Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Savannah Boggs

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe I'll start off with how lucky I was to have Savannah in my life. She had a hard life, but by looking at her and watching her, you would not have been able to tell. She was always so cheerful and full of life. Maybe it was from being rescued from her pitiful, lifeless existence she had. You see, before I rescued her, her life consisted of being kept on a short chain, with very little food, no shelter and no attention. In fact, she had worn away her bottom teeth trying to chew through the chain. She was a fighter! Savannah then found herself in the arms and home of a veterinary student. Other than not really seeing me very much (but she had Saj to keep her company), her life was good. I mean, no chain, living inside, food, not to mention free veterinary care. After I finished veterinary school, her health seem to deteriorate, but her sweet spirit persisted. February 2005 she had several mammary tumors removed, which thankfully came back as benign. Then the dreaded "C" word...cancer. This word pounded on my brain and weighed heavy on my heart as I sat there looking at her chest x-rays, trying not look at the big mass in her chest and the secondary pneumonia she had. Decision time: The only good treatment for primary lung cancer is to cut it out. But this would required opening up her chest cavity and removing the mass and the lung lobe(s) it's associated with. "What's the prognosis?", I asked the specialists at GVS. They said they couldn't tell until they got in there, but if it's spread to the surrounding lung lobes and/or lymph nodes, average life span is around 4-6 months. Do I spend thousands of dollars for 4-6 months?! Yes! I owed it to her! We had to try. So we did the surgery. Her left cranial lung lobe was removed and the surgeon saw that her lymph nodes were enlarged, so she biopsied those as well. The cancer had spread into the adjacent lung lobe, but according to the lymph node biopsy, no cancer cells were seen there. She recovered from her surgery like a champ, and she then underwent 18 weeks of chemotherapy, which if you remember from my previous blog "Dogs", you would know that primary lung cancer is a type of cancer that is fairly resistant to any chemotherapeutic drugs. But she fought through it all. Savannah said, "The heck with 4-6 months!! I'm going to beat the odds!" (at least that's what I pretended she was saying to me and the specialists). She was a fighter!!

Then, Sunday afternoon around 3pm, she started developing focal body tremors, mainly on her face, again. She had done this a few times previously but it never progressed like this. I gave her a dose of valium to try and stop the tremors, but it didn't seem to work. As the evening hours ticked by, Savannah was beginning to act more and more abnormal. Panting constantly, pacing, using the bathroom in the house, whining and whimpering and occasionally I would find her staring at the wall. I stayed up with her most of the night. After about 3-4 hours of sleep I woke up, and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "what if I find Savannah dead in the kitchen on her bed?" So I got up and walked towards the kitchen, fulling expecting to find a lifeless body laying there. I stood in the doorway and looked...she wasn't moving. Was I right? Was God telling me what had happened to prepare me? Then, she looked up at me, with eyes that said, "Dad, help me! I'm scared!" So I stood her up and took her outside to use the bathroom. As I watched her, I noticed she was very weak in her back legs. She would take a few steps and then would lose balance in her rear limbs and fall down. Immediately the words, "Oh crap!" came bursting forth. So I took her into the hospital where we did chest x-rays...normal, bloodwork...normal, measured her blood pressure...normal. I left her there on intravenous fluids hoping that would give her some energy and perfuse her brain and other organs better. Around 3pm I get a phone call from Emily saying Savannah has gotten worse. "Justin, she's not getting any better...she can barely take any steps now...she cries whenever I try to pick her up..." . "O.k. I'm on my way," I said chokingly, tears already running down my cheeks. Coincedentally my parents were up in Marietta yesterday. I told them and they drove me up to see her, and to make the decision whether or not to let her go. They said I shouldn't have to do this alone. I am so glad and thankful they were there. Once at the clinic, Emily brought Savannah into a room. As soon as I saw her, I kind of knew it was time. She was suffering. She wasn't completely there mentally, and she physically could not get up, despite all of her efforts. Savannah had lost almost all of her motor function to her rear limbs. The cancer was taking over. More than likely it had already spread to her brain and now it was overtaking her spinal cord. My mom, my dad, myself and Emily sat there for about 2 hours. We finally got Savannah comfortable on a bed spread and she was sleeping. Her breathing was very sporadic. At times she was taking very short breaths, and other times she would take one deep breath, as if it was her last. I would look at my mom, "Is she gone?!" Then she would start breathing again. Around 5:30 pm on January 22, 2007, I turned to Emily and said, "It's time." She took my hand and asked if I was sure? With tears pouring out of my eyes and being incapable of speaking any words, I nodded mournfully. She left the room and came back with a syringe full of a soon-to-be sweet, humane, release into a world where cancer is no longer in her body. I placed my face against hers, saying "Savannah I am so sorry...I love you and I will miss you..." Crying hysterically, my dad with his hand on my back, I frantically stroked her soft face, in a last ditch effort to try and show her how much I loved her, as Emily injected her with the euthanasia solution. I heard my mom say, "Justin she's gone." I didn't think tear glands could produce so many tears. She laid there...peacefully. I sat there on the floor...hysterical and worn out from the emotional train wreck I'm experiencing. But, I find some comfort and solice in the fact she's free now.

