Daily Devotions

You Are Worthy Because...

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“I can do nothing on my own." (John 5:30)

 

Every day, I am grateful that I do not have to live my life apart from God. My Grandparents and Mother were influential in my spiritual upbringing. I was blessed to be raised a Presbyterian. My Presbyterian upbringing taught me that I am made whole and acceptable, not because of what I have done, or not done, but because of the grace of Almighty God. Some Christian denominations force people to live righteous lives, or they are considered unacceptable and cast out. When churches proclaim this theology of exclusion, they limit the Gospel, which is a sin.

 

Because of our ever-present sin, none of us will ever be capable of living a truly faithful life. We are incapable of being righteous apart from God. This may sound harsh, but this understanding is actually a blessing. We have so much more when we are in relationship with God. We have redemption, wisdom, peace, and eternal life.

 

When I get an idea in my head, I get excited. A million thoughts run through me. I start planning, considering options, and implementing steps toward the goal. Time and again, I run off half-cocked, without taking time for meditation and prayer. When I finally stop and pray, my attitude and direction almost always changes. God takes my shallow ideas and blesses them with depth and spiritual meaning.

 

Today, reaffirm your own faith in God. Offer your whole self to God. Allow God to turn your shallow thoughts and goals into something meaningful, with implications that benefit others. God uses us to strengthen the Kingdom. We must be ready, so when the Divine call comes, we are prepared to follow the call of Christ. As you answer your call, your life will feel at peace and fulfilled. You are worthy because of the loving grace of God.

Goodbye, My Good and Faithful Friend

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"Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice..." (John 5:28)

 

This is a difficult day for me. Jill and I had to put Buster down on Monday afternoon. We've been blessed to have Buster for the last thirteen and a half years. He's been with us through good times and difficult. Hannah was just twelve years old when Buster came into our lives. Jill and I could let him go, because we believe in God's love and Buster's resurrection.

 

Now I know some pastors believe there is no room for animals in heaven. I strongly disagree! It makes one question the description of the soul. I've heard the argument that only a being with personality can have a soul. If that is true, I can speak clearly about the personality of our dog Buster. He was stubborn. He was kind and generous. He loved to play and was gentle around small children and played rough with big dogs. His personality was so open, dogs and humans alike were drawn to him. Further, he even loved to open Christmas presents more than our daughter, Hannah.

 

Is the soul only available to those that can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Well, Buster was a faithful minister's dog. He has done dozens of Children's Sermons through the years. He took time with each child, letting them pet him, even if he didn't feel like being touched. Some kids even pulled his skin and hair, but he never showed resentment. He offered himself to others, both K-9 and human. On occasion, sick or even dying people saw Buster. He snuggled up to them and made them feel loved. I challenge many people who call themselves "Christian" to compare their example the gospel, next to the gospel shared by Buster.

 

Is the soul only available to those who can feel the presence of God? Buster was incredibly intuitive. When someone felt hurt or sad, Buster would approach them with his ears back and his tail tucked under. He wanted the upset person to know he could empathize. His was a ministry of presence, and people were always comforted and loved when they were in his presence.

 

Is the soul only available to those who were called by God? If this is true, then Buster is in God's arms right now. God is scratching Buster behind the ears because he was called by God. He was called to support my ministry. He made me a better pastor because I had Buster's support and unconditional love. He was called to bark his affirmation to every animal he met. He was called to wag his screw tail, and smile at every human being he met. He was called by God to treat everyone as special.

 

My friend, family member, and colleague in ministry has now fulfilled his call and is freed from his physical and emotional pain. He no longer suffers blindness, liver disease and dementia. I celebrate a God who is loving and powerful enough, not only to create a beautiful being like Buster, but who can also redeem and restore one who loved so much. Today, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the animals who have blessed you in your life. Picture them resurrected and made whole by the one who created each and every one of us.

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