Monday, September 26, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, September 26, 2022

To All the Pets We've Loved Before


When I was very young, I had a pet named Patty the Cat. One day Patty got sick and I was distraught. The pastor of our church – Reverend Watts – happened to be coming over to our house soon and my mom suggested that we have the pastor pray for her. 


The pastor prayed, Patty got well, and I was thankful that God healed my pet.


Fast forward some decades and I generally accepted the idea that pets, including Patty who eventually died at 14 years old, didn't go to heaven. I hadn’t actually challenged the notion, until one day I went to get my shoes fixed. There was a shop on the other side of town that I understood did really good work.


When I entered the small shop, it smelled of leather and had all the trappings one would expect: shoes and boots stacked to the ceiling; polish of every hue and finish; shoe strings, eyelets, and belts of various types and lengths; brushes, buckles, and leather pieces for whatnot; and a three-foot wooden cross hanging comfortably in the corner. 


Hmmm.


When I handed my shoes to the older lady who owned the shop, we made small talk. Somewhere along the way, we started discussing pets and their mortality – I think my three-year old cat (Princeton) had recently and unexpectedly died.

She mentioned she had a dog, which she loved dearly, that had died a while back. With a thoughtful expression on her face, she said she hoped to see her dog in heaven – explaining that she knew there weren't sufficient scriptures to support the idea. But for the duration of her time on Earth, she just needed to believe they would be reunited.


That conversation haunted me – in a good way, not the scary way.


I did some searching. There isn't a clowder of scriptures about animals in heaven. There are a few, such as Isaiah 65:25. 


And Proverbs 12:10 states that the righteous care for the needs of their animals. My wife and I do. We have two Cairn Terriers – Scotty and Uhura. (Those who get it, get it. Those who don’t, just ignore the name reference.) They teach us so many things about unconditional love (Job 12:7) and play such a comforting role in our lives. 


The other morning, I was feeling down and Scotty came over and uncharacteristically sat next to my feet. I might have thought it was a coincidence, but when I was feeling down later in the day, he came and sat next to me again. Not so much a coincidence.  


It seems to me that God went through a lot of effort to allow humans to bond with their pets, only to snatch “Princeton” away for all of eternity when he dies. Feels a bit odd for a loving Father to do that, doesn’t it? 


When we go to heaven, will we see our pets? I dunno, but I’m going to toss my hat into the ring with the Shoe Lady's. It’s one of those things I feel God just might pull out of his hat after we’ve arrived in heaven and are in the midst of greeting family and friends (“And look who's here to see you!"). As for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15b) and look forward to reconnecting with our furried, feathered, and such friends. 


And if we don’t get to reunite with our pets, I am certain that when we do get to heaven, God is going to more than make up for all the love and joy they brought to our lives (I Corinthians 2:9). Not sure how, but He will. 


This meditation is dedicated to Uhura and Scotty, who are lying next to me as I write. And of course Patty, Princeton, the Shoe Lady’s dog, and all the pets – present and past – of those who are reading these words. We love you! 


Isaiah 65:25

King James Version

25 “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,” Says the LORD.


Proverbs 12:10a

New International Version

10a The righteous care for the needs of their animals.


Job 12:7

New International Version

7 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you.


Joshua 24:15b

New King James Version

15b But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


I Corinthians 2:9

New King James Version

9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, September 21, 2022

HOW FULL IS YOUR CUP?

One can see a glass half empty or half full.  Life is all about one’s perspective.  What is your perspective on your life today?  Have you decided that you will be happy or that you will be depressed about your life?  Norman Vincent Peale said, “The secret of a better and more successful life is to cast out those old, dead, unhealthy thoughts. Substitute for them new vital, dynamic faith thoughts. You can depend upon it—an inflow of new thoughts will remake you and your life.”

 

The Bible says that a man becomes exactly how he thinks in his heart (Proverbs 23:7a). The evil one will try to tell you that you will be, are, and have always been a failure.  You might as well give up and throw in the towel. While it is easy to say that you would never listen to the naysayers in your life, our actions often reflect our negative thoughts about ourselves and our reaction to other people’s caustic words.

