August 27, 2012
People always ask you what breed your dog is and for many, the only answer is mutt. That is the mixed breed that usually gets rescued from a shelter or given to you because someone got them for free and couldn’t keep them. Abby was a mutt, given to me by my daughter when she was first living on her own and obviously did not realize that raising animals cost money. Abby was a mix breed of beagle, basenji, and human. I threw in the human part because I believe she really thought she was a human.
I got her when she was big enough to fit in my hand. At that time I was in between churches, a rough time for a pastor, and she was a convenient thing to occupy my mind and my time. During that year, we did everything together. I taught her how to do tricks, she went fishing with me, and she even road the motorcycle with me. I had never had an inside dog, and to be honest, never intended to have one, but, she worked her way in.
I have a habit of giving people and I guess pets too, nicknames. She had two. G-dog, that stands for girl dog. She would respond to that and as the years went by, she even knew that I was talking to her when I just called her G. Her other nickname was Babygirl. That was what I called her when it was just me and her and we were chilling together, either kicked back in the recliner together or laid out on the couch. If I called her that, she expected some lovin’. I heard that you really only give nicknames to people and things that you are really fond of. I guess that’s true.
Abby was 12 years old. She got sick Friday night, nothing to be alarmed about, just some pukin’. For a mutt, she was very expensive. She had a sensitive stomach, she had incontinence and had been on meds for that forever. I think I spent more on her than anyone could spend on the most elaborate pure breed. But this time, I guess it was worse than an upset stomach like it had been so often before. By Sunday morning she had not eaten in two days. She loved eating, so I knew that to be a problem, but she was still walking around and looked okay. I was going to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning, and even cancelled going fishing with a friend because of it. Sunday night she was sleeping in my recliner, then got up and went to lay under the AC vent. About 3am she had her first seizure. It was bad and I pick her up to comfort her, and knew that she would not be here much longer. After several more seizures and an hour later, she died in my arms.
Someone once told me if it hurts really bad, it must be love. It was just a dog though. But God gives us opportunities to experience love in some crazy ways. Some might question why God would let us love something so much then take it from us. I look at it differently. He could let us never love at all. Everything on this earth is His and He loves us enough to let us experience loving His creation.
Job 12:10 -The life of every living creature and the spirit in every human body are in his hands. God does not have to let us love things that He owns. The years of pleasure and joy and yes, love I experience with G-dog was worth the hurt I feel right now.
I don’t know if dogs go to heaven. I told people that she would because I helped her accept Jesus. But I do know that every creature on this earth is precious to God. Matthew 10:29 -Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. So God knew when Abby was taking her last breath. It was His plan. God knows our pain and knows our sorrow when people and things close to us die. Death does have a sting, because it is the enemy. It takes the things we love. But what if we never knew that love?
But death can’t take the memories and the joy. It can’t take away the love. Love lasts forever. Time will ease the pain, but the pain is a reflection of the love, now with no recipient.
I am really gonna miss my dog, even if she was a mutt. Thanks be to God for letting me take care of her for 12 years. It was worth every minute, even the last few painful ones.
August 10, 2012
I love, absolutely love, being a pastor. I get to see people grow and change and learn to be servants. I get to share God’s love with people and see the fruits of my labor. I have been blessed to have a church full of people who are passionate about what has happened to them and are sharing it with others. Even when I think that I want to pull my hair out, and for those who know me, that means things are really stressful and weird, I still love what I do.
This past few weeks has been both stressful and weird. On top of funerals, surgeries, and the other everyday stuff a pastor can deal with, I have been dealing with getting use to having an international student in my house. He is a great kid, so far, and I will get used to having a teenager in my house again, I hope, but this is quite an adjustment for me. I am a creature of habit and don’t mind having a routine that rarely changes. When it does, I have to think that God is trying to teach me something, or, He has decided to show me a sick sense of humor.
In the last couple of weeks I have had a few people tell me the they think that God wants them to leave our church. Before some of you panic, this is not uncommon. I think about leaving at least three of four times a week, and that is in a good week. The reason people tell me that God may want them to leave our church is because they feel like they are not getting along with someone or that things are changing and they don’t like it. I want to address those two reasons for a minute.
