Do Dogs Go To Heaven? How About Cats?

I actually wrote this many years ago, but an excellent dog rescuing friend had a dog die recently, and it reminded me how important this question can be for some.

But before I get to the most important question, I must dispense with some other items (warning: skip below for the answer if you’re allergic to cat-bashing).

Do cats go to heaven? 

The stuff of nightmares this beast is.

Of course not. That’s like asking if the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3) went to heaven. Cats are a result of the fall. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that there were no cats in the Garden of Eden. It wouldn’t be paradise if there were cats there. 

Am I making this up as I go along? Absolutely.

Charles Portis, in one of my favorite books, True Grit, said it this way, through his character Mattie Ross:

“I have known some horses and a good many more pigs who I believe harbored evil intent in their hearts. I will go further and say all cats are wicked, though often useful. Who has not seen Satan in their sly faces? Some preachers will say, well, that is superstitious “claptrap.” My answer is this: Preacher, go to your Bible and read Luke 8: 26-33.”

Truer words were never spoken.

Brrrrrrr. Scary…

But enough of this silliness!

If you have a cat, I love you too. And you can replace “dog” with “cat” throughout the remainder of this post because I have no authority (Biblical or otherwise) upon which to rest my cat opinions.

So on to the main question! Do dogs go to heaven?

1. The Bible doesn’t say they do. The Bible doesn’t say they don’t. So no one can answer with certainty. If someone speaks with certainty on this issue, quit listening. They are puffed up and full of themselves.

2. There will definitely be animals in heaven. See Ezekiel 47:9.

3. Billy Graham’s answer (it’s a great one): In response to a little girl who asked this question, he is purported to have said: “If that’s what it takes for you to be happy in heaven, God will make sure your dog is in heaven.”

Excellent answer! Takes #1 into account. And speaks the very essence of God’s loving description of heaven – a place of no pain, no suffering, no sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Heaven is a place that Jesus called “paradise” – knowing what that word would mean to us.

4. Joni Eareckson Tada (a woman who take the promises of God very seriously), wrote the best answer of all time (in my estimation):

 “If God brings pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character….Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential to see Scrappy would be pure whimsy-utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous. It’s not that animals have souls or that God owes Scrappy anything, but heaven is going be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the joy of our Great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.” (from God of All Creation by James Robison)

That answer gives me high hopes. I’ve had some great dogs that I loved dearly. Great dogs that I cried over when I lost them.

I must admit that for years, I thought this was a stupid, stupid question. But as I’ve grown older, and a little (teeny tiny bit) wiser through experience, I must admit – it’s a good question.

God blesses us with every good thing-James 1:17. And for many, pets have been a most excellent thing. They’ve been gifts from God that have blessed us, been loyal, and been a source of great friendship, comfort, and love, in times of great need.

Will your dog be in heaven? I can say this with absolute certainty: the God who loves you extravagantly will see to it that your pet will be there if that’s what you need for heaven to be paradise. And I agree with Joni – it would be just like our God to have your pet there.

Be blessed. I happen to know that your heavenly Father is quite fond of you. 

David

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Arkansas, God and Execution-4 Points

Arkansas is big in the news right now because the state is trying to get through some executions before their execution drugs expire. And some Christians are upset about it and arguing that God is against it (for the record, I love prison ministry, I share Christ with inmates several times a year and I love taking Communion with Christian inmates who are my brothers in Christ).

Now to be clear, reasonable people can disagree on the death penalty. It is harder to get executed if you’re rich and can buy the most expensive lawyer around. Every pro-bono attorney is not Atticus Finch. I’d argue those are obstacles to be overcome, not reasons to do away with capital punishment.

But there is one thing you cannot do if you take the Bible seriously:

You cannot argue that the God of the Bible is against the death penalty.

Last week Shane Claiborne, social activist, tweeted that the death penalty is a disgrace to Jesus.

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Sorry Shane. Not the Jesus of the Bible. Read Genesis 9:6.
Is that true? Is the death penalty a disgrace to Jesus?

I also came across an article a while back by a “pro-lifer” pleading that Christians MUST reject the death penalty in the case of people like Jack Jones (he raped and strangled Mary Phillips to death in front of her 11-year-old daughter who was tied to a chair) if they are truly pro-life.

Is that true? Does pro-life equal rejection of the death penalty?