Am I ok? No. Will I be ok? Eventually. I'll be honest, it hurts something bad. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. But I'm thankful for Savannah's 6 years or so with me that she had. I'm thankful for the past 15 months of beating cancer. I'm also thankful and blessed for such wonderful parents, who stayed with me through it all. I'm very thankful for caring friends like Emily. She is such a kind, caring, gentle woman of God and an amazing, smart veterinarian. If you ever read this Emily, know that it meant the world to me having you there to help me with this decision; and that there is no other vet I would rather have had do this than you. You are wonderful and I am very lucky to have you around! Thank you.

So good-bye my sweet, loyal friend Savannah. You will be missed!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I'm reading a book now called "Humility" by Andrew Murray. It is a must read for every believer. Here are a few quotes from the book:

Humility is something infinitely deeper than contrition...it is our participation in the life of Jesus...it is our true nobility...being servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny.

Meekness and lowliness of heart are the chief mark by which they who follow the meek and lowly Lamb of God are to be known.

His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.

The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not something which we bring to God, or which He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is ALL, and in which we make way for God to BE ALL.

Humility must be made the object of special desire and prayer and faith and practice.

It is pride that made redemption needful; it is from our pride that we need above everything to be redeemed!

Pride has its root and strength in a terrible spiritual power, outside of us as well as within us; and as needful as it is that we confess and deplore it as our very own, of equal importance is the recognition of its satanic origin.

Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.

Believe with your whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given you, even as His divine humility accomplished the work for you, will enter in to dwell and work within you too, and make you what the Father would have you be.

This life of entire self-abnegation, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father's will, Christ found to be one of perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving all to God. God honored His trust, and did all for Him, and then exalted Him to His own right hand in Glory.

(Jesus) teaches us where true humility takes its rise and finds its strength: in the knowledge that it is God who worketh all in all, and that our place is to yield to Him in perfect resignation and dependence-in full consent to be and to do nothing of ourselves.

The moment God finds the creature abased and empty will His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless. He that humbleth himself-that must be our one care-shall be exalted; that is God's care. By His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.

And let us believe that what He shows, He gives; what He is, He imparts. As the meek and lowly One, He will come in and dwell in the longing heart.

Humility is one of the chief and the highest graces, one of the most difficult of attainment, one to which our first and chiefest efforts ought to be directed, and one that only comes in power when the fullness of the Spirit makes us partakers of the indwelling Christ and He lives within us.

Humility is the only path to the glory of God.

...no outward instruction, not even by Christ Himself; no argument, however convincing; no sense of the beauty of humility, however deep; no personal resolve or effort, however sincere and earnest-none of these can cast out the devil of pride...It is only by the indwelling of Christ in His divine humility that we become truly humble.

In His death He destroyed the power of the devil, He put away sin, He effected an everlasting redemption. In His resurrection He received from the Father an entirely new life, the life of man energized by the power of God-a life capable of being communicated to men and entering and renewing and filling their lives with His divine power. In His ascension He received the Spirit of the Father, through whom He might do what He could not do while upon the earth-make Himself one with those He loved, actually live their life for them-so that they could live before the Father in a humility like His, because it was Himself who lived and breathed in them. An on Pentecost He came and took possession.

It is only where we, like the Son, truly know and show that we can do nothing of ourselves, that God will do all.