 

Despite those who would criticize you because of their own issues, God so loved the world that He gave us His best, His Son, Jesus Christ to us (John 3:16).  You are worth it all. You are accepted in the beloved community (Ephesians 1:6).  We are walking around on planet earth, but the Bible says, you are seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  He says that despite what everyone says about you, you are His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).  

 

Don’t let people, places, or things sell you short.  The Bible says that those who love the Lord have God’s own mind (1 Corinthians 2:16) and we can let His mind be in us (Philippians 2:5).  Since He says we have His mind, let us have His perspective on life.  Our cup is full.

 

Proverbs 23:7a

New King James Version

7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

 

John 3:16

New International Version

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Ephesians 1:6

New King James Version

6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

 

Ephesians 2:6

New International Version

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

 

2 Corinthians 5:21

New International Version

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Ephesians 2:10

New International Version

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

1 Corinthians 2:16

New International Version

16 for,“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

 

Philippians 2:5

New King James Version

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,



 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, September 14, 2022

Actually, 53 Percent Isn’t Bad


As a Christ follower, there are going to be times when you’re having a series of problems and it will be unclear what is going on and what God may be up to. 


Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.


These words can be challenging, because when you’re in the middle of a stressful situation – particularly one that’s been going on for a long time – the with-all-your-heart part can feel like a lot.


God never tells us to do anything we can’t do (Philippians 4:13). What He desires is that we trust Him as much as we can and then let Him fill in the rest.

British writer and Anglican lay theologian C.S. Lewis conveyed a related concept that I’d like to apply. Basically, if we could trust God perfectly, then we’d already have perfect trust and we wouldn’t need His help. The fact that Proverbs 3:5-6 exists for our benefit lets us know that our trust is not perfect (yet) and there will be times when we’ll need God’s help in trusting Him. 


So then, it’s not about achieving 100 percent trust, but rather moving in that direction (53 percent isn't bad) and regularly reminding ourselves about his promises (Psalm 27:13). The trick is to not use your reasoning to figure out why the stressful situation is occurring: “Did I do something wrong?” “Do I need to do something more?” “Is God angry with me?”


We may never know in this life why we had to deal with various situations. Scripture just says to acknowledge God (pray and then pray some more) and that, in time, He will straighten the situation out. In the meantime, you will need to do what you can (Philippians 4:13) and practice cultivating the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23a). I know, easier said than done.


Remember that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28). And if you’re reading this devotional and you’re trying to trust God, then that scripture really does apply – even to you! Hang in there. Relief is coming.


Proverbs 3:5-6 

New American Standard Version

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.


Psalm 27:13 

New King James Version

13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.


Philippians 4:13 

King James Version

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Galatians 5:22-23a

New International Version

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23a gentleness and self-control.


Romans 8:28

King James Version

28 All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, September 8, 2022

Let Us Love The Lord


Whitney Houston sang, “I Love The Lord.”  Some of the powerful lyrics are, “I love the Lord, he heard my cry and pitied every groan, long as I, I live and troubles rise, I hasten to his throne.  Please click on the link to hear her angelic voice.  

 

Who do you love the most?  Is it God or have you placed anything else before Him including yourself, your relationships, or your resources?  The Bible says the first commandment is that we should have no other God before Him (Exodus 20:3).  When asked what the most important commandment there was, Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:29-30).”

 

Why do we do what we do?  What is our motivation for our thoughts, activities, and feelings?  God so loved us that He gave His Son (John 3:16). That great sacrifice calls for us to praise Him, honor Him, worship Him, and love Him more than anything else.  

 

When we look at the challenges that we face from all over the world and even in our personal life, let us prioritize Him above all else.  We can look to Him for clarity in our life, for peace in our confusion, and for purpose when we have lost our way.  If no one else is hearing us, know that He hears us and is concerned about us (Psalm 91:14-16). Let us love the Lord.

