Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charlie, come home!

When we adopted Charlie, he was already a full grown dog. The shelter estimated he was two years old. He was found loose in Greensburg. He had no tags, no micro-chip, and he was not neutered. Despite all attempts to find his family, none came forward.

We have a fenced yard, so when Charlie goes outside, he doesn’t go on a leash. Our fence provides some semblance of security. I say some, because he has escaped that fence on more than one occasion. Charlie doesn’t try to escape all the time. It only happens when something is so tempting outside the fence, like a squirrel or chipmunk, that he must make a break to investigate.

No matter how infrequent his escapes are, they scare me every time. What if he doesn’t come back? What if I can’t find him? What if someone else picks him up?

My fears are out of love for this little dog. The world can be a scary place, and he could get into serious trouble running loose on his own. At my house, he is safe, well fed, and taken care of. He might not find such accommodations out on his own!

To get him back, we always have to offer treats or “catch” him. It seems that the wonders of the world are too tempting for Charlie to simply return home on his own.

The Lord worries over us when we’re lost in much the same way. I know from conversations, especially with parents, about loved ones who have left the church that there are real fears and concerns for those “lost” souls.But, what about those of us who have stopped seeking God even though we come to church? What about the ones who are only going through the motions? Aren’t they just as lost as the ones who aren’t here?

Ultimately, what we must realize is that no matter how lost we are, the Father is patient and waiting. God is always seeking us, and ready to welcome us home. He isn’t interested in punishment and reprimand.

Instead, He reaches out with open arms for whenever we decide to return to Him. And that’s the big difference between us and Charlie. God offers us the choice to return or stay out on our own. He doesn’t offer treats or grab us by the collar. It is entirely up to us to choose Him, or not.

Perhaps, rather than to try and force them, we would serve our friends and family better by living the Gospel in our own lives. Perhaps we have not realized how we ourselves are lost. Conversion to God requires personal reflection. It is not easy, but it is an amazing experience to bring yourself closer to Jesus.

The wonderful news is that He is always ready for us to come home! The same is true for Charlie!

Christy Cabaniss - Parish Minister

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Charlie is expensive! 

There are so many things he needs us to buy for him. He has special food because of his long fur. He also needs a certain kind of shampoo for his bath. It helps to keep his skin from getting dry. He has to see the vet annually. He needs heartworm and flea medications, both of which are not cheap. In order to keep him well trained, we need to keep treats in the house. And let’s not forget the many toys he needs to keep him entertained!

Yes, Charlie is definitely expensive. You know what is most harassing about his expense, though? He doesn’t even offer to help out! He never makes an effort to defray the cost of his upkeep in anyway.

Or maybe he does. I must say that since Charlie entered our lives, the stress level has gone down  exponentially. He is always there to snuggle when you are having a bad day. He’s ever ready to cheer you up with a rousing game of fetch. Charlie greets you with a doggy smile and a wagging tail that shows how much he appreciates all we do for him.

The work of God is not free either. It takes hearts and hands that are willing to share. It takes time and money, too.

Sometimes, we forget that the church isn’t just another social institution or club. It is the community of the Body of Christ. The first step to becoming a part of that body is a relationship with Jesus Himself. Once a person is in relationship with Jesus, he or she can enter a relationship with His Church. Relationship is the way we are connected, and that takes effort and work. Effort and work have costs to them. The costs of effort and work in a relationship are time, intimacy, and sharing resources.

In our broken world, relationship is a scary word. What if we are wasting our time? What if opening ourselves gets us hurt? What if sharing our resources ends in failure? These are serious questions  with serious consequences. The question we might ask ourselves when it comes to Church though is: Whom am I making these sacrifices for?

Through the Church, we make these sacrifices for Jesus and for His people. Sharing your time, yourself, and your resources are in service to God when you give them to the church. At the heart of it all, we do it because God loves us, and we want to share that with others.

Once we realize that we are giving our gifts to God, the giving becomes a whole lot easier. It should also take on a new priority.

Just like knowing I’ve got that cute fur-ball ready for a snuggle, makes him absolutely worth every penny.

Christy Cabaniss - Parish Minister