Posts Tagged With: Jesus

In the Custody of Humans

 

Gracie

Pictured is Gracie

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. Proverbs 12:10

It is crucial for those who are seeking a pet to understand the commitment that they are making before taking on such an enduring responsibility.

Responsible pet care begins with a commitment that extends throughout the animal’s lifetime. If you are no longer able to provide proper care for your pet, often, putting the animal up for adoption and fully vetting each inquiry, is the best route to take. Abandoning your pet, and or surrendering their life to an Animal Control agency, is both heinous and cruel.

When caring for a pet, in addition to their physical health, we also have their emotional and psychological health to consider—similar to people.

For a moment, set your thinker on the psychological and emotional trauma of children whose parents have died. The damage is even worse when the child is simply unwanted, unloved, and given away. Those scars will endure a lifetime. The same holds true for dogs and cats and many other furry critters we love. They become attached to those whom they’ve grown dependent upon. Most creatures natural inclinations are to form family bonds. You are their family. For a dog, the family is the pack. Cats too, are more comfortable and at ease in a clowder. Groups of feral cats have been jokingly called prides, but that term still seems to stick in certain regions.

A very smart Golden Retriever named Harvey had a people daddy who was known as Ronnie March. The two would spend most of their days and nights together. After their daily, morning jog they would enjoy breakfast together in their dine-in kitchen. Then together, they would travel to Ronnie’s YouTube film set. Most evenings were spent snuggled up on a couch, watching television. The two were inseparable.

When Ronnie was killed in a car crash, Harvey was injured too. His master was gone, and Harvey understood that Ronnie was dead. They’d been together when it happened. Finally, Harvey’s two broken legs and two broken ribs healed. But this faithful golden retriever had other wounds of the heart that were much more severe than his physical injuries. Harvey exhibited such depression that he would refuse to eat, and he moaned and whined incessantly. He was a highly intelligent dog, and expertly street-wise. On the pair’s early morning jogs their normal route had crossed over a busy highway so that they could access a nearby park. During the four months after Ronnie passed, poor Harvey was so heavyhearted that he would go and stand in the middle of that same highway, as if he were attempting suicide. After those four months, Harvey died too. There was no reason found for Harvey’s death, but most people are convinced: He died from a broken heart.

Yet, animals are distinctly different creatures than people are. People were made in the very image of Creator God, and were given by God the responsibility to care for all of the earth and its many denizens.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Animal welfare is the ethical responsibility of ensuring animal well-being.” Animal well-being is the condition in which animals experience good health, are able to effectively cope with their environment, and are able to express a diversity of specie-typical behaviors.”—Dogs Naturally Magazine

It is my belief that animals also need a sense of belonging and lots of love.

Please! If you are having difficulty with offering proper care to your animals, there are lots of us out here who are willing to help. Be kind to animals.

Wait! I’ve heard a number of good people talking about how they love their pets more than they love people. It’s possible I may have said something similar in the past. But we definitely should not harbor, nor feed that attitude. Human life is above animal life, no matter how we may feel. Yes, people are often much more difficult to love, but that in no way negates God’s commands. Truth is never based upon feelings, but upon what God says. Continue to love your pets, but we must learn to love each other too.

There are many great reasons to get an animal companion as most already know, so I’m not going to bother listing them. There are also wrong reasons to obtain an animal, and I want to address just one. My apologies beforehand to my animal loving friends, but for just a moment I need to directly address some rather unscrupulous types.

To those who are involved with dog fighting, for fun, or for money, or for any other reason… Well, let me put it this way: “If I can’t whoop you myself, there’s plenty of others out here who will jump in to help me put you where you belong: Behind bars. Because we feel very strongly about this, and we will no longer tolerate your cruelty.”

To everyone else I say, let’s continue to be kind to animals, love them and especially love one another, just as Jesus commands.

My little Maltese Yorkie “Gracie” has a shirt that says, “I’m not French, I just kiss that way.”

Until next time, blessings, and wet slobbery kisses to you from our furry friends!

