Bulldog Dog Canine Grey Cartoon Pet Animal


My friend Kenny has a tattoo just below the collar of his shirt.


Yes, I know that caught you by surprise, but bear with me.


Kenny’s tattoo is four simple letters: HMBC.


When asked, he explains that it stands for “Hold Me By the Collar” and it’s a prayer to God.


His explanation never ends the discussion –it’s always met with blank stares that long for further explanation.


And Kenny will explain if pressed: ” Some dogs are okay if kept on a long leash. Other dogs need a short leash. Me, I need to be held by the collar. Lord, hold me by the collar.”


That’s kind of how feel about mission trips. I would do mission trips full-time if the Lord opened a door that allowed it.


I’m not complaining. I am blessed to be where I am and who knows what the future will be? God is good and I will go where He sends me. 


But, I honestly do have this itch, this longing, this yearning to go and do as He bids me.


That’s why I totally “get” what Paul writes in the opening of Romans:

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. Romans 1: 7-10 (NIV)


I get it, Paul. I can feel your longing. Sign me up! I’ll go with you, brother!


The thing is, at first reading it seems like Paul has been to Rome before this. But he had not. It’s commonly accepted that Peter founded the church at Rome, not Paul. But Paul yearned to be with the believers in Rome.


But why? 


The Gospel had already been preached there. The faith of the Roman church was by now famous, having been reported all over the world. 


In addition, Paul wrote those words when he was in Corinth. He had  collected a gift for famine relief for the church in Jerusalem –which is in the opposite direction as Rome. It was an important gift because it meant Gentile believers in the newly-established church where sending support to the church in Jerusalem consisting of mostly Jewish believers. It also meant that if Paul was going to be able to go to Rome, it would be a journey of many thousands of miles, many months, and not insignificant expense. ( He also wanted to go on to Spain after spending time in Rome.)


So why did Paul so desperately wanted to go to Rome? Why was this so important to him? He tells us in verses 11 and 12:

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 


He didn’t say he wanted to bring a team and build them a church or a hospital. His longing didn’t have anything to do with the physical needs of himself or the Romans. His intent was entirely spiritual. 


And then, he gives us this in verse 13:

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.


And it’s at this point that I have an actual picture in my head of Paul the bull dog being held by the collar.


That mutual encouragement, that growing and building of the faith, that infectious incredible power of the Holy Spirit that happens when two groups of believers get together and His praises and His glory are multiplied in them through mutual faith is very hard to put into words, but there are songs on Kinship Christian Radio that come very close to fully communicating it:

Your love is like radiant diamonds
Bursting inside us we cannot contain
Your love will surely come find us
Like blazing wild fires singing Your name
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied
(from “Multiplied” by NeedtoBreathe.)
Yes, multiplied. 
That multiplied praise and glory to God is such an incredible draw, such an enormous pull on one’s soul, that Paul would eventually accept and even orchestrate being brought to the Romans in chains rather than not go at all. (See Acts 25.)
Yes, the Roman church needed proper teaching and instruction, which Paul addressed in his letter to them. But he was straining at his collar for the sheer joy of encouraging them and being encouraged by them. 
Lord, hold me by the collar, but point me in the direction you want me to go when you do let me loose.
Today’s Praise
I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ. Romans 15:29 (NIV)
Written by Dan Jones
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