First, if there are people who you are not getting along with, consider that God may want you to change something about you, like patience, instead of changing churches, after all, love is patient. Sure I know that most of you are perfect and have no need for change in your own lives, but there are a few who need to learn that God often puts us around people who are different to get us to love those who we don’t like. Luke 6:27, But I tell everyone who is listening: Love your enemies. Be kind to those who hate you. If you are attending a church in hopes of liking everyone you are going to be disappointed. Our command is to love people, not like them. Being the new kid on the block only lasts for a while and then reality sets in. You will find people who disagree and maybe even disappoint you. Those are the ones who challenge you to be more like Jesus, who by the way, does not like everything we do either, yet still loves us. We are not put into the church to be liked or to like everyone. We are put here to serve God and bring Him glory. I am sure glad Jesus did not walk away when He found out someone did not like Him.
Second, is the change thing. Change is always going to make some people uncomfortable. But think about this; if nothing ever changes in church, people are not getting to know Jesus. I would like to offer this suggestion. Rather than getting upset about change, get upset about the status quo. Get upset when you do the same thing week in and week out and never get comfortable with the way things are. The Pharisees got upset because Jesus changed the way they had always done things. Those were the religious guys and the ones who the church way to often resembles. Yet it was their lack of change that had Jesus nailed to the cross. I am very glad that Jesus changed things or I would still be headed to hell. Change is a good thing. Perhaps instead of leaving to find a church that stays the same, you should look and see if it is you that needs to change. I know that I have to evaluate how to change on a daily basis.
Changing the church you attend is often needed. I am not so naive as to think that everyone should stay in the same place all the time. I have changed churches a few times myself. I did know that there was a specific purpose for my change and that it was God that wanted me to go elsewhere and not my own pride or selfishness. But to change churches for the two reasons above is often just that, prideful and selfish. Solving problems instead of running from them helps us to grow and to understand the heart of God better.
If you need to go, I give you my blessing. You will know it is God when you have complete peace about it and can tell anyone who asks the reason without fear or confusion. Fear and confusion are not from God. The very best servants of God, like Paul and Barnabas, left churches to serve elsewhere. Sometimes the best are needed somewhere else to help others grow. That is part of God’s plan and design and I am all for that.
Meanwhile, don’t let Satan cause you to leave where God is working, and He is working at our church. People are coming to know Jesus as Savior every week and others are growing and learning to serve others to help them be more like Christ. Satan is a liar and a punk. He loves complacent churches where nothing ever changes and people rarely get saved. He loves it when we get focused on ourselves and forget that we should be helping others. Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble. He said that people would dislike us and that we should never grow weary of doing what is right. Doing what is right is not always easy. Doing what is wrong often is. Think about it.
March 2, 2012
My wife is addicted to little children. Our own children are grown and cannot or will not produce babes fast enough for her. So she has a plan to have every baby and little kid at our church think that she is their Mimi too. I am pretty sure that this is not dangerous, but I do think it is an addiction.
Last night she went to help a couple with a baby that is only a month or so old. Both of them are sick and they are new parents and they were just worn out. My wife is a very compassionate woman. She will help almost anyone. But when she sees an opportunity to hold and spoil a baby she quickly jumps to feed her habit. I got the call that she was going to their house about an hour before she got off from work and was told that they were desperate and needed her help. I immediately knew that she just needed a baby fix.
Guess what she is doing tonight? Going to visit our son who lives a couple of hours from here so that she can “help” them. And guess what they have at their house? Yep. A baby. She is staying there for the weekend and my suspicion is that she is gonna be so wired up on baby that she won’t be able to drive home and that is why she is staying the weekend. She really does not know how to take babies in moderation. As an ex addict myself, not to babies, I know the signs. You always try to justify what you are doing, but no matter how much you try you always end up over indulging. There have been times when she would come home from “helping a friend” and she would smell like baby or small child.
Don’t misunderstand, she is not dangerous and I am not scared of her when she is using. Rarely has she ever missed work and she has never lost a job because of it. She has never threatened me seriously with violence and for the most part it does not interfere with our marriage. There are times when I will choose to sleep on the couch because she is so strung out on babies and children, but it has not approached the point to where it threatens our relationship. From time to time she will stretch the truth about her habit. The other week she said that she was only going to have one or two kids and it ended up being six kids at once. I can tell you that one kid will take the edge off, but she is not satisfied until she is totally loaded with kids.
She tries to limit getting children from only people that she knows. Family and friends are her biggest suppliers. But she will quickly run to anyone who comes into our church with a child and try to, as she likes to call it, “love on them”. I have seen her trying to talk to strangers about their children but for now, I feel she can restrain herself.
I have to watch her closely. We cannot have children anymore. I thought that doctor had fixed the problem, but occasionally she will mention adopting. I am strong for her and I remind her that she is an addict and does not need children in the house all the time. Sure, I should probably put my foot down and get her some help, but without children, she can be difficult to live with, so I turn a blind eye and just try to help manage her addiction.