potluck of everything left in the cupboard. One such Friday meal was shake and bake rice which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.

One Monday night while unpacking from a trip home, I found a jar of mom’s beans.   I had somehow missed the jar when unpacking the night before.  I was a little skeptical about opening a jar that had sat in the hot car all day long, but Buzz was really hungry, so he decided to risk it.  He opened it, put the contents in a kettle and set it on the stove hoping they would smell a little better after they cooked for a while.  Taking a bite of the warm beans, he officially declared them to be spoiled, and not fit for human consumption.  He ate several more bites before placing the kettle back on the stove.

What happened next is something that I’m not proud of, and don’t speak of often.  It was common practice to leave clean pots and pans on the stovetop until there was enough food to cook a meal.  When it was time to cook, we would clear the stovetop, and only the pots needed to cook our rice or ramen noodles for the day would remain.  You need to realize that when there is no food in the cupboards, there is no cooking in the kitchen. You should also realize that the only thing college boys hate more than cooking is cleaning the kitchen.  Well, that bean pot sat there on the stove all night.

The day after the spoiled bean incident, nobody ate.  Buzz was sick, and the only food in the house was a pot of spoiled beans.  At some point, clean pots and pans were returned to the stove top. Whoever did it failed to realize that the pot that was already there was far from clean.  Over the next few days, dishes came, and dishes went from the top of the stove, but the pot of beans remained at the bottom of the pile.  By the end of the week, a somewhat unpleasant smell started emanating from the kitchen area.  The bathroom was on the second floor directly above the kitchen, and there were always strange smells coming from upstairs, so we thought nothing of it.  Over the next couple weeks, the smell became stronger and stronger, and we came to the realization that something unnatural was happening in the house.

By week four, after searching under the sink for rotten potatoes, cleaning out the empty refrigerator, and even searching behind the upstairs toilet for a dookie that may have escaped the bowl,  we began hearing popping noises from the stovetop.  Brian Myers was the first in because he could hold his breath longer than the rest of us.  Everybody else stood back and watched in horror and disbelief.  There at the bottom of the pile was the pot of beans that was already rancid four weeks earlier.  Maggots and all manner of malodorous organisms now covered the fuzzy beans.  Not only did they reek, but they danced and made noises like a bowl of Rice Crispi’s.

We lined up like an old-fashioned fire bucket brigade from Myers in the Kitchen to Buzz at the back door. We handed the pot and its contents like a hot potato from person to person down the line until it reached Buzz.  He slung the door open and holding the pot like an Olympic hammer thrower, threw it as far as he could into the backyard.  Two years later when we moved out, the pot was still lying untouched in its original landing spot.  We never told the landlord the story of the beans for fear that he would keep our deposit to pay the hazmat unit.

Exodus 12:15 commands God’s people to prepare for Passover by removing all yeast or leaven products from their homes seven days prior to the Passover meal.  Leaven in the old testament is a symbol of sin.  As Christians, we need to remove all sin from our lives.  To God, sin stinks worse than those rotting beans on my stove.  We need to search every nook and cranny of our lives.  When we find something  not pleasing to God, we need to throw it as hard and far away as possible.  We must not pretend that the stink doesn’t exist.  We cannot hide our sin under a pile of clean dishes or good deeds.  Only if we confess and renounce our sin, will we find mercy from God.

Proverbs 28:13
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

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