Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?

Saving My Dog, by John Frye

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My dogs Sammy and Quincy

Let’s have a little fun on All Saints’ Eve. The other day I was reading the grand vision of the renovated cosmos (cf. Revelation 21-22) to Mia, my Shi Tzu Maltese. Mia listened intently and with some amount of awe at the spectacular reunion of heaven and earth. Eventually, I got to verse 15 of Revelation 22; “Outside are the dogs…”  Mia’s head popped up and she exhaled a sharp puppy whine. Her eyes went big and forlorn. I was cut to the heart and troubled by the deep hurt in her sorrowful eyes.

In puppy syllables Mia asked me, “Why? Why are the dogs outside this amazing reunion of heaven and earth? Why am I, a dog, lumped in with the sorcerers and the immoral, the murderers and idolaters? I want to be in, not out. I am a good dog.”

I responded, “You are a good dog, Mia, but are you saved? Have you accepted Jesus into your heart?”

Mia rolled her eyes at me as if to suggest, “Of course, Big Human-in-Charge, I am definitely a Christian dog.”

“But are you following Jesus day by day?” I asked. “It’s not enough to lean only on some past decision. Jesus recruits disciples, learners, apprentices. He is not impressed with mere past decisions made to escape hell. ‘When Jesus calls someone, he bids them come and die.’”

There he goes quoting Bonhoeffer again, Mia mused. She began to make many low-toned grunts and woofs and almost barks. I listened with my will behind my ears because I did not want to miss even the slightest of Mia’s response. She was adamant. She reported, “Jesus told me that if I wanted to be his follower, I had to take up my leash daily and follow him. I wasn’t free anymore to roam here and there, but had to heel at his command. Many delicious bones are laid up in heaven for me as I follow him here.”

I smirked. “So, you’re just following Jesus for the reward, eh?” She looked stunned. “You’re in it just for what you can get out of it. C’mon, admit it. Some Christian canine you are.”

Mai raised up on her two front legs and put her face right up to mine. “Oh, yeah, Big Human. So, what are you in it for? You can’t even stay in the leash much less take up your cross. Don’t go lecturing me on dogship, or as you say, discipleship. Think about it. I come when you call me; I go poop when you let me out; I greet you happily when you come home. I am getting better when you command ‘Heel!’ I’ll put my dogship up against your discipleship any day.”

Mia had me. I reached out to pat her head and rub her back. “Don’t touch me,” she snarled. “You tell me why the dogs are on the outside of the new Jerusalem. I think that is grossly prejudicial. I do love Jesus by loving people, people like you, Big Human, who is more talk than obedience.”

I had to come clean with Mia. I said, “Mia, the term ‘dogs’ in Revelation 22:15 is not literally about the canine species.

Mia thinking about heaven.

Mia thinking about heaven.

It’s a figure of speech; a term for those who go their own way, even their own religiously committed way. It refers to people who not only by-pass the wonder of the person and redemptive work of Jesus the Christ, but are hostile to Jesus and the Way. They become like senseless, vicious animals.”

Mia gasped. A happy light glinted in her eyes. “Hey, watch it there, Big Human. I am a dog and I love Jesus. I am not a senseless animal. And certainly not vicious. Yay, I’m in!”

“OK, Mia, I’ll see you in the new Jerusalem,” I said. She yawned and laid her head in my lap and went to sleep. I heard her low-toned, concerned growl as she dozed off, “Yeah, but will I see you?”

 

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Free For All Friday 10.31

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Reformation Day issue celebrating Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door All Saints Chapel in Wittenberg, Saxony went viral. Thank God.

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Below is an actual photo from that famous day in 1517.

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Enjoy your candy and have a great weekend.

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Preparing for the Lord’s Day

earReblogged from DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed:

The Christian life is lived from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day. Corporate worship is the high point of our week and the constant rhythm of our lives. We dare not “neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25), because there is nothing as meaningful, rich, and glorious on earth as the church gathering together with its Lord and Savior in worship. Most Christians believe this, but does it translate to our practice? Or is the moment we are sitting in the pew or the auditorium chair the first time we think about corporate worship in our week?