Categories: Animal Companions--Pets, Christian Living, Community, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Community

canal

During my bicycle commute to downtown Indianapolis I have time to reflect on the things God teaches us. The thoughts He brought to mind were of a good life and the importance of being good neighbors who care about making the place they live the safest, most vibrant and economically healthy Community possible. It always begins with a sense of camaraderie and working together. In a word it is unity. This was a lesson the Lord was teaching during that peaceful respite from my labors.

bike

White River State Park is about a mile from our Indianapolis home; I cross over the river itself, which is a tributary to the Wabash River, and stretches for 362 miles. I pause often on the bridge to bask in the beauty of its verdant waterway. The park, too, is a delight. Riding a bicycle enables me to experience the outdoors and the people as I pass through it on my way to do business downtown. Along the canal winding through the park, puppies frolic and excited dogs tug on their leashes, as children laugh. And even the joggers smile.  Ducks eye you closely for any sign of a bread bag while the squirrels display their acrobatic prowess in the surrounding trees. When people are there, they are at their friendliest. By your fifth greeting or so, you are caught up in the vortex of souls longing for community—community unity demanding to remain intact. It’s an assuring feeling to know your neighbors hope for the same kind of world that you do.

There are some things that every descent citizen hopes for: things such as world peace, old fashioned hospitality and charity, safety, prosperity, community mindedness. The need for togetherness is evident, in order to build such a home. How do we achieve the utopian lives we envision for ourselves?

museum

Nearly two thousand years ago God’s Son became a man. He taught and demonstrated the singular path to the kind of life for which every sane soul longs. His name is Jesus.

What is the first step towards the abundant life Jesus came to give us? If a soul is to manifest the dynamic of God’s Spirit indwelling them, where would they begin, and how? Assuming a person has placed their faith in Christ and is saved, they must possess particular knowledge if they are to learn God’s truths and mature in that faith. Most important is belief in who God is, and what He is like. This is the foundation of theology and of biblical Christianity.

Our worship leaders at West Park church in Indianapolis have made a habit of proclaiming one of God’s glorious attributes at the beginning of each service. We hear it often and in many congregations around the world. It began as “God is good!” And the congregation responds with “All the time!” That is the primary belief we must have if we are to trust Him with our lives. Is this simply a slogan, or a platitude to make us feel spiritual? Often I feel we do not dwell upon the depth of meaning those words carry. It’s a hazard any time we over use any statement. I like the fact that our congregation changes it up to include many of God’s other attributes. “God is faithful all the time,” or “God is love all the time.” God is all-knowing, almighty and holy all the time. The list goes on and on.

meerkats

It jolted me when the Lord brought the words, “God is good” to mind during a moment of my weakness. A decision was required of me to either speak out to vindicate myself against a false accusation, or heed the Spirit’s instruction to remain silent. My reputation and honor were at stake.

Thankfully, in this instance, I did the right thing and kept my flapper shut. But in order to do so, I had to trust that God is good and faithful. For obedience to occur it is absolutely essential that we are fully convinced of God’s goodness and His faithfulness. The Lord did vindicate me! And the truth came out in a way that had everyone involved hugging each other with joyful tears of Christian love and unity. It was a beautiful moment—one that is cherished.  God’s power was released into that situation because I believed and then acted upon that belief. I’m convinced that taking the matter into my own hands would have precipitated hard feelings on both sides, along with pain and deep regret.

