Pastor Golden Retriever excitedly unpacked the boxes of his precious books. He had acquired quite a library. Some people invest in stocks and bonds. Pastor Retriever invested in books. He considered himself wealthy.
He could hardly believe his good fortune of finally being able to move up the chain to a good sized church with a little bit better salary and benefits. It wasn’t the high steeple church in town. But, his new pastorate had lots of potential for growth. He knew that if this church grew, a strong possibility existed that a high steeple church would be his next stop.
Pastor Retriever was happy as a flea in a dog house to leave his former church. They had been good dogs and had been supportive of him and his wife. But, the smaller rural church just wasn’t his style. He dreamed of bigger and better things, and this new pastorate was a step forward for him.
He had done all the right things, jumped through all of the denominational hoops like a show dog. Important canine religious bureaucrats and influential pastors had taken notice of him.
He had called one of the Big Dogs a few months ago. “I’ve done all I can here. It’s time for me to move. Can you help me?”
“Yes, send me your resume,” the Big Dog responded. “I’ve had my eye on you, and I’ve got just the church for you in mind. I’ll see what I can do.”
Pastor Retriever had only unpacked a couple of boxes when his secretary stuck her head in the door.
He finally had a full time secretary! His first. It was truly a sign that he had arrived. It wasn’t the Westminster Dog Show, but at least he wasn’t in the small time dog and pony show any more.
“Ms. Pekinese just called,” his secretary said. “Her sister is in the hospital in Big City, and she wants you to visit her today.”
“Is she a member here at the Church of the Holy Commotion?” Pastor Retriever inquired.
“No, her sister and her children are members of Big City Mega Church.”
All Pastor Retriever knew was to go fetch when someone threw him a stick. So, off he went to travel the forty mile trip to Big City Hospital.
“I’ll finish unpacking your books for you,” the loyal and well-groomed Ms. Collie said.
Yes, it was nice to have a full time secretary at last. He could do more throw and fetch.
The hospital visit lasted longer than he had planned. He just couldn’t seem to get away from Ms. Pekinese’s sister who insisted on giving him her medical history and telling him about all of her aches and pains. He didn’t want to act disinterested because if he had, word would surely get back to Ms. Pekinese. The last thing he wanted was to offend her or any dog in his pack. He hated conflict of any kind.
It was early evening before he finally arrived home. His dear wife was in the middle of unpacking and arranging the old parsonage that the church provided for their pastors. He shook himself real good as if to shake off the frustrating, time-consuming hospital visit.
Pastor Retriever dreamed that one day a church would give him a housing allowance so that he could buy his own doghouse and build some equity for the future.
It was a Friday, and he had a full Saturday tomorrow. A dog’s prayer breakfast with the fellows early in the morning along with other and various sundry activities filled his calendar.
Saturday night fell. He still had not prepared his sermon. Fortunately, he had just the right one that he had preached at his former church. It was buried somewhere in his lap top. He dug it out and scratched around until he found it. He rearranged it a little and was ready for his first Sunday at the Church of the Holy Commotion.
On the pastor’s first Sunday, the dogs packed the church. Even the stray dogs who hadn’t been to church for a while came on that first Sunday to check out their new preacher.
The Retrievers had arrived in June to their new church field. The first three months had rapidly passed without any major incidents.
Attendance and offerings were up. The trustees were pleased with the new pastor whom they had selected. He had all the right pedigree.
Well to be honest, there was one minor glitch. Pastor Retriever had preached a message about baby Moses being found in the bulrushes along the Nile River. Pastor Retriever mistakenly had said, “As the basket with the baby Moses floated down the river, Pharaoh's daughter spotted it and sent her slave girl out to get it.”
Well, that didn’t suit Pit Bull at all. He hung back until all of the congregation had greeted the pastor at the door after the service.
Meaner than a junk yard dog, Pit Bull opened the Bible that he held in his paw. He growled, “I can’t believe that we now have a pastor who isn’t true to the Word of God!”
Taken aback, Pastor Retriever innocently asked, “What do you mean, Brother Pit Bull?”
Pit Bull growled and barred his teeth. He opened his Bible. “It says right here that Pharaoh's daughter found the basket in the bulrushes! It wasn’t floating down the river! If you’re going to be my preacher, you’ve got to be true to the Word of God and quit changing it!”
The kind and good pastor wanting to please his fellow dog apologized. “I promise such a thing won’t happen again.”
Pit Bull stomped off in his usual gruff mood ready to attack over any future little irritation. It didn’t take much to provoke Pit Bull, and when provoked, he locked on and wouldn’t let go.
A touch of Fall was in the air when it came time for Pastor Retriever’s first Board meeting. After the customary greetings and paw shaking with one another, the Top Dogs took their usual places at the table in the board room. The pastor had waited until all were seated. The only chair left was at the back of the table where he took his seat.
Seated at the front of the table was the chair of the board, Sheep, who called the meeting to order.
Sheep was successful in business, a shrewd entrepreneur who had done well in spite of being a sheep living in a dog eat dog world. He lived on a luxurious sheepfold immaculately landscaped complete with a spacious sheep house where he, his ewe and their two little lambs comfortably lived.
He had developed a seamless business enterprise which included fleecing the wool from the town’s sheep and spinning it into thread. He owned the looms that made the thread into woolen cloth and owned the sewing factory that turned the cloth into beautiful, expensive coats that he marketed and sold to exclusive shops around the country. He was admired and respected by all. His business acumen was an asset to the Board and to the church.
Pastor Retriever thought it odd that Sheep was a member of the church much less chair of the board. But, he knew that diversity was good for the church. Sheep had been super helpful to him in his first three months. He was the one who had first contacted him about becoming their pastor. Not only that, but it was common knowledge that Sheep was a big giver to the church. He was present every time the church doors were open and even went out on Monday night visitation with the Pastor.
Sheep was so well thought of that the church had elected him to the Board, and the Board had chosen him as chair, a position of honor and leadership. Sheep was the ideal church member, and the Pastor was glad to have him as a friend and supporter.
Sheep was about ready to wrap up the meeting. It had been rather routine with the usual issues concerning building maintenance and the new budget which would begin in January. The Board would present it to the church for a vote at next week’s quarterly business meeting. They also looked over the plans for the million dollar renovation of their sanctuary and discussed hiring a professional high dollar fund-raiser dog. Sheep wanted the church to keep up with the high steeple church that had recently built a new multi-million dollar sanctuary with a big screen, a movable stage system, and computer projector. They had disbanded their choir and now had a praise and worship team. High steeple church was getting bigger and bigger like a tick on a dog. Sheep, with a head for business, wanted his church to keep up with the religious trends of the day even though some disapproved of the project.
Before the meeting adjourned, Brother Collie, the secretary’s husband, made a motion to give the secretary and the pastor raises. Their pastor’s salary had remained static for six years. Everyone agreed to give the secretary a 5% raise, but Brother Chihuahua, who thought he was Pit Bull, heatedly opposed giving the pastor a raise. “It just won’t do for him to make more money than I do. He makes enough like it is!”
Chihuahua was the treasurer and had a tiny, miserly heart that would make Scrooge look like a saint. He felt that the church money was his money. Generosity, missions, and benevolence to him was merely throwing a dog a bone.
The rest of the top dogs quickly agreed not to give the Pastor a raise. Sheep cut off the debate. No one wanted Chihuahua nipping at their heals, and they certainly didn't want him causing trouble in the church as he was known to do when he didn’t get his way.
“That’s about it,” Sheep concluded. “Oh yea, Brother Golden, do you have anything for the Board? He laughed and said, “I almost forgot about you.”
“Yes, I would like the Board to consider providing meals for our Wednesday night program. Providing a meal at low cost will strengthen our Wednesday night puppy programs, prayer meeting, and choir practice. We don’t have any lazy dogs in our church. Most of them work like a dog. All of them are pretty pressed for time, and more would likely get involved on Wednesday nights if they didn’t have to worry about supper.”
Sheep heartily agreed and thought it a wonderful idea. All nodded their heads in agreement. Chihuahua even approved since he was assured that the program would support itself without spending church funds. The vote was unanimous.
“Pastor since it was your idea, how about making all the administrative arrangements to begin this new ministry. Find us a good dog to be our cook. We could pay her a little something, and the lady dogs could volunteer to help with clean-up after the meal.”
“I’ll get to work right away on this,” Pastor Retriever replied wagging his tail. He loved to go and fetch when something was thrown in front of him. It made him feel important and wanted. He had a need to please all dogs. He couldn’t say no to any request.
A couple of weeks later, Pastor Retriever proudly and enthusiastically announced from the pulpit that all of the details had been worked out to begin Wednesday night supper beginning that week.
But, not everyone was happy.
Sister Boxer huffed and puffed to the church office early Monday morning without an appointment. She was a bit stocky and wore her hair short. She greatly loved her family and church and was the epitome of faithfulness to both. But, she worried about her husband’s spiritual condition. He was a regular at Fido’s Bar which was near the dog pound and was where the dirty dogs hung out. She requested prayer for him at every prayer meeting.
Sister Boxer toted her big red King James Bible every where she went. It showed a lot of use and was well-marked with notes all over the pages. The cover was about to fall off of it even though she had taped it back together many times.
Mrs. Collie told her, “I’ll check and see if the pastor can see you now.”
She walked down the hall to the pastor’s office with Mrs. Boxer on her heels.
The secretary knocked on the door. “Come in.”
Mrs. Boxer almost bowled over the secretary shoving her way into the Pastor’s office.
With her strong jaws and square muzzle, she came down hard on the pastor.
“Brother Golden, I’ve got a bone to pick with you. This Wednesday night meal is not scriptural.”
She took her big red Bible and opened it to where she had bookmarked the passage. “It says right here in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 22: ‘What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.’ ”
“The church building is no place for eating a meal according to the Word of God!” she barked. “People ought to eat and drink at home. That’s what the Word says, and I follow the Word of God. I’m sorry to find out that you don’t care an iota about what’s in the Bible. It was your idea to have supper in the church, wasn’t it? I’m shocked. I can’t believe this is happening!”
“But, but,” Brother Golden tried to get in a word or two.
“But nothing!” Sister Boxer howled. “It’s right here in the Word. Read it yourself!” She shoved her Bible in front of his face.
“I’ll never eat in church, and if you are really a man of God like you pretend to be, you will not profane the house of God by eating in it!”
Sister Boxer turned and waddled out the door leaving Brother Golden feeling sick as a dog.
He didn’t know what to do. He never meant to offend anyone. All of the trustees thought it was a good idea. The majority of the church seemed to be for it. He needed someone to talk to. He knew just the old dog to call.
Brother Salty Dog had served on almost every committee that the church had through his long dedicated years in the church. He had been elected to the Board time and time again. Even though there was life in the old dog yet, he had basically retired from service to give the younger dogs their opportunity.
Salty Dog was as wise as Solomon and exhibited a meek, humble temperament. His dad had served as a pastor before dying with a heart attack before his time. Salty was a veteran of many church dog fights which had helped make him knowledgeable about distemper.
Pastor Retriever knocked on the door. Brother Salty Dog opened it and immediately saw the worry lines on his face. “Come in and have a seat.”
The pastor went in and sat down in the big chair usually reserved for the Old Salt. The wizened old dog had insisted he sit in the chair of honor.
With a hang dog look, Pastor Retriever poured out his heart. He hadn’t meant to hurt anyone. He didn’t think he was going against Scripture by opening the church fellowship hall for Wednesday night meals. He never dreamed anyone would have an issue about that. But as he would find out over the years, it was hard to teach an old dog like Sister Boxer new tricks.
“Well now, don’t you worry about Mrs. Boxer one bit,” Salty Dog counseled. “I’ve known her since she was a pup. She’s had a dog’s life with lots of trouble and trials. Every now and then, she just blows her stack and shakes her jowls. Mrs. Boxer is a dog that barks but never bites. She’ll get over it, and I predict she will become one of your biggest fans. She loves her pastors.”
“She has a funny way of showing love. All I wanted was for her to sit down and let me explain what that passage in 1 Corinthians meant. She has it all wrong and took it out of context. My philosophy is to let sleeping dogs lie, and now, I’ve got her all riled up.”
“Yea, I know, I know. This isn’t the first time. Once she’s made up her mind about some passage in Scripture, she’s right and everyone else with a different interpretation is wrong. She feels like she is the sole defender of the faith. But trust me, she’ll be all right. She’ll calm down. I doubt she will ever apologize, but she will get over this. She’s been a life long member of our church, and she ain’t gonna run off to the church down the road. She’s not going to quit her church or cause problems. Oh, and she won’t change her mind about eating in the church. She’s said her peace, and that will be the end of it. She want make this a bone of contention.”
Relieved, Pastor Retriever stood up. Brother Salty said a prayer of encouragement for his beloved Pastor. The morning had slipped away. Brother Golden excused himself and headed to the buffet restaurant for the weekly pastors’ meeting.
There were a few more bumps and bruises in that first year. But overall like most first years in a new ministry, it was the honeymoon period.
Church of the Holy Commotion owned a couple of lots next door to their building. Pastor Golden Retriever loved sports especially playing throw and fetch with a ball. He had an idea for the undeveloped land.
At the winter trustee meeting in his second year, he proposed that the church construct a ball field and enter a couple of puppy, youth, and adult teams in the county’s church league. “It could be an outreach to the community and for the church,” Pastor Retriever pointed out.
Chihuahua was vehemently against the proposal as usual and some other top dogs took his side. They argued it was a waste of money to build the field and equip the teams. But, the motion carried—just barely.
After the motion passed, Brother English Bulldog who owned a bulldozing and construction company volunteered to construct the field, sod it, and erect the fences at no cost to the church. He wanted to try and nip in the bud any strife that Chihuahua might stir up. The field was soon built and ball equipment purchased in time to enter teams for the Spring league.
Nevertheless, Chihuahua seethed and nipped at the heals of the progressive minded Board and church members. The real reason that he was against the recreation program was because he felt his power and influence slipping away and that the Pastor was gaining power. Even though he was a small dog, he always considered himself the Alpha Dog since he controlled the money. Moreover, he didn’t want more undisciplined kids coming into the church building to mess it up like they did on Wednesday nights.
Chihuahua went to see his buddy and protector, Pit Bull. “That pastor of ours has got to go. He’s destroying our church!”
Pit Bull readily agreed. He had kept a growing list of all the things that the pastor had done to tick him off. He barred his fangs and was ready to form a conspiracy with Chihuahua.
The first dog they contacted about their scheme was Ms. Pekinese. She too had a growing list of grievances against Brother Golden. She told Chihuahua, “He didn’t even visit my favorite nephew, my sister’s pup, when he was in Big City Hospital back before Christmas. And that’s not all he hasn’t done! He didn’t even shake my paw before the service five weeks ago! That was an insult to be slighted like that!” She yipped on for a while about all of her grievances and joined the conspiracy.
Ms. Pekinese was the gossip of the church. She could spread rumors and half-truths faster than fleas in a doghouse. She set out to ruin Pastor Retriever.
Spring arrived and the ball field was busy with puppies, and families enjoying the games. Many of them even started attending church and several came to Christ.
But at the May church business conference, trouble brewed little beknownst to Pastor Retriever but known to about every other dog.
Salty Dog had gotten wind that danger lurked at the church conference and that Pastor Retriever was in the dog house. He called Deputy Dog to hide in the bushes and be on standby just in case there was a dog fight.
The Trustees gave their report. Then, Pastor Retriever gave a glowing report about the Wednesday night and the recreation programs. He also said that prospects for a successful Vacation Bible School looked good. Dogs and young pups were coming to Christ, and the church was growing.
As he gave his report, he couldn’t help but notice the frowns, arms crossed in anger, and the fiery glares from a lot of those present. Even the yard dogs had shown up for the meeting, and they hardly ever darkened the doors of the church much less attended church conferences.
After the Pastor’s report, Sheep, the moderator, asked, “Is there any further business?”
Standing on his two hind legs, Pit Bull growled and said. “Yes, I make a motion that we fire the preacher!” The motion was answered with rowdy amens like something wild dogs would do. The accusations against Pastor Retriever overwhelmed him like a pack of coyotes on a defenseless fawn.
The meeting was fast getting out of control. Deputy Dog heard the ferocious barking and growling and came out of the bushes. He opened the front door and stood guard at the back of the church. Immediately, every dog turned around. The trouble-makers calmed down a little and finally the vote was ready to be taken.
Sheep asked, “Will Brother Golden and his wife kindly exit the building while the vote is taken and counted?”
With his tail tucked between his legs, he went out the front door humiliated like a dog with mange.
Approximately twenty minutes passed when about a third of the pack rushed out the door. Pit Bull snapped at Pastor Retriever on the way out. “Why don’t you go back to the devil from where you came from!”
Totally stressed out, the Pastor started chasing his tail spinning round and round. He felt dizzy and faint.
Pit Bull and the others gathered outside the church. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m leaving this church!”
“Yea,” Chihuahua panted. “That’s what we’ll do! We can join the church down the road!”
And, they all quickly agreed with the hard-hearted leader of the pack.
While the group outside the church continued gnashing their teeth, old Salty Dog came to the door with a happy face wagging his tail. He had been the voice of compassionate reason in the volatile meeting. “Brother Golden, thank God, you’re still our pastor. You won by a ten point margin, 55% to 45%. Come on back in.”
Pastor Retriever walked inside. The fifty-five percenters including Mrs. Boxer stood and applauded.
On Monday morning, Ms. Pomeranian, a member of the church down the road and the town’s busy body for sure, called Mrs. Collie at the Church of the Holy Commotion.
“I see your church is having trouble,” she gleefully said. “You wouldn’t believe all of the people from Holy Commotion who joined our church yesterday!”
Mrs. Collie quickly responded. “No we don’t have trouble any more. You have the trouble now!”
There was some concern among the remaining trustees that hard financial times were ahead for Holy Commotion Church. At the next Board meeting, the new treasurer, Brother St. Bernard, gave his report. He was as big hearted as he was big. He had a gentle, generous, and kind spirit about him. He believed in helping the less fortunate and believed in giving to missions.
“Quite surprisingly,” he stated, “the tithes and offerings have remained fairly steady in spite of the lower attendance caused by the huge exit of mad dogs.
Things rocked along pretty good through the rest of the spring and into the summer except that during the dog days of summer, another bombshell went off in the church.
For several Sundays, Brother Coon Dog looked more forlorn than usual sitting in church. He had a good job with the County’s Deputy Dog Department sniffing out drugs and other illegal substances. He could track down criminals too. Just give him a scent, and off he’d go with dogged determination. His dedication and expertise had resulted in a lot of arrests and convictions. He had been awarded several times for his good work, and he wore these awards on his dog collar with justifiable pride.
He had married French Poodle, and they had been together for several years. He still couldn’t believe the beautiful French Poodle would marry an old Coon Dog like him. He was one lucky dog. But, he felt something was amiss between them, and he couldn’t figure it out.
One evening he called her. “Honey, it looks like I’m going to have to work late. I’m hot on the trail of a suspect.”
When he finally got home around 2AM, she wasn’t there. That wasn’t the first time that had happened either.
His training and instincts kicked in. Even though he was worn out from his night’s work, he put his nose down and picked up her trail.
Brother Coon Dog seldom barked up the wrong tree. His wife’s trail was hot, and he sniffed her out just before sunrise.
He came to a sudden stop and sat up. He rubbed his bloodshot eyes. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. It shouldn't have happened to a dog.
French Poodle and Sheep walked arm-in-arm out of the town’s motel.
A tear coursed down Coon Dog’s cheeks. His heart was breaking.
He suppressed the emotions flooding through him and went on to work even though he was dog-tired. He certainly didn’t feel like reporting for duty or doing anything else for that matter.
He pondered on what to do and how to confront both of them. He decided on a plan of action.
After Pastor Golden’s sermon that Sunday, Coon Dog stood up and asked if he could address the congregation. Thinking he wanted to give a testimony, the good Pastor allowed him to have a word.
He left his seat beside French Poodle and slowly walked to the pulpit. “I am saddened to say that I have followed a trail that has led me to two hypocrites among our pack. Sheep, stand up! I know who you really are. I saw you and my wife coming out of the motel. It’s time you showed the church the real you.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
As Sheep stepped out of his wooly covering, the congregation gasped and put their hands over their mouths in shock and disbelief.
It’s Wolf!” Salty Dog shouted. “A Wolf in Sheep’s clothing!”
Immediately, Wolf and French Poodle ran out the front door. They abandoned their families and took up residence together in Big City. French Poodle was lavished with all the worldly goods that Coon Dog could never provide. Through Wolf’s money, she put on the dog. And together, they lived unhappily ever after.
For several months after that, Coon Dog would sit on his haunches and howl on the nights when the full moon cast it’s gloomy pale through the pines. His mournful wail came from deep within his heartache and expressed his loneliness and betrayal.
Upon hearing Coon Dog’s howls, other Brothers in the neighborhood would join in with him to the tune of “Amazing Grace.” They supported him in those long, lonesome nights. Their love went a long way in his recovery from the humiliating trauma that had brought him to his knees.
One evening, Pastor Retriever was home with his wife. Quittin’ time at last! They had finished supper, and he was settled into the big chair. Outside, it was foggy and raining cats and dogs. He was happy to have a night off with no meeting to attend especially on such a dreary, miserable night.
The doorbell rang interrupting their cozy evening. Mrs. Retriever answered the intrusion.
“Oh! I’ve got to see the Pastor!” Mrs. Boxer stood in the doorway dripping wet. She was beside herself. She rushed into their den.
“Our pup has been run over! She got out of the gate and was run over.” she said through her tears. “Mr. Boxer couldn’t take it and left me. I don't know what to do. Our little one dead, and he left me. I’m so worried about him now. I need him, and he left. He couldn’t take it. He can’t deal with it.”
Pastor Golden stood up and joined his wife putting their arms around Sister Boxer.
“Where do you suppose he went?”
“He’s probably down at Fido’s. That’s where he goes when the pains and trials of our life are more than he can bear. He’s going to get drunk, and I fear for him. I fear that he will stay there most of the night and try to drive himself back home. Oh Pastor, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?”
It was in Pastor Golden’s DNA to go and fetch him out of Fido’s. He told Sister Boxer what he planned to do and off he ran.
It was about 8 o'clock when the Pastor arrived. It was still to early for the dirty dogs to be at the bar. Fido was surprised when Pastor Retriever walked in and was puzzled as to why he came.
In the dingy light, Pastor Golden spotted Mr. Boxer sitting alone. He was slouched over with his elbows resting on the bar and his face in his paws. He walked over and put his arm around him. Mr. Boxer had a drink in front of him, but He hadn’t had time to get wasted yet. He was shaking with grief.
“I’ve come to get you. Come home with me.”
Pastor Golden paid the tab, and they rode together. Tears poured down Mr. Boxer’s cheeks like the the rain beating against the windshield. The only sounds were the splish-splash of the wipers and the soft crying of the bereaved father.
They made there way into the den. Mrs. Retriever made a pot of coffee.
After a brief period of silence that seemed like hours, the sobbing Mr. Boxer blurted out, “Why, why, why? How could God do this to me?”
“I don’t have an answer for that,” the Pastor responded. “But, I do know that suffering, pain, and death are part of this life. Death is no respecter of persons—young or old. I do know that the Scripture says that Christ learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). I do know that Christ bore our griefs and sorrows on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5).
“There is a purpose in our pain and suffering. It brings us to the end of ourselves and causes us to reach out for help.
“Mr. Boxer, you can choose to either let alcohol temporarily bear your pain as you have done so many times in the past, or allow Christ to bear your pain from his cross. By faith, you can transfer your agony to Christ and begin to work through your grief and loss through Jesus with the help, love and affirmation from our church.”
There was silence. Heaven and earth stood still waiting and waiting. What would it be?
With his head hanging down, Mr. Boxer whispered, “Pastor, what do I need to do?”
“Believe, Mr. Boxer. Believe. This is God’s promise to you, to me, to everyone. “For it is by God’s grace we are saved, through faith, through trusting and believing in Him” (Ephesians 2:8).
The kind Pastor gently continued, “I can’t explain it, but I know it. There is a divine-human transactional transformation that takes place when Christ comes into you. Believe. Ask him. Tell him. Confess your faith in him.”
Everything changed after that terrible, dreadful night. In the midst of death, new life in Christ arose. Brother and Mrs. Boxer never missed church and even ate supper at the church on Wednesday nights. They fellowshipped often with Pastor and Mrs. Retriever in each others homes. Slowly and surely, Brother Boxer and his wife worked through the stages of their agonizing grief, and Brother Boxer began working through the twelve steps to overcome his addiction. Together, they became stronger in the faith and love of Christ and in the healing love of the church with the passing of time.
Fido’s lost a few good customers too. Some of the dirty dogs had been transformed and joined Brother Boxer in the life of faith and service to Christ and His church.
It was amazing. Doberman was no longer mean, abusive, and snarly drinking his way to oblivion. He became gentle and kind. The change and testimony of Brother Boxer brought him to Christ. And, the same thing happened to Rottweiler and several of Fido’s regular patrons.
The new life of Spring surrounded Pastor Golden Retriever as he left the parsonage to attend the quarterly Board Meeting.
Brother Collie, the new chair, reserved the seat of honor and respect for the Pastor at his right hand. Brother Saint Bernard offered several proposals.
“First, he opined,” I don’t think we need to spend the Lord’s money on renovating our sanctuary. Yea, it’s old and out of date, but it’s OK. I believe the Lord’s money should be given away to help others instead of spending it on ourselves. Our church is in good financial shape. It’s the best I’ve seen since joining this church many years ago.
“I move that we increase our mission and benevolence giving. We need to help some of our unlucky dogs who have fallen on hard times. Some have lost their jobs. Others have big vet bills. We can do more. That’s the Christian thing to do. That’s why we are put here as a church—to help one another and spread the gospel to mission fields near and far away.
“I also think we ought to sell that old parsonage and provide a housing allowance for our pastor. I also want you to consider helping him with the down payment to buy his own doghouse and give him a 15% raise.“
Brother Collie asked for discussion and debate. There was none. “I guess we’re ready to vote. All in favor say aye.” The vote was unanimous.
The meeting was coming to a close. “Before we adjourn,” Brother Collie said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying. We need a name change. We need a name to reflect what has happened and is happening among us. I believe I have just the right name for us.”
Everyone liked the idea. Again, the vote was quick and unanimous. They were all of one accord.
Two Saturdays later, Pastor Retriever stood in front of the church building. Pups and families frolicked on the ball field encouraging and cheering each other on.
A change had come upon the good pastor as he reflected about the wonder of it all. His burning desire to use this church as a stepping stone to move up the denominational ladder and land a prestigious church had completely dissipated. A great sense of peace and fulfillment flooded his soul.
Yes, it was a new day for him and for the church. He smiled and wagged his tail looking at the church sign that had replaced the old “Church of the Holy Commotion” sign. In its place stood the new sign, “Church of the Holy Communion.”
Pastor Golden Retriever would go on to have a long and fruitful ministry serving his pack at what had transformed into a new church. Yes, he had a long and fruitful ministry with his congregation united in love and overflowing with the grace, mercy, and peace of the Savior who had indeed redeemed them all. †
Rev. Dan White is a free lance writer and pastor of North Columbia Church, Appling, GA. Contact him at email@example.com
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