Tag: Savior

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:
In all things the greatest of these is love.
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

By Dr. Deb Waterbury

Have you ever run away from something, and I don’t mean something that might threaten your life?  I mean, has there been a time in your life when you ran because you didn’t want what was in front of you, so you did a 180 and took off like lightening in the opposite direction?

Most of us, if we’ve lived for any length of time, can remember at least one of those times, maybe even more than one.  As Christians, that running most likely involved running from God.  Not too many believers would say that in some way at some time they didn’t run from what God was telling them to do.  After all, there is a little Jonah in all of us.

Abraham Kuyper, the journalist, once wrote,

“Our heart is continually inclined to rebel against the Lord our God.  So ready to rebel, that O, so gladly, were it but for a single day, we would take from His hands the reins of His supreme rule, imagining that we would manage things far better and direct them far more effectively than God.”

What do we do when we find ourselves running?  What do we do when we see someone else running?

If it’s us who’s running, chances are that we don’t even see it.  But if it’s someone that we simply know, either from church or just an acquaintance, we may be tempted to sit in judgment, as if it’s simply their weak constitution or their lax moral integrity that might cause such a detour.  We might simply shake our heads in feigned remorse, thinking, “What is he thinking?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

If it’s a loved one, maybe a child or a spouse or sibling, the pain can be almost immobilizing.  Suddenly all memories of our own course changes are almost non-existent, and the only things we can think are, “What is he doing?  Doesn’t he know that he can’t run from God?”

I don’t know….can we?

Let me remind you of how Jonah did.  In Jonah 1:1, we read:

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah…

That means that God literally let Jonah know exactly what He was thinking.

Then in verse 2, God said to Jonah,

Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

This was not what Jonah expected.  After all, he was the Lord’s prophet.  He was supposed to go and direct his prophecies to the nation of Israel.  He wasn’t supposed to go to Israel’s enemies and prophesy so that they might be saved.  What in the world was God thinking?

Maybe we should think of this in terms that are closer to home.  Maybe the little Jonah in you might sound more like:

“God doesn’t want me in this marriage!  He wants me happy, and I’m not happy here!  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe this:

“God wouldn’t want me to miss out on a better lifestyle.  He says that I will get the desires of my heart, and my heart desires that car or that dress or that house (that I can’t afford).  He wouldn’t keep me from it, would He?  What is God thinking?”

Or maybe our child’s little Jonah says this:

“I’m sick of living under my parents’ thumbs!  God would want me to be independent and do my own thing, no matter who I hurt in the meantime!  He wants me happy, doesn’t He?  What is God thinking?”

The little Jonah in all of us might say slightly different words, but it’s pretty much the same thing.  All of us have listened to the little Jonah some time or another, and we all run for exactly the same reason that Jonah ran.  Verse 3 says,

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

The truth is that this running isn’t literally from God, since we, as His children, are always and forever His and in His loving care.  However, what we can and do run from is what the literal translation says is the “face of the Lord.”  Jonah was trying to get as far away from where he would be confronted with all that God is.  When we run, we run from the same thing, which generally means we run from the church or our church family or anything else that might remind us of who God is.

There is a reason that many have called Satan the “travel agent of distraction.”  If he can get us away from the “presence of God” or the “face of God,” then he can also deceive us into thinking that we can get away from it, which consequently keeps us from healing and love and peace.  Warren Wiersbe wrote in his book, Be Amazed,

“It’s possible to be out of the will of God and still have circumstances appear to be working on your behalf.  You might be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that includes a good night’s sleep.  However, God in his providence was preparing for Jonah a great fall.”

But the good news is that God always provides a fish, doesn’t He?  He always provides exactly the right storm at exactly the right time so that even though we may be distracted temporarily, we are never permanently lost.

Jesus said in John 6:39,

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose none of all that he has given me.

If you are running from the face of God today—refusing to go to church, avoiding your Christian friends, finding every excuse in the book for not getting involved with your believing family—genuinely reflect on the little Jonah in you.  God will not lose you, but I can promise you that it is no fun in the belly of the fish!  Bow before the throne of the One who will never leave you nor forsake you and come home.  Unless it is God you are running toward, you’re headed for the storm.

And if it is a loved one who is running from God’s loving face, take heart and never lose hope.  The promise that Jesus gave in John applies to every one of His children.  The fish is coming.  Keep praying and keep your eyes fixed upward.  God will bring him home.