God is faithful.

Grace and peace

Colossians 1:3-8

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints--the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit."

Paul gave thanks to God for his readers frequently. He told them so to enable them to appreciate the fact that he knew of their situation and rejoiced in their good testimony. Specifically Paul and Timothy rejoiced over the continuing demonstration of their trust in Christ as contrasted with their initial acceptance of Him as
their Savior. Furthermore the Colossians manifested self-sacrificing love for other Christians. Third, Paul gave thanks for the hope of blessings ahead that his readers possessed but had not yet experienced. They demonstrated their hope in their living by presently manifesting faith (v. 4) and love (v. 8). The
Colossians had heard of this hope when they had heard the gospel preached to them. Paul reminded his readers that the gospel had not come to them exclusively but was spreading through the whole world. Paul may have intended this reference to contrast the gospel with the exclusive message the false teachers in Colosse were trying to get the Christians to adopt (heathenism, paganism, Gnosticism - aka. "super apostles", or other mysterious religions). Paul further glorified the gospel message by referring to its dynamic power to change lives and to its uniquely gracious content (v. 6). Epaphras was the leader of the church in Colosse, and if you remember from the previous entry on Colossians, Paul never actually visited the Colossians, but was still considered the founder of the church in Colosse. Notice how gracious Paul was towards this servant of God. Paul describes him as his "dear fellow servant...faithful minister." Paul seemed to always have something nice to say to those who were preaching the Word of God, no matter their motive. In Philippians 1:12-18 Paul concludes by saying, "What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Paul had a thankful heart. Proverbs 27:19 says, "As water reflects the face, so a man's heart reflects the man." Is your reflection a thankful one?


"A thankful heart prepares the way for You my God."

So, thanksgiving. Not just a holiday, not just something you say before you eat a meal, but a state of the heart. Paul said he always thanks God! How hard is that?! Sure it's easy to be thankful when we receive something (a gift or a compliment), but how about when the weight of the world seems to be on your shoulders, or when circumstances are not conducive to a thankful attitude? Are you thankful then? Ok I'm going to be a little vulnerable right now. I remember doing worship for a camp up in the mountains of Tennessee back in the summer of 1999 (with Kevin and Kyle Mann, Ji Lee, and Chris Spearman). The week before we were down in sunny Florida at a camp for Faith Fellowship church and Mark Fritchman spoke. The rooms we stayed in were nice. We had 2 nice big comfy beds with our own bathroom and air conditioning. I'll add here that a lot of shenanagins went on that week between me, Kyle and Mark Fritchman (so many funny stories). What's the point of telling this you might be asking? Well, the very next week, we drove up to Tennessee, got out of Kevin's Ford Explorer, and went to find our cabin...if you can call it that! It was about the size of my bathroom, with 8 bunkbeds in it!! We're talkin small! 4 beds on each side. So it was us 4 guys, plus Jon Messara and one of his interns crammed in this outhouse of a cabin! I probably shouldn't say this but I am...I have an extremely random and funny story about sleeping naked (not me!!..oh no no). Wait, I can't...if you want to hear the rest of this story, shoot me an email. You'll be like, "He did what?!" Anyway, the bathroom was about 7 miles away and it was an outside shower. "Oh what fun!" you might be saying to yourself right now. I would agree only if there was hot water, and if we didn't go white water rafting in the Ocoee, which is about -45 degrees! I had the worst attitude the first couple days. I sure as heck-fire didn't want to take a freezing cold shower when I was already suffering from hypothermia! I think they ciphened water from the Ocoee River into their shower water. Plus, I had to use my can-opener (plus dislocate both of my shoulders) to get into my bunk! When I rolled over, I hit my hips, shoulders and head on the bunk above me! God taught me a lot by the end of the week. Not only how to contort by body into a space about a foot and a half tall and wide, but about being thankful, no matter how awful the circumstances might appear.

Why do I struggle with this? Paul got it, why can't I? I think it comes down to humility. Are we humble enough to accept our short-comings and our inconvenient circumstances? Jesus was the most humble person that ever walked this planet. And His circumstances?! I think you know what He had to endure. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34, I Peter 5:5) There's the word grace again. Jesus was full of grace and mercy. Why? Because He was humble! He humbled Himself even to the point of death (Philippians 2) and He was lifted up by God (I Peter 5:6) when God displayed His power by raising Him from the dead and exalted Him by returning Jesus to His original place, at the right hand of God. In I Thessalonians 5: 18 it says, "give thanks in all circumstances." How do we do this? First and foremost, learn humility!

