Wednesday

Is It Unspiritual to Love Our Pets?

“My cat is a great comfort to me. When he curls up next to me on the couch, I don’t feel so lonely.”

“It’s so fun to watch how our dog plays with the kids. Seeing them all sprawled on top of each other after a good romp is the sweetest sight.” 



“I love coming home to his goofy, tongue-lolling, tail-wagging greeting. Even if I’ve had a really bad day, he makes me smile.” 

“When my kids left home, my cat made the house seem not so empty.” 

“I know he’s just a dog, but I’m really worried about him. I don’t know what I’d do without him.” 





I sat in a Bible study recently while woman after woman shared prayer requests. A dear friend with terminal cancer. A child whose home is in shambles and whose heart is broken. A family going through a severe spiritual crisis. My eyes filled up with tears, as they often do when I hear about hurting people. This time, however, I was tearing up because of a prayer request I didn’t feel the freedom to share—one for my dog. 

We live in a world that is sick and broken. Families are in trouble. People are self-destructing all around us. Young and old are dying without Jesus. That day there was Ebola, ISIS, two hurricanes, and the usual list of crises and catastrophes, and my heart was heavy because my dog was sick. 

Does this make me bad? Are my priorities out of whack? 

Sometimes, when faced with really important needs, we feel shamed by the smaller ones. Our biblically-educated minds tell us, rightfully so, that the value of an animal, however beloved, can’t compare to the value of a human being. 

Is it right to spend time, resources, and, yes, even prayers on our pets? Is it OK to love our pets or is it unspiritual? Is our love a symptom of misplaced priorities? 

While there is the rare person who would rather save a whale than save a baby, most of us don’t fall into this category. We are people lovers who also love animals. Is this wrong? 

I don’t think so. 

Scripture reminds me that God places value on his creation—man and beast alike. In Proverbs 12:10, God reminds us that the righteous person to cares for the needs of his animal. In Luke 12:6 he assigns value to sparrows—the tiniest of creatures. They are objects of his care, he points out, although not as valuable as people. God even allows the little birds to nest near his altar (Psalm 84:3). He designed the world with us in mind--for our enjoyment and for his glory, and he included animals. 

God delights in making us smile, expanding our capacities to love, and sharing the enjoyment of his creation. Pets help bring this about. 

Thank you, God, for including animals in the world you designed. Thank you for giving them the qualities we so appreciate—love, loyalty, a spirit of fun. Oh, if only I could love as unconditionally as my dog. I hope I’m not committing sacrilege, but Winston’s unconditional love sometimes reminds me of you. And convicts me of how fickle and temperamental my own love is. Thank you that while their companionship can and should never replace that of other human beings, they do fill a valuable role in our lives. And when their lives end—too soon, always too soon—may the grief we feel make us long for heaven, where there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. 

Thank you, God for pets. 

Winston and I would appreciate your prayers as he undergoes surgery this morning to remove a tumor from his paw. Please pray for the Lord to guide the surgeon's hands, for no malignancy, and for a quick recovery. Thank you, friends!

Would you like to weigh in on the discussion? What are your thoughts about pets? Leave a comment below to join the conversation. 





I'll be leading a DEVOTION WRITING WORKSHOP in Columbia Saturday, Nov. 15 from 9-12
New Testament Baptist Church, 300 Sims Ave.
Registration is required. $25/person. Contact dianna@mcwhirterlaw.com


For more information on the writing workshop, CLICK HERE.
 

Learn how God can use your life experiences, spiritual insights, and unique perspective to impart spiritual truth to others. Learn how to connect your life lessons to God’s word in a way readers can easily understand in this fun and dynamic writing workshop.



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Tuesday

Lori's Book Cover -- You Get to Vote!

Dear Readers,

With a tentative launch date of November 30 fast approaching, I need your input. 

Below are three potential covers for my new devotional book, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. Will you help me decide on a cover by choosing your favorite?

You can indicate your selection by leaving a comment or by emailing me at HungryforGodLaunch@gmail.com. I'd love to hear what you do and don't like about each selection, or you can just indicate your preference by number.

Stay tuned in the coming days for fantastic giveaways and the chance to preorder your copies of Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time just in time for Christmas gift giving.

Cover #1


Cover #2


Cover #3



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Monday

When You've Had a Fight

It’s a bad feeling, being at odds with your spouse. 

