What is Charity or “Agape” Love?

The Sound Doctrine Seminar

The Bible says in First John chapter four and verse 18,

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  (1John 4:18)

Charity or love is the doorway to perfection, and the “perfect love” that the Scripture is talking about in First John chapter four and verse 18 is the love that many people call the “agape” kind of love.

This is the “God kind of love” which loves someone even when they may be against us. This is what God did when He sent Jesus. This is what God did when He loved us before we loved Him.

“We love him, because he first loved us.”  (1John 4:19)

Colossians chapter three and verses 12 through 14 says,

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”  (Col. 3:12-14)

As Jesus said in Matthew,

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 

The Bible says that charity is the “joint tie” or bond of perfectness. The Greek words that are translated “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 and “perfectness” in Colossians 3:14 are the words that mean “complete” or “completeness”.

It is only through charity, or “agape” love, by which we can achieve completeness, or full maturity, in Christ.

There are 3 different Greek words which are translated “love” in the New Testament.

The first type of love the Bible talks about is the Greek word “philio”. This love is the type of love that an individual has with his or her spouse or children. This is a familial love or love for family.

The next Greek word translated “love” in the Bible is “agapao”. This is a moral type of love. This is a general type of love or love for all mankind. This is the type of love that creates a willingness to give. It doesn’t mean that you have given but it means that you have a willingness to give.

This is the love that God had when he “so loved (agapao) the world.”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

He loved the world with “agapao” love but then he did something about it.

He gave.

God’s general love for all mankind was transformed into perfect personal love when he gave his only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

This is “agape” love. It is created by and is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is manifested in us when we walk in the Spirit and do the works of God, when we give.

This is perfect love.

The Bible says we are to put on charity. (Col. 3:14)

So many times people pray, “Lord give me agape love. Give me charity.” God has already given us the love, the willingness, the desire to give, when he gave us a new heart. When we add works birthed out of that love then it is a fruit of the Spirit for all to enjoy.

Faith without works is dead. Love without doing is not charity.

God gave his Son because He loved, and when He did it, His love became agape love.

First Corinthians chapter 13 verses four through seven is the definition that the word of God gives us for charity. As we read these verses of Scripture we should substitute our name in place of the word “charity” and let it be a gauge to see if we truly are walking in agape love.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  (1Cor. 13:4-7)

When we substitute our name in the place of the word charity, is it a true statement?

By the time we come to the end of the verses, we can truthfully answer as to whether we walk in charity or not. This is an inward look at our own heart as we come face-to-face with ourselves.

If we have answered truthfully after taking this little test, we can each admit that we all have a lot of work to do in our own lives concerning agape love.

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Perfect Love

The Sound Doctrine Seminar

Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter five verses 38 and 39,

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  (Mat 5:38-39)

In these verses of Scripture, Jesus is not contradicting the law of the land.

The Law of Moses had said “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” People who committed injury or crimes against another were to be brought before the proper authorities and punishment was to be issued by the appropriate judges in their judicial system.

However, during the times of Jesus many people had taken it upon themselves to avenge their wrongs and they were using the Word of God to justify it. This is what the Lord is talking about in these verses.

Jesus here is talking to individuals who would later become Christians. They were going to know God as their Heavenly Father.

He tells them to resist not evil. He says that if someone slaps you on one side of your face, then offer them the other also. In other words, forgive them and give them another chance.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew chapter five verses 40 through 42,

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”  (Matt. 5:40-42)

Jesus is teaching us that instead of avenging ourselves, we should go out of our way to demonstrate to those who would misuse us that, by the Grace of God, we have been changed from someone who would be angry and resist or retaliate.

We have been given a new heart and a new spirit made in the image of His heart and His Spirit. As God’s children, we should act as our Heavenly Father would act.

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”  (Rom. 2:4)

In Matthew chapter five verses 43 through 48 Jesus says,

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.”  (Matt. 5:43)

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”  (Matt. 5:44)

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  (Matt. 5:45)

“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”  (Matt. 5:46)

“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”  (Matt. 5:47)

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  (Matt. 5:48)

Verse 43 is one example of what Jesus called the “vain traditions” of the Pharisees.