 

Mark 12:29-30

New International Version

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

 

Exodus 20:3

New International Version

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

 

John 3:16

New International Version

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Psalm 91:14-16

New International Version

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him

16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, August 31, 2022

Let Us Be Rich In Our Relationship With God

A musical singing group, the O’Jays, sang a song in 1973 entitled, “For The Love Of Money.”  A few of the catchy lyrics were, “For the love of money, people will lie, Lord, they will cheat. For the love of money, People don't care who they hurt or beat for the love of money.”   The Bible declares the love of money is the root of all evil (Timothy 6:10).

 

In the book of Luke, Jesus spoke a parable about a rich man who decided to tear down his barns that he thought were too small for his wealth to build bigger ones.  Yet he died without enjoying his prosperity.  The Bible says that this is how it is when one is not rich in his relationship with God (Luke 12:15, 21). 

 

God wants us to prosper. In the Bible, John, the apostle, writes, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3 John 1:2)God wants His children to be successful in life. Strong’s Concordance says, in this verse,  “prosper” comes from the Greek word, “euodoƍ” which means to be successful.  

 

In fact, He became poor so that His children could become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).  While many may be consumed with striving for personal wealth at any cost to themselves or others, God’s blessings bring wealth without painful toil (Proverbs 10:22). 

 

God has done so much for us; He gave us His Son and with Him will give us all things (Romans 8:32).  Because of what He has done, is doing, and will do, let us not think only of our own interests but be rich in our relationship with God. 

 

Timothy 6:10

New International Version

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 

Luke 12:15, 21

Amplified Version

15 Then He said to them, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every form of greed; for not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions.”
21 So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God.

 

3 John 1:2

King James Version

2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

 

2 Corinthians 8:9

New International Version

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

 

Proverbs 10:22

New International Version

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.

 

Romans 8:32

New International Version

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?



 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, August 25, 2022

Let Us Listen To Wise Advice


We are constantly being beset by an incredible cacophony of calamitous causes that threaten our minds, emotions, and wills.  Reasonable arguments are poised against quite insane statements, and we must distinguish between which makes sense and which are gibberish.  

 

God can direct us to true sources of wisdom. It is crucial that people listen to good advice (Proverbs 12:15).  If we are serious about being wise amid the unwise, the Bible tells us that we can successfully ask God for His wisdom (James 1:5).  God promised Joshua that if He was obedient that He would have good success (Joshua 1:8).

 

We cannot let the world system tell us to do, feel, or act in any way unless we have had a talk with God.  He wants to direct our way (Proverbs 3:5-6), comfort us when things are bad (Psalm 23:4) and deliver us from trouble (Psalm 91:15).  When people are talking loudly and saying nothing, let us look to Jesus who will give us His pure wisdom (James 3:17).

 

Proverbs 12:15 

New International Version

15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

 

James 1:5

Amplified Bible

5 If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.

 

Joshua 1:8

New International Version

8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

New International Version

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

 

Psalm 23:4

New International Version

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,

for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

Psalm 91:15

New International Version

5 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

 

James 3:17

New International Version

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.



 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Pastor's Ponderings, August 20, 2022

Jesus Is Our Truth


On Sunday, August 19, 2018, on “Meet The Press”, the moderator Chuck Todd and the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had an amazing exchange.  Part of the official transcript of that conversation was, “Look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said. “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn’t have a, a conversation …”
TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like…
GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth. The president of the United States says, “I didn’t…”

The Bible states that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  He will not contradict Himself; He is truth.  The Bible says that that truth that we know will set us free (John 8:32). We need an absolute truth and not truths that slip and slide and change according to the situation.  Jesus said the when the Spirit of Truth or the Holy Spirit arrives; He will guide us into all truth (James 16:13).

This is the world in which we live. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, deceptions and statistics.” The devil, the Father of lies has no truth in him (John 8:44) and always tries to lead us away from the truth in Christ. In spite of who says what, let us seek the truth in Christ’s word, His commandments, His promises, and His love. Unlike the lies of the world system, the truth in Jesus never fails. His truth will set us free.

John 14:6 
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 8:32
New International Version (NIV)
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 16:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 8:44
New International Version (NIV)
44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.