Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hanley-boy: 5/1994 - 11/2010

Today our beloved dog Hanley had to be put down. He was the most wonderful companion dog I have ever known, and he will be sorely missed.

Hanley lived a long and happy life with us. He just turned 16-1/2 years old last Saturday, and he brought us many years of joy. We are so thankful to God for the time we had with him.

When we moved to St. Louis in 1995, Linda and I decided to adopt a dog. We had three criteria: The dog had to be small, female and have short hair. We visited at least three agencies and saw many dogs. The APA in Richmond Heights is where we first met Hanley.

We perused the puppies at the APA and could not quite find the right fit, so we checked out the adult dogs, which are typically more difficult to place into homes. When we entered the kennel area where adult dogs were kept, chaos ensued. Every dog in the place seemed to be barking, howling and acting crazy. Hanley, however, was calmly and quietly sitting at the back of his kennel. As Linda approached his kennel, Hanley came forward and simply licked her finger through the chain link door. He owned Linda's heart at that point, but we still had a problem.

Hanley didn't fit any of our criteria. He was male, larger and very hairy. So, we decided to look at more dogs located at other agencies. We played with puppies and petted more adult dogs, many of whom would have made great pets. Trouble was, Hanley stole our hearts! We finally confessed the obvious: We had to return to the APA and adopt Hanley. Fortunately for us, he was still there when we returned. He would be ours for sure.

We took him home that day and, since the APA was on Hanley Road, we decided to toss his given name of Simba and replace it with Hanley.

Linda and I have been married for 18-1/2 years and Hanley has been ours for 15-1/2 of them. He's been around longer than most of our friends' children!

During our seminary years, Hanley would wrestle with all the other dogs around our Gulf Drive apartment. He often slept on our bed and routinely cuddled with Linda on the easy chair every evening. We used to wonder aloud how anyone could simply abandon a dog as beautiful and well-behaved as Hanley.

Hanley, or Hanley-hoo as we sometimes called him, loved us through seminary, five job changes and finally a move to Maine. He kept Linda safe when I worked late during seminary, and even put up with our new kitten Country constantly pestering him. When our younger dog Foster nearly died during the move to Maine, Hanley somehow found an extra measure of strength in order to pick up her slack (at least that's how it appeared).

Hanley always looked young for his age, and people were amazed when told how old he really was. He always looked as if he were smiling and enjoying life. I think he was indeed very happy, and we were so happy to have him as our dog.

Goodbye Hanley boy. Thanks for loving us so well and adding immeasurable joy to our lives.

Go Guiltless

If you belong to Christ, guilt has no place in your life.

All of us are guilty of sinning, but the guilt we own is purely temporal. That is, we may say that, yes, we are guilty of doing a certain behavior which violates God's law. Yet, Christ died for every one of any given Christian's sins -- Christ took that guilt, died for it and thus paid the price. His death has eliminated our guilt, how dare you or anyone else point fingers at one of his beloved children!

If you belong to Christ, you have no standing, justification or right to cling to your guilt.

God himself, through Christ's work on the cross, has forgiven our sins and thus will never demand we pay for them ourselves. Nor will God ask Christ to die for us again! He is done with our sin -- you must be also! To hang onto your guilt is to say that Christ's death may have accomplished forgiveness for others, but for yourself something more than his death and resurrection is needed. That's egregious on a number of counts.

What a slap in God's face it is to NOT be satisfied with Christ's work on the cross! God sent his perfect, sinless son to die in our stead; would we now dare to claim: Not enough! Could there be a bigger offense to God than our claim to pay our own freight?

God means for us to be free. When we arrogantly, yes arrogantly, insist on paying our own debt, we enslave ourselves to a lifetime of work. Work is the engine that drives us to still more work. Ultimately, this leads to self-righteousness and entitlement, both of which seize our freedom and drag it away in chains. This cycle begins when we accept guilt.

Guilt is a pointed finger. It screams judgment and shame and demands recompense. It has no place in a Christian's life.

Conviction is what Christians rely upon to reveal sin. Conviction is an upturned palm with four fingers beckoning us to return to the one who heals. It is personal, truthful and firm, yet gracious and loving. Conviction invites us into relationship with the same God who eliminated our guilt. It's a promise of healing and growth and it is void of judgment.

Guilt has no place in a Christian's life -- reject it with every fiber of your being!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Short Takes

Weird thoughts passing through my noggin':

1) Have you ever noticed that almost every political pundit, regardless of party allegiance, often begins a statement by saying "look..."? Look at what?

2) When was the last time you saw a political leader actually get swayed by another person's argument, then publicly admit to being wrong? Doesn't this likely mean our leaders make decisions based on emotions instead of rational thought and truth?

3) The Declaration of Independence affirms the unalienable right to life. That's basic to the DOI. If any candidate for political office, regardless of party affiliation, is pro-choice, by definition he/she stands against the Declaration of Independence. Therefore, if a candidate is pro-choice he/she should relinquish the right to run for office. He/she is the secular equivalent of a heretic.

4) A study was recently completed to discover which drugs have caused the most harm to our society. Surprisingly, the most damaging drug was alcohol. Alcohol eclipsed even Heroin and Cocaine. Why? Because it's legal. The fact that alcohol is legal makes it much more acceptable in our country. Legality means alcohol can be more than just allowed, it can be encouraged.

Cocaine and Heroin are both illegal, which means they are harder to find and more expensive. Users of these drugs are generally thought of in our society as losers. Make them legal, sell them in liquor stores and Wal-Marts and everything will change. The government will enjoy enormous tax revenues, and both drugs will not only become acceptable, but encouraged. This will result in huge numbers of traffic deaths, divorces, domestic violence and misery. Government may be able to control prices, taxes and quality (debatable), but government has no control whatsoever over addiction.

5) If you think football is the most exciting sport around, consider this: A man in Maine used a stopwatch to time the last Superbowl game, the Colts vs. the Saints. He wanted to know how much time during a three-hour game was spent actually playing the game. His results revealed that the two teams combined for approximately 14 minutes of actual playing time. What was happening during the remaining two hours and forty-six minutes? A whole lot of standing around.

You want action? Watch soccer, hockey or basketball. So all of you who enjoy mocking soccer, realize that you are spending nearly three hours in abject boredom in order to watch fourteen minutes of essentially choreographed action. Zzzzzz!

6) I have Narcolepsy and you don't. You got no clue what tired is (with apologies to those suffering with Sleep Apnea).

7) If you ask me, there is hope for anyone walking into a counseling office. That said, the closest thing to hopeless is a wife beater. They just don't change.