They had taken two unrelated Scriptures out of the Old Testament and had put them together to form a tradition. Leviticus chapter 19 and verse18 says,

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”  (Lev. 19:18)

The unrelated verse which they combined to the verse in Leviticus and formed the proverb “Love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy” is found in Deuteronomy chapter 23 and verse six.

“Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days forever.”  (Deut. 23:6)

The Pharisees’ great desire was to appear righteous before men but they had no concern as to how they appeared before God, so they would take Scriptures out of context to vindicate their positions.

Over time these “vindications” became traditions which they lived and taught by. Jesus said that in doing so they made the Word of God of “none effect”.

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”  (Mark 7:13)

Another example of this can be found in Matthew chapter 15 verses four through six.

“For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”  (Matt. 15:4-6)

The Pharisees had created a tradition that promoted retaliation or hate against their enemies. Retaliation is nothing but fear. It is the attitude of “I have to stop them before they hurt me.” It is an attitude of fear.

However, Jesus said to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

He went on to say, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”   

The Bible says in First John chapter four and verse 18,

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  (1John 4:18)

Charity or love is the doorway to perfection, and the “perfect love” that Jesus was talking about in verses 39 through 44 is the love that many people call the “agape” kind of love.

This is the “God kind of love” which loves someone even when they may be against us. This is what God did when He sent Jesus. This is what God did when loved us before we loved Him.

“We love him, because he first loved us.”  (1John 4:19)

Colossians chapter three and verses 12 through 14 says,

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”  (Col. 3:12-14)

As Jesus said in Matthew,

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” 

(To be continued…)

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Out of the Abundance of the Heart

The Sound Doctrine Seminar

Matthew chapter five verses 33 through 37 instruct us concerning the assurance of our words,

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”  (Matt. 5:33-37)

The apparent interpretation of these Scriptures is that God is dealing with swearing and oaths, but the deeper interpretation is that God is dealing with the attitude of pride.

When someone swears an oath such as “I swear by my children”, or “I swear on the Bible”, or any other such proclamation, they are really swearing that something “shall be” or “is so” regardless of the circumstances.

By doing such a thing, they are expressing their total dependence upon themselves to make it happen. This is pride.

We should be saying, “If it is the Lord’s will.”

“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”  (James 4:15)

The Lord says not to swear by anything, but let your words be simply “yes” or “no”.

In other words, there should be no need to convince anyone by swearing that what we are saying is the truth. As a Christian, our character alone should be all that is necessary for someone to know that what we have said is “yea” or “nay”.

James chapter five and verse 12 tells us,

“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”  (James 5:12)

In this verse of Scripture the Apostle James says, “above all things.” This is a tremendous significance to put upon the words that come out of our mouths, especially concerning whether we are “swearing by” something or not.

Why would the Scriptures put such significance on this?

“For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”  (Matt. 12:37)

The condemnation that is being spoken of here is the condemnation of the devil. We read in First Timothy chapter three and verse six,

“Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”  (1Tim. 3:6)

The Bible says that God resists the proud.

Pride brings condemnation upon us before the throne of God.

Boastful words come forth from a prideful heart. A non-repentant prideful heart is not walking after the Spirit. We only escape condemnation when we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  (Rom. 8:1)

Revelation chapter 12 and verse ten says,

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”  (Rev. 12:10)

The devil wants to accuse you. The devil wants to condemn you. The devil wants to hinder your prayers.

When we swear or do anything else to reinforce what we have declared, it is an outward manifestation of the pride of self-determination that is in our hearts.

James chapter four verses 13 through 17 declares,

“Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  (James 4:13-17)

God is beholding and listening to our conversation, for the Bible says, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matt. 12:34).

The words we speak are an indicator to us and others of what is really in our hearts.

(To be continued…)

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A Heart of Flesh or a Heart of Stone?

The Sound Doctrine Seminar

God has given us another nature empowered by the Holy Ghost that we can choose to live by. It is only because of this new man living inside of us that we can determine right from wrong and live by the principles of the Kingdom of God.

Matthew chapter five verses 31 and 32 instruct us,

“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Matt. 5:31-32)

These Scriptures give the parameters concerning divorce. However, as it is with all the words of Jesus, there is the apparent meaning and there is the deeper meaning.