After all, there is a little Jonah is all of us, but there is a great God who owns our hearts!

________________________

To read more from Dr. Deb Waterbury, visit debwaterbury.com

 

 

By Joy Dunkelbarger-Reed

 

March 1, 2015 11:35 am

 

Message from my friend, Daniel:

 

“Joy, call me ASAP.”

 

I tried. No answer. I tried again, and still no answer.

 

I knew in an instant something had happened to my husband, Brent, or else he would have been the one calling me.  I was praying my son, Blake, was safe.

 

The few minutes that went by seemed like hours, but finally I was able to talk to Daniel. There had been an accident at the Imperial Sand Dunes where they had gone camping for the long weekend. A bunch of them, including my husband and son, had gone, and five of them were in our sand car. My husband was driving, my son in the passenger seat and our friend, Daniel, and two other adults were in the back seats. They had been going up and down Test Hill.

 

If you have driven to San Diego on I-8 about 20 miles west of Yuma, you’ve seen it.  It is the big sand hill just north of the interstate with the American Canal running along the base. Trips up and down the hill had been done hundreds of times throughout past trips. This trip, the third time down the hill and as they were making a U-turn to go back up, they lost control.  The front wheel of the car caught in the sand and sent them flipping up into the air and over a large berm. They crashed down hard and rolled into the canal at the bottom of the hill. The water was about 20 feet deep.

 

Daniel said everyone in the car was able to get out, except my husband. They had tried to swim back down to the car, but the current was too swift, and they were not able to reach the car. I was praying he was able to get out of his seat belts and had just been washed down the canal in the strong current and was holding on to the edge somewhere.

 

I was in a panic on the phone. My daughter watched me.  She was frightened and confused.  I had to get there as soon as possible. It was a three and a half hour drive. I was ready to go, but I wasn’t in the position to drive myself and my daughter.  I was able to contact friends to take me, and my daughter was able to stay with my best friend. It was a very long drive. I got a call about half way there that they had pulled the car out of the water, and my husband was still strapped in his seat. He had drowned.

 

I was numb. My only goal now was to be there for my son. Just as we were nearing the turnoff, I saw the severely mangled car on a trailer on the highway going the opposite direction.

 

Finally I was able to be with my son, and thankfully he was physically uninjured with the exception of a few bruises. They didn’t want him to see the car being pulled out of the water so they had taken him away from the crash site. He was in the RV. As I walked in, he ran to me.  He was crying and scared. I held him, and I had to tell him his daddy was dead. His fear turned to anger. How could God let this happen?  He threw his bible down. I told him it was okay to be angry. God has big shoulders and could take it.

 

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

 

The ride home was even longer and extremely painful. We arrived home and I now had to tell my daughter her daddy was dead. The only peace I had during this was knowing that Brent knew Jesus and he was in heaven.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

 

Brent was kind and loving. He was a good father. My children’s earthly father was gone, but their Heavenly Father, has been, and will continue to be there for them.

 

Up until the morning of March 1, 2015, my story consisted of being a wife and a mom to an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.  I was a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a pharmacist. The list goes on, but just like that, in an instant, “wife” was swapped out for “widow.”  I was a widow?!

 

We all have a story and this was NOT how MY story was supposed to go! Instantaneously and violently the pages of the story I had written had been ripped out and replaced.  My story, as I believed at that point in time, was rewritten as a horror story, a horror story filled with body-trembling fear, chest-crushing anxiety, disbelief by the minute, extreme anger and any other terrible emotion imaginable.

 

Several days after the accident my son and I were talking. I asked him what he remembered.  Did he remember being in the water and how he got out?  It was just assumed that my husband had helped him, but if my husband were able to help Blake, I believe he would have gotten out also. Blake said he remembers the wheel breaking off, the car flipping and landing in the water.  Then he said he tried to lean forward and wasn’t able to move. The car has five point harnesses which aren’t necessarily easy to get out of in a calm situation, let alone under water after a crash.  He said he just wanted to go to sleep.  He looked up and could see the sun shining down through the water.  He said he prayed for God to help him get out of the seat belt.  He leaned forward again and was able to get free and swim to the surface. He was wearing shoes and a heavy jacket so that made it difficult to swim. God immediately answered his prayer for help to get out of that car.

