I was driving through town and I received a call from my daughter, Shelby.  I asked her if she needed anything and her response was “no, not really.”  Now, dads….you know what this means…this means that our daughters are calling simply to talk and it is time to buck up and it is time to turn down our radio and put on our listening ears.

She talked of school, friends, and of funny conversations.  She updated me on the show Stranger Things and This is Us.” She informed me that she was studying for a quiz, but that it wasn’t a test. Then I asked a very important question: “What’s the difference between a quiz and a test?”

 (Dads, it is imperative to insert questions now and then to prove that you are listening to the conversation.  Just make sure that your question is relevant to the current portion of the conversation, or the intent of such question will actually backfire.) She stated that a quiz is usually over less material and carries less weight on your final grade than a test.  That being the case….students spend a lot of time studying for tests…and sometimes go into quizzes not as prepared.


Like most things in life, the quiz vs. test scenario became a theological quandary that began to race through my mind.  I began to wonder what would happen if students spent the same amount of time studying for quizzes as tests.  Would it not increase their grades and at the same time better prepare them for the larger and heavier tests that would eventually come their way??

Maybe  I could write a book….”study for the quiz and ace the test.”  I could make millions….and help students everywhere get better grades. I would receive the Nobel Peace Prize and……….


As Christians we spend most of our time worrying about the big test.  We pray about sickness, we pray about finances, we pray about whether or not our kids are ever going to graduate school and become self-reliant tax paying American citizens.  We get “churchy” around holidays and tragedies…but we pass over the daily quizzes in life without much fanfare or attention.  We don’t really pray, seek wisdom, or even think about including God in the little quizzes that the world throws at us every day….the barking dog, the honking car, the overzealous parking attendant, the call from school, the bosses demands, the piled up laundry, the tired husband, the noisy children, the empty supper table, the overflowing garbage can. 

Ahh……life’s little quizzes are coming at us faster than we can even imagine…and because they don’t carry much weight or don’t seem to be overly important…we leave God out.  Can I tell you a little secret?  It might be one you already know and if so….feel free to pass it on.  If we spend as much God time in life’s daily quizzes…we will be much more prepared for life’s big tests.  Can I tell you another little secret?  It might be one you already know and if so…..feel free to pass it on.  God is just as interested in how we do on life’s little quizzes as he is on life’s big tests.  They are weighted no differently. 


May we be more intentional and focused on the life’s daily quizzes. May we include God and let Him lead in all aspects of our life. May we be more prepared for life’s tests because trusting God and talking to Him come as natural as passing an open book quiz.  It is an open book quiz you know…..or it should be anyway.  So…go….open the Book and prepare. 

Written by Dr. Mark A Bedwell


It was October 31st and I was sitting on the front porch watching children as they scavenged through the neighborhood going door to door looking for candy.  Neighbors stopped by just to say hi.  Typical conversations were held about the weather, the football game, the economy……and the housing market.  As one of our neighbors approached, I noticed that at the end of her leash, she had the most beautiful black dog.  His hair was soft and curly.  His eyes set close together and they seemed to be chocolate brown.  He had an under bite,  a slight wheeze…and within seconds I had fallen in love.  (Please don’t tell my dog, Max.)  As I was rubbing his belly, I commented... 

“you don’t really see many black dogs.”


I was shocked  when she quickly responded…”black dog syndrome.”  The typical conversation about weather and housing market turned into an educational seminar about a condition I had never even heard of.  Apparently black dogs are the black sheep (excuse the pun)  of the canine world.  They are commonly the last, if at all to be adopted at a shelter.  The bigger they are…the worse their chances.  I was at least a bit comforted to find out males are more likely to be adopted than females.  Let’s face it guys…there are very few things we can boast about as men…so I will take what I can get.


Since I was so intrigued by this conversation, I went to the internet and found that black dog syndrome was a true phenomenon.  Destined for death at many shelters, some of the reasons that they are passed over might surprise you.  1. Harmful superstitions.  Black dogs are the center of many common folklore tales.  2. Negative labels.  Apparently people associate having a black dog with living with depression due to the terminology “transcending the black dog.”  3. Fear. Many believe that a black dog is simply more aggressive and dangerous. 4. And this is the one that I was most shocked at……they are just too ordinary.  This phenomenon has actually caused some shelters to adopt a BOGO (buy one get one) policy so that the dark coated canines can find a home.


I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that the fate of a beautiful and loving animal rests in decisions being made around superstitions, labels, and fear.  As I think about the many decisions we make every day, I wonder what is shaping those choices.  Are we so easily influenced?  Do negative labels, superstitions, fear, and opinion polls shape and guide who we are and what we do?  Are we people who act out of conviction or are we people who act simply out of conformity?  I also wonder what other kind of syndromes exist.  Who and what are we excluding based upon what we hear rather than what we see with our spiritual eyes and know to be true?  How many opportunities, friendships, and situations are we missing not simply because of the decisions we make……but more so….the basis of those decisions.


May we pay attention to what is shaping our choices.  May we be a friend of conviction.  May we use it to guide us. May we go against the flow.  May we recognize prejudices in our life and may we deal with them appropriately.  May we freely ask for God’s forgiveness.  May you reach out and ask for others forgiveness as well.  May we not be exclusive but may we have a heart that includes.  May we see things through God’s eyes and may He be involved in the basis for all our decisions. May we never look at black dogs the same again.

 Written by our Pastor Dr. Mark A Bedwell