One of the things we must realize concerning the principles of the Kingdom of God is that the Lord is talking about living according to the abilities of a new and righteous heart. He is talking about always living in peace and forgiveness.

In the Gospel of Mark chapter ten and verse five,

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.” (Mark 10:5)

We who have been born again and filled with the Holy Ghost have been delivered from a hard heart. The Lord says,

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26)

We as Christians have been given a new heart.

The psalmist cries out in Psalms 51 verse ten,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

As believers in a Christian marriage, God gives us no excuse to head towards divorce. We do not have a hard heart but we have a softened heart. We are able to work things out. We can come to the peace that God wants us to come to if we are willing to change and forgive.

However, for unbelievers sometimes such is not the case.

In First Corinthians chapter seven verses ten through 17 we read the Apostle Paul’s instructions concerning marriage as given through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.” (1Cor. 7:10-17)

In verses ten and 11 the Lord through Paul is talking to husbands and wives who are both believers and married in the Lord. He says to “Let them not depart.”

In verses 12 through 16, the Apostle Paul says “but to the rest speak I, not the Lord”. Here he is referring to believers who find themselves married to unbelieving spouses that are not part of the body of Christ.

In verse 14 the Bible says that the unbeliever is sanctified, meaning set apart, by the believer. They are sanctified unto salvation. In God’s eyes that saved individual’s unbelieving husband, wife, or children are set apart from the rest of the world.

It is true that an individual has to come to a personal acceptance of Christ for their salvation, but when God says that they are sanctified it means that he has set them apart for a concentrated ministration of the Holy Spirit in their lives to convict them of sin and bring them to Christ.

By living with a changed, born again individual on a daily basis, 24 hours a day seven days a week, the unsaved spouse or children will witness firsthand the reality of God and His ability to transform a life through the power of a new heart and a new spirit.

God has not only promised to save us but He has also promised to save our household.

“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)

These Scriptures go on to say, “But if the unbelieving depart let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.” Not under bondage means they have been set at liberty.

First and foremost, God has called us to peace. The key for a believer to continue in marriage to a non-believer are the verses which declare,

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”

The unbelieving spouse must accept and be pleased with the changes in the spouse who has become a believer.

In no way does God condone abuse. The Scripture says, “God hath called us to peace.

There are many men and women of God who have been anointed and called to preach, but because of an unbelieving spouse that has chosen to leave and divorce them, certain religious institutions have forbidden and hindered them from fulfilling their place in the body of Christ.

There are religious organizations and leaders who say “you can’t do this” or “you can’t do that”, ignoring the fact that it is God who has forgiven and God who has justified, and it is God who calls and anoints.

God says, “A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”

Rest assured that if a believer has been divorced from an unbelieving spouse, God has not withdrawn his call or anointing because of that divorce. The Bible says that the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance.

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom. 11:29)

(To be continued…)

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The Deeper Meaning: The Spirit of the Word

The Sound Doctrine Seminar

Jesus said in Matthew chapter five verses 27 through 30,

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”  (Matt. 5:27-30)

In these verses the Lord is talking about moral and spiritual impurity, and once again we see that it is the same punishment for the act as well as for the intent of the heart.

Let’s look at the spirit of Jesus words.

He is not saying that we should literally cut our hands off or pluck our eyes out in order to overcome the problem of impurity in our lives.

What He is saying is to mortify or count as dead our members upon the earth. Treat them as if we had cut them off and it would therefore be impossible to commit the sin. This is similar to the instance when Jesus was talking about being the bread sent down from heaven.

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (John 6:53-54)

Jesus wasn’t talking about His literal flesh and blood. He was talking about partaking of Christ and receiving Him into your being.  Jesus went on to say,

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”  (John 6:63)

However, there were those who didn’t understand, and because they didn’t understand, they no longer followed.

Colossians chapter three and verse five tells us to,

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”  (Col. 3:5)

The word mortify literally means “to count as dead.” The Lord instructs us to consider our members to be so dead to sin, that rigor mortis has set in and they cannot be revived.