On both questions the answer is, “No.”
Here are four reasons why:

1. God is FOR capital punishment.
No ifs, ands or buts. If you want to oppose capital punishment, don’t use God as your source. In fact, you could preface your argument with “I don’t care what God says about it!” Because that’s where you are. And that’s OK! Just be honest. I’m weary of people claiming Christ is against it. It’s in black and white.

The Words of God Himself:
 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, d8488-gen96
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in His own image.
Genesis 9:6 (ESV)

“But that’s Ooooooold Testament. We’re in the age of grace.” Ok. A statement made from ignorance. But I’ll play along.

New Testament:
For he (the govt authority) is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s
wrath on the wrongdoer. Romans 13:4

That’s New Testament. And God says “if you do wrong, BE AFRAID“. And just in case you’re unclear on the weapon, the sword was not used:

  • to shackle a person,
  • to give a person mercy,
  • to taze them,
  • to rehabilitate them,
  • or to write them a citation.

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Some brutal weapons of destruction.
The sword is a brutal, painful and bloody weapon of destruction, used to “run a person through” so to speak. In short – to execute them. And the sword bearer in Romans 13:4 is God’s instrument of justice and wrath.

So Old Testament, New Testament, God never, ever gives any indication that He is against capital punishment, and in fact, endorses it. Why? Because God values life – He made man in His own image. And He punishes the taking of it. 

2. It is a grave injustice to equate abortion and capital punishment.
When someone argues that to be truly “pro-life” you have to be anti-capital punishment, they are making a horrendously (and I’d argue inhumanly) unjust statement. It’s saying that the murder of an innocent baby is the same as the Biblically endorsed execution of a man who brutally raped and murdered a woman in front of her daughter.

That is sick and twisted and is an indication of a morally compromised mind.

unnamed (4)
This statement is evidence of a broken moral compass.
An innocent baby is not equal in any way to a guilty murderer.

They are not the same. Not in God’s eyes. Not in any sense of justice. Only in a skewed “God’s so impotent and weak that justice is just not even in His framework” sense does this view work.

3. Pleading mercy for a murderer is not necessarily noble OR pro-life.
This point I find most offensive. There’s something particularly unsettling and untoward about Christians who are not the injured party pleading mercy for a murderer.

If you are injured, you have standing to plead for mercy for the aggressor. If your loved one is murdered, I suppose you have some standing to argue for mercy for the murderer.

But if you sit in another state, unaffected by the crime, suffering no loss, suffering none of the pain of the crime, pleading mercy for a murderer does not make you noble or necessarily pro-life. In fact, I’d argue it makes you:

arrogant,
unjust,
lacking in compassion for the true loss of the victim’s loved ones.

And I’d say you have an unhealthy appetite for mercy that doesn’t cost you a thing.

At the very least you have diminished the value of the life taken and the pain and suffering of the victim’s loved ones.

4. Capital punishment doesn’t keep a person from repenting and finding Christ.
Some, with a warped view of justice, argue that when a person is convicted of murder, that we should seek their salvation instead of their just end (according to God’s Word: Gen. 9:6, Romans 13:4).

The two are not mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or. You can give the death sentence in a court of law (no one’s talking about vigilantism here) and still share Christ with someone. As mentioned before, I share Christ with inmates several times a year. I love it when anyone gives their life to Christ!

And the truth is, death sentence for a brutal crime could be a great motivator for repentance. Who wants to stand before God with the stain of brutality and murder on their soul?

You have to look no further that the thief on the cross in Luke 23. It was on the cross, hours away from death…when faced with his own mortality that the thief repented and was granted salvation by none other than Jesus in the flesh. Jesus didn’t save him from execution. Jesus saved him from hell. A much better salvation. 

Why does this matter?

Because Christians need to be people of the Word. People who know it, understand it, and follow it. People who do not misquote it or use it as a shill for their own agenda. And Christians need to be people of justice. Seeking justice and mercy for the victim, whether the victim is a baby killed in the womb, or a man or woman murdered on the street.

God is very clear on capital punishment. He offers salvation to all – the liar, the gossip, the thief and even the murderer. But nowhere in Scripture, NOWHERE in Scripture, does He offer rescue from the just punishment for crime. Rather He sets up governments to institute that justice and defend the defenseless.

God is for capital punishment.

