His Last Thanksgiving

Today I write on Thanksgiving to reflect on my dog Leo’s last Thanksgiving which was just two years ago. God gives us these pets to learn many things.

Leo, 7 years old, was given a death sentence of lymphoma just days prior. I decided by the grace of God that we were going to journey to Colorado to possibly extend his life or a possibly a provided miracle. So there was a literal whirlwind which occurred as I had to get everything ready.

Looking back, to his credit, Leo never let my frantic nature during the time get in the way of his love for me. My Mom just returned home from her terrible car accident, and wanted us to see her on Thanksgiving. Leo was quite ill, he wasn’t eating anything, but girded up the strength to just do what he had to do.

But when I look back now, it was IMPORTANT that we went on that particular Thanksgiving to see my Mom, because it would be Leo’s last. They had a special relationship, and she helped him in many ways through his illness. So it would have been easy for me to say “no Mom, Leo is not feeling well so we are just going to stay home”. But we went instead where she and Leo could spend one last time together such as this on a special day in November. Frankly, at the time I was not thinking about it that way. I was just trying to cover all bases, as I wanted to make sure she would be OK while we were gone.

When we arrived at her house, Leo as he always did went straight to the kitchen to find her. He greeted her and then went back to couch in the living room where he laid down. I empathize with him, as most humans in his same condition would have been in an ICU. He didn’t cry, he didn’t complain, he knew what he was doing was in love and important to my Mom. He wanted to give one last thank you to her for all that she did for him in his lifetime, no matter how ill he felt.

It was God teaching me that no matter the circumstance, there is no excuse to be inconsiderate or selfish. And my thoughts now turn to Jesus Christ, who probably at many times agonized on being separated from the Father and Holy Spirit if for just a moment to pay for the sins of sinners who did not care one bit for Him. Through that time, if you read the account in Scripture, Jesus never was inconsiderate or selfish. Would anyone have blamed Him if He just avoided the people around Him for awhile, from just relaxing a bit from all the requests and questions, while the atonement approached? Not in the least. However, He did what He promised to do. The torture and death did not change Him, His love for His children carried through!

What a mere dog can teach you!

Saving Faith = Letting Go and Trusting God

There has been many definitions and explanations as to what faith is or what true faith is. Some over explain or complicate it in my opinion, but it is simply letting go of yourself and placing complete trust in God and His promises.

We read of several instances in the Bible where God made this letting go aspect known. The march around Jericho is one of my favorites as well as 2 Chronicles 20. In these instances God made it known to the Israelites what His plan was and what they were to do, which was nothing. They were forced at that point to either trust God or face their ultimate end.

The analogy of above instances would be if God told you to go unarmed in the face of an angry violent mob of people armed and threatening to take your life, and just trust in what God would do to them. And if you didn’t? You’d be left on your own without God. Another example would be David facing the fully armed and dangerous behemoth Goliath, armed with a silly slingshot. And what David said next is truly inspiring of faith!

45 “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. “

The total trust, the belief, comprised David’s declaration of faith, leaving him NO DOUBT as to what would happen. The Almighty God was with him, and there was nothing Goliath could possibly come up with to turn the tide.

Do you have this type of faith? Sooner or later, that faith will be tested.

Now when I say “tested” does NOT MEAN you are the one doing the testing! God said “do not put Him to the test”, which means you are not to test His power. An example would be those who do not seek medical attention because they are awaiting a miracle from God, that would be putting Him to the test because after all He provided you providence already to seek medical attention. So don’t confuse faith with delusions!
Rather God does the testing of your faith in Him by a circumstance that you cannot solve by ordinary providential means. You may have tried everything you could, so now it is time to only trust in God alone in this. Surely God could work any miracle, but it would always be according to His will and purpose alone, not to your request on it. And the TEST of your faith comes when you realize that whatever the outcome might be, you KNOW without a doubt that this was God’s plan all along and are at peace with it.

God Sends Them

Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

During times of crisis in our lives, often what is missed are the intricate details of things that cannot be explained outside of a Divine loving power, the Almighty God. Sometimes it takes months, even years, to see and understand these things which God was doing on your behalf, and somethings will probably never fully understood in this lifetime.

God sends His provision, His blessings, and is doing things during that crisis that only He could do. Looking back on a crisis in my own life a couple of years ago, I am still discovering these provisions and blessings. One of the things I could see at the time was that He sent unexpected people in my life to help me through the crisis. People I expected to possibly be there, were nowhere to be found.

However looking back, it was much more than those people He sent. It was the overall providing and protection He gave which allowed me to survey and get through the crisis the best way I could. It was basically and LITERALLY threading a needle, as I needed to get to Colorado to possibly save my dog’s life. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but I do now! That if not for God, it could never have happened. The various plans and things through this had to all line up for it to be successful, and that’s what happened.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

And the ENCOURAGEMENT He sent through others was amazing! They didn’t have to be believers nor did I need to test their faith in God in order for that encouragement to be accepted, because it all was! Whereas the discouragement also came, and from the least expected sources as well. Showing me that God was sifting through my friends list so to speak, and demonstrating to me that it would be by His will power, not my own.

