Monday, December 31, 2012

Bible Reading Plan

I have a confession to make.  I don't read my Bible every day.


Yes, I'm imperfect and make mistakes.  While I love Christ and try to always follow Him, I fail Him by not spending enough time in the Word of God.  I know that only by reading the Bible will I have a closer relationship with God and learn more about His nature.

A friend of mine started a new Facebook group to help motivate and encourage people in reading the Bible. I've made the commitment that in 2013 I'm going to read the entire Bible.  I've read every book at least once and many of them several times.  But I haven't been that committed in several years.

A great tool that was shown to me is  This site is free and has numerous Bible reading plans, as well as multiple translations.  I'm following the Chronological reading plan, as I think it's interesting to consider the Biblical events in the order that they happened.

So as we go into 2013 I strongly encourage everyone (both of you who read this blog) to do the same thing. Spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible.  I think it will change your perspective and life as much as I expect it to change mine.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Finding God's Will

I don't typically cross-post from my other blog about life as a vet to this one.  But I thought that this crossed over to both subjects and knowing that not everyone follows both blogs I felt it was worth posting to both.

I am so glad to have come across your 7/24/11 post called 'God and Veterinary medicine'. I have a pressing question which I know only God knows the answer to, but I wanted to open it to you for honest insight... 

My name is Rachel and I'm a pre-veterinary student at the moment, after having graduated with an unrelated bachelor's degree a few years ago. I don't know how to put my passion for helping animals into words that don't sound cliche. I want to help and heal them to my highest ability, which is why I changed my course and returned to school in pursuit of a career as a veterinarian. At the time when I made this decision, there were many signs that this is the way, and many wondered why I hadn't chosen this path in the first place. Simply put, I'm crazy about God's animals, and to see them ailing brings me to my knees.

I have always believed in God, but only a few weeks ago I fully accepted Christ into my life and my relationship with Him is growing everyday. Before, I admit to being guilty of putting animals above humans - honestly, I was people-fearing, even loathing. After reading the Bible, I realize that as a follower of Christ, I cannot live or think that way - we must love one another as Christ does. I heard a sermon not too long ago that said once you accept God into your life, He does with your life as He pleases, and He will take/make you far from who you think you are, and you certainly may not like it at first. 

Thinking of this brings me anxiety, panic, and confusion, because not long after, a thought came to my mind (from me or God, I do not know) that I should be a human doctor, and specialize in oncology to be exact. I don't know if this was God talking to me, or me messing with mind trying to stir up anxiety again (not uncommon). I feel that everything that has happened for me in the past two years - volunteering, participating in veterinary mission trips abroad, meeting wonderful contacts in the field, finding inspiration in the veterinarians I have followed - all of these things I feel were/are blessings from God. They all came to me at the right place and time; coincidence is impossible. I enjoy and am fulfilled when I help people day to day, but animals have been in my heart, as are many other God-given passions and talents, since my beginning.

Perhaps it is God trying to tell me that I need to balance myself out and dedicate more time to helping people in need? This I can believe. I have merely just begun my walk with God and I am just starting to learn more about Him. Of course I want to always say 'Yes' to God! He knows what is best for us. I can only hope it was a silly 'what-if'  thought that came to mind. Now I can't help but worry as I continue my studies that I am displeasing God, and being selfish for pursuing what I love. I have prayed about this, but nothing is yet clear to me. 

I am coming to you because I trust your honest insight, and I am sure you understand more about God's character than I do right now. What are your thoughts?

First I want to say that I'm not an expert on God, just a devoted layperson who makes mistakes and still sins.  I'm no better than anybody else, so take any of my advice with a grain (or three) of salt.  And I can't say that I understand more about God....I'm still trying to figure a lot of it out myself!

God is not the author of confusion.  That's the domain of Satan.  But we as fallible, sinful humans can mess with our own minds without the Devil's help.  I've certainly had plenty of doubts and confusion of my own and have doubted what God wants for me, yet I don't think Satan is behind all of that.  We have our own free wills, and that includes the freedom to doubt.  But if you're moving in a direction that God wants, Satan can certainly intervene and muddy the waters.