 

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The Shack is Messed Up

 

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  Last line of this tweet kind of says it all. 

I hate to be a frumpy, grumpy old man, but if the new movie, The Shack, is true to the book of the same name, it is really whacked.

 

If you’re not familiar with it – the runaway bestseller was released in 2007 and was simultaneously praised AND criticized across the theological spectrum.

And it is royally messed up. Which is hard to say from watching the previews! Because the previews are heart-wrenching, heart-warming, with good actors, and it looks like it would be a good Christian movie.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Interesting that the star of The Shack is the same guy from Avatar. I like him! And both movies have a religious aspect, neither of which is Christian. Obviously, Avatar has an otherworldly, science fiction religion that the author “made up” for the story.

In the book The Shack ( the movie isn’t out yet), the author also, “made up” the religion for the story. 

How can you say that David?!? It’s a Christian book! It’s been endorsed by some famous Christians! The author says it’s Christian! The MARKETING CAMPAIGN SAYS IT’S CHRISTIAN. NOBODY WOULD LIE IN A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

Really? I get so weary of folks accepting that everything called Christian just must be. Jesus Himself said people would come in His name – not to save you but to deceive you! Jesus the Son of God said don’t just accept something because someone stamps His name it! You can read it yourself here: Matthew 24:5.

Here’s the bottom line on The Shack: If anyone truly believes God’s Word to be, well…God speaking, then “anyone” should realize that the author of The Shack doesn’t believe what God Himself has already said and he (the author) has made up his own version of a god.

I lost count after about six heresies (beliefs contrary to Christian doctrine) in the book, so I’ll bullet point four major ones.

Here’s a little bit of what I mean:

1. In the book, God the Father presents Himself as Goddess the Mother.  Apparently, the god of the Shack was suffering from the same gender confusion our culture is experiencing!

Think I’m overstating?

God the father/mother speaking, “For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Woman? Papa? Which is it??? The author made God transgendered way back in 2007! Way before Target let men in the women’s bathroom!

This in spite of the fact that God has chosen to verbally and specifically call Himself, “God the Father” from the time of Adam and Eve all the way through His Word to Revelation.

For at least 5000 years God has deliberately chosen to represent Himself as God the Father.

That alone should be enough to trash the book. According to the Shack – Jesus blew it when He prayed “Our Father in heaven.” Jesus should’ve prayed, “Our Mother in the Shack.” 

When we start making God in whatever form WE choose, we might as well make Him into anything – a piece of wood, Chewbacca, Kanye “Yeezus” West, whatever. It doesn’t matter – because we’re making it up as we go along and that’s ALL idol worship.

And personally? I don’t ever want to stand before God and explain why I decided His description of Himself was SOOOO inadequate that I, in my finite ignorance, chose to change it. That’s the definition of arrogance and foolishness.

Note: Later in the book the god the mother turns into a ponytailed old man hippy. I’m really not sure which is more annoying…

2. The Jesus of the Shack is a counterfeit Jesus (kind of a karmic/universalist Jesus).

Referring to Buddhists, Mormons, and Muslims, Jesus of the Shack declares “I have no desire to make them Christian,” (wait, wut?) and paints Christians as religious fanatics and part of a sinful world system. That may be a lot of things, but that’s not the Jesus of history OR the Bible.

Jesus also tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa (god the father/mother) or Sarayu (The Shack holy spirit).”

Best way?

Best way of what? Many ways? Lots of ways? “Best” implies there are options for relating to God.

No way.

Jesus said He is the only way:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

One way. Not “best” way. Only way.

3. The goddess of The Shack doesn’t punish sin. “She,” says, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

The author is making it up as he goes along….

The real God does take joy in saving people. That’s what John 3:16 is all about. But:

God NEEDS to punish sin because He is a just and good God. 

Crooked evil judges let the guilty go free. Crooked judges must themselves be brought to justice.

God is NOT a crooked judge. He’s a good judge. He’s love and justice. So He must punish sin.

She (the goddess of the Shack) says, “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship.” If all humans are forgiven, then all go to heaven, even Hitler. Lest you think I’m making too much of this, the author of The Shack has refused to affirm that only the sins of those who repent are forgiven (read more by clicking here-last paragraph).

God has not forgiven all sins. In Acts 3:19 Peter says, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” 

God’s punishment: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 (NLT)

God really punishes sin. Every. Single. Bit.

