Things I Think…

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31 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    #10 is why I love the Bible so much! The people are “real”, with all the proverbial warts, yet they change as they continue to relate to God. Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite books in the Bible, although I still can’t figure out why Lot is listed. I guess I’ll learn when I get to heaven.

  2. Michael says:

    Linn,

    I used to think a lot about Lot’s inclusion on that list…now I celebrate it…

  3. Dan from Georgia says:

    I don’t have a strong personality like others. God still deals with me as a person. God is also developing in me appropriate measures of strength through failures and successes. And failures.

  4. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael…your #6…

    I love the idea of the resurrection being earthy and populated with animals, and I can finally pick fruit and veggies without worrying about getting sick, pesticides, etc!

  5. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I probably could have made a better point without the adjective “strong”.

    God deals with all of according to our unique selves.

  6. Michael says:

    Dan,

    We’re heading back to the ultimate garden…the one we were created for…

  7. Dan from Georgia says:

    It’s all good! We do see a number of strong personalities highlighted .. Peter comes to mind.

  8. Reuben says:

    8, I’m glad someone thinks that. I was born and raised Christian, and I don’t know a thing about God. Hell, I preached God and don’t know a thing about him. I am just now coming to terms with the notion that he is there.

  9. Reuben says:

    10, I still struggle hard with the idea that God wants us to be some better version of ourselves, because all I see is the need to conform. I still don’t see a self in salvation. I see a death to self in order that He might live through us.

    I have way too much Reuben to not be Reuben. I don’t know how to be something or someone else.

  10. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    We are fearfully and wonderfully, uniquely made.
    We reflect God’s image and creativity on that.

    Yes, we die to self continually…but in that He expresses His nature through us and our unique personalities…I don’t believe God made you to be anybody but Reuben…but He’s transforming you into the best Reuben you can be…

  11. The New Victor says:

    I kind of wonder about pets in heaven, or on The New Earth. My mom ran kind of a puppy mill when I was a kid. At one point when I was about 11-14, we had up to 50 dogs, mostly Llasa Aposos. When we moved from the free range 25 acres due to being driven out by the county, a lot went into pens while maybe a cohort of 10 were still free range. I saw many horrible things, like Mange, and when Parvo hit before my mom could vaccinate.

    I had silly nicknames for most of the dogs. For example, Liam the cat would be Bliam, or the Liam meister. Or I might have called him Taken, after Liam Neesom. I considered all of them pets and friends. It’s there a Rainbow Bridge such as even Unbelievers wish? Is it wrong to wish that in Eternity or will it be such a monumental shift in perspective that we won’t think of such things? Will my former pet rats Rizzo, Sarah, Louise, Tirzah, Turkish and Tommy leap to my shoulders? My current muttely? Will they be real or simulcrums and if so, will it matter?

    I don’t lose sleep over such things, I’m just thinking out loud. We have enough to deal with now on earth.

  12. Michael says:

    TNV,

    If Miss Kitty, Chester, Smokey, and all my other friends aren’t there… just leave my ass in the ground.

    If they aren’t there it means that God didn’t love the whole creation and love doesn’t really matter at all.

  13. Michael Quesada says:

    #5
    Thanks Michael! Had to share with the church!
    Blessings to you and yours!

  14. Xenia says:

    Personally, I don’t think animals go to heaven although I am open to the possibility. It would be awfully nice to see Lilly the Chihuahua again. But my hope for heaven to be with the Lord, to see Him face to face, and to worship Him in truth forever, not to reunite with departed pets. Everything/everyone in heaven- angels, Saints, relatives, friends, etc. are secondary to seeing the Lord. I would not put anyone or anything before Him. Sorry folks- this had to be said.

  15. Michael says:

    I was going to write a separate article on this, but time and infirmity are not my friends at this point.

    When I think about the ways we pretend, one of the major ways is that we speak blithely about our love for the Lord and about the primacy of seeing Him face to face above all other things.

    Few things elicit as much spiritual guilt in myself as being honest enough to say that I’m looking forward to the results of His work of redemption more than actually meeting Him.

    There is a very simple reason for this.

    God has more often been untouchable and beyond “knowing” in my life than a present comfort.

    Intellectually and theologically I understand the primacy of Christ above all loves, but my experiences with Him on a personal level have been bereft of the kind of intimacy that builds relationship.

    I have no doubts that this will change the moment I see Him face to face.

    The evidence of Gods love for me (especially over the last few years) has been the love and friendship of my cats.

    I have spent much of the last few years in ill health caring for a severely demented mother without much help.

    If the Lord has been present with me, He’s been present covered with fur and offering comfort and companionship.

    I have always recognized them as a gift from His hand to help me get through and I often praise Him for them.

    Close friends and chosen family will testify that I probably wouldn’t still be here without them.

    I find it dismally astonishing that people think that God will not allow the vessels He’s used to love His children come home with them.

    I don’t really care what people think…if I have ever really conversed with Jesus, He’s assured me that they are wrong.

    As a postscript…do not think for a moment that I’m unable to marshal an argument from Scriptures and tradition for my position…I most certainly can…but I have little interest in persuading those who do not already know these things in their soul.

  16. Xenia says:

    What did the Lord say was the greatest commandment? To love God with all our heart, soul and mind. What is the 2nd commandment? To love my neighbor.

  17. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    As someone who has publicly taught the Scriptures for almost 40 years, I’m familiar with the verse.

    I’m also honest enough to say that I don’t always love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind and prefer my neighbors on the other side of a fence…or a moat.

    You may have reached a stage of holiness that I have yet to manage and I congratulate you for it.

    I will continue to wrestle with such and pray for grace to cover.

  18. Xenia says:

    When the words of Jesus are met with snark….

  19. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    When a broken person is met with rebuke…the words of Jesus aren’t heard the way they were spoken.

    There was no snark intended…

  20. Xenia says:

    I don’t know what to say here on the PhxP blog anymore. Our family has been through really, I mean really, tough times the past few years and we never felt the Lord abandoned us, we always felt He was right there with us. He also answers our prayers? We love our Church? Does anyone here want to hear this? Too Pollyanna?

  21. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    You can say whatever you want and testify to your experiences with Jesus.

    What you can’t do is rebuke people whose experiences have been much different than your own, but are hanging on to faith as hard as they can.

    I have never said that my experiences are or should be the norm…but I do write them out so that other people with similar struggles can know they have company on the journey.

    The history of the church is full of the testimonies of saints who wrestled with God and their own faith…and they recorded those struggles for the same reason I do.

    I’m not going to stop…indeed, I would be disobeying my calling if I did.

  22. Captain Kevin says:

    Xenia, you are loved here and should absolutely share your experience and understanding.

    That being said, this is the kind of message that helps me most at this time in my life:
    “I have never said that my experiences are or should be the norm…but I do write them out so that other people with similar struggles can know they have company on the journey.”

  23. Michael says:

    CK,

    There are more than a few of us…glad you’re straggling along with us…

  24. Xenia says:

    I understand the concept of rejoicing with the joyful and weeping with the weepers.

    I was, dare I even say it? concerned with the idea that if heaven does not include my beloved Chihuahua then love is meaningless and I don’t want to be there. I am not wanting to aggravate anyone further on this topic but I wanted to be clear what I was talking about.

  25. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”
    (Romans 8:18-25 NLT-SE)

    You wanted to make a theological correction according to your tradition, which is acceptable.
    I was testifying to the way in which I have been temporally loved by God.

    I do not worry that my friends won’t be there…this is not a theological exercise of the mind, but a knowledge of my heart.

    You are free to disagree and you have.

    My theology of animals is birthed from my theology of God and creation.
    We are told that the whole creation groans while waiting for redemption…which will happen along with the redemption of our bodies.

    As stated earlier, I do not believe “heaven” is our final destination, but a new heaven and a new earth where heaven and earth become one place.

    The whole creation will be redeemed because of the love of the Creator… and those creatures who God used to love some of us unlovable ones will populate it as well.

    God has demonstrated his love for me in the cats who just happened to choose my house…and a few people who have stuck with me.

    Your theology may be radically different than mine…but if you don’t think my theology is based on the love of God you are sorely mistaken…that concept is at the center of all my theology.

  26. Xenia says:

    Ok, good response. I’ll stop now.

  27. Michael says:

    I confess that these discussions disturb me.

    I meet with a spiritual director every Friday via Zoom.
    Those conversations are often emotional and difficult.
    My SD noticed that when I start to feel emotional about something, Liam comes from wherever he is to be with me until the moment passes.

    He came in to sit with me as I was typing these responses.

    In doing so, this cat shows concern, empathy, and yes, love.

    Yet… we would consign this beautiful creature to the dirt with no afterlife or hope of redemption after its death

    God bid this cat to share this time with me, but forbids its love to follow me home.

    This…is utterly preposterous…to me.
    .

  28. Xenia says:

    I also love animals… we have a cat, a dog, 2 guinea pigs, a small flock of hens named after flowers and a tankful of angelfish that I hatched right here in my own house. Before breakfast I feed the wild birds, who all have names and before bed I leave food out for the possum. I love animals.

    If and when I get to heaven and find there my old childhood collie Sandy, my old guinea pig Squeak, and Waffles the Possum I will happily exclaim “Michael was right! Glory to God!”

  29. Reuben says:

    I can not personally believe my wife is without her dogs and cats right now if there is a heaven.

  30. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    There is..and she’s got a menagerie at the feet of Jesus…

  31. Josh says:

    ” tough times the past few years and we never felt the Lord abandoned us”

    I wish that had been my experience. I certainly would have referred that to god not showing up in my greatest hour of need.

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