 

As I look at the original message from Daniel, for only the second time since it was sent, I am now two years into the pages of my “new” story.  But is it really a “new” story?  Perhaps to me it is, but as far as God is concerned, it isn’t. My story was already written specifically for me by Him.  He knew exactly what was going to happen that March morning, every day before and every day after. We all have a story given to us by God and He trusts us with those stories.

 

God allowed the accident to happen.  My faith and trust in God was great before the accident, but they have grown exponentially since.  Looking back on it, I can recall specific situations before the accident where God was preparing me for this part of my story.  People say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I believe this statement is true as long as you allow Him in so that He can help you handle it. I could not have survived any of this on my own.

 

This journey has been anything but easy.  There has been extensive pain throughout, both seen and unseen, but with His presence there has been unexplainable peace, answered prayers, major growth, multiple lessons and blessings experienced.  He has a plan for my story, and I will continue to trust His plan with all my heart.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

 

beach photoBy: Miryea Gist

 

Lately, scrolling through Facebook has become much more than a mindless activity full of relatable photos, memes, and hilarious videos. Instead, I’ve learned to view it as an opportunity to obtain a glimpse into the lives, minds, and hearts of many friends and family members on social media. This morning, during my daily scroll through the incessantly, inordinate Facebook feature otherwise known as “newsfeed,” I came across a post from a young lady that caught my eye and peeked my interest. The post was barely noticeable, only comprised of two words. Yet, those two words shot through my body and into my soul like a burst of electricity. Those two words stayed in my head all day like a catchy tune, and at night, hovered over my mind like a storm cloud. The post came from a young lady who struggles with dysthymia, also known as chronic depression. Those two words were: nobody understands.

 

A love we crave

Biblically speaking, a man’s purpose is to know God, and to spend eternity relishing in the enjoyment of Him. We were created to experience intimacy with the God of the universe, and to spend our days pursuing the knowledge of Him. In light of this, I believe that an inevitable characteristic of this design for humans to know, is a desire to be known. Humans were created to know, and be known by God Himself. Naturally, this desire to be known has been tainted by the fall, and sin has perverted a right desire, into one full of selfish ambition and personal glory. This is wildly evident in today’s culture through a yearning for fame, and an insatiable desire for attention from those of the opposite gender. This yearning to be known is especially evident within this age of technology. We desire so much to be known, that we create various social media as platforms to showcase ourselves. We spend hours upon hours designing boards we feel best represent our style, hobbies, dreams and ambitions, taste in music, movies and food. We tweet our every move in order to keep the world up-to-date on our lives. We take the time to fill out silly questionnaires and “like” different pages so that our friends can know us better. Our human desire to be known is evident in every aspect of our lives.

It can be said—to be known, is to be loved. Or better yet, to be loved, is to be known. We see this truth played out in Matthew 7:23 and John 10:14-15. In Matthew, the Lord rebukes the one who does not belong to Him with the terrifying statement “I never knew you…” while in the gospel of John, Jesus uses the knowledge of His children to claim them as His own stating: “I know my own and my own know me.”

Humans crave an understanding kind of love. A love that knows truly, sincerely, and deeply. A comprehending love, a grasping love—an intimate love that can fathom them. To know God, and to be known by Him is the only redemption.

                  

Fully God, fully man

As I read the words, “nobody understands,” a verse immediately came to mind. No, it wasn’t Psalm 119, nor was it Psalm 139. The verse that came to mind, was the end of Hebrews chapter four, and beginning of Hebrews chapter 5:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (5) For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.

In the Old Testament, the duty of a priest was to operate as intercessor between God and the people. He would offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but also for himself since he too was a sinner. Because of this, the priest was able to show compassion towards the people, since he himself was beset with weakness. Of course, after Christ’s death and resurrection, we are able to have access to the Father and to experience intimacy with Him. Jesus Christ, as the great and final high priest, bridged the gap between a holy God and fallen man.

But we know this. We know God sent his Son to live the life of perfect obedience which we could never attain. We understand that it is only the sinless life and righteousness of Jesus Christ that makes us right before God. Most believers have no problem understanding the fact that Christ was sinless, and this is because we grasp His deity. However, I believe many Christians fail to comprehend the aspect of Christ that legitimized Him as a sacrifice, which is His humanity.