Romans chapter six verses 12 through 14 declares,

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”  (Rom. 6:12-14)

I have literally had to stand sometimes as if I was looking sin right in the eye and say, “Sin, you do not have dominion over me. You cannot cause me to have this evil thought. You cannot cause me to have this evil attitude. You do not have dominion over me.”

The Word of God tells us that sin shall not have dominion over us if we will not allow it.

James chapter four verses seven and eight says,

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  (James 4:7-8)

James says to “cleanse your hands ye sinners.” I believe that some Christians might need to clean their houses also before they can have victory in their lives. They might need to get rid of certain magazines with immoral pictures or certain unrighteous television programming, for the Bible says

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”  (Rom. 13:14)

I have counseled people who tried to quit smoking by trusting in the Lord for His help and yet were still unsuccessful. I counseled them that it takes not only faith to experience God’s power, but it also takes obedience to His Word.

I advise them to do as the Word of God says and make no provision for the flesh. Remove the ashtrays, break them, get rid of them, get rid of the cigarettes, have your clothes cleaned, and fumigate your home if necessary.

Do whatever it takes to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof, and you will have the victory that you are seeking for from God. He wants you to have that victory more than you even want it.

Jude chapter one verses 24 and 25 tells us how much he wants us to have it.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”  (Jude 1:24-25)

God is the one who is able to keep you from falling. God is able to do it.

(To be continued…)

Next: “A Heart of Flesh”

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Why I Believe in Miracles: Part 3 (Jake)

ireland-13

My wife first saw the black, ominous shadow lurking underneath the cedar tree. “I believe there’s a dog in our back field, just lying out there by the fence under a tree.”

That’s just great, I thought. Maybe he’ll be gone by the time I have to get out there and mow tomorrow.

“Somebody probably just let him out. He’ll go home soon, or they’ll come looking for him” I said. But nobody came looking, and the next day he was still there. And the next.

We‘ve seen stray dogs before. Because of where we are located, people have come down and dropped animals off when they don’t want them anymore, or can’t afford them, or the animals are sick.

Who knows why some people do the cruel things they do. They usually wander off and are gone by the time animal control comes out.

But this time was different. This dog didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

We could see him when he would venture out from under the tree and walk across the field to gaze at the cattle fenced in on the other side.

He appeared to me as if he might be part wolf: vicious looking, but thin. He would hungrily watch the cows, then turn around and walk back to his spot under the tree as if resigned to the fate that had brought him there.

By the third day, my wife couldn’t stand it any longer. “I know he must be thirsty and hungry.” she said. “I am not going to watch this dog die from starvation or thirst.”

Well, just set a bowl over the fence.” I replied.

With her being diabetic, and myself on chemo medicine, neither one of our immune systems could stand a battle with a dog scratch or bite. We watched from the kitchen window as he came up to the fence and ate out of the bowl.

The next morning we awoke to see the bowl out under the cedar tree, just lying there comfortably next to the black, ominous shadow.

Dog or no dog, I have got to mow that field, I thought.

“Take your gun with you, just in case. You don’t know what that dog might do.” my wife said as I headed out the door.

So with my trusty pistol hanging from the gear shift on the big red riding mower, out the double gate I went, all the while keeping a wary eye towards the black shadow lurking under the tree.

After I had mowed one length of the field, I heard my wife yelling at me over the roar of the engine.

Thinking the worst, I started to grab for my gun as I jerked around to see her pointing behind me, and there trotting along like a faithful servant behind his master, with his tail about to wag off, was one of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen.

This ominous shadow I had feared from far away had transformed into one of man’s best friends. Not black and wolf-like as I had thought, but with the classical markings of a Rottweiler, yet the ears, face, and tail of a German Shepard.

While he had been following me as I mowed, my wife had retrieved the bowl from under the tree and filled it with water. As soon as I had finished mowing and turned the mower off, my newfound friend retreated back to the safety of his cedar tree.

Still unsure of his true nature, my wife threw a wiener toward him while I assumed the position of armed protector atop the safety of the riding mower. Our fears were unfounded, as he soon came out with tail wagging and gobbled down the tasty snack.

Several tasty snacks later, he retreated back to the safety of his tree and we to the safety of our fenced and gated yard, knowing at least that for the time being, he was not going to starve or die of thirst.

We never anticipated the terrible thunderstorm that would arrive overnight.

