Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper
Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV

“Walk.” “Stand.” “Sit.” Sounds like puppy obedience classes. Oh, the memories! Puppy dates! Movies, ball games, Boston trips, hikes, restaurant dinners, shopping, bus and elevator rides, nursing homes, and church. You name it. We did it. Through service dog puppy raising, “Haven” and I went everywhere and did everything together. We practiced basic obedience commands in as many settings and with as many distractions as possible so that she could learn to perform her tasks flawlessly regardless of what was happening around her.

Nothing brings complete strangers together or presses the “awwww button” quite like seeing a little fur ball in an unbroken “sit” as a double scoop ice cream cone sits tucked between her front paws and treats rest on her nose untouched. Then, to see her thoroughly enjoy her reward for a job well done.

Nothing stirs the heart like seeing a typically immobile and depressed elderly gentleman brought to life and to his feet at the sight of a little puppy. Or a disabled woman opening up clenched hands to give away puppy treats. Or a hallway full of stressed-out teens transformed as they band together to love on and help train a fuzzy puppy. Or tears flowing as an always-silent little girl who, with leash in hand, now chatters away to her new four-legged friend as they walk together.

Becoming a successful service dog requires months upon months of training. As a puppy raiser, my job was to spend the first year helping Haven master basic obedience skills and socialization before she went on to the center for more refined training geared to her prospective owner’s needs.

The reward for all that disciplined training comes when the full-fledged service dog is loved away to their intended person whose life is changed forever by the provision and independence a dog brings them.

In today’s verses, the Psalmist writes that we have disciplines to master as followers of God.

We’re not to walk, stand, or sit with the ungodly, the sinners, or the scorners—those who are ambassadors of all opposed to God. Yes, we are to interact with the world, but we’re not to seek its wisdom, think as the world thinks, or make its way of life our own. No matter how enticing that may appear. We’re not to be worldly-focused. Once we were and we walked in the world’s way. Now, transformed through the power of Christ’s indwelling Spirit, we have abandoned that way of life and living. Therefore, we’re to seek the guiding counsel of God through the Spirit, His Word, and the fellowship of spiritually mature men and women of God. We are to have the mind of Christ and Christlikeness as our way of life. It’s the discipline of being “Father-Directed.”

For the puppy in training, “stand” means to stand in place, ready to move on command. It’s a great picture of the believer standing firmly and immovably planted in Christ’s will, ready to move when God says go. It’s the discipline of being “Father-Ready.

The Psalmist says about the believer: “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” This is the believer’s “stay” command. It’s our position of purpose and rest in Christ that takes practice. Sometimes, where God places us is our sweet spot that makes it easy for us to stay. More often, it’s not such an easy place. And, sometimes, it’s impossible to remain without the overriding power of the Holy Spirit. Easy or hard the place, delighting in obeying is the desire of our hearts. It’s the discipline of being “Father-Purposed, Father-Rested.

“And in His law he meditates day and night.” This is the believer’s “watch Me” command. “Watch me” is the first command puppies learn. Focusing on the handler instead of distractions keeps the puppy safe and knowing what to do. In the same way, we learn to watch our Heavenly Father. The more distractions and the bigger the challenges around us, the more intently and intensely we need to focus on Him. It’s the discipline of being “Father-Focused.

The bond between a service dog and its owner as they work and do life together is a great example of the ever-deepening bond we have with God as we do life with Him, as we cultivate and practice the disciplines of our Christian faith. The Psalmist says that our reward is that we will be refreshed—and an unending refreshment to others. We will become abundantly fruitful for Christ. We will be “Father-Blessed!

Father, thank You that though I sometimes take my eyes off You and put them on my circumstances, You never take Your eyes off me. You are ever watchful, ever faithful. Help me to learn to stay Father-Focused. I love You, Lord!

In Him,
Donna Perkins




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Margaret Fowler
    April 17, 2023 10:09 pm

    What a wonderful comparison, training service dogs, and training in becoming a consistent Christian. Thank you Donna. A deepening bond with God as we do life with Him.- A good thought for every day. God bless you in your meaningful writing.

    • Donna Perkins
      April 18, 2023 12:47 am

      Thank you so much. Puppy raising was such a wonderful season in my life. It taught me a lot about what God is like. I also saw myself too often when the puppies were naughty:)
      I’m so thankful for a gracious merciful and very patient and loving Savior.


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