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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God Lives Here

Some of you read the title you thought, “universe.” Some of you read it and thought, “church.” aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Both true but not what I’m talking about at all.

I was thinking recently, “I can relate to God the Father because I have a father. I ‘get’ what He means by that. I can relate to God the Son because we have actual historical pictures of Jesus like this one! And we have Bible stories and songs so I can relate to Him!”

But growing up, I heard about the “Holy Ghost.” Wait. Wut?

Ok – not ghost. That’s King James. How about “Spirit.”

Again with the spooks! What does that mean? For me as a little kid it meant this remote controlled ghost that I ordered for 95 CENTS. What a bargain!!

ghostExcept it was white trash bag with a white balloon and fishing line. My first introduction to the word, “rip-off.” Next was sea monkeys. Don’t bother. They are not monkeys at all! They are brine shrimp. The heartbreak of being a first grader with a pocket full of cash.

But Holy Spirit? What does that mean?

Here’s a phrase that sums it up:

God Lives Here.

Where?

In every follower of Jesus Christ. INSIDE you.

He’s God THE Spirit. Because He’s Spirit, can dwell, make His home in, be inside of – you.

Most Excellent Example: David and Goliath

The story is this: Goliath is a big  Philistine beaten hard by an ugly stick and he loves to kill people and break things. Challenges the Israelites. They – the army – the warriors – are trembling in fear. Like babies.
David – shepherd boy. Goes out to the battlefield. Takes five stones and sling.

goliath
This picture was NOT in my children’s Bible. Most excellent, though. 

Hurls stone at Goliath. Hits Goliath. Goliath falls down. David gets his sword and cuts off his head. Kills him. He’s a hero.

David must be an extraordinary guy right?

No way. Nothing extraordinary about him. But God is extraordinary.

Then how does he KILL the giant David?

Settle down. I’ll tell you.

Jump back ONE chapter in the Bible. This happens:

Samuel the great prophet of God (who was great because the great God spoke through him), goes to Jesse’s house.  “Bring me all your sons.” Jesse calls all of his sons. Except one.

Jesse didn’t bother to call David because David was not very outstanding, remarkable, noteworthy, terrific, unique or spectacular. In fact, you could say (according to his own father anyway), David was ordinary.

David was so ordinary that when Sam says to Jesse “call your sons”, David was:

Left out.                      Left behind.                         Forgotten (by his own dad).

Excluded.                     Insignificant.

 In Jesse’s estimation, David doesn’t count.

Have you ever felt like that? I have. Many times. My position in grade school baseball wasn’t left field, it was “left out.” We’ve all been left out at some point.

Samuel goes through all David’s bros – Eliab – the face jock, Abinadab – voted “best six pack abs,” Shammah – voted “most likely to slay a giant.”

God says “no, no, no – I don’t look on the outward appearance, I look at the heart.”

Sam asks Jesse “Are these all your boys?” Jesse says “Oh yeah, there’s that one…ummmmm…the sheep boy, but he’s busy.” And of course you and I know, THAT’S DAVID, GOD’S MAN, GOD’S ANOINTED, GOD’S LEADER, GOD’S CHOSEN KING FOR THE NATION FORGOTTEN WITH THE SHEEP!!!

As is often the case in my writing I’m using all caps because I am shouting at how absurd this is.

Go read the story. So very fascinating. David is brought in from the field. Samuel anoints him, and at that moment (I Sam 16:13) the Spirit of the Extraordinary God “RUSHED” upon David.

God lives here. In David. From that day on.  And ordinary David goes and slays the giant. Because the extraordinary God lives in ordinary David. 

God lived in David, and made him dauntless and bold and daring and courageous and wise. And God will do the same with you.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11 (NLT)

Get this: the extraordinary God lives in ordinary you.

The more you recognize that and walk in that truth and believe it and cooperate with Him, the more He will make you:

dauntless

bold

daring

courageous and wise.

Say to yourself, “God lives here.” Which so awesome. Let Him rule. 

Amen and amen.

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#BestChristmasEver

best-christmas-ever_title

Q: How do you get the best Christmas? 

A: With an excellent Christmas list.

“Like this David?

  • A list of food to be bought.
  • A list of parties to go to.
  • A list of presents you want.
  • A list of presents your kids want.
  • A list of Hallmark Channel movies to watch.
  • A list of Christmas shows to watch.