Surely the storm scared him off, I thought as I awoke the next morning. With a full belly he has probably gone to find his home.

My wife was the first to look out the kitchen window. “Would you come and look at this?” she said.

There he sat at the double gate, with his ears perked up and his little bowl beside him. That did it.

“All right. We’ll let him in the yard and he can sleep under the covered porch until we can get him a doghouse. But he’s going to be an outside dog, and no touching or petting until we can take him to the vet and make sure that he has his shots.”

We agreed. Strangely, we had never heard him bark.

He didn’t stay many days out on the porch. After a trip to the vet for shots and tests, we got the worst news a dog owner can get. He was heartworm positive.

Heartworms are like malignant cancer to a dog. Infected by a mosquito bite, the tiny worms spread through the blood to the heart, where they grow and soon break off to the lungs and other organs slowly draining the life from the innocent host.

The only cure is a devastating treatment that brings the dog to near death while killing the dreaded infection. Not wanting the worms to gain a further stronghold, I scheduled the treatment right away.

I had thought about calling him “Brownie” because of his color, but our son said that he looked like a “Jake”. So Jake it was.

The vet had said that after the treatment, he was to stay inside and to be let out only for bathroom privileges for five weeks. So much for being an outside dog.

When Jake returned home from his two-day stay at the vet, he seemed fine at first. That is when we discovered his hidden talent.

If he wanted to go outside for a potty break, he would go to the door and grunt like a pig: “oink, oink, oink.” If he wanted a treat, he would come and stand next to you and “oink”, or sometimes he would just come and sit in front of you and grunt until you scratched behind his ears or under his chin.

It seemed that this was his way of talking to us. My wife lovingly called him her little “pig dog” and said pigs must have raised him. But all of his efforts at conversation soon stopped.

It seemed that Jake had not gained back enough weight and strength from his homeless days to sustain him through the poisonous treatment. He grew weaker by the day. He quit eating and could not control his functions.

After trying everything that the vet had suggested to try to get him to eat, and everything we could think of, all to no avail, we rushed him back to the vet. He had lost down to twenty-nine pounds.

The tests revealed kidney, liver, and lung damage. We later found out that the attending technicians thought that the vet would advise for him to be put to sleep. But this was not to be.

We are people of faith with a strong belief in our Lord and His love for us and all His creation. We had begun to pray at the first sign of trouble, asking God to have mercy on us by healing the little companion that He had sent.

The vet gave him two shots and prescribed strong antibiotics and steroids, saying that if he was not better in three days there was nothing more that he could do. I replied that through prayer, Jake was going to be our miracle dog.

The next morning when he awoke, it was as if he had never been sick. His appetite returned, he began to play, and his little pig language of “grunts” was as strong as ever.

Our little “pig dog” had become our little miracle dog. That was five years and thirty-five pounds ago. He shows no signs of the kidney, liver, and lung damage.

Jake finally learned to bark. While trying to get him to learn to speak on command, he let out a meager and hoarse “arf”. With age and poundage, that “arf” has become a loud and booming “ROWLF” that has frightened many an animal intruder and stranger away.

I had told the vet at the first that Jake was our little rescue dog. We felt that The Lord had brought him to our field that we might rescue him, but we were to find out that this little black shadow that would not go away was sent to rescue us.

Having been diagnosed six years ago with an inoperable brain tumor, I take medication to prevent gran mal seizures, but I am still apt to slip into partial onset seizures (usually while I am asleep), which take several days to recover from.

It was while slipping into one of these seizures that I felt a little furry head bumping against my leg and the familiar sound of  a pig’s grunt which snapped me back to reality. Several times now Jake has demonstrated this unique ability to sense when these seizures are about to occur and has come to my aid.

The Bible says that God works all things together for good to those who love Him. This little dog that seemed so frightening at first has become a loving and inseparable part of our family. To those who do not know him, he may be just the dog that grunts like a pig, but to us he is a miracle sent from God.

Available at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad, and at Lulu.com for all other e-reading devices

Available at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad, and at Lulu.com for all other e-reading devices

Why I Believe in Miracles: Part 2

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The year was 1986. My wife, daughter, and I had just arrived in Mount Vernon, Texas to begin our lives as the principal and teacher of a new Christian school located about five miles outside of the town on a little country road.