The incarnation of God is an astounding facet of the gospel. As J.I. Packer stated: “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”

We are confident in Christ’s deity, yet oftentimes, we undermine His humanity. Nonetheless, the truth of Jesus’s humanity is to be regarded just as important as the truth of His deity. We know from the Word of God two things to be absolutely sure: Jesus has two natures—God and man. And each nature is full and complete—He is fully God, and fully man (Colossians 2:9, John 1:14, Hebrews 2:14). But what does it mean that Christ was fully man? It simply means this: that Jesus was exposed to all the limitation of man. He required all things you and I require in order to survive… food, drink, and sleep. He was not exempt from the things which confide us, such as gravity, pain, fatigue, and illness. Because He was bound to all the limitations of man, this includes the temptation we experience. He Himself was tempted, as Hebrews says, “in every respect.”

Hopefully this truth will lead the believer to ask the question; why? Why would the God of the universe willingly subject Himself to the limitations of man? The beginning of Hebrews tells us it is so that He can deal gently with the ignorant, and the wayward since He Himself was beset with weakness.

He understands

How beautiful is that? This perfectly holy being chose to subject Himself to temptation in order to deal gently with us. The Creator willingly humbled Himself to walk amongst the creation, so that we might know one who understands. The one who spoke and caused all to be, the one who the wind and the waves obey, the one who commands the tiniest of bacteria, to the greatest of all mammals—He understands. In the God of all creation, we find the greatest love—a sacrificial, sympathetic, and understanding love.

I urge you, never again to be dismayed by the lie designed by Satan to isolate you. The lie that you are alone, and misunderstood. The King of kings understands more than you’re capable of comprehending. What a shame it is to walk through life believing no one understands or cares, and what an offense it is to a God who left His throne to demonstrate how much He does.

_________________________

Miryea attends The Masters College majoring in English with a minor in Bible. With her degree, she plans to teach middle school English as well as continue to enjoy, and further develop her passion for writing. Born and raised in Arizona, she was home schooled from first through twelfth grade, and is the eldest of two.

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

Do you sometimes find yourself saying things that your parents used to say to you, only to grimace and think, “Was that me?” I know I do—a lot. One of the things I used to tell my boys all of the time was that they just needed to be patient, that whatever was happening to them at the time wasn’t the end of the world. It’s just a season. It will all work out. It’s not as bad as you think. You’re being too dramatic.

Don’t miss the forest while you’re looking at the trees.

It’s a wonder they didn’t murder me in my sleep.

And now that I’m older and my boys have left the nest, I find myself in circumstances often where I remember saying those words to them, and even to others, and then find myself thinking that things ARE that bad. There’s NO WAY this is going to work out. This ABSOLUTELY IS as bad as I think. And I’M NOT BEING DRAMATIC!!

I certainly do not intend to write another article on being patient in the midst of trials, knowing that God is at work in all of them. Christians, by and large, know that Romans 8:28 is in every one of their bibles. They know and they’ve heard that God has a plan, just as He promised in Jeremiah 29:11, and that His plan is for their good. The problem arises when that plan doesn’t feel good. The confusion manifests when that plan makes utterly no sense.

What is God thinking? He has to see that this is not good! Why would He hurt me this way?

The issue becomes almost incredulous when we live in the middle of circumstances where seeing the love of God reconciled in the things He allows to happen is just about impossible. When our marriage ends, or a loved one dies, or we lose our houses or our jobs or our children—how do we see the forest of God’s love in the middle of rotten, stinking, dark trees?

I don’t have an answer, but what I do have is the same thing that all of us have, and that’s the bible. The stories and words of God are purposeful, and at the expense of beating this bush again, let me just remind you, and me, of the story of Job.

You remember Job, right? This guy did it all correctly. He was a righteous man, and by Old Testament standards, his riches and many children and great life were a direct result of this righteous life. God had blessed him above and beyond his fellow man. Job was living large, but he did so while humbly serving his God.

Can you imagine how he felt that day when he lost everything? In one fell swoop, Job lost his fortune, his livelihood, all of his children, and finally, his health. He had no friends who sympathized or offered him compassion. His friends assumed these horrible disasters happened because of some hidden sin that needed to be confessed. Even Job’s wife turned on him.

Can you imagine how this man of God felt?

I know that most of you have probably studied, or at least read the book of Job on occasion, and you’ve also most likely labored through it.

It’s depressing.

And yet, God put it in His Word, and we know that He did so because Job demonstrated for us the endurance of a believer’s faith, even when the entire world falls down around his ankles. Mind you, Job didn’t take it quietly. He yelled—a lot. He screamed at God and at his friends, asking why and what was going on?