Is that the kind of list required for the #BestChristmasEver?”

No. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. go-to-jail

Those things are fine and fun and nothing wrong with any of them. But not one of them is essential for the Best Christmas Ever. In fact, for most of the last 2000 years, Christians all over the world have worshiped without any of those things!

I think there’s a better Christmas list. It’s found at the beginning of Matthew. It’s the genealogy of Jesus. “Yawn,” right? The word “genealogy” does not excite me at all.

What if I told you that:

  1. It’s the “family of Jesus list,” and
  2. It has the grandpa and great grandpa and great great grandpa of Jesus, and
  3. A bunch of the folks in His family are reprobates?

Would that make it more interesting? Because that’s the real deal. In the list of Jesus’ family (Jesus who is perfect, sinless, wholly God and wholly man), there is:

  • Ruth – a descendent of incest – the Moabites are descendants of Lot and HIS DAUGHTER- (all caps because I am yelling in horror) “having relations” (Gen. 19:33).
  • Tamar – who dressed up as a prostitute so that her father-in-law would GET HER PREGNANT (all caps-yelling again) because her husband died before they could have children.
  • Judah – who unknowingly had sex with his daughter-in-law because HE WAS HAVING SEX WITH A PROSTITUTE (all caps again-so much to yell about)!
  • Rahab – who WAS a prostitute.
  • Jechoniah – was so horrible that God actually cursed him.

Not exactly what you’d expect if you’re thinking, “family of Jesus.”

Imagine Tamar’s kid – first day of first grade:

Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Who’s your mom?
Tamar’s son: Tamar.
Kid sitting next to Tamar’s son: Tamar??? REALLY?? The one who had sex WITH YOUR GRANDPA??????

Horrifying.

But there they are. Right in the family of Jesus. Complete moral disasters. He’s got major league outcasts in His earthly family.

Matthew is the writer. Also an outcast. And rightly so. He was a Jew and a crooked tax collector who took money from his fellow Jews, for their enemy the Romans. Matthew was a traitor before he started following Jesus. Everybody hated the tax collector.

And I have to wonder, (pure speculation on my part) maybe Matthew’s thinking about being an outcast as he’s carried along by the Holy Spirit writing this…

Matthew: “I’m going to air some of my people’s dirty laundry right here at the beginning – to set the stage for the rest of the story.

Because when folks hear about the woman caught in adultery being saved and Zacchaeus the crooked being saved, and the thief on the cross being saved, that’s going to cause some self-righteous heads to spin.

So let’s be clear dear reader – Jesus has outcasts in His earthly family and they are right here in this geneology!”

Praise God He has outcasts in His family. Because we are all outcasts. All Every one of us.

Jesus died to wash the outcast clean, and bring her or him into His family.

Maybe you’ve felt like an outcast before. Left out. Left over. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Maybe you have some secrets in your past, or in your family history and you think, “If people only knew the real story – they wouldn’t want anything to do with me!”

No no no. Jesus is Lord of the outcast.

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NLT)

In Christ, you’re no longer on the outside. In Christ, you’re on the inside.

Christmas means no matter what your situation, background, secrets, or history – Christmas means through Jesus, you are included in God’s great family. Not as a black sheep, not as an unwanted child. But as a man or woman deeply loved by Jesus.

You. Are. Included.

Amen and amen. And Merry Christmas!

 

 

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A Powerful Secret for Radical Change

Everyone has a secret to change your life. You’ve seen some of them. Here are some great ones:

  • Dollar Shave Club.
  • Hair Club for Men.
  • Viagra – from the commercials on my TV, this strange blue magic pill called Viagra turns you into a strong cowboy who knows how to pull a truck out of the mud with horses or fisherman on the wild and angry sea. Call me a cynic, but I question that.
  • Sea Monkeys!

Of the above, I think Sea Monkeys have the highest probability of life change.sea-monkeys

Best Life-Change Story I’ve Heard

Frank Laubach was a missionary in the Philippines in the 1930’s.Today missionaries all over the world send emails, Skype, even have websites.

An American missionary stationdfgfgded in the Philippines in the 1930’s would be completely removed from the world he knew. Contact with home could only be made via boat or plane. So he was:

  • Isolated.
  • Alone.
  • On his own.
  • With only Jesus to trust to fulfill his (and His) mission.

How did he do it? He tried an experiment. He determined to take ONE second of every minute to turn his mind to Christ. A moment here, a moment there, connecting with His Creator.

