Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5 (NIV)
South Texas Paraphrase
Here in rural South Texas, we don’t have lions. Our main predator is the coyote. The coyote causes the deaths of many goats and sheep in my local area. To paraphrase this verse for the South Texas area, it would go something like this.
Be alert and of sober mind.
Howling coyote looking for someone to devour.
Ranchers don’t want their livestock eaten by coyotes! We raise sheep. On the food chain, they are prey animals. They are defenseless animals. An adult ram can hurt a human by head butting them. But they are a chew toy to a pack of coyotes. Many ranches, including us, use Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) to protect their animals.
Our LGDs are a breed called Great Pyrenees. Many internet sites accuse these dogs of being stupid. They are intelligent, deep thinkers. God created them to be able to make insightful decisions. They are able to protect their herd without human interference. If you ask them to do something, they may or may not obey. If you look into their eyes, you can see that they are thinking about the implications of what you have asked them to do. They are amazing, loving creatures. They are gentle and kind to lambs. But, if you are a predator who wants to harm their herd, they can and will tear you limb from limb. This breed of dog can take down a Grizzly Bear if they need to.
Meet our Great Pyrnesses
We currently have five Great Pyrenees. That is a lot for the size of our property, herd and our amount of nearby coyotes. But it is done for future planning. Our two main dogs are Sammie and Balto. Sammie was on the property when we bought it and we think she is around 6-7 years old. Balto came next, he is 4.
Sammie and Balto resting on a hay bale.
We were told and confirmed by our vet that Sammie had be spayed. She wasn’t. She and Balto had an unplanned litter of 12 puppies. We were able to sell all the puppies; they are in high demand. Duke was one of those puppies. He came back to us when his owner died. We had planned to have him work the property with his parents but he and dad don’t get along. Two 100 lbs. dogs fighting is vicious. So at the moment, Duke is a spoiled house pet.
Duke napping in the recliner.
Our latest, we have only had a week. They are the puppies, Sugar and Snowball. The older dogs train the puppies in an apprenticeship fashion that takes about two years. Sammie is showing signs of arthritis now. She is being treated by the vet for it. We hope to have the puppies fully trained before it is time for her to retire.
Sugar and Snowball
God’s Version of LGDs for Believers
God in his wisdom has provided a version of LGDs for his believers. It is the church. We, as brothers and sisters in Christ, are LGDs for one another. The coyote, Satan, looks for the stray vulnerable sheep. He is not going to spend his energy going after the well-protected sheep if there are easier ones to pick off. Sheep become vulnerable when they are alone. Sheep are social herd animals that need each other. God calls us sheep. We are the same way. Satan is waiting and watching ready to devour those who become isolated. They are alone and don’t have the protection that other believers can give them. They are defenseless like sheep.
I know what some of you are thinking because I have had the same thoughts myself. I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with God. I’m fine with me and God. Or, the church is full of hypocrites. I don’t like the music, the seats, the preaching or a hundred other things. There is no perfect church this side of heaven. There will always be some sort of issue. The church is made up of imperfect people coming together to worship God.
In many congregations, the pastor is called the shepherd of his flock. We as members are to be the LGDs for each other. There are times that we need to be as fierce in prayer for each other as the Great Pyrenees would be to protect their flock from a coyote.
If you don’t have a local body of believers, a church, that you belong to, you need one! Find a church and get involved. It’s won’t be perfect and there will be issues but you need it. And they need you.
Finding a church can be hard. If you need some tips on how to go about doing this let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear how you have been an LGD for someone or how someone has done this for you.