I think much too often the mistake among believers, is that there is an echo chamber and limitation when it comes to God’s provision. The idea is God is limited by our subjective mentality in that He can only work through the church or believers to accomplish His purpose. Not so! He will send often times unbelievers or things we wouldn’t dream of to accomplish His will. Would you for example test the faith of a paramedic BEFORE they could perform lifesaving duties? Most would say “NO!”, but in general I see the mentality at times.

By His omnipotence, God will send them in your times of crisis to make manifest that He alone is God, He alone will get the glory. And again, sometimes we need to look back at the intricate provisions He performed to make this possible. The big things are easy to see, the miracles which are shown to all, but the miracles you do not see at first, the small details are something we miss during the crisis.

I am still discovering things from 30 years ago that God was doing, things I missed, things I wasn’t aware about myself and how rotten and selfish I truly was. As we get closer to God, the more He shows us! And how do you get closer? BY FAITH ALONE! Believe in Him, believe He is PRESENT and WORKING in absolutely everything. Believe in His POWER! And you shall get closer to Him!

Looking Back

Sometimes we need to look back on life to see God’s hand in it!

On December 1, 2019, I packed up my truck and my dog Leo who was diagnosed with lymphoma to venture to the state of Colorado where he could possibly receive life-saving treatment. This was no mere easy venture, as this all came suddenly on me, and had to basically plan on being away for 2-3 months.

I not only had to quickly pack up my life, my business, get my house in order, but also try to keep Leo alive and healthy enough to get to Colorado. Combined in this was my Mom who just returned home from a devastating car accident by which she broke her back and neck, so also making sure her home was in order and she would get the help she needed while I was away was also on my mind. My house looked like it was hit with a literal tornado, as I frantically tried to get things we needed packed up, as well as tying up all the loose ends before we left. This also combined with Leo’s oncology visits in MN before we left and making sure his meds were secured for the trip.

So what I did? I placed it all in God’s hands. It trusted that if this was His will, it would be just fine. In my former life, things would have been MUCH different. I probably would have most likely thought of my well being first and all of the above I described would have been much too burdensome. Leo’s life would have been secondary while I complained and begged for sympathy from others.

The day we left for Colorado was MISERABLE, weather wise. We arose very early, Leo not feeling well at all as I packed him in the truck where he quickly dozed off. The roads were icy and snowed over for the first 150 miles. I kept thinking “if we go in the ditch, that is God saying this is not My plan”. As I listened to a Hank Williams song on the radio, another thought came to mind, “what if Leo died just like Hank did, in the backseat on a cold dreary morning”. With each mile I clung to God even harder as I knew He was present and would make it known either way.

We got to the first gas stop in Iowa where the roads finally eased up, they were clear, but the weather was still terrible. It was still dark and dreary, cold and windy. Leo mustered up enough energy to take a bathroom break. He wasn’t eating dog food, so I went to a Subway in the Truck Stop which was just opening up to see if I could just get some roast beef for him. The manager hearing my plight, gave me a cup of roast beef on them, God’s blessing.

We eventually made it to Nebraska and stopped for the night. The weather was cold and windy all the way there, as if tempting me to just give up, but we trudged through and made it to the motel. Leo, still feeling really ill, seemed to be at ease. He was still alive and believe he thought we were going hunting as we stayed in motels on our trips, so it sparked his life a bit. How we made it there in one piece is a miracle only by God’s hand!

Leo’s appointment was just a day away as we headed for our final tract to Colorado the next morning. We stopped in Sterling Colorado, where I took Leo for a little walk along a frozen stream. The weather was cold, and wondered if God could ease this up for us, but hey, we were almost to our destination, just a couple of more hours, Leo was alive, we didn’t break down.

As we arrived in Fort Collins, they had just been hit with a foot of snow! The roads were terrible! It was as if again tempting me to think this was not a good idea. But I dashed that from my mind, and clung to God. We got to the place we were going to stay for the next couple of months, Leo seemed to be in good spirits which was my indicator from God that this was all worth it.

I will just end this with the exhortation to those going through a crisis or turmoil of life, that clinging to God, trusting in Him, is imperative to get through it! Your faith will be tested, you will be tempted at every turn to JUST GIVE UP, but don’t! And then some day look back, because you will be amazed as to HOW you made it through it, and it wasn’t your will power which did this, it was ALL by the omnipotent God!

A Common Question for God

When faced with rather traumatic and sad events in our life, the question which most likely pops up for God is “why me God?”. We do this as our natural fallen self does not compare ourselves to His holiness but to other sinners. We may believe we are better in His eyes, so why did this terrible circumstance befallen us.