How did it go? It changed the trajectory of his life.

In his own words:

“I feel simply carried along each hour, doing my part in a plan which is far beyond myself. This sense of cooperation with God in little things is what so astonishes me, for I never have felt it this way before. I need something and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.

God raised Frank Laubach from being a lonely missionary in the Philippines to a Christian world statesman, the founder of World Literacy Crusade, and a great influence on the United States foreign policy in the post-WWII years. And he attributed all of his brilliant ideas and incredible energy and effectiveness from this practice: practicing the presence of God.

You can have moment by moment guidance from the One who makes the universe safe, for your marriage, your work, your ministry, your life.

The Bible refers to this. It says right there in, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray all the time.

How in the world do you do that?

It’s easier than you think.

It’s called, “breath prayers.” “LORD – PLEASE GIVE ME GOOD BREATH WHILE I GO TALK TO THIS CUTE GIRL,” says I, as I walk across the business school to ask my future wife out.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. Stupid me.

Christians have practiced breath prayers for a long time. It’s picking a simple phrase or Scripture that you can say in one breath and praying it all day long, over and over, Frank Laubauch style, keeping the conversation going with the Father. Like  this:

  • I love you, Lord.
  • For me to live is Christ.
  • Use me today Lord.
  • I am Yours.
  • Make me pure.
  • Make me holy.
  • You are my God.

Pray it all day long to honor God and keep in constant contact with Him. My experience is that it keeps my mind sent on Him, and my heart (affections) directed toward Him.

hike

HINT: Set a reminder on your phone for 5 minutes from now with the breath prayer you want to pray. When it pops up on your screen, pray it, snooze it for 5 minutes, or just leave it and look at it every few minutes. Mine has said, “For me to live is Christ!” all day today.

Here’s what I can promise you: If you begin to constantly practice the presence of God while standing, sitting, waking, sleeping, working and playing, you’ll never lack the Father’s presence – pouring out His peace, direction, purpose, kindness, goodness, making Christ known,  and divinely leading you through the morass of life on this earth.

His promise to you:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!
Isaiah 26:3

Now get on with it. He is waiting for you.

Amen, amen.
Transformation

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I Like Big Buts and I Cannot Lie

13692630_sHey! If you read that and thought I was writing about something else and some song is stuck in your head, that’s on you and your poor music choices! And, I’m sure I have no idea what song that might be…just saying.

First of all – small buts (our “buts” will remain lower case through this post to designate their smallness). We all have what I’d call small buts. And it has nothing to do with your diet.

Here are a few examples of small buts:

  • but what if God doesn’t come through?
  • but I worry all the time!
  • but I’m afraid if I give to God, I won’t have enough!
  • but I don’t have time to serve God!
  • but my life is just going crazy; I can’t get to church.
  • but I don’t know if God will do what I ask.
  • but they won’t like me if I talk about Jesus.
  • but Sunday School ethics don’t work in the real world.
  • but I’m scared about the future.
  • but I’m not motivated.
  • but I don’t have all the answers.
  • but I don’t know where to start.
  • but I can’t.
  • but I’ll fail.
  • but I’ve lost hope.

You get the idea. And honestly, it’s implied in all of those buts, “I don’t trust/believe God” and/or “I’m not sure He’ll come through in the end.”

I’d summarize the above mindset this way: God is small. And I am all. Meaning, “I’m all I have, and God can’t take care of business.”

But David! One of those on your list is my but, and my but is HUGE! Big as a double-wide! And I don’t like my big but!”

No no no no no. No matter what your but is, it’s a small, tiny but. You just think it’s big because you lack perspective.

Check this out: I feel really small on an NBA basketball court, and I feel REALLY big in a preschool room full of toddlers.

That’s all about perspective.

If you’re comparing your but to yourself, your friends or the world around you, your but may seem big. But it’s not.

What’s bigger than your but (no giggling)?

God’s BUT (all caps to indicate it is large).

God wrote a book. It’s FULL of big BUTS (over 50). Life-saving, wonderful BUTS!

BUTS like:

BUT God remembered Noah and dried up the earth. Gen. 8:1
BUT God saved David from Saul. 1 Samuel 23:14
BUT God wakes me up, fills my lungs with air, puts a beat in my heart and keeps me alive day after day after day after day. Psalm. 54:4
BUT God is the strength of my heart. Psalm 73:26
BUT God brought me up from the pit. Jonah 2:6
BUT God raised Jesus from stone-cold dead to alive forever. Acts 13:30

Those are all live-or-die BUTS.  “BUT God” is a powerful phrase!

It turns reality upside down.
It saves the day.
It makes the bad good.
It makes the tired strong.
It makes the old new.
It makes the dead alive.
It makes the future bright.

“BUT God” changes everything.

Where have you lost hope? Where have you given into worry? Where have you given up trying? Where has fear kept you from doing what God has called you to do?

For every small “but” you and I have, God has a bigger “counter-BUT”.

You say, “But I’m worried.” BUT God controls the future.
You say, “But I’m too tired.” BUT God gives power to the weak.
You say, “But I will fail.” BUT God always wins.
You say, “But what if God doesn’t come through?” BUT God always comes through.
You say, “But I’m afraid.” BUT God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

No matter what small but is bringing you down, holding you down, keeping you from doing what God has called you do, God is bigger and badder and stronger, and is willing to act for His kids.

Remember I said it’s about “perspective?”

It’s NOT “God is small. And I am all.” That is the very definition of “stinking thinking” (thank you for a great phrase Zig Ziglar).

It is:  I am small. And God is all. 

God is all and proved His great love and willingness to act for you in this…BUT God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

So every time a but enters your mind, or is spoken to you by some naysayer or weak faith person, that contradicts what God has already said, you answer back, “BUT God”…and you fill in the blank with God has said. 

And there is no bigger but than what God has said. He always gets the last word. And it’s always a good word.

Got it? Now go try something great for Him today.

Amen.

 

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Easier Said Than Done

To be a hero, get this ONE thing down.

Often the one major difference between a hero and a failure is the phrase, “easier said than done.”

Staying sexually pure – easier said than done. Staying married to that man or that woman – easier said than done. Controlling my tongue – easier said than done. Being honest – easier said than done.

Easier said than done.

That pretty much covers all of life! Brushing your teeth. Bathing. Sliding that stick on your armpits – it’s so hard!!! Putting on makeup. Easier said than done. But SO thankful we do all that! And yes – I said thankful for makeup!😄😄😄😄😎😇

But when it comes to being loyal to God through obedience we get this ridiculously silly idea that “easier said than done” is a really valid excuse. And it is. It’s a GREAT excuse if…if…if…wait for it…

…you never want to see God do anything big in your life.

Failures make excuses. Heroes say, “I want to be loyal to God as much as I want clean teeth – so instead of easier said than done, I’m going to say “I’m doing it.”  That’s what Noah did. Build an ark? “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God…” Hebrews 11:7  “Easier said than done. Easier said than done! But I’m doing it.”

Look at the list below – it highlights the poverty of that phrase wonderfully:

“Easier said than done” results in:

  1. Rampant BO since it’s easier to say “shower” than do it.
  2. Furiously offensive halitosis, since it’s easier to say “toothbrush” than use one.
  3. No Miss America (horrors!) since it’s easier to say “makeup” than use it.
  4. If a, b, possibly c are true – then no wedding cakes, groomsmen, bridesmaids, honeymoons or happily ever-afters since no one but Gollum will want to be near you. Granted I’m making a wild assumption that you don’t want to marry Gollum.
  5. No friends since it’s easier to say “play nice with others” than to actually do it.
  6. No paycheck since it’s easier to say “I got up and went to work” than to do it.
  7. No worship since it’s easier to say “I love Jesus” than to actually show up at the church that He said He’s building that the gates of hell will not prevail against (Matt. 16:18).
  8. And this is the big one: NO seeing God doing anything big in my life!

But – axing that phrase from your vocabulary? Results in big things. Big things like great breath, no body odor, happily ever afters blah blah blah.

But most importantly – axing that phrase from your vocabulary gives the God of the universe free space to work in your life in ways that are beyond what you can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

One caveat: I’m not talking about some kind of
“God helps those who helps themselves” rubbish.Truth is,
God helps those who CAN’T help themselves.

So in the face of a big fat CAN’T, just for this week, try this – say “Easier said than done? Yes! Maybe even impossible. But God has called me to this task, and so I will do it, in faith, by the power of Jesus, not my own.”

Easier said than done? You bet. That’s life from birth to death. But let’s get with God and let’s do it.

 

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