Then, I realized that every temptation at its root was the same temptation. It’s what the enemy suggested to Eve in the garden. Satan tried to get her to doubt God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Will He act for my best interest? He will if He is faithful. The question is, can we trust God in every area of our lives and be obedient to Him all the time, especially when we don’t understand His reasoning? Is He good and faithful all the time as we say? Do we believe that he will satisfy us when we release the things He tells us to let go of? Will I be happy if I obey? Will all of my needs be met? If God is faithful the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The clearer God’s revelations of Himself become to us the greater our power will be to enter into that life of work that brings rest and peace. We find ourselves possessing joy and finding deep fulfillment. The hope received offers a view of holiness upon which to focus, as love permeates and motivates our works, our words, and our lives together. I pray that you too are a member of this heavenly community that is forming down here regardless of the dirtiness and ugliness in the world, and amidst hardship and pain. The kingdom of God is in you and me, and you and you and you who are in Christ.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.—Jesus    (John 13:35 NLT)

You and I have a great responsibility to reflect the righteousness of Christ to the world through the lives we live, and in the love we share. After all, our community is actually a kingdom. Soon, you and I shall reign with our glorious King, Christ Jesus, and we too shall shine with glory as priests and kings. This world is rough, but a Christian is tough. And it’s more than worth the short lived suffering we may face. Paul declares in Romans 8, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Come and be one of those who have overcome the world through faith in Christ and through the word of your testimony— and we’ll do it in love.  

Categories: Christian Living, Community, Growing in Faith, People, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearing God’s Voice

This painting by Winslow Homer stirs up some great memories. Homer was a man who like me was enamored with all things outdoors.

rapids

Whether rappelling off cliffs, shooting rapids in a canoe, or performing perilous covert missions, I’ve tasted adrenaline more times than I can count.  But there’s no doubt as to the one activity that remains the grandest and most exciting adventure that continues to enrich me. Call me a thrill seeker, an adrenaline junkie or simply an adventurer, the labels do not matter to me.

So far I’ve had a life filled with wild, wonderful and inspiring adventures, and have traveled considerably. Some of the sights would scare the fleas right off of a hound dog, such as staring down the wrong end of a high caliber gun, or chasing a gang of robbers through the back alleys of Dongducheon Korea. Then there were the vistas where you feel privileged just to be there and take it all in. At times I was melted into a humble state of awe at the genius of God’s creative handiwork. One of my favorite discoveries was an underground river in Utah shooting out of the side of a horseshoe shaped canyon to form an above ground river far below.

But beyond question, the experience that was the most sensational for me came for the first time 29 years ago. It was quite unexpected how that simply communicating with God would be such a transformative and powerful thing. And it has been copiously repeated ever since then. Oh I had talked to God before then, but never felt I had the connection to really hear from Him. Yet, all it took was a full surrender to the Lord, and to capitulate with all my heart. That may sound like a cliché Christianese statement. But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Yes, life is complicated.

There is one point that I hope to stress, and that is: If you’ve never been absolutely certain that God was talking to you—intimately interacting with you, then you simply have not yet lived. It’s still difficult for me to get my head around the fact that the Creator of this vast universe cares enough about every little individual person that He wants to have a close relationship with us. He gives life to the fullest!

Jesus said it in these words: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b (KJV).

The New Living Translation puts it in today’s language: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Ninety percent of the time God communicates to us He speaks through His word, the bible. But then He confirms our understanding of His answers, through circumstances, and often through others. Whenever I’m truly in tune with God’s will, the answer comes in all three ways: first through the bible, then things happen in a way that illustrates that truth, and then some person actually speaks that truth without me saying anything to them about it.

Few are the times I have actually heard God’s voice in my heart and mind—twice for sure. But that was not so pleasant, because both of those times were in a negative. The first time was an ultimatum that literally scared me straight. My whole body was quaking. I was all set to commit an embarrassing sin when I heard the Spirit speak a bible verse. The words could not have come any more clearly: “Choose ye this day whom you shall serve.” I hadn’t read that verse in years, but was familiar with it as words God had spoken to Israel through Joshua. Another time it was simply one word: “Stop!”

I had planned to do my best to describe those moments spent with the Master, and how spectacular communicating with God can be, and how wonderful and loved it makes me feel. But there is no describing it. You’ll just have to experience that for yourself.