But Jesus willingly took my place, so that if I repent of my sin, and follow Him, His sacrifice will wipe all my sins away.

4. It’s irreverent. I’m not quite sure how to communicate this in a way that sounds “right” when I write it, but the Jesus of the Shack is just a little bit of a ridiculous goof. He’s dropping stuff on the floor and chasing fish that He can’t catch and talks like a child at times (according to the author).

66 books in the Bible, lots and lots of words – so wordy! But God never presents Jesus like that. Ever.

 


So those are my top four reasons The Shack is wrong, whacked, wretched and the worst. 

Now you might say:

a. “But David, it’s fiction!”

So if it’s fiction, anything goes? Like I could write a book about how Jesus didn’t die, didn’t rise from the grave but married and had little Jesuses, and the church covered it up for 2,000 years? That would be ok?

Then how come Christians got all worked up about the DaVinci Code? It was just fiction.

b. “But David come on! It has caused some people to hunger for God!”

Ok! All aboard the money train! I’m publishing a picture book that presents Jesus as Ariana Grande! I’m sure lots of the 12 to 30 male crowd will have an increased hunger for my Jesus, and I’ll get rich!

Is that what we’ve come to? As long as the “Jesus” you present makes people hungry, it’s good? I’m hungry for the bacon god!

Here’s the issue that’s critical for our souls:

Run from anyone that tries to sell you a different God than THE One revealed in His Word. Worship God the Father, creator of heaven and earth. God the Son, who died for our sins and rose to give us eternal life, and God the Holy Spirit, our counselor, and comforter.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11 (NLT)

Amen and amen.

 

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Antichrist: 12 Things to Know

When is the AntiChrist coming? Who is he? Is he alive right now? The Bible doesn’t tell us WHEN the Antichrist will come. In fact, it’s a secret, because it’s tied in with the second coming of Christ, and Jesus said no one but the Father knows when that will happen.

But…there are some things we CAN know, and probably should. Here’s 12 for you.

1.There are many “antichrists.” According to 1 John 2, anyone who denies Jesus as Christ is “an” antichrist.” Means they are “anti-Jesus.”

dishes
This make me so happy.

2. There is also a singular “Antichrist” who will rise to power during the Great
Tribulation   (according to 1 John 2 and Revelation 13).  He’s the supreme “anti-Jesus.” Whatever Jesus is, he’s the opposite.

Kind of like Bizarro Superman. He’s Bizarro Jesus. Meaning he’s not for you, but against you. Doesn’t love you, hates you. Doesn’t give you living water, but a dead soul. Doesn’t forgive your sins, but multiplies them. Doesn’t cast out demons, but wants to fill you with them. Doesn’t give you rest, but gives you turmoil. Doesn’t go to prepare a place for you, but will be sent to a place God prepared for him…hell.

And he wants you to join him.

3. His big chapter in the Bible is Revelation…wait for it…wait for it…13! As in, “Friday the 13th” and, unlucky number 13, and that disaster of a space journey (but an inspiring movie with Tom Hanks) Apollo 13! Is that amazing or am I the only one that thinks so?

So…if anyone asks you, “Where in the Bible is the Antichrist?” Just think, “what was that unlucky number? Number seven – no no it’s, ‘Come on lucky seven! I’m gambling the away diaper money!’ What about one –that would be snake eyes and sounds unlucky but I don’t think that’s it. What’s that movie about Friday? Freaky Friday, Friday Night Lights, FRIDAY THE 13TH!  That’s it!!  It’s in some book in the Bible, chapter 13.

Now you can always remember it. You’re welcome.

4. He won’t look like Eddie Munster or have a hairy werewolf face but will more than likely be very handsome, or at least have an appearance that makes you think, “what a great guy. I don’t why, but I like him (2 Cor. 11:4)!”

5. His name is probably not Damian. That’s from the book/movie, The Omen. Never saw it but knew about it because there was a kid in school with the same name who also happened to be stoned most of the time because of glue sniffing. So, of course, everyone in school made comments about the name. Because kids are kind and helpful.

6. He probably wasn’t born with a birthmark on his head that reads “666.” Can’t guarantee that. It just doesn’t say so anywhere in the Bible. He probably won’t have any explicitly Satanic identifying marks. That would make it hard to fool folks. “Hey, Beast! What’s that weird 666 unibrow you have going on there? Weird!”

beast
Pretty confident this is NOT the antichrist. Just a goofy X-Men character.