Nine times out of ten it begins with something small. The socks he leaves on the den floor—a memorial to a hard day’s work. The laundry room is right there. Couldn’t you just open the door and throw them in? The way he takes up two thirds of the bed and hogs the covers. It’s a big bed—just slide over. And quit stealing the blankets. 

But it doesn’t stop there, because for every offense, however small, there’s an equal and opposite offense. I’m sure Newton wasn’t married or he’d have written the third law of marriage rather than the third law of motion. Well, you leave books and papers scattered everywhere. And don’t think I didn’t notice that you ate the last of the dessert and didn’t offer me any. 

The tit for tat sucks you in, and before you know it you’re sleeping on opposite ends of the bed with your backs turned sharing a silent treatment that screams louder than a two-year-old who's missed his nap. 

If you sleep at all, You can have your blankets and your half of the bed; maybe I should go sleep on the couch, you awaken grumpier than when you went to bed. You exchange the minimum conversation necessary to delegate the kids, errands, and carpool duties, and then you part ways. You were going to ask him for help with a problem before the fight began, but not anymore. And the light that came on on the dashboard? You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. 

It’s a bad feeling, being at odds with the one you love. 

It’s even worse being at odds with God. 

In my quest to read through the Bible in a year, I read in Colossians about the amazing work of reconciliation Christ accomplished on the cross. Greater than negotiating peace between Sunnis and Shiites, Democrats and Republicans, or Cowboys and Redskins, Christ brokered a peace agreement unlike any other. And we were the beneficiaries. 

Sins of rebellion, pride, and self-will that sprouted in the Garden of Eden and bore fruit for thousands of generations had created a breach between us and our Savior. Separated from the Lover of our souls, we were helpless and hopeless, toddlers attempting to cross the interstate during rush hour traffic. We were our own worst enemies, trying to fill the emptiness of our hearts and lives with toxic pleasures that would one day kill our bodies and our souls. 

But “. . . it pleased the Father,” through Christ, “to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Gal. 1:19-21). 

God could have said, “Forget it. They’re too far gone. Too hopeless. Too sinful. I don’t need them in my life. They’re nothing but trouble.” 

Instead, “it pleased the Father” to sacrifice his precious, holy Son to reconcile me. And you. 

Now, instead of guilt, fear, and loneliness, we have freedom, peace, and God’s comforting presence. We can come boldly to the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that all is well between our Savior and ourselves. We don’t have to fear the future, the present, or the past, for the hands that hold the universe also hold our lives. 

“And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight . . . “(v. 21-22). 

I’m thankful that marital fights don’t last forever, and that God’s forgiveness does. As we rest in the reconciled peace of our Savior, may we also extend this restoring grace to those around us. 

 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” (Eph. 4:32). 

Is there someone with whom you need to reconcile? Don’t wait. Do it today. For Jesus’ sake. 



I'll be leading a DEVOTION WRITING WORKSHOP in Columbia Saturday, Nov. 15 from 9-12
New Testament Baptist Church, 300 Sims Ave.
Registration is required. $25/person. Contact dianna@mcwhirterlaw.com


For more information on the writing workshop, CLICK HERE.
 

Learn how God can use your life experiences, spiritual insights, and unique perspective to impart spiritual truth to others. Learn how to connect your life lessons to God’s word in a way readers can easily understand in this fun and dynamic writing workshop.


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Thursday

When your heart is full--how to say "Thanks"


I’ve recently enjoyed spending time with a very special little person. 

Just over a year old, Lauren is a 24-pound bundle of curiosity, wonder, and fun. She reminds me how delightful it is to look at the world with new eyes. Everything’s an adventure. The most mundane objects (dog toys, light switches, and kitchen gadgets) are fascinating and worthy of exploration and investigation.

This isn't Lauren, but apparently she likes strawberries, too.
One fun aspect of hanging out with Lauren is watching her eat. I’m not surprised, really, after an exclusive diet of mommy’s milk for most of her life, that she finds food delightful. 

I love how she interacts with me about her food. If she’s hungry, she asks (as only a one-year-old can) for something to eat or drink. When we sit down to eat, she turns eager eyes toward me, confident that I will share whatever I have. If the steady supply of grapes or strawberries slows, she asks for more. Her trust that I will supply her need and her frequent requests for more fills my heart with happiness. I enjoy being her bountiful provider.

Psalm 116 reminds me God feels the same way.

It’s apparent that the psalmist’s heart was overwhelmed by God’s goodness when he penned this song of gratitude and praise. His thanks just bubbles out:

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low and he saved me. . . You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling” (v. 8).
 
And because the psalmist is overwhelmed with gratitude, his natural response is to want to do something wonderful for God in return: 

“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?” He asks. How can I bless God like he’s blessed me?
Listen to the unusual conclusion at which he arrives:

“I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” (v. 13).

Lifting up (or celebrating) our salvation makes sense to me, but calling upon the name of the Lord? How does  praying to God express love and gratitude to him? Asking him for more seems like the opposite of thankfulness. 

If a stranger gave me a hundred dollars, I don’t know if he’d feel especially blessed if I said, “Thanks, now may I have another hundred?”

Except God isn’t a stranger. He’s a rich, loving, generous provider who DELIGHTS in giving good gifts to his children (Luke 11:13).

Just like I love sweet baby Lauren, God loves me. Because he loves me, it gives him great pleasure when I come to him in faith and trust to ask for what I need. It gives him even greater pleasure to pour out his provision on me and see me smile.
 
So the next time your heart bubbles up in gratitude because of how God has worked in your life and you want to bless him back, stop and pray. Talk with him about whatever your needs are and trust him to answer your prayers as only he can. 

It will bless him, and it will bless you.

For what are you thankful today? And what are you asking God to do for you in the future? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

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Monday

Taking my salvation for granted

True story—there was a man who:

Traveled constantly and had no home of his own.

Experienced racial abuse and prejudice.

Was betrayed by co-laborers.

Was sleep deprived.

Was hungry and thirsty, often and for long periods of time.

Lacked proper clothing and shelter.

Went to prison more times than he could count.

Was beaten repeatedly for his faith, sometimes legitimately fearing for his life.

Was whipped with a cat o’ nine tails five times.

Was beaten with rods three times. Was once stoned and left for dead.

Was shipwrecked three times, once spending a day and a night in the sea.

Carried the emotional and spiritual burden for thousands of church members and worked harder than anyone else.

Before he accepted Christ as his Savior and surrendered to the ministry, the apostle Paul had been on the fast track to a lucrative and prestigious career. He traded it for a life that included the experiences I’ve listed above.

When I read about the ways the apostle Paul suffered for his faith in 2 Corinthians 11, I am overwhelmed. If I were Paul, I suspect I’d be whining. Often and loudly.

My dirge would sound like this:

God, life was pretty good before you intervened. Since the day I accepted you as Savior, I’ve had nothing but trouble. People don’t like me. Even my friends don’t understand me. I do what’s right and get in trouble. I don’t have a lot of the stuff others have, and sometimes I even do without basic comforts. I thought having you in my life meant everything would be sunshine and roses. Instead, everywhere I turn, life’s hard. If this is the faith life, I’m not real impressed. 

Instead, listen to what Paul wrote from a Roman prison:

“Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

“. . . this grace was given me: to preach.” 

Paul didn’t see his calling as a burden or a sacrifice; he saw it as a joy. A grace. An awesome privilege. 

And instead of seeing himself as a prize God was lucky to get, listen to how he described himself: “less than the least of all God’s people.”

Paul understood that the greatest thing in the world is to be saved. And the next greatest thing is to be used in God’s service. No matter what it costs us in this life.

Sometimes I’m guilty of forgetting just how lost I really was, but Paul never lost sight of this. Listen to how he describes himself:

“For I am the least of the apostles, and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God,” (1 Cor. 15:9).

Paul never got over how lost he was when God saved him

Sometimes I do.

I forget the fear, guilt, confusion, emptiness, and hopelessness of a Christless life. I forget how far away from God I was and how far he had to reach to save me. I forget that I was destined for a Godless eternity in a place called Hell. And I forget the bloody, torturous death Christ suffered in my place.

And I whine that God isn’t serving me well. That life’s too hard. That the promise of future rewards doesn’t compensate for present pain.

And my foolish heart becomes ungrateful.

Until I read Paul’s words, and I remember, as John Piper writes in Taste and See, how it is to feel “that you are justly damned and hopelessly lost and cut off from God and life and joy. Then to learn that God has made a way. That he will forgive you. That he will accept you and love you and work all things for your good. That all your sins can be forgiven and cast into the deepest sea and never brought up against you anymore. Oh, the preciousness of being saved . . . !”



Yes, indeed. The preciousness of being saved.



How about you? Is it easy to forget what life was life before Christ? How do you keep the joy of your salvation fresh? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. 






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