Secondly, in the Bible thanksgiving seems to linked together with praise. Psalm 100:4, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 95:2, "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." The next verses in both of these Psalms explains why, "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 100:5) and "For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods" (Psalm 95:3). He is great and his faithfulness and love will last forever! He won't let you down!! Humility, thanksgiving, and praise are a product of Jesus' faithfulness and humility, which brought us this amazing grace. Again, Lord teach me to walk in Your grace. I want to prepare a highway for You to come in and move in my life.

A thankful heart prepares the way for You my God!!

Grace and peace.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Colossians 1:1-2

In case you were wondering, Passion 07 was amazing! The worship indescribable...probably among my top 5...maybe even #3, and the talks were very inspiring. You're probably wondering, "Wait a minute Justin! What are your top 2 worship experiences?" Ok, I will take a minute to go off on a little tangent to list you my top 2 worship experiences:
  1. OneDay 1999 (I believe) at Shelby Farms in Memphis, Tenn: This was a gathering of about 20-25,000 students from across the country and world, united in one common theme: God, let Your glory come to America! The actual OneDay was a Saturday, but the day before were teachings and different "gathering places" where you had a worship leader and a speaker. At my gathering place, we had 2 up and coming worship leaders -- Chris Tomlin and David Crowder -- you might have heard of them?! Anyway, Chris Tomlin started off the set with "O come let us adore Him." Before he sang the first word, he strummed the first chord (I believe it was a G, but that's not important) and it was instantaneous manifest presence of God!! I couldn't even sing! I raised my hands in full adoration of my so very worthy King and just soaked up His presence. My eyes were closed, holding back tears of joy, and I was envisioning Him covering me like a warm blanket. I didn't just have goose bumps...I had goose mountains!
  2. The "Indescribable" tour with Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Louie Giglio at the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta. Louie's talk on the grandness of our God was great and the pictures from NASA were breath-taking. The worship was intense! The songs Indescribable, How Great is Our God and You Never Let Go were resonating in my spirit for months...

Ok, back to the point of this blog. At Passion, whether on purpose or coincedence, all the speakers tended to pull from and focus on the book of Colossians. This inspired me to take time and diligently study this book. So over the next however many weeks or months, I'm going to take a slow walk through Colossians and share with you what I learn. I also purchased a commentary on Colossians by Vernon McGee to help me through this.

Colossians is one of the "Prison Epistles" (along with Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon) that Paul wrote while he was in prison in Rome. These 4 Epistles have been called the "anatomy of Christianity" in that they cover all aspects of Christianity. Briefly, Ephesians is about the body of believers called the church, of which Christ is the head. Colossians is focused more on the head of the body (the body itself is secondary). Christ is the theme; Christ is the fullness of God which is then poured out in the lives of the believers. Philippians deals with the walk of the church (Christian living) and Philemon lends us Christianity in action. It is interesting to note that Paul never visited the church in Colosse, yet he is considered the founder of the church there. There is a lot more of background information to be discussed but I will not include it in this blog...maybe some other time.

Colossians 1: 1-2

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother

To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father."

