I love small towns on the Fourth of July.
I love our small town.
Our mountain community put on quite a show! Featured events included an arts and crafts show, a pancake breakfast, a deep-pit barbeque, a pie-eating contest, music, dancing, sidewalk vendors' booths, and food and drink galore.
And oh…what a parade we had down the main street of town!
With all the small town participants you could imagine!
The parade started with a little old lady playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on her violin. Just precious! The grand marshal was Smokey Bear. (Which, by the way, is his original name, not Smokey the Bear – trivia tidbit free of charge).
I certainly appreciated his presence in our town, and his well-wishing admonitions about fire prevention. After all, it's only been one short year since we were evacuated for 4 days after a huge wildfire threatened our town and our home.
That's why I also appreciated the next entrants in our parade – a rather impressive showing of local and county fire engines, trucks, and emergency rescue vehicles. At one point, I looked down the length of the parade, and there were like 15 vehicles in a row. I call that reassurance, my friends!
Might I just add that I had way too much fun gathering up candy thrown from various cars and floats and kids who walked the street. I made my acquaintance with something called an Atomic Fireball – basically, a cinnamon candy on steroids! Let me tell you, combined with the homemade jalapeno sauce that I later ate at lunch, well, my mouth was on fire the rest of the day.
Where was Smokey when I needed him?!
A highlight of the holiday weekend was the several events sponsored by some local animal rescue organizations. All sorts of animals were up for adoption. OK, yeah, I felt really sad for the faces, but I know that these animals are safe – these organizations are no-kill.
There was a contest for the Mr. and Mrs. of our town – a sort of canine homecoming king and queen event. I must mention here that the mayor of our town is a Dog, elected into office by a very dog-friendly town! He was around all day, with his tie on, spreading goodwill and possibly a few licks.
And, there was a special parade called, "Strut Your Mutt."
Only dogs with…ahem…*mixed* heritage could enter. I loved that! A big to-do to honor those lovable creatures who bring us such joy. Not Winchester Dog Show candidates, but real down-to-earth guys and gals who make up in adorableness what they lack in pedigree.
In all, a great time was had by all!!
So, I've been sitting here thinking about my blog post.
What on earth am I going to write about?
And as I've been contemplating, I just couldn't stop thinking about the "Strut Your Mutt" parade. First of all, I loved the title – I'm a sucker for rhyming! And second, I loved the idea of treating some otherwise "overlooked" doggies as special.
And then I remembered a recent conversation I had about judging other people. About how I try not to do that because I've made so many mistakes in my own life. How I try to extend grace to others because I realize that I am no better than the next person.
That I am a sinner like everyone else.
And in the course of the conversation, I mentioned the conversation that Jesus had with some high-and-mighty Pharisees. This is what He had to say:
"But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, 'Why does he eat with such scum?'
When Jesus heard this, he told them, 'Healthy people don't need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'" (Mark 2:16-17, NLT)
And then I said, "I know I'm a sinner. And I'm glad I know."
So, what's this have to do with the "Strut Your Mutt" parade?
I know I'm a mutt.
When we read the Bible, we see that Gentiles were considered pariahs. Not born into the chosen race, they were thought to be impure and heretical and not deserving of the benefits and blessings that God bestowed on the Jewish nation.
Not purebreds, but mutts.
And then, in a shocking display of overarching love and grace and acceptance, Gentiles were given the chance to join the Kingdom.
I'm not sure that we of the 21st century can conceive of how audacious (and disturbing) this new covenant truly was!
God was now including *mutts* – curs and mongrels – into the blessed privilege of becoming His children.
However, as a person who is now granted an inheritance into the Kingdom of God because of Jesus, I am so very glad to claim my place in the parade!
I count myself lucky to be totally aware of my lostness without a Savior. I'm glad to fully acknowledge that I didn't deserve His salvation, but that I was granted it anyway.
I KNOW that I am a sinner. And I am grateful to know that I was "sick with sin" until the Great Physician came along.
The Savior of the World, God Himself, sat down with "scum" – and that would include me.
I know that I am much more comfortable sitting at the table with the outcasts, the disenfranchised, the miscreants, the bedraggled, the strugglers, the screw-ups.
For in my Master's eyes, I am now righteous.
So, friends, let's go out this week in all our *muttness* and live out the very Good News that we are now part of the Kingdom. Let's celebrate the fact that we have been rescued and adopted. Let's praise Him for the truth that we are now counted among the privileged children of God.
Let's continue the work of inviting others to sit down at the table, and join in the parade!
Yeah, let's go out there into the world and "Strut Our Mutt!"
Strutting can be hard work!
"'If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?'" (Matthew 18:12, NLT)
"'For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.'"
(Luke 19:10, NLT)
"'…the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" (Luke 9:56, NASB)
"'For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.'" (John 3:17, NIV)
"Then Peter replied, 'I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.'" (Acts 10:34, NLT)
"'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.'"
(Galatians 3:28-29, ESV)
"But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12, NLT)
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God."
(Romans 8:14, NLT)
"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him."
(John 3:16-17, AMP)
In what ways do you still struggle to accept God's acceptance of you?
Linked today with:
SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WORDS OF LIFE WEDNESDAYS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, FAITH BARISTA, EVERYDAY JESUS, THRIVE AT HOME THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, WHATEVER IS LOVELY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE
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