Stock Dog Theology

An old rancher who had used stock dogs his whole life once told me that he’s trained a lot of dogs but there are some that just seem to understand English.  I was reminded of that when a friend told me about taking their two border collies to a stock dog trainer.  Neither dog had ever worked sheep before.  Fresca had very strong herding instincts but she didn’t fare too well because she was too aggressive. Grace, on the other hand, had the sheep moving easily through the corals literally within minutes.

The difference was that Fresca depended on her instincts and paid little heed to the handler, whereas Grace was intent on the slightest sign from the handler who guided Grace’s natural instincts. You probably see where I’m going with this, but you may be surprised by where I see that in the Bible.

Romans 12:1&2 tells us that we will be able to recognize the will of God if we will stop conforming to the way culture works and instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Let me unpack that a little.

Culture in general is self-focused.  Be true to yourself, be that master of your own destiny, find what works for you. That’s not to say the pattern of culture is necessarily selfish, but it’s certainly self-directed.

When Romans says to be transformed, that is changed through and through, by renewing our minds it’s directing us to be God focused. Vine’s Bible dictionary says of the word “renewing” that it indicates our minds are to be “under the controlling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who directs our minds bent and energies Godward.”

How do we go about renewing our minds?  It starts with a greater hunger and passion for scripture.  How can you develop that? First ask God for it.  It sounds simple but it’s true.  Second begin reading it daily.  You’ll find that getting into it will whet your appetite for more.

The text is not saying that in being able to recognize the will of God because you’ve been transformed by the renewing of your mind that all your problems will be solved and your life will go smoothly.  What it is saying is that you will be able to be confident of being in God’s will in the middle of all the stresses, adversities, uncertainties and upheavals that life brings.


About David Berg

I live in a small town in Alberta, Canada. I pastor a small Baptist church and also work half-time on a local seed farm. It has been more than 25 years that I have been married to a most amazing and beautiful lady whose name is Wendy. Together we have three boys, and two beautiful daughter-in-laws. View all posts by David Berg

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