What Leo has Taught Me in the Past Month

As my dog Leo continues to battle lymphoma, he has taught me several lessons through his journey thus far. And I do believe this God’s way of teaching me and others by His grace.

Sickness/Tragedy Does Not Need to Define You
Since the beginning of this deadly prognosis, Leo has not changed his behavior. Through the worst days he has had, he has not moped or felt sorry for himself and always have strives to do everything he has always done, including being ultra-obedient. When every part of him tells him not to, he somehow finds a way to be normal to me and to the people around him.

Patience is a Virtue
Patience truly is a blessing from God and Leo displays this each day. There are times he needs to wait, and is always patient, never restless or complaining. He just takes each moment and goes with the flow. I said this before, but God created waiting rooms, traffic jams, long holds on the phone, for impatient people like me. But He also created Leo to teach me patience by how he reacts. Leo is naturally patient, he doesn’t need to be taught or told to be patient.

The Last Days Do Not Need to be Sad
I believe there were times Leo was really close to death. But he never once made these days sad for me. When he saw that I was down, he would try to cheer me up. At times he has been in tremendous pain, TREMENDOUS pain, yet he always found moments to comfort me. He knows it makes me sad when he did not eat, and although he probably didn’t want to eat, did it for me.

Finding Something Good and Be Thankful
Each day I have owned Leo, he has found something good in life. Even in this unbearable sickness. He searches for the good in life, never letting anything getting in his way of this. The simple things, he enjoys old torn up things for example, that seems to make him happy. And I guess when I look back, I was that old torn up thing he found as well. Leo is thankful for each day he gets, for the food and care he receives, for the roof over his head and for ALL the support he has received during this time.

Spurned by Religion

What is the number one reason I have heard from the public at large as to why they are turned off to things of God? It is usually a case of being spurned by a world religion such as Roman Catholicism.

The person usually feels put down by self righteousness. The judgments and condemnations have come from someone in a church of that world religion, and the hypocrisy of it all is quite distasteful. A woman told me last week for example that her Catholic parents won’t speak to her hardly, keep their distance, because according to them she “lives in sin”. My response to her, was we all have lived in sin, including her parents currently, that they were NO better than she but they don’t realize this. We are all in fact sinners!

I will repeat that, we are all in fact sinners and everyone will fall short of the glory of God. The self righteous in these world religions do need a reality check by the comparison to God’s eternal holiness of which they more than not do not understand. Because if you did this comparison, there is NO WAY you could condemn another sinner just by looking in the mirror. Now this doesn’t mean I am giving a license to live in sin, it means we are not to judge others as less worthy.

Judgment and discernment is authorized by Jesus in the Bible, but again we are NEVER to judge another sinner as less worthy than ourselves. You might have repented, you might have figured things out by God’s grace, but you are in fact no better or worthy than one who has not yet figured it out. Salvation was never by self righting, it was always only through Jesus Christ’s righteousness! Remember this!

If a world religion has spurned you, don’t fret, don’t burn all faith in Jesus Christ an effigy. Rather discern that world religion by Scripture, and God will show you what you were feeling all along, that they were always wrong! The Good News they withheld from you will be declared on those pages, while you will see the actual condemnation and it is towards their false gospels.

This is why Scripture is the highest standard for faith and practice, NEVER the church. Because the church could be very well be a world religion which opposes those promises. If a world religion has spurned you, open your Bible for the truth! God never spurns the ungodly whom He is drawing unto His Son! Any church which has spurned you by self righteousness and condemnation, is not of Jesus Christ. If the open call is not to repent, if it is judgment and white washed walls, this is not Jesus Christ’s church. I turn you to Matthew 23, read how angry Jesus was with “white washed walls” and their spurning of sinners in need of salvation.

When You Hit the Wall

Having been a caregiver for my dog Leo’s cancer treatment, others can also attest to what I call “hitting the wall”. All seems to be going well, the chemo seems to be working, the patient is eating well, the energy is growing. Then all of a sudden POOF, the patient goes from gaining to losing. It is an uneasy battle as you try to have hope, but then in just a day or a week, that hope is dashed and you start at a new drawing board.

Honestly, when Leo and I hit this wall, I was frustrated with God because of the hope I had been given. But being frustrated does not mean I was angry, it meant to ask Him why this was happening of which I don’t have the slightest clue. All I know it is of His will and the question is always is am I abiding by this will.