I would suggest that if corporate worship is as significant as the Scriptures portray it to be (Ex. 19; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:17-34; 1 Cor. 14:26-39; Heb. 10:25) then we should prepare for it. We count preaching as significant, so we expect our pastor will prepare his sermon before he enters the pulpit. We consider worship songs important, so we expect our music teams, pianists, and organists will appropriately prepare before sitting down at their instruments. We believe our engagement in corporate worship is essential, so we should also expect to prepare even as we expect the pastor and musicians to prepare for their participation in the Sunday morning service. How can you prepare for worship? Here are a few ideas:

  • Seize the Rest of the Week: Practice family worship and secret worship throughout the week knowing that this will inform and encourage your experience in corporate worship.
  • Be Boring: Go to bed early on Saturday night. Friday nights can be filled with late-night activity, but Saturday nights should routinely be safeguarded. Sleepy heads make for drowsy worshippers.
  • Right Attitude: Cultivate a spirit of joy on Sunday mornings in your home. If this is the highlight of our week, then let’s act like it. Talk about how wonderful the day is going to be, wake the kids up with excitement, turn on good Christian music for the whole family to listen to, and put a smile on your face.
  • Media Blackout: Refrain from turning on the television, watching Netflix, or catching up on Facebook Sunday mornings. Our minds are so easily distracted. Safeguard your mental space.
  • Plan Ahead: Lay out your Sunday morning clothes on Saturday night, so you don’t have to change ten times on Sunday morning before finding an outfit that fits well, looks right, or is ironed (of course, this point was not intentionally directed to any particular sex!).
  • Don’t Be Surprised: Read and think through the Sunday morning text earlier in the week. We should seldom be surprised at the passage we hear preached. Working our way through a passage throughout the week provides more fertile soil on Sunday morning.
  • Early Bird: Rise early on Sunday morning and spend time reading the Word, praying, and meditating to prepare your heart for worship.
  • Talk & Drive: On the car-ride to church talk about the passage that will be preached, sing a hymn together, and converse about the things of God.
  • Timing it Right: Give yourself enough time on Sunday mornings. Rise early enough that the morning isn’t rushed. Leave home with plenty of time to spare. Try not to arrive at church late or even a few minutes before the service. Rushing out the door at home and rushing in the door at church has stymied many worshippers.
  • Collect Your Thoughts: Sit-down, read through the bulletin (if you have one), think through the songs, meditate on the Scripture readings, and pray before the service begins.

For the Christian, there is no sweeter moment in the week than Sunday morning. How good it is to meet with God and His people! Because it is part of our weekly activity, there is a temptation to treat it as common and routine. May it never be! One of the ways to ensure that this is not the case with us is to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for corporate worship each week. Take the time and effort, your soul will be the beneficiary.

 

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Jesus + Nothing = Everything

shoesThe answer to life falling apart is to recognize that Jesus holds all things together. Jesus is not simply a slice of the pie of life that is needed for us to have balanced and successful life. Jesus is at the center of all things – not just our lives but at the center of everything.

In Colossians Paul makes it absolutely clear that Jesus is Lord of all. This Lordship means two things. First, it means that through Jesus all things are created. And second, it means that by Jesus all things falling apart in creation will one day be restored.  These two realities are true because all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Jesus reveals the nature of God in the world. Jesus reveals the character and power of God. Jesus is God. Jesus is the center of everything.

Jesus is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

Jesus + Nothing = Everything Held Together. Good news, when the world falls apart Jesus is still at the center and nothing can ever change that.

 

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Waiting for the Guests to Arrive

Originally posted on Charis: Subject to Change:

Little girl tree oil

Hope is the joyful anticipation of good.

-Bill Johnson

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Obedience is a dirty word

bible3In recent times obedience has become a bad word. It seems incompatible with good words like independence, individualism, and freedom. The emphasis is all on doing your own thing and doing it your own way. What you’re supposed to obey is authority, and authority has come to be confused with “the authorities” — people in uniform or with Ph.D.s or earning ten times a year more than you do. Who wants to obey them?

Many parents have given up asking their children to obey them and just hope they won’t burn the house down. In religious circles, obedience, like its partners poverty and chastity, tends to be associated largely with monasticism. If the mother superior or the abbot tells you to do something, you better do it. Otherwise you let your own conscience be your guide and take no guff from anybody. The phrase obeying your conscience is gradually being replaced by listening to your conscience.

It is generally supposed that to obey somebody is necessarily to do something for somebody else’s sake. However, when Jesus asks people to obey above everything the law of love, it is above everything for their own sakes that he is asking them to obey it. ~ Fredrick Buechner

 

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Stand for People

feetStand for people. Not a product or service or metric or number. Stand for real, living, breathing people and we will change the world. ~ Simon Sinek

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