The church had arranged for us to move into an old yellow farmhouse next to a cattle ranch. We had a tumultuous time getting there. While training for my administrator certificate in Christian education, my 11 year old daughter had developed juvenile diabetes and had spent time in intensive care at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas Texas.

Now, she was out of the hospital with her diabetes under control, and we had finally moved into the small yellow farmhouse about two miles from the little country Church and school. The Pastor and members of the little church that was sponsoring the Christian school were excited about the school year that lay before us.

Having lost our first child, a little boy who was born premature, my wife was now pregnant with our third child, who we were hoping and praying would be a younger brother for our beautiful daughter. She was approximately six months pregnant at the time so we were not overly concerned about beginning the school and moving to a new town during her pregnancy.

The school had begun and although we did not have many students, all of them had various difficulties stemming from their family histories and we soon realized that teaching this school was going to be more of a ministry that a job.

The church was very small and could not afford a sufficient salary to pay us as the administrator and teacher of the school. However, we had learned from our years of faith walk and missionary work that if we would only obey the Lord, do His will, and follow the path that  God had given us, then He would supply all of our needs.

We had no money for a telephone, so as my daughter and I headed off to school every day, we would pray and commit my wife’s safety to the Lord.

One particular morning, as my daughter and I left to go and open up the school, I kissed my wife goodbye and everything seemed normal as usual. My daughter and I arrived at the school, opened it up, and began the school day as any other day.

Approximately around ten o’clock that morning, I began to get a gnawing and uneasy feeling in my spirit that something was not right at home with my wife. As it was near the lunch break, I said to myself that I would wait until lunch time when the children were not doing schoolwork and I would run quickly the two miles down the road to see if my wife was all right.

But the feeling began to get stronger and stronger, almost to the point of making me sick to my stomach, that something was wrong with my wife. I pulled my daughter aside, and since she had been in Christian school since kindergarten, I left her in charge and explained to her that I needed to go home and check on Mom and that I would be right back.

I got into our car and headed down the country road, up one hill and down another, until finally I passed the grove of trees that hid our little house from sight. As I passed the trees and could see the house, I noticed that my wife was standing out in the front yard. The first thought that came to my mind was, “I guess everything is all right.”

But as soon as I turned into the driveway, I noticed that she was standing outside on our rocky front yard in her bare feet. I knew that something was wrong. I opened the door, stood up out of the car, and I said “Are you all right?” It was then that I noticed she had been crying.

I said, “What’s wrong?” She said, “I believe my water has broken.” As I grabbed her and put her in the car to rush her to the hospital, I asked her “Why were you standing outside?” She answered, “I was washing dishes when my water broke and didn’t know what to do.”

“I knew the mailman would be coming by about this time of day and I thought maybe I could get his attention. I had prayed, “Oh Lord please don’t let me have this baby here by myself.” I knew that you would be busy with the children and so I asked the Lord to somehow get your attention and have you come home.”

My wife and I arrived at the hospital and within the hour my newborn son had arrived.

Since that day I have called him my miracle son. Although born premature, he is now 26 years old and a handsome, strong, healthy young man. I cannot say that God spoke audibly to me that day, but I can honestly say that he captured my heart in such a way to cause me to do his will.

Ever since then, when I have been in a valley or faced a mountain of a problem, and I’m tempted to think that I am all alone and God is nowhere to be found, my mind goes back to that day when the Lord captured me and forced me to go home because my wife had prayed and asked that he would get my attention.

The Bible says God watches over us. The Bible says he never slumbers nor sleeps. The Bible says his thoughts toward us are more than can be numbered. And last but not least, the Bible says that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It is for this reason and many, many other reasons that have transpired over the years, that I want to say, rather that I must say, I believe in miracles.

"The miraculous account of our early ministry "- By Raymond Candy Available for $4.99 at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, the iBookstore on iTunes for the iPad, and at Lulu.com for all other e-reading devices

“The miraculous account of our early ministry “- By Raymond Candy. Available for $4.99 at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, the iBookstore on iTunes for the iPad, and at Lulu.com for all other e-reading devices