The answer from God is that He is Holy, He is sovereign, and His will and plan and purpose are always perfect! The very fact that He allows all of mankind to take another breath on this earth suffices His common grace and mercy. So our expectations of Him are often confused and negligble. In other words, we should never expect more than what God has graced us with.

A couple of years ago, my dog Leo was diagnosed with a terminal cancer, stage 4. It came upon us like a whirlwind, as he was just 7 years old, the prime of his life. A question that popped in my mind, was why Leo? There is for example very nasty dogs in the neighborhood, Leo was just the opposite in demeanor. Plus, I could have asked, of which I didn’t, why God would take my dog from me and not some heathen unbeliever. And in my former life, I probably would have asked that honestly.

Envy is a nasty inherent sin. Pride is the bigger sin of which even though being born-again can remain in our lives. We look around and see degenerate unbelievers, evil in every way, living a life of luxury while we struggle. The Kardashians or Hollywood movie stars or TV celebrities or sports figures come to mind. They aren’t living their lives in any way for the Lord, but they have all the luxuries. So why is this?

The answer comes in the gift! You see, as a Christian, you have obtained a gift from God that no money could ever buy, that is your eternal life. So the Kardashians for example can live it up, eat drink, be merry in this life all they wish, but it goes by in a flash and in the end ETERNAL HELL. They can’t take those expensive jewels with them, they will be utterly naked as Adam and Eve in the Garden.

The fallen world whispers “follow me”, and with that the envy for the things of THIS world. Whereas the things of Kingdom, eternal life, are NO MATCH for those whispers so repent of that envy and set your sights on the Kingdom! In my new life with Christ, I no longer envy those riches, rather I feel sad for these sinners. They have no idea what is coming or if they do, they reject the Gospel. The Scriptural example of the rich young ruler comes to mind, he immediately left Jesus when Jesus told him to sell everything and follow Him. The ruler’s choice was this temporary fallen life for eternal life with Jesus, which is always the choice of a fallen sinner.

Turning to God Alone

It might seem easy on the surface when one says ‘Turn to God Alone!”, but when the time comes are you really doing this? Is it a momentary turn as in a thought, or is it really turning to Him alone. Or do you believe you are turning to God alone, but getting advice from other sinners as well, which means that turning is NOT to Him alone.

There are definite times in your life, and many biblical examples, where God will remove every single idea so that you DO turn to Him alone. Usually this will show itself in the times of adversity or great struggles or a scary crisis. He does this to teach us that He alone will always get the glory and that we turn to Him alone always in everything.

Having been through a few crisis points in my life, it was not until I was born-again that I understood and realized this turning to God alone. Before that point, God was a back-drop. I knew He was present, but often times I did not acknowledge that He alone was the one who saw me through by His providence. I gave glory to myself or to others along with Him.

We must grow in this turning, because it doesn’t come like a flip of a switch. You may have been born-again, but your past life being as entangled in the world as it was needs to grow out of that entanglement. So God may give you several examples in your life to grow you out it. And I can rightly say that if you aren’t turning to Him alone or growing in this, you have not been born-again. You can claim Christianity all you wish, but the evidence of it comes into view during those adverse times.

It is a complete LETTING GO, and resting in God’s sovereignty, FAITH in Him is this turning to Him to alone. That whether it be good, bad, ugly, you are are trusting God and His will for your life. And to condition yourself, it take a faithful discipline. In this, you are turning to Him alone in the minutae, the trivial things as well, and NOT just the adversity.

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

John 6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Many world religions will teach against the clear words of Jesus “I will by no means cast out”, and claim that He can and does cast out those whom He has saved. Roman Catholicism for example will scare and guilt the Catholic to their core and claim they will lose their salvation in an instant just for missing a Sunday Mass. This is why Scripture should always be your ultimate authority, it exposes the false teaching pretty easy.

Jesus explains in John 6:37-40 the will of the Father. This is a pretty important contextual teaching since in other places in Scripture, Jesus warns that those who do “not do the will of the Father” will never be saved. Jesus states that the will is that there are those He is sent, or saved by Him, and that He will never lose them. And to put the nail in the coffin of the “you can lose your salvation” false theology, Jesus then says that those who believe in Him will have everlasting, not temporary, but everlasting life.

Now I have debated many on this passage who conform to the “you can lose your salvation” false theology, and they greatly struggle and can only provide highly laughable refutations. Such as “Jesus won’t cast you out, but you can cast yourself out”, or “Jesus meant this just for the Apostles”. But they stumble to get past “All that the Father gives WILL come to Me” and that by no means He will cast them out. So either Jesus lied or the person trying to refute Jesus did. And we KNOW Jesus could never lie.

So if you ever are in a discussion with someone on salvation, the number 1 discernment key to know whether this person is an actual Christian and part of Jesus’ church is whether they believe provides eternal life with salvation, “by no means” He casts out those He saved. If they dispute this irrefutable fact and claim you can lose your granted salvation, discernment says they are a FRAUD.