Zachary Bright

The Wonder of it All


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Jack’s DOGmatic Reflections

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the Word of God is more precious tha gold

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
— Psalm 34:8 (NRSV)

…if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
— 1 Peter 2:3 (NRSV)

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
— Psalm 119:103 (NRSV)

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
— Psalm 19:10 (NRSV)

Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog (BSD), is an avid bibliophile, a lover of books. We had been scanning the horizon, looking for the arrival of our book order, when one day my wife Terry, brought in at the end of the day, a ripped-up package, that contained a book. Apparently, the mail-person had chucked our book order over the fence, and on to the lawn, which as far as Jack was concerned, placed the projectile clearly in his “wheelhouse”, on the BSD’s “plate”, so to speak. Doubtless, the damage to the package came from the Bible Study Dog’s attempts to drag the package to safety, knowing that the timed sprinkler would come on and damage our long-anticipated book order. But just to show you the respect that Jack has for books, the book itself was totally undamaged.

I buy most of my books on my Kindle; it’s cheaper and it saves room. Sometimes though, only a hard copy will do, or maybe the book is not out as an ebook yet. Jack, however, prefers the hard copy; I think the way he put it was, “something you can sink your teeth into.” The Bible Study Dog is nothing, if not earnest, in his participation in my theological studies.

Recently, Jack has been interested in drawing together, in a meaningful whole, his scattered biblical insights. Hence his interest in theology, the study of God, who for the BSD, is often revealed through Jack’s relationship with me. I am trying to exercise some of the care of creation that God assigned to humankind (Genesis 1:26-28), through my life with Jack Lewis. Also, I have a little sign that someone gave me, that reads: “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

The Bible Study Dog especially enjoys the theology that draws on biblical theology, historical theology, and God’s revelation of himself in creation and redemption, DOGmatic Theology. This is for at least two reasons: 1) the word “dog” in the title, helps Jack feel included; and 2) the size of many dogmatics volumes are impressive. Just looking at some of the dogmatics books on the shelves behind me: “Church Dogmatics” (I have seven of them), by Karl Barth; “Systematic Theology”, two volumes (1997), by Robert W. Jenson; “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”, two volumes, by John Calvin; The “Christian Foundations” series, seven volumes, by Donald G. Bloesch; four volumes so far by Michael Horton; five volumes by Emil Bruner; several single volume Presbyterian theologies; and more. My favorite right now is probably the Jenson volumes.

As so often, the BSD has an important insight. Even though culinary interests are not in view, we do taste (in a spiritual way) the reality of God and the wonder of the Word (Bible). From this I take two understandings: 1) encounter with God in worship or Word can be a pleasure, even greater then physical pleasure; and 2) we don’t eat physical food just once a week or once a month, but we eat every day. Daily feeding on the Word, and worshiping our Creator-Redeemer, help us to grow spiritually, to grow to be more like Jesus.

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This post was powered by the album, “Hope’s Not Giving Up” (2016) by Remedy Drive and the album, “Vittles and Valentines” (2016) by Rebecca Loebe.


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Shelter In The Storm

lighthouse in storm

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe. – Proverbs 18:10, ESV

Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah – Psalm 61:2b-4, ESV

You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah – Psalm 32:7, ESV

Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog (BSD), likes to sleep beside me, packed as tightly as possible between my right leg and the arm of the recliner chair. Waking up one morning, I was reminded of a remark of Caesar Milan, to the effect that, typically dogs are often comforted by tight places. That might partly be because dogs, like humans, are social animals, and perhaps they carry a memory of coming into this world amidst a liter of squirming, writhing, cuddling puppies around their mother. But this is also because wild dogs, wolves and hyenas live in dens; perhaps just a depression in the dirt, a cave dug out of a hillside, or a hole taken over from other animals. After a day or night of hunting, the wild dogs come back to the den and re-establish their sense of order in the pack, care for the puppies that have been left behind, share food, and cuddle for warmth and comfort.

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Humans also need a base of operations, a place to go out from, and come back to. We need a place to nurse our wounds from the world, re-establish our sense of where we fit in our family or with other allies, a place to share meals and other essentials of life, a place to care for and raise children, a place where we are understood; a place to go for shelter from the storms, pressures, chaos and enemies we all know. We must have some place to regroup, catch our breath, recharge our sense that we matter to someone, and to make plans for the struggles ahead. We call this place HOME.

When I was young, boys would build “forts.” I think that girls ‘playing house’ are reflecting a similar instinct (please no haters, I could qualify my statements in order to be PC, but hey!, we’re all adults here). We all seek a place of safety and protection, where we can exercise our God-given, Adam & Eve, before the Fall, gifts to exercise benevolent, royal dominion. In the Bible, this is called a: FORTRESS, TOWER, SHELTER, HIDING PLACE, ROCK.

The little parable (Mt. 7:24-27) at the end of Yeshua’s Sermon On the Mount is realistic: both those who hear and obey Yeshua’s words and endure; and those who hear, but do not obey his words and are washed away; experience the storm. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew…” (Mt. 7:25, ESV, comp. vs. 27) In the parable, hearing and doing Yeshua’s words is the Rock on which we may build and secure our lives. But in the Hebrew Bible texts that I have chosen, our Shelter is YHWH himself. Remember that “the name of the LORD” does not point to just using the words, but connotes the entire character of God. The same is true when we invoke the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So we are talking about how Yahweh himself, his presence, and all of who he is, is our fortress, our safe place.

But what happens when the storm comes inside our homes, and there is literally no safe place on earth for us? Well, praise be to Yahweh, we can run to him, our Rock, at any time, and receive the refreshment, the encouragement, and just a place to be, that we need!

What are the elements of your storm right now? Financial difficulty, child custody battle, sickness, tensions with coworkers, failure, meaninglessness, confusion of voices in your world, loved ones who need to believe the Good News, a broken relationship? I could go on and on. But we all may run to the Rock, the Strong Tower, the Fortress, the Hiding Place! And I do mean RUN! Life is too dangerous to spend it exposed, without supernatural help! I’ll see you inside.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my Fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear… – Psalm 91:1-5a, ESV

Well, if I were you I would read the whole of Psalm 91 as soon as possible.

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You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word. – Psalm 119:114, ESV


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Three Things; No, Four – Numero Dos

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“The way of a dog with his man…” – Z. Bright “The symbiotic, enmeshed, yet strangely invigorating, relationship of a man with his dog…” – Jack

Our second wonderful thing is the dog water park phenomenon. This choice is what happens when the Bible Study Dog gets a vote. Also, this ‘thing’ brings together two ‘things’ that I find very cool: dogs and water. Here is a fun YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwIMAZ7Mh8s

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Waterford Oaks Water Park Dog Swim event, September 11, 2010

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I offer prayers of thanksgiving for all the people in my life when I think of them, including some of you. I also thank the Father every day for Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog.

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