Right off the bat Paul calls himself an "apostle of Christ Jesus" and he goes even further to say that it is by "the will of God." The word "will" means desire. So, it was God's desire for Paul to be an apostle. God made him an apostle. Are you in the will of God today? Are you doing what He desires you to do? Are you in the proper place? Are you sure your doing the proper thing? My answer to that is yes and no. I do believe God got me into vet school and then here to Marietta, GA. For some reason, He has not allowed me to obtain a residency position in Neurology, which would require 3 more years of training at a veterinary school. The no of this incompasses what I think I am called to do for His kingdom. I guess I shouldn't say think...I know that I know that I know He has called me to lead worship. For the past 6-8 years, I have had prophetic words, dreams and other words of encouragement that only reinforce this calling. I've recently told my parents of this calling and they were a little dumbfounded. My dad still hasn't talked to me about it. My mom said that she doesn't really understand it all, but will support me (seemed like because it was her motherly duty to do so) and wants me to be happy in life. They don't understand why I would waste 4 years of veterinary school (not to mention all the money for tuition). I try to tell them that I still plan to practice veterinary medicine and that it wasn't a waste, but I do not know to what form or fashion this will take on. Like I said, God allowed me to go through veterinary school to become a doctor (hopefully a good one...you'll have to ask some of my clients about that...). There is a difference in wants/desires and passions. I've wanted to go to vet school since I was a little kid and I think God allowed me to fulfill that want. And, He is going to use those skills that I obtained for some purpose, and it won't be all-for-not. However, the passion that runs deep into my heart and spirit is worship. I'm believing God for great things in this area. Right now, I am in a waiting period; or a training period preparing me for the next step. Sometimes God only lets enough light in for our next step in this journey, yet we want to know the full story. It's something most people (and I'm including myself) struggle with. They need to know all details and how it's going to work out. Where would faith fit in? Where does trust fit in? We need to find rest in the fact God has never let us down and will never let us go. I'm reminded of the story in Numbers 13-14 where the people Moses led out of Egypt began to grumble at Moses and Aaron because there were "powerful people" living in the land that was flowing with milk and honey. They said, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?...We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." Hello! They just witnessed the sea being parted and walked through on dry ground, yet they could not see past their current circumstances and started to lose faith in God and doubt His sovereignty! Moses and Aaron then replied, "If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord (don't doubt Him). And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up...the Lord is with us!" Where the Lord is taking you is so much better than where He's taken you from! Just look back on your own life. I'm sure there have been instances where you asked, "God, where are you at? Why are you doing this?" But then sometime later you randomly think back on what just transpired and realize that God's hand was all over it!! I think if God revealed our entire destiny to us at once we would fall over and die; it would be too much, too great for our hearts and mind to handle. He goes before you and with you (Exodus 33:14-15)! He sends angels ahead of you to prepare the way (Exodus 23:20). It's hard, I know! I'm learning to trust Him and in His sovereignty. I can't see where He is taking me to, but I have to believe that it is so much better than where He has taken me from!

Now onto verse 2: "Grace and peace to you from God our Father." Simply said, these 2 things can only come from God, they come directly from Him. I believe the Bible is God-breathed. Therefore, I have to believe that how words are ordered have significance as well. In this verse, grace comes before the word peace. We have to know the grace of God before we can experience the peace of God. He has conquered sin and darkness by Jesus Christ's blood shed on the cross! He has rescued us from despair! The grace of God is this, I was bought at a price and now I am my beloved's and He is mine; I am my beloved's and His desire is for me! Grace grace grace! Lord help me to walk in Your grace, so that peace will reign in my heart!!

To my brothers and sisters,

Grace and peace


While the last post included a request for your help and input, this one is asking for your input on some songs that have been written by myself and Elliott DeJarnett.


Em -C
I love you lord, all of my days
I love you lord I sing your praise
I love you lord I’m crying out
I love you lord come to us now

With one heart we raise our voices
With one voice we praise your name

Come, show your heart, show your love
Won’t you come, show your heart, show your love


Psalm 116

E B/D/# C#m A
Oh how kind, oh how good is this Lord of ours
You took my life in your hands, overcame my heart
Heard my cry, delivered me, freed me from my chains
For your grace and mercy I will call upon your name

You met my every need
Turned your ear to me
My soul is at rest
And I will bow my heart to you and say

E B/D# C#m A
I will pray as long as I have breath
I will pray as long as I have breath
In your presence I will be at rest
C#m B A
I will pray as long as I have breath

A B C#m
Be at rest oh my soul
E/G# A
For he has been so good
B C#
Be at rest oh my soul

Grace and peace


Ok, here is where I ask for some help from the 0-1 readers I have out there. If you don't know that worship is the Kingdom calling on my life (read "Worship" below). But one of the most difficult thing for me to do is write worship songs. The hard part is coming up with words that haven't been used before, which is nearly impossible with people like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Charlie Hall out there writing incredible worship songs! I can come up with a chord progression and a melody fairly easily, but there is some song-writing block I have. At Passion 07 I went to a break-out session with Charlie Hall and Tim Hughes that was about worship leading and song-writing. Charlie said what he does is carry a little notepad with him and whenever he thinks of random phrases, he writes them down. You like how I just called him Charlie? Like we've been friends for many years...at one point during Passion he was like 10 feet from me; Chris Tomlin at another time was only about 5 feet from me worshipping while Tim Hughes was leading...no big deal! Anyway, the point of this blog is for me to include some random phrases that I've written down thus far. This is where you fit in...you're job is to email me back with lyrics to songs. Got it?! Good! These are in no particular order:

You steady my beating heart
That's beating for You
My heart beats for You
Dancing to the rhythm of Your heart
That's what I hear
My heart in rhythm with Your heart
Make our hearts collide

Gaze on You while You gaze on me
Gaze on me while You love me

I am Yours and You are mine
It's Your presence we are longing for
It's You we are hungry for
Just wanna be with You

You set me free to love You
Overwhelm me!

Bring Your love
Bring Your grace
Bring Your mercy in this place

Help is on the way
Hold on, help is on the way
Mighty He comes to save
A price was paid
A rescue was made

That's all I got so far...until later...

Grace and peace

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I have to admit, dogs are wonderful! They can be stubborn and frustrating sometimes (some more than not), but all-in-all, they are a must have. Take my dogs for example: Saj (pronounced Sage - if you want to know the story behind it, then let me know; it's kind of cheesy--he's the one laying down in the picture, Savannah is sitting up). Saj will be 8 years old this April and he is a Chocolate Lab and Doberman mix. He has the best ears. When they are fully erect (can I say that?) I swear they touch both walls when he's walking down the hallway! And, the man can jump! When I was at UGA my roommates told me that he's part Lab and part deer. You see, right next to our house we had this hill of kudzu (oh how I hate that stuff!) and he and his friend Sky (my roommates black Lab) would go exploring in this thick, ever-growing, mire of kudzu. Just to paint the picture for you, when Saj was standing still and not moving, you couldn't see him. You only knew where he was by the rustling of kudzu. And then bursting forth like a big blue whale off the coast of Alaska, he leaps up, all four paws lifted high above the carpet of kudzu, looks down in mid-air at what he's going to pounce on next, and down he goes to disappear again! He would do this for hours, chasing bees, bugs, varments and such. My roommate and I would just stand and laugh as Saj appeared, then disappeared, re-appeared, then disappeared again. Saj is also very patriotic! What, you say? Oh yeah...he likes our rendition of our Star Spangled Banner...well, at least the first line of it. Instead of, "Oh say can you see...", we sing, "Oh, Saj can you see..." and he loves it. Really it just takes singing "oh Saj" and it gets him going. He barks and howls and starts running through the house. Quite a dog Saj is!

Then, there is Savannah. Savannah was a rescue dog that I adopted during my second year of Vet School. I don't know for sure how old she is but I would put her in the 11-12 year range. She is such a sweet dog and has the softest hair. One of my roommates from Vet School (Leland...I miss that kid) would take her to the nursing homes with his church and she would just soak up all the attention she got there; she loved it. Savannah is also quite the giver as well. She loves to leave me aroma-saturated presents on my kitchen floor. Also, she is Houdini re-incarnated. There is not a fence she can't get out of, and she can find a way to get food off the counter that is pushed to the very back. To the point where I say, "There is no way she can get that off the counter." Oh how I've been wrong on so many occasions. One time, I put a tray of brownies on top of the microwave, that was on top of the counter. Much to my chagrin, when I came home, I found an empty tray and crumbs all over the floor! I have no idea how she did it, she's not that big of a dog. I dunno? I swear one day I came home and found her making brownies! She had opened the cabinet, took out the brownie mix, pre-heated the oven, placed the brownies in the oven and was waiting with eager ears for the timer to go off so she can enjoy this chocolate goodness. I wasn't even mad...it was amazing! All kidding aside, she is one of the most resilient dogs though. A year ago this past Thanksgiving, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She eventually had a major surgery where her left cranial lung lobe was removed. Based on her stage of cancer (according to our textbooks), she was given about 4-6 months to live. I was devastated and unsure what to do because of the poor prognosis. Eventually I elected to try chemotherapy even though success rates with chemotherapy and primary lung cancer were pretty small. I did 6 rounds of chemo with her and she did not miss a beat. She only got sick one time during the 18-week protocol. So it's been about 14 months since diagnosis, and she is still going strong. Savannah loves attention. Sometimes I think she does the wrong thing just so she can get some sort of attention from me. If you fall asleep on my sofa (which is highly likely it's so freagin comfy), you may wake up and find Savannah sitting on the floor right in front of your face just staring at you. All you have to do if you find yourself in this predicament is simply reach out and place one hand on her head and fall back asleep. You don't even have to pet her head, just put your hand there and she's content. She just wants to be loved is that so wrong?!

Here's the kicker for me: Dogs are the perfect embodiment of the love of God. You can punish them after they left you a stanky gift, throw them out of your house, hit them, beat them, verbally abuse them and the next time they see you, they jump up and down, wag their tails in sweet delight because you're home and they just want to be by your side, as if nothing ever happened!! You can cuss God, you can run away from Him, you can throw Him out of your house, but His heart for you never changes. He jumps up and down when you return and look His way, He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zeph. 3: 17). His heart skips a beat with just one glance from you (Song of Songs). He loves you! He LOVES you! HE LOVES YOU!! He writes your name on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16) so everytime He looks at His hand (which I have to imagine is a good bit...I don't know why though), He thinks,"Ah, Justin...I am so proud of Him. He has been through so much but My hand has always been on Him. He brings Me such joy when he worships. I delight in the work of His hands. I love him so much...he is my beating heart..." Just insert your own name there and close your eyes and think about what words He is speaking over you. When you open your eyes you may find that he is sitting right in front of you looking at you with a loving smile on His face, wanting you to just extend your hand to Him. You are His beloved, His bride, the apple of His eye!!

Grace and peace

Friday, January 12, 2007


When I think about the word worship, there's only one word that comes to mind....indescribable. There's really not one word or group of words to truly define what worship is. Biblically, it's ascribing glory, honor and praise to our Creator, our Healer, our Provider, our King, our Prince of Peace, our Lion of Judah (you get the picture). Worship is more than the songs you sing; it's how you live your life...how you put your friends before yourself, it's honoring your parents, it's how you talk to one another, how you love one another, it's about staying married to the person God has given you. But, for some reason, God has used the avenue of music for us to worship Him, our all-knowing, yet forgiving God! All through the Bible are Scriptures that show us what worship in heaven is like. There is a lot of singing, dancing, playing instruments, falling facedown, yelling, lifting up of hands...all to our great and glorious King!! Something happens when a group of unified believers come together with one goal...to have an encounter with God. Miracles happen: salvation, healings of souls, hearts and bodies, prophetic words (again, you get the picture), lives are changed, a shifting in the spiritual realm occurs and specific purposes and callings are whispered in the ears and hearts of people all over this little blue dot we call Earth. My heart is for people, especially the youth generation, to worship God with no reservations, no hindrances. One of the most impactful sites I have seen was not too long ago. I was at Atlanta Fest at Six Flags and David Crowder was playing. At the opposite end of where I was standing was the section for the deaf. Over there I saw young people worshipping without any hindrances. To the mortal, infantile human mind, deaf people going to a concert is pointless. But what I saw brought tears to my eyes. These young people were pouring their hearts out to God in worship through their sign language! Believe me, God was blessed and pleased! I have to believe that their sign language here on earth was a beautiful melody up in heaven, one where even the angels sing along to it! The hindrance would obviously be that they cannot physically sing their praises and adorement to our risen King and Savior, but even though they had this obstacle in life, they had one goal...to have a true encounter with God! Like I said, worship is more than singing songs. I will forever have this picture in my mind whether I'm in my secret place worshipping God, or I am in a congregational setting. Who am I to not "feel" like worshipping when I've had a bad day, or when I'm tired? It is during these situations in life, when things aren't going the way I want them to, that God is calling us to press in and with all that's within us say, Lord, You are in control, You are sovereign, You are so good and I want to praise you!! Matt Redman puts it best: Lord You give and take away, but my heart will truly say, Lord blessed be Your name!! David understood this. All throughout the Psalms he was going through the ups and downs of life, but he still pressed in and blessed His Lord. Job is another excellent example...everything was taken away from him but he still dug down deep in his spirit and worshipped!
There is a special calling on the younger generation right now and He is looking all throughout the Earth for those who hearts are truly His! In a way, you can say that he is recruiting worshippers, to worship Him in times of plenty and times of drought. To worship Him in spirit and in the truth of who God is! But what does that mean? Honestly, I don't fully know yet. Our hearts cry should be for our spirits to be partnered with His during worship, allowing Him to speak and change your life. Because, that's what happens when we really have an encounter with Him...we can't help but be changed. In Ezekiel (ch. 46: 9-10) it describes the entering of the people to the place of worship. It says that whoever enters by the north gate should leave out the south gate (and vice versa). The lesson to learn from this is that whenever we come to a worship setting and meet with God, we leave changed. If we leave a worship service unchanged, then we did not have a true encounter with God! In Hebrew, the word worship means to "lay prostrate, to adore, to kiss the ground" and the word praise means "to lift your hands up and to not quench your fists together as if you are holding something." My prayer is this: Don't hold anything back in worship, adore Him! He is worthy! He reigns over every situation we will go through! If you do this, you will have an encounter with the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and you will be changed! Changed in such a way that your entire being and lifestyle will be characterized as worshipful. Changed so much so that your family will be impacted, your school, your city, your state, your country, the world! Lord, You give and take away, but help us and teach us to press in, endure and truly say, Blessed Be Your Name!!!

Grace and peace

Just Peter-in You?

So I did what I said I was going to do on AD's blogspot...and I immediately regret my decision...no im just joshin with you guys. What does that even mean? And, why did Josh's name get picked? Was there a really sarcastic guy named Josh back in the "random-phrase-makin-days"? I mean, what if we said, "Man, I'm just Peter-in you"...wait...I think that could actually work (unlike, "I'm just Justin-in you!").

I really don't know what I'm getting into with this (especially since it took me like 37 minutes to pick out a blog template), but what I do know is that life is tough and I have a lot to say that's on my heart that normally I would keep to myself...except to the Kevin Mann's, Ernie's, and Clay Kirkland's in my life. I just hope it all makes sense to all of the 0-1 readers I will have. Not every blog will be of the spiritual, "look what God can do" kind --sorry, little Stewart reference from MadTV--. Some will be random, some will be short, some will be long, some will make you laugh (I hope, I like to make people laugh), some may bring a tear to your eye (most likely mine and not yours), and I hope some may be encouraging and inspiring to you.

So, until later when I have more meaningful things to write...and believe me, God is doing some wicked-crazy things in my life right now. I find myself thinking, "is God 'God-in' me?" (I know that was stupid but there's a point) By all means no! God puts people, things, events, feelings, passions, yearnings in your life for reasons and/or seasons. Seasons are tough, but necessary (a wise man once said). And it may seem that everything doesn't make sense and things aren't quite working out how you'd thought they would work out, but know this, God is faithful and you will look back on this (7 weeks from now, 7 months from now, 7 years from now, 77 years from now --- i like using 7; i dunno, i just do) and say, "Ohhhhh, so that's what You were doing all that time!" Don't neglect or forget about what He has placed on your heart. Even if things are not lining up how you would like them to; and don't be discouraged (I'm talking to myself here). If you are a Believer, then the desires that are in your heart are God-breathed and God-inspired! You may not feel like He is there or that He is even paying attention to you. Beloved, good thing we aren't called "Feelers"! We are called Believers in a faithful, trustworthy, so unstinkin-believable God that has so many good thoughts and good plans for us! Never shy away from following what's in your heart, no matter when people around you say that it's dumb or it's never going to happen. God is so much bigger than that. The ocean is a perfect example of God: I mean, the ocean is big, we're talking BIG (definitely couldn't have it entirely carpeted). BUT, the beautiful thing about it is, when you are sitting on the beach right at the shoreline looking out into the vastness of the ocean, a soft, delicate rippling of water comes trickling between your toes. How amazing is that?! God is so BIG that He holds all of the water of the seas in His hands!! YET, He wants to be involved in the little, intimate, minute details of your life. Wow!!

Anyway, I wrote more than I had planned to, but whatev (as the saying around here goes).

I will leave you with this (something to ponder and conjeur up a response to): We are nothing but a vessel, a channel if you will (...and I will), through which our living God can manifest the riches of His wisdom, power and goodness. The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it!

Grace and peace