I agree that too many people put animals over humans.  Humans have a special place in God's creation, and though animals are special they are not on the same level as people.  I do believe that animals have emotions and can show love and devotion, but that alone doesn't place them above or even equal to humans.  In Genesis God gives Adam (and therefore all his descendants) authority over animals.  But that doesn't mean that we can do whatever we want to them with impunity.  God still wants us to take care of His creation.  Animals are there for us to be able to use, but also for us to act as caretakers.  That is a big responsibility and ties directly to those of us in the veterinary profession.  But no matter how much I love animals, I firmly believe that any human has more value to God than any animal.  As a follower of Christ, I need to mirror that attitude.

Rachel, I can't tell you what God wants from you, even if I knew you.  I would first recommend finding a local pastor, priest, or other spiritual leader that you respect and with whom you feel comfortable.  Talk to them and ask them to pray for you.  Also spend daily time with God, praying and above all listening.  I think that too much prayer time is spent with us talking while God wants his turn to speak to us.  Be quiet and focus on His will and His presence.  Read the Bible daily and get to know His character.  You'll find great wisdom in His words that will help you understand what He wants from you.

Think about where your true passions and interests lie.  When I think about human medicine I get a bit weirded out.  I find things related to humans rather disgusting and could never imagine myself being part of that, even though I deal with the same things on animals.  I also don't feel a burning desire to help people in this way.  God has never given me a heart or passion to be involved with human medicine.  That's not me being selfish, that's just how I've always been.  God creates each of us with innate talents and interests, even before we turn to Him.  He creates us to do certain things, even if we may not realize it at the time.

He did the same thing with you, Rachel.  If you feel strongly drawn to human medicine and oncology, start to look into that.  Perhaps volunteer at a hospital where you can work with cancer patients.  If you feel your heart crying out to these people and wanting to be around them, then consider switching your path.  But if you feel uncomfortable and nervous in this situation, it may not be right for you.  If you go into human oncology you can still help animals by giving to charitable organizations and volunteering at shelters or as a foster parent.  If you pursue veterinary medicine but still feel that God wants you involved with human cancer patients you can do something similar, volunteering at a hospital or with hospice, or giving to cancer research foundations. It is possible to have a passion for one thing but still help out in another area.

Both veterinary and human medical schools will stress and tax you in ways you can't imagine.  Both are worthwhile pursuits, but you should be sure of which one you want to pursue before starting.  Spend more time with God, listen to Him, and find a local pastor to help you.  I hope that some of my words may also help, and I will pray for you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Evil Is In The World

There was a senseless tragedy in Connecticut today.  If you've been under a rock and haven't seen any media (at least here in the US), a demented, evil person walked into an elementary school and shot to death 20 children and 8 adults.  We may never know the underlying reasons for his murderous rampage, but nothing in his past could ever excuse such a horrible act.

Think about the parents, family, friends, and other children for a moment.  These children had gone to a normal day of school like so many million do every day.  Newtown is a small community, not what you would ever consider as prone to such an event.  This could happen in any school in the country.  The timing could hardly be worse as we are 11 days away from Christmas.  That means that in all likelihood presents were already bought for those who were murdered.  They may actually already be wrapped and under the tree at this moment.  What must it feel like to find out your child has been killed at their school in a mass shooting, then go home and see the present you bought for them wrapped neatly and awaiting eager hands to open it Christmas Day?  

I heard about the news when I got into my car after having watched The Hobbit with my wife and two children.  My kids are 10 and 11, close to the age of those who died.  I can't imagine having to face what these parents are going through.  As I was running errands my wife was watching the news reports on TV and crying.  My son came in and saw the newcasters talking about the shooting.  "Mommy, why would someone do that?" he asked her.

How do you answer something like that?  Because I don't think anyone has a good answer.  There is absolutely no reason to explain why anyone would murder like this.  Nothing except evil.

I am a Christian and fully believe in Satan as a real entity.  I believe in demons and I believe in pure evil.  Now, I don't think everything bad that happens is due to demon-possessed people.  Humans are quite depraved enough in their own souls to perform heinous acts by their own inner evil and don't need external help.  But I also know that Satan does try to influence people both directly and indirectly.  The only excuse for murdering children in this manner is pure evil, whether internal or external.  And though this may somewhat explain the behavior, it in no way gives credence to it.