The trees were falling, and Job was lost in a cataclysm of endless pain, but he never denied that God was God.

Now, cut to the forest that Job didn’t see, the forest that God showed you and me at the very beginning of this story. This is the forest we would all do well to remember when our own trees block our view.

When Satan came to God and told Him that he had been traveling around the earth, what was God’s first response?  Job 1:8 records the Lord as saying to Satan,

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (ESV)

In essence, God looked at Satan, and His very first thought was, “Have you seen My Job? I love My Job! Did you see how awesome Job is? Look upon My son, Job!”

I don’t know about you, but the idea that God would single me out while addressing the angels and say something like, “Have you seen My Deb? I love My Deb!” is a thought I would treasure above all else.

And when Satan asked to test Job, God allowed all of those horrible things to occur because He trusted Job. God looked down upon his child, and He trusted Job so much that He allowed Satan to take everything from him but his life, and God did this because He knew that His servant, Job, would stand in his faith. God knew that He would then use the testimony of Job for all time as a witness of unswerving faith in God’s very “God-ness.”

God looked upon this man and said, “Have you seen My Job? I trust My Job so much that I will allow him to be tested so that I might use him.”

This was the forest of reality in the heavenly realm that Job didn’t see because he was surrounded by the trees of this mortal existence. However, this beautiful forest was always there, even when Job didn’t see it.

My sisters and brothers, there is a heavenly reality occurring every millisecond of every day beyond our human sight. The trees of our lives may be falling and rotting all around us, but the essence of our faith is to emulate Job’s. The essence of our faith is in knowing that God is God, and though we don’t understand His ways, we know that they are ultimately good and right. Our faith comes from knowing the forest is there, even though we only see trees.

Most especially, though, we must remember that when God chooses to bring or allow horrible things in the lives of His children, it’s not because He doesn’t love them or is punishing them. It’s because He is choosing to use them. He’s building our stories, much like He built Job’s story, so that when He has delivered us, He will use us.

I know that when tragedy hits my life, God is in heaven saying, “Do you see my Deb? I trust my Deb so much that I choose to use her. I will deliver her, and once I do, she will be a vessel used to My glory.”

That, my friends, is a forest upon which we should focus, even in the midst of these sometimes very ugly trees.

 

about-debby: Dr. Deb Waterbury

For any of you who know me, you are aware that I am a lover of dogs—big dogs. I grew up with a King St. Bernard named Moochie, and since then I’ve owned a black Lab, a yellow Lab, a Golden Retriever, and two Great Danes. Currently my husband and I are the proud parents of a feisty toy Yorkie named Levi and a massive 220 pound Great Dane named Hattie. We got Levi first, but he claimed my husband as his almost immediately. Shortly after, I got Hattie when she was eight weeks old, and she has been my baby ever since.

Even as I write this, her massive head is lying in my lap. I do love her so.

However, just given the plethora of animals I’ve owned myself, it’s a proven fact that most of us outlive our pets, which means that as pet owners, chances are that each of us has had to say good-bye to them at one time or another. This morning a dear friend of mine wrote me to ask for prayers because she and her children are going to have to say good-bye to their sweet dog. It’s heartbreaking, and for those of us who have gone through such a horrible process, their deaths are painfully hard.

More than once I’ve had women ask me if we will see our pets again in heaven. This is such a good and important question. Our pets are a part of our families; so naturally, we want to know if we will get to see them again. I believe that we will. As a matter of fact, I believe that the bible clearly supports that we will. I believe with my entire heart (and based on much biblical research) that I will be surrounded with my big babies for eternity, along with all of my believing family and friends. If you are a Christian and have had pets you have had to bid farewell to on this earth, then I also believe that you will see them again in heaven.

Wonderfully, I’m not alone in this belief. Many theologians agree with me and have written excellent resources on just this subject. Why, even John Wesley wrote the following when speaking of our pets:

 

“Something better remains after death for these poor creatures …

that these, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption,

and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.”

(Wesley, John, The Works of Reverend John Wesley, A.M. Vol 2 of 7,

Forgotten Books, 1912, p. 56)

 

John Piper wrote the following poem when speaking of eternity:

 

And as I knelt beside the brook

To drink eternal life, I took

A glance across the golden grass,

And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast

As she could come. She leaped the stream—

Almost—and what a happy gleam

Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,

And knew that I was on the brink

Of endless joy. And everywhere

I turned I saw a wonder there.