It might take years to process this, why we hit the wall and needed to change course, but I know in time God will clearly me show me why. It could because it was meant to strengthen our resolve or just to bring new people into our life, He only knows.

I see this great trial as a blessing. It has recharged my batteries for one thing to really get in tune with God and trusting in His will alone. Yesterday for example, I met a couple of friends who were spurned by world religions and was able to share more Good News with them of which these world religions were not preaching. They were looked down upon by these religious folks for being sinners, when we ALL are sinners.

I will count the days now with Leo. This could be heading towards the end with him of which I have made my peace with, or it could be heading towards a miracle of which we can only hope for. My heart goes out to anyone who has gone through cancer with another or has had cancer or is battling it! Your thoughts are hardly ever the thoughts of those around you, and I empathize with you. Your fears, your pains, your sufferings are all being recorded by God. He knows exactly what you are going through, so when you hit that wall, turn to Him!

It is OK to ask God “Why?”

When times get dark, sad, lonely, and depressing in your life, it is completely OK to ask God “why is this happening”. There usually is an answer we are not grasping and He will always help us understand why. He doesn’t desire us to go groping in the dark or turning to the world who will give you an answer, but most of the time that answer is wrong.

Turn to God, ask Him! The test here is to believe He is real and that He is listening always. Sometimes that is the answer actually. He is removing the doubt in your mind. You see, He is not just God during the good and happy events in your life, but also in the dark and sad moments as well.

Is it OK to be upset? Yes! God wants always to be honest with our feeling, we need to be truthful with Him that this sadness is not something you desired. Now, this does not mean we burn God an effigy or we curse Him for the sadness or trauma, it means we tell Him how this event honestly made us feel.

In this, considering we are fallen creatures, we must realize we don’t deserve a thing from God other than His wrath. The mercy and grace He gives freely is completely pf His will, not ours. But again, it is OK to ask “why” in this, why grace and mercy did not come. God doesn’t administer grace and mercy via quid pro quo either, or it isn’t grace or mercy, this is something to also understand. He doesn’t bow to our deeds in other words. We must humbly admit we will fall short, VASTLY short of His holiness.

Communing with God is essential. How is your relationship with Him? It is personable or distant or non-existent. If personable, asking why comes seamlessly as you would ask a parent of whom would give you an answer. If distant, as with your own parents, the answers won’t be clear. If non-existent, you will just grope in the dark and become more frustrated and sad.

Don’t turn to the world, turn to God! And listen for the answer, discern your sins, discern your behavior, your prayer life, your relationship with God and the answer should be clear. Trust in Him alone for this answer!

Things I Have Learned in the Past Month

God has taught me many things just in the past month or so in Leo’s cancer treatment. I thought I’d share somethings to possibly help those struggling with life.

God Created Waiting Rooms for the Impatient
May sound corny, but I really do believe impatient people as myself were given waiting rooms, traffic jams, hold times on the phone, long lines, to teach us patience. That not everything will be done according to our timeline and to look beyond ourselves. God has grown my patience as for example the doctor saying “it will be 15 minutes” that turns into an hour wait. In my former life, I would be reading the riot act for that, now I am a bit more patient with people. Yes, God created waiting rooms for impatient people like me!

God is in Control
We often only think of God being in control during the good times, the wonderful events in our lives. But He being God is always in control, during the bad and ugly times as well. To be at total peace is to trust in His control. Abandon that “Do It Yourself” attitude and trust the God’s will and process. It isn’t easy but doing so will bring you peace. Unfortunately there won’t be a YouTube video to help you solve a crisis situation, that is God’s way of reminding us that He is in control.

I Have a Former Life
In my former life, just 10 years ago if placed in this exact same circumstance I can honestly say I do not think I’d jump in my truck to move to Colorado to try and save Leo’s life. Why? Because in my former life I was all about myself and my needs, everything else came secondary. It was always “what’s in it for me”. Now it is “what’s in it for you”. And I thank God for this change.

God Will Remove Your Pride
Never in a million years or at least in my former life I would have ever thought of starting a GoFundMe site to help Leo. My pride told me that was for the poor. Well, when the time came, God gave me no choice, there was no pride I felt, all I sought to do is to help my ailing companion. All pride will do is bring you REGRET, distress, and sadness while never helping the one who needs you.

God Sifts Your Friends List During Adversity
Certain people I expected to immediately support us were nowhere to be found, and certain people I never expected to did support us. That is God’s way of telling us certain people in our life may not be who they seem and maybe should NOT be in our life and people we overlook should not be taken for granted. A lesson definitely learned! And then there are some who come along, strangers, people from your past who unconditionally help and support you, this is also God’s doing! And I thank Him for all these people!

The Very Best in People Arise in Times of Difficulty
I will use Dana Perino in this example, former George W. Bush’s press secretary now on Fox News. Dana has been in constant contact all throughout Leo’s illness. With the impeachment ordeal, Iran crisis, and all the other issues she needs to stay focused on as a Fox News anchor, Dana never misses a beat to encourage me and Leo. God will bring the best qualities out of people during your time of adversity and I have experienced this now with many people during this time with Leo.

When the Darkness Comes
During the extreme dark times, I found my mouthing or thinking these words “I trust in You God alone” really does work to bring peace. I say it until I am at peace, because that is when God believes what I am promising. When your dark time comes, don’t turn to the world, turn to God alone! The world will give you trouble, God promises that no matter what you’ll be just fine, go with God.

Warning Lights
I have had a tire inflation warning light which keeps coming on in my truck. I have spent several thousands of dollars now in the past month trying to fix this issue. A couple of days, the light comes back on, how frustrating! But I relate this to Leo’s cancer because I know we aren’t out of the woods yet. The warning light can come back on and I am prepared for it. We will just stay vigilant in keeping it off and doing whatever is necessary to keep it off.

Don’t Take For Granted Little Things
If you ever had a pet or a person in your life who didn’t eat and then ate one day, you know the exhilaration and joy. They finally ate, and if they continue eating, the joy increases. I learned not to take for granted these little things now with Leo. I thank God each time he eats a meal and that he gains his weight. Don’t take for granted what you are blessed with, always thank God for everything!

You Often Do Not Know What You are Capable of!
I didn’t know I was capable to be Leo’s health caretaker until I was put in the position. Giving him pills, syringe feeding, carrying him, etc. I really never thought I could do and sustain it until I actually did it. It is by God’s grace and hand that we learn we are actually capable. We often tell ourselves that certain things are off limits, we will NEVER be able to do that, but when the time comes in a trauma, don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing those things and without complaint and with ease, this is all by God’s doing.

Take Time to Thank God Always
Thanking God is a prayer. It doesn’t need to be dressed up with many words, just a simple “Thank You Lord” will do. How long did that take? He knows what you are thanking Him for, so no need to insult His intelligence. Know He is right there with you always, so thanking Him for everything is worship and prayer to Him. Yes, the simplest but one of the most powerful prayers is “Thank You Lord!”.

You Need to Look Back on Things
Lastly, there are somethings when you look back on them you will see how God was working in your life. At the time they don’t make much sense. Dropping everything and moving to Colorado during the holiday season for me was that “didn’t make much sense”, but I did it, and as I look back on it, I know it was for the RIGHT reason! In my former life, I did everything mostly for the wrong reasons, what would satisfy me, myself, and I. So we must look back and see the power of God, things which often are unimaginable and seemingly miracles or how things fell into place are all by His hand!

Keep Your Distance!

Yesterday I wrote about purging evil among you as God commands. With this, keeping our distance from evil is imperative. Don’t associate with evil, and do not let evil be comfortable around you, or that evil can and will cause MUCH trouble in your life.

It doesn’t mean we are not to associate with those of the world or that we need to just find Christian realtors or business people to deal with. It means keep your distance in fellowship with the lost and blind. Do not consort or appease them in their unbelief. There needs to be NO compromise with the Gospel. If a heresy presents itself, combat it by the word of God and do not give any ground. If blasphemous language is being spoken, confront it by the word of God.

Evil does need to be rebuked! After my rebirth, a so-called Christian told me she would smoke pot with one of her friends and to hang out with such evil. I had a really hard time with this and let it be known, this is not God’s leading. She didn’t listen and I witnessed her life in a downward spiral. She wasn’t a Christian, a play actor and was not trusting in the word of God either. So discernment can also come by holding your ground, evil play actors and tares will reveal themselves.

Watch out for the guilt manipulations with this as well. “Why are you judging me?” or “You are a hater”. My response is always YES, we are to judge good from evil and because God hates evil, so do I!

Keeping your distance from evil people also serves them notice that there is something wrong. Whether they care or not, they know where you stand and will NOT compromise your faith for their evil. Some will leave you, some will go out of their way to avoid you, let them go! The temptation is to tolerate the evil, but stand firm and let God do the rest.

We don’t need to go around with a finger waving, verbalizing condemnation left and right either. It is a subtle change of behavior though which needs to be enacted. You reject invitations for fellowship with evil for example. You do not seek favor from evil either, be always unavailable to them. The message will be sent.

In some cases a sinner who gets the message that you will NOT appease them, will inquire as to why. At that point be gentle and give them the Good News. Explain who you serve, and that you are a priest of God’s Kingdom and how very serious you take this position with Him and how you pray they too join the Kingdom if it is of God’s will.

Keeping distance from evil is a discipline from God. He will ALWAYS let it be known to you who needs to be purged, who needs to be avoided and ignored, and who needs to be witnessed to. Listen to Him! This comes internally, you will KNOW if you are of His flock and the conscience God is giving you is from Him.

Purging the Evil Among You

Deuteronomy 17:7 “The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst”

God was pretty clear and direct to His chosen people on how to deal with evil in their midst. He told them the consequences of not doing so as it would cause just more strife and evil among them.

We often tolerate evil among us for various reasons. It could be evil family members you are stuck with, a job with evil coworkers, a situation where you are forced to be among evil people for an extended period. However, what God is speaking about here is fellowship in worship to Him, this is where you cannot tolerate evil among you, it must be purged. So the examples I gave above, NONE of those people should be allowed in your fellowship in worship to God. This means no tolerating evil in worship to God, none whatsoever. Those evil people need to be shown the door and never invited.

Some make the constant mistake in tare planting in this respect. They believe they are the converters of a sinner, so they bring evil into a fellowship only to then discover the strife and problems that evil person brought with them. We are to witness the Gospel to all, but fellowship in worship to God is something ONLY for believers. Evil scoffers and mockers are not allowed.

A simple prayer to God is “please God, purge the evil among us”. And God will then show you who is to be purged. Sometimes it is someone we didn’t expect, and sometimes it is those who we did expect, but we must listen to God in this respect.

And there are times in your sanctification when purging evil demands we go outside of our fellowship. Friends or family who are constantly tempting you with evil, must be purged from your midst. It comes to the point where this must be done not only as a lesson in your witness to them, but for your sanctification. God will also show you these individuals who must be purged as they are causing sin in and among you to flourish. Listen to Him! By not doing so, you are asking for TROUBLE!! So don’t be surprised when this trouble hits your doorstep because you were too prideful or ignorant of the evil among you of which you stubbornly did not purge.

And don’t fall for the guilt manipulation, you are not holier than thou, you are serving God who is holy! So when the evil person tries that, let them know who you serve as light and who they serve as darkness.

Do Not Doubt in God

Matthew 21:21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.

Because the world is fallen and every human being is fallen in nature, we naturally doubt God. Even Mary, who Roman Catholics built up into basically a goddess doubted God as Gabriel said “The Lord is with you”, and she could not grasp at what that meant because she naturally doubted herself in His eyes.

The Apostle Peter showed his doubt as he walked on the water towards Jesus and began to sink because doubt crept in. Again, it is natural for us to doubt, it is unnatural to not to doubt in God but to trust in Him completely.

Try this the next time you are for example with friends or family in a traumatic or dramatic situation and say “let us trust in God alone!”. Then exhort them to trust in His sovereign will. You will most likely see doubt by scoffing and mocking by many in that group even by the most ardent professing Christians.

Doubt is something we grow out of by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are staying in the word and are actually born-again, you should find yourself growing into trust each day in God alone. Doubt should be leaving. So with this, don’t expect a newborn believer to not to doubt in God, that doubt will start to leave, but it isn’t an overnight change from doubt to full trust as we are still in the flesh. The evidence of a newly born again new creation however is the START of the removal of doubt in God of which this process is growing. So if you have been saved for awhile, your trust in God should be much greater than any newborn but don’t boast in this, rather boast ONLY in Jesus Christ who made this possible.

Say to yourself “I trust in God alone” until you actually believe each word which just came out of your mouth. It might take years for some, but with the power of the Holy Spirit your doubt should be leaving you. As you trust more and more in the Almighty God, your peace and rest is also growing to an eternal joyful state. Trust in Him alone!