We are seeing and hearing more about things like this in modern times.  Remember the shooting at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado this year? There have been others like that in malls, schools, and other public places.  Such mass shootings often make individual murders seem trivial and go unnoticed by the public at large.  But the killing of even one person is a tragedy to those that love them.  Is the sorrow of a parent who has lost their child in a car accident any less than that of one of the parents in Newtown, Connecticut?  We need to remember and pray for everyone who is going through such hardships, not just the ones affected today.

So what can we do?  First of all, put politics aside.  Though I'm a political and social conservative, I really don't want to hear about the arguments for or against gun control on a day like this.  We're not going to solve the problems that lead to tragedies through laws or lack thereof.  The root cause of these evil events is in the heart, not in the legal or social system.  Today if I see a politician using this tragedy to promote their own viewpoint I would want to go up and slap them.  This isn't about politics.

We need to change hearts.  We need to embrace love.  No, I'm not going all "hippie" on you, and I don't believe in the kind of "tolerance" that the American political Left promotes.  We need to have a society that is based on morals and that embraces supporting each other rather than dividing ourselves.  Even just in my lifetime I've seen a breaking down of the family and an acceptance of things that really shouldn't be allowed.  All in the name of "tolerance".  I'm sorry, but there are many things in our society that we should not tolerate. By having a relativistic point of view we no longer tell people that something is "right" or "wrong".  And that leads to a belief that nothing is wrong.

Of course, as a fairly fundamentalist Christian (though non-traditional since I'm also a geek), I'm going to talk about the need for God.  As we have pushed God out of school, business, and the public eye we have also gotten rid of our moral yardstick and the sense of something holy.  We have lost our reverential fear of our Creator and the consequences of our actions.  The idea of loving enemies and supporting those in need seems so far away in much of today's society.  I actually feel sorry for those who don't have Christ in their lives, as in times of tragedy He is the perfect person to go to and rely on.  I know that God wants to comfort the broken hearts, if only people will let Him.  And if more people followed the example of Jesus, we would have fewer events like happened today.

Sorry if I've rambled today.  This entry is a bit more free-form than I usually do, and I plan on leaving it that way.  The events today made me think more than many things I hear on the news, in part because the children killed could have been friends of my own kids.

Stop right now and pray for these people and others like them around the world.  Then immediately find or call your own children, hug them if you can, and tell them that you love them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bringing Up New Christians

I grew up "Christian", but it wasn't a real focus of our life.  We went to church on Sunday and attended many church events.  I was raised Lutheran so I went through confirmation classes and regular Bible lessons.  But at home we didn't really make a big deal over it.  We prayed over meals and said bedtime prayers, but it was almost routine and ritualistic.  God didn't permeate our lives and influence our decisions, at least as far as I could tell.  I had a good childhood and good parents, but the importance of Christ was minimal.

Since I became a parent after my salvation, trying to bring my kids up as Christians is important to me.  However, I sometimes feel at a loss because of the lack of this in my own upbringing.  I want them to have a stronger Christian foundation than I did and truly love God.  I want them to have a passion for Christ and involve him in their own lives.  I want them to understand why they do it and not merely follow my own rituals.

That's not always easy.  I often struggle with my own relationship with God and don't spend as much time with Him as I should.  That makes it more difficult to set a great example and lead by doing.  I'll also admit that I'm sometimes so busy with other things that it's easy just to tell the kids to go away and do their own thing.  That's not good parenting in general, let alone acting as a good Christian.

It's important to share Christ with children.  Ultimately everyone is responsible for their own fate and relationship with Christ.  However, parents can influence kids to or away from Jesus.  Obviously I want to do the former.  So we earnestly pray at each meal, we talk about God openly with them, and every night we have a family devotional and prayer time.  We are trying to instill good Christian habits in them.

But it goes beyond events and tasks.  When we need to make a decision, we try to deliberately include prayer and seeking God.  When the kids do something wrong we couch it in terms of the Bible and sin.  Good parenting doesn't have to be Christian-based, but the Bible really does tell us the best ways to act and think so we want to keep that front and center.

It's not always easy.  But it's one of the most important things I will do in my life.