(Piper, John, “Glorified,” http://www.desiringgod.org/poems/glorified)

 

How can Mr. Wesley and Mr. Piper and countless other acclaimed and well-known theologians make such a claim?

First of all, I think it important to point out that Christ did not die for our pets, at least not in the way He died for mankind. People are made in the image of God. Christians are partakers in His divine glory and have been redeemed by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven by this act of propitiation. Animals are not people, so they don’t need a redeemer in the same way.

However, having said that, I also think that Jesus did die for animals in an indirect sense. According to Romans 8, we know that Christ’s death for humanity purchased redemption for everything created, since everything created was brought down due to the sin of mankind. Romans 8:21-23 tells us,

The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV, emphasis added)

These verses indicate that our resurrection and the redemption of our bodies bought by the sacrificial blood of Jesus will extend to all creation. What Paul is saying is that on the New Earth after our resurrection, the animals who once suffered because of the fall of man and the “groanings of the earth” will be joined with us for all eternity, enjoying the glorious redemption of perfection brought to us in eternity with our Lord.

There are so many passages that speak to God both bringing judgment and blessings on men and animals because of man’s sins and respectively, because of God’s grace. (Exodus 9:22-25; Jeremiah 7:20; 21:16; Ezekiel 14:12-13, 17; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; 28:1-4)

Likewise, John the Baptist testified in Luke 3:6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  The Greek word here translated as “flesh” is sarx, which is inclusive of all flesh, not exclusive to just mean mankind. “All flesh” includes animals. In essence, then, this great prophet was saying that mankind and animals will see the coming redemptive earth.

One of my favorites, though, is how the psalmist exclaims the relationship between God and His created in Psalm 104. In verse 24 of that psalm, the psalmist sings, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Then he goes on to talk about the animals and all created life—sea creatures, birds, mammals—exclaiming how all are fed and cared for by their Creator. But then in verses 29 he says, “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” To which he follows in verse 30 with, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” To “renew the face of the ground” is to re-create. The psalmist is crying out that God will also renew the animals when He redeems the Created, which fully makes sense!

Truly, the Creator could very well intend to make new animals when He redeems the earth, but that doesn’t follow either with His character as a loving and generous Lord or His clear intention to renew that which was already created. Besides, He created us with spirits that have the propensity to be emotionally fed by our pets. We love them, not in place of humans, but in addition to our human relationships. Our pets bring us companionship and joy and unadulterated love. They are committed to us in our darkest and most profoundly sad moments, and they are there to pounce around in unwavering joy when we are exploding in happiness. God did that! And He does nothing accidentally!

Therefore, since we can see that the bible plainly states that both mankind and animals will be renewed in the New Earth, and we also know that God gave us some animals to be special to us purposefully in His great love, doesn’t it follow that our kind and loving Father will bring those relationships into our eternity? I believe with everything in me that this is the truth. My sweet, enormous, ridiculously silly Hattie will be with me in paradise, along with Levi and Moochie and Harley and Champ and Charlie and Chelsea. I’ll see them all there, and I believe you will see your beloved animals, too.

We serve a God of love who purposefully gave us both human and animal relationships to enjoy on this earth. Jesus will return and renew all of creation that “groans” under the curse of sin, and that includes our wonderful pets. So love them now, knowing that good-bye is only temporary. You will see them again.

How awesome to be loved by so great a God as our God!!

And how wonderful to know that this big love will be with me in paradise!!!

Deb and Hattie 2

 

 

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**One of my favorite resources when teaching on heaven and the truths the bible proclaims is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I can’t recommend this book enough for those who are struggling with what to believe about the hereafter and how it accords with the Word of God.

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Dr. Deb Waterbury is the President and CEO of Love Everlasting Ministries. In her desire to spread the truth that all Christian women share an intimate relationship with Christ as their Bridegroom while “Breaking the Barriers of Isolation” that often plagues these same women, Dr. Waterbury travels extensively, both nationally and abroad, leading conferences and teaching seminars at every opportunity.  She has a special heart for the people of Africa, devoting much of her year to speaking in several countries there. Dr. Waterbury also spends a great deal of her time writing both curriculum for study in the areas of her passion as well as allegorical novels representing the believer’s journey in realizing her position as the chosen bride of Jesus Christ.  Her series, The Painted Window Trilogy, has changed the lives of countless women as they come to that beautiful understanding of the truth of their relationship with Christ.  She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff.