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.
April 27, 2012
This was a subject given the other day when I asked for blog ideas. It is difficult to keep this short and yet get the point across but I will try.
I am not sure if this is all bad. One of the qualities of a person who believes that they are inferior is that they are usually humble. Humility is a wonderful Christian asset and often is very hard for people who always feel confident. But I do think that there are some things that the Bible says about this and maybe this will shed a little light.
Let’s look at Moses. When He met God through the burning bush, he was told that he would be the one to deliver God’s message to Pharaoh. Moses immediately responded that he could not do it because he wasn’t good enough due to poor speech, afraid people would think he was a liar, and overall just afraid. If anyone in the Bible had an inferiority complex it was Moses. Yet he turned out to be one of the most influential people in history.
The Bible says that we were not given the spirit of fear, but of peace, love,and a sound mind. A sound mind, (and this is not saying if you feel this way that you are crazy), is the ability to think clearly because God gives us wisdom and we have faith in God. Moses was not using a sound mind when he argued with God that he could not do what God asked him to do. But God is patient and continued to overcome Moses inferior objections. Ultimately Moses had the faith to not only go to Pharaoh, but to lead his people for 40 years with God’s guidance.
The only person that the Christian is inferior too is God. We must remember, with humility, that a we are children of the King of Kings, the Lord of all creation, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
The captivity of a feeling of inferiority is only a tool of Satan who would have us do anything other than listen to God. Jesus said, “With God, all things are possible.” Satan would say, “You can’t do what God expects of you. You are just not good enough.” Satan wants us to believe that we aren’t good enough and that God can’t or won’t use us.
We are not deserving of salvation and we can’t be good enough. We are saved because of God’s mercy and love for us. After salvation, we are co laborers with God to build His church. He equips us and gives us everything we need to be successful. We need humility to keep us from thinking that we are better than anyone else just because we are Christians, but never need to feel inferior, because Jesus said that all power and authority was given to Him and He is the one who empowers us.
We are no longer people in bondage, no matter who we are or what our personal hang ups are.
John 8:36 …So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free.
February 13, 2012
Last week I was off the blog scope as some of you may have noticed. What stinks is that I had a lot of really awesome and cool stuff to say. Now I forgot it all and I have to blog about why I did not blog all last week; I was sick.
I don’t go to the doctor very often. Before I do, I will try every home remedy possible and use the tried and true method of waiting to get better first. After raising 3 kids I have become pretty good at judging what is a cold or flu and what is just a simple bump or bruise versus the major stuff that needs doctors assistance. I became very good at looking at the back of a throat to see if it was just red or had little white bumps that meant Strep. Through the years I did not miss the call too often and even got to where I could look in the mirror with a flashlight and diagnose myself.
Monday of last week I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and a headache. This lasted a couple of days then just as quickly as is came on me it left. The next morning though I noticed a tingling in my throat that later that day turned to a burning and then later it became difficult to swallow. So I grabbed my flashlight and went to the mirror and took a long look and all I saw was some redness. So I gargled with some salt water and took a few Advil and suffered through it. The next morning I could hardly swallow my own spit. Again I looked in the mirror with my flashlight and only saw red. So I did the last thing any man wants to do and that was call the wife to come have a look. As soon as she looked she said, “Oh yeah. You have strep.”
We argued for a minute about why I did not see the white bumps that she claims were covering my throat but she insisted that I go to the doctor no matter what I saw or didn’t see. The only reason that I agreed with her to go was that I was scheduled to leave the next day for a men’s retreat and we were gonna go snow tubing and I knew that I was not snow tubing with my throat hurting that bad.
Once at the doctor’s office, I told the doctor that I did not see anything that looked like strep, but my wife said she did. I told her that I want to be safe and that I had to travel the next day. She, the doctor, told me that looking for the white spots was not a foolproof way to know if it was strep or not but it was the normal most of the time. So she grabs the wooden stick and crams it down my throat and starts to laugh. “What white spots did you not see? You throat is covered in them.”
How could I miss this? I looked several times. My diagnostic skills had never been questioned like this before. This was devastating.
After the exam and the test came back quickly with a positive, the doctor showed me the stick that she used to test me with. It looked like a pee test strip and she asked me if I saw the three lines. She said normally there is one, maybe two lines that indicate a positive, but this one had three. I looked at the strip and did not see a thing. The doctor then asks, “Do you wear glasses?”
So tomorrow I have my very first eye doctors appointment. Things just didn’t look that bad.
November 22, 2011
This morning I was reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and as always, spent more time pondering than reading. That’s right, I ponder. This was written by Solomon, the fellow who God gave him anything that he asked for, and Solomon chose wisdom. He was the wisest man to ever live and in his writing this, the wisdom has driven him to understand things that are often not what humans want to know.
I believe that humans will naturally try to find a way to put the “me first” factor into everything. Even the most mature Christians that I know, myself included, (see, I just injected me into the thought), want to think that somehow life is all about them. Our best attempts at humility are much too often filled with thoughts of how to look humble and get recognized for our humility. So Solomon starts out saying that it is all vanity of vanities. I love the translation God’s Word and the way it reads: Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” But that is what vanity is, pointless. If life is all about me/you, then this life is pretty pointless. This all reminds me of the old song by Carley Simon, You’re So Vain.
When reading this amazing book of the Bible it is easy to misunderstand what he is saying. He says over and over that this life is pointless. It is almost like he is saying that we shouldn’t even have a desire to live. At one point he says that one generation dies and another one lives, but the earth lasts forever. It as if he is saying that we are worthless on this earth, but that is not the point of this writing. But Solomon understoond something that few ever will. Imagine being able to understand everything. The longer you live, the more you understand.
Many times I have people in the church come to me and suggest that we do a certain ministry or project. Part of being the pastor is to try to understand the impact of what our church does and what the impact of what each ministry or project has on the overall mission of our church. Way too often I have to think about the underlying motives of these suggestions. Most of them are not made with any ill intent, but they are made with a selfish motive that generally is not even recognized by those doing the suggesting.
For instance, if someone comes to me with an idea for the children’s ministry of our church and they have children, that idea is usually something that they think will be best for their children. That is not wrong, but it is self motivated and that is vanity. If someone comes to me with an idea to feed to homeless, and I don’t mention that it was their idea, often they get their feelings hurt, even if we implement the idea exactly like they suggested. Vanity.
Solomon said this: Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It’s all pointless (vanity). It’s like trying to catch the wind. The older he got the more he saw that everything that humans did had a touch of vanity in it. Remember that this is not me talking, this is the man that God granted wisdom. Wisdom that had never before and never will again be given to a man. And let me add this: If you are saying to yourself, I am not like that, you are being vain. What Soloman was realizing in this wisdom was that man was more about man than about God. That it was God that is the center of the universe, not man. Even the best of man is nothing compared to God. It is indeed vanity and the wisdom that he thought would bring him great joy, in the end only showed him how short he came when compared to the glory of God. This is how he ends Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.