7. People will not call him, “The Beast” or, “Antichrist.” He’ll have a regular name. The world will think he’s a wonderful, wonderful world leader who’s able to bless all of mankind.

8. He could be alive right now. He could be a teenager renting umbrellas on a beach, selling froyo,  or working at the car wash. At one point in his life, Adolf Hitler lived in a flop house. The man who would murder six million Jews and try to take over the world was once a nobody in a flop house.  Nobody would’ve guessed that young Adolf would get close to ruling the world.

And it’s the same with the Antichrist.

9. Obama is not the antichrist. Shocking for some I know. How do I know? Simple. The Antichrist will unify the world and be worshiped by the world. The President doesn’t seem to be unifying anyone right now, and I don’t think Putin (or the President of the Philippines-who just called Obama pretty harsh name) is worshiping our president anytime soon.

10. He will be miraculous. So much so that he will imitate Christ’s death and resurrection. He’ll be mortally wounded, but recover or be revived and all the world will be amazed and follow him (see Revelation 13).

11. He’ll persecute and murder Christians. Persecution has happened before but this time, it will be on a worldwide scale.

12. He will give people hope and they will love him. They will follow him. And they will worship him. At the beginning of his reign, he will appear to be the savior of the world.  And people will think he’s like a god. 

How can people be so deceived you ask? Deceiving people is easy. Right now, some
12.9 MILLION people dfsabelieve that “shape-shifting alien reptilian people control our world by taking on human form.” I think that’s hilarious until one of them moves in next door…just saying.

But that belief is just a result of people being ignorant, crazy, gullible, or all three. The Antichrist will be empowered by Satan himself, and everyone who has not embraced Christ will have no protection from his power of deceit. Their minds will be given over to his leadership.

So what are you going to do? How do you keep from following the Antichrist?
Stake through the heart? Silver bullet? Garlic around your neck? No no no.

The best and only protection against the Antichrist is to embrace and follow Jesus with your life, and follow Him by obeying His Word. Do that and you’ll know the real thing (Christ) so well, you won’t be confused by a counterfeit like the Antichrist.

One more way that Jesus…will make it worth your while.

Amen, amen.

 

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Give It Up!


Surrender? REALLY?   
But I’m the captain of my own ship! The master of my destiny! I will make my own way!
People say those kinds of things all the time. “I don’t need God. He can go His way and I’ll go mine.” 

Awkward moment when you shout “Amen!” right
before Pastor goes on to explain why its obviously wrong.

 In 1875, William Ernest Henley wrote the poem Invictus, as a response to the amputation of his leg. Years ago I announced the title as I was about to read it as part of a sermon one Sunday, and heard a lady from the second row say in a REALLY loud whisper “Oh, I love this!” Super Awk! Read on and see if you can understand why.

Invictus
OUT of the night that covers me,   
Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be   
For my unconquerable soul.    
In the fell clutch of circumstance        
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
My head is bloody, but unbowed.   
 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears   
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years   
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.   
It matters not how strait the gate,   
How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

This is the poem they quote in hell.

          
 God is thee force in everyone’s life. For good or for bad, for blessing or cursing, God is always proven to be in control. God will be a force in my life – to save, rescue, preserve me, and watch over me – or – if I reject Him – He will be a force in my life to ultimately thwart every strategy and every plan I make that parts ways with His. He will be “thee” force one way or another. 
The NT says it this way in 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials Godly – people who are made Godly through faith in Christ and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.Unrighteous – people who remain unrighteous b/c they reject Christ.
           
The writer of Invictus? Tragically, he died June 11th, 1903. He will remain…unconquered for all eternity.
BUT… a lady named Dorothea Day wrote a rebuttal version of this same poem:
MY CAPTAIN
Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole
I thank the God I know to be,
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud,
Under that rule which men call chance,
My head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears,
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,

Christ is the Captain of my soul.
What joy to surrender to the Lord in prayer, to honor Him as the Captain of my soul, who loves me and with deliberate will marched to the cross in my place, uttering to the Father “Not My will, but Yours be done.” How could I live unconquered and un-surrendered to this loving Master?
God Speed,
Pastor David
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