Allow me to caution you, however, that Christ is the sweetest addiction. It is strange though, how easy it is to get out of the habit of meeting with Jesus everyday for that fix. And the reason is that there are spiritual forces of wickedness at work. They hope to break our good daily habit of spending intimate times with God. When I skip just one day, the following day I seem to forget how awesome it is, and before I know it, it’s been a week. The power, joy and peace we gain by being filled with the Spirit every day can disappear in a flash, like a soap bubble in the sun, as soon as there’s a break in that habit.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” We feed on Him. Just as we must feed our bodies every day we must also feed our spirits, lest they atrophy and starve to death. Christ is our spiritual sustenance, and we cannot benefit from a relationship with Jesus unless we are constantly nurturing our intimacy with Him.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Instantly, as soon as I cease relying on Him, and I don’t consult Him on every decision, that’s precisely what I produce: “Nothing”.  That is, nothing of eternal value. We must remain in Him and the only way to do that is to maintain an attitude of prayer—maintain an open line of communication and fellowship with the Lord. We talk about meeting with Him in the mornings. But we are a part of Him and should not have to MEET with Him, as we’ve never left His presence! As for coming to Him in the mornings, this is to search for sins of the previous day, and confess them in order to cleanse our consciences, and keep our relationship good and strong. And this morning tryst is also for checking in with the boss for specific works He has for us to do each day. Perhaps there’s something we need an extra jolt of power for that day. But most importantly it is to ensure that we remain in a state of constant surrender and submission to our glorious benefactor and God.

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38

I hope you can see what makes life such an exciting and never ending adventure. It is remaining in Christ and having our spiritual senses awakened to perceive the Lord’s communication to us as individuals. But He also speaks to us corporately.  “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Follow the Spiritual Leader

A Post For Christian Leaders

For a Christian, it may be difficult to explain their words and actions to the world using the pure truth of the matter. It might sound a bit ego-driven. That’s because the redeemed are being transformed and conformed to be like the holy Son of God: Jesus.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Romans 8:29 NIV

In answer to accusing taunts from Jewish religious leaders who felt Jesus’ claims were pompous, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19b NIV

Christian souls seek to mirror the holy character of Jesus. They don’t simply ask, “What would Jesus do?” They strive with all of their being to do what He does. You may remember playing the game as a child: Follow the leader.

I never really liked the game, wanting to do my own thing, not what somebody else was doing. Being a small boy, I was often ignored, which left me feeling invisible. Then, one day in the fourth grade I was chosen to be the leader for the game, and I thought: That’s more like it—I’ll show them.

A dozen little pairs of legs trailed behind me, our steps quickening as we headed toward the playground. The swing set made a good obstacle course as we darted back and forth between swings, like trained dogs navigating cones on a course. Other obstacles followed, each one distancing me further from my feeble followers. There was the run across a big log, and then hurdling back and forth across a low fence. I was purposefully leaving my followers far behind. Sprinting, I flew towards my grand finale. Nobody knew that my usual playground was the forest, and that my light weight and natural strength made it easy to scurry up the big old Oak tree in the school yard. My classmates wondered if I had simply disappeared, until my taunting laughs resounded from the tree top.

Oh there was much I had to learn, if I was to ever become a servant-leader, like Jesus.

Though I did gain a couple admirers that day, for the most part I acted like an anti-social jerk. However, praise God, today I follow Jesus, and He is the greatest leader of all time. I am fairly fast, yet, it’s as nothing compared to Jesus soaring faster than the speed of light. Now, however, as we fly through life together, Jesus reduces His speed to soar at my pace. That’s what love does.

You and I follow Jesus. He knows the precise amount of difficulty each of us need in our challenges, so that we may continue growing through each stage of our spiritual development. God teaches us how to serve those who follow us. Jesus leads, while all together we navigate life’s obstacles. When you or I stumble, He is there to steady us. When we fall, He lifts us back up. Daily we practice His arts, gaining the skills of servant-leadership along the way.

I need to lead in the same manner the Son of God leads. If I’m way out front, up on an ivory pedestal, how can I help steady or lift up those who look to me for guidance?  I must come alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. Besides, I’m not Jesus—I never know when, I too, may need a strong hand here on earth to steady me.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” I Peter 5:6 KJV

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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