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Lessons From Animals--"Stray" part 1

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…"
James 1:27a


In the summer of 2005, I spent a little over two weeks touring Biblical sites in Turkey and Greece. There were two things that surprised me over there that I hadn't expected: the first was how many stray animals there were; the second was how friendly they were! Aslan the Turkish cat, and Greco the Philippian dog, are two such examples.

I met Aslan in Ephesus, located in modern-day Turkey. I named him Aslan primarily after the C.S. Lewis character, but also because "Aslan" is Turkish for Lion (and what is a lion but a big cat?) It was a hot day in Ephesus, and so I went to one of the many venders and bought a bottle of water. Suddenly, this stray cat jumped up onto the ruins of a pedestal and began yelling at me. Yelling! You really haven't experienced animals until you've seen a cat yelling at you. I looked at this friendly fellow with curiosity, and it occurred to me that perhaps he was thirsty. Pouring some water into the cap of the bottle, my theory proved correct. This little guy was, indeed, thirsty--and he knew I was a guy with water!Thanks for taking this moment...I do appreciate it

I met Greco just a few days later in Philippi. I named him Greco because Philippi is located in Greece. Greco, smart dog that he was, had stationed himself right at the entry gates of Philippi, where he joined our group. He then stayed with our group the entire time we were in Philippi--perhaps two hours. And I'm sure that once we left, he trotted right back to the entry gate and waited for the next tour group to arrive. Indeed, this seemed to be typical: dogs and cats would see groups coming, and simply make themselves available--available to be pet, available to be loved, and available to be fed and watered. I realized that this is how they survive. They pal around with tour groups in the hopes that someone will feed and water them. They depend on this to live.

I've long said that how a person treats an animal says a lot about the kind of person they are. In the last devotional I noted Proverbs 12:10, which tells us, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." And not just animals! God wants us to take care of everyone who is in need. Time and time again in the Bible--especially in the Minor Prophets and the Gospels--we are told that God's desire, and command, is for us to take care of those in need. Deuteronomy 10:18 tells us that God is someone who "defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." And look at the command in Leviticus 19:10--


"Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God."


2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us." We are Christ's representatives. Christ makes His appeal through us. Which means, in part, that we are called to share Christ's message; but it also means we are called to share Christ's work. And what is that work? Part of it is to take care of those who are need; feeding the hungry, sheltering the cold, and watching over those who rely on you to live. It is what Christ did; it is what Christ desires.


In Christ,


--Pastor Dan


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