Can you remember your childhood pet like it was yesterday? Has any friend brought so much joy to your life?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #36 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
When my wife was three and one-half years old and her sister just over seven, older sister witnessed to younger sister about accepting Jesus into her heart. “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, and little sister responded to the divine call. Though she was tender in years my wife the little sister has never doubted her salvation from that day till this.
Older sister later continued her evangelistic efforts. Wanting to assure the entire family would be in heaven together some day, she enthusiastically witnessed to Shep, their beloved family dog. I’ve been told Shep lived a long and happy life but sadly no record remains attesting to his spiritual inclinations.
This is one of my favorite stories, partly I guess because it involves both the innocence of children comprehending profound truth and an animal. It’s an odd combination, I know, but one that’s poignant and amusing. Of course, the amusing part is picturing a child trying to lead a dog to the Lord.
I’ve loved animals as long as I can remember. Maybe it was growing up in a small town with my grandfather’s farm five minutes away in the nearby hills. Plenty of animals there. Or maybe it was our series of family pets. At one time or another we had a fish aquarium, cats, turtles, rabbits, and best of all, a sequence of dogs, Spunky, Peppie, and another Peppie.
The last Peppie lived 13 years and was my dog, grade school to college. She was a mixed breed Beagle and Fox Terrier, so she was white with brown spots, floppy-eared like a Beagle but square-faced and wire-haired like a Fox Terrier. Peppie (Mom chose the name. Don’t Moms always name the pets?) was a good dog who disappeared immediately whenever someone, me, fired a gun. So, a hunter she was not. But she was a great companion who went everywhere else with me. She died when I was in college, and I still have her red collar. To this day, something periodically triggers, and I can miss that dog.
A lot of people can relate stories like this. Animals, pets in particular, play a huge role in many of our families’ experiences. Animals, I think, are a gift from God.
In the Garden of Eden, God brought all the animals of creation to Adam, and Adam named them all (Genesis 2:19-20). Putting aside for the moment what this account implies about Adam’s IQ, let’s think about the animals.
The Bible records God’s creation of animals, including birds and sea-faring creatures. The Bible indicates both before and after the flood that God placed animals within human care. The Bible provides detailed accounts of how God’s chosen people, the Israelites, shepherded, hunted, and sacrificed animals and then used animal products to develop food, clothing, and other useful material goods.
Further and importantly, the Bible gives us a glimpse of God’s attitude toward animals, saying, “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine” (Psalm 50:10-11).
The Psalmist observes, “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God” (Psalm 84:3).
The book of Matthew records Jesus’ words: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” (10:29). And finally, during the end of the age, Isaiah tells us, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy” (65:25).
Animals are important to God. He created animals for his glory and for human enjoyment and sustenance. Animals are part of God’s ownership and our stewardship. Animals may be domesticated, cultivated, even hunted, yet must always be respected as God’s creatures.
With due respect to my sister-in-law’s youthful theology, though, I do not believe the Bible indicates that animals possess a God-consciousness, are capable of distinguishing right and wrong, thus capable of sinning, or are in need of forgiveness and salvation.
Animals are animate, to state the obvious, but they are not human beings. Nor are human beings, animals. This is a distinction that’s sometimes blurred today, often with the good motive of caring for animals.
I’ve always been a little suspicious of people who don’t like animals—unless they have an allergy they can’t help. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a free country and God has blessed us with Christian liberty, so if you don’t like animals, it’s not a moral issue. Go and be well. But still, I hope you recognize how essential animals are to human life.
Nature without animals would be as uninteresting as pizza without tomato sauce. Think about it. No lightning bugs on summer evenings. No birds at the seashore. No old dog to come home to—who doesn’t care what kind of day you’ve had. Without animals we could not live, and we certainly would not live as well.
Animals are part of our human responsibility for stewarding the environment. So, cruelty of any kind is by definition needless and inappropriate. Wanton destruction, like the Old West practice of shooting bison from the train for fun, is immoral.
Slaughtering animals to near extinction, like the African elephant or rhinoceros, for purposes of commercial greed is a form of robbing our children.
Animals are capable of remarkable commitment even heroics based on instinct, but they do not worship in a church of their choice, do not develop civilization, and do not worry about retirement.
Without animals, animal husbanding and farming, animal hunting, and animal research, human history would conceivably not have developed. Because of animal products we are better clothed, eat better meals, have developed disease-thwarting medicines, and in some cases have our lives extended. Animal products provided one incentive, and animals made possible, geographic exploration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They make possible biomedical exploration today.
A few times along the way I’ve seen pet cemeteries, often with considerable acreage and ornate monuments dedicated to the memory of Dog and Kitty. I’ve also read of individuals who’ve left considerable sums of money in their estates for the maintenance of their pets.
I’m not necessarily opposed to Dog and Kitty receiving an expensive send-off. I certainly understand the sentiment a person can develop after years of relationship with a favorite pet.
When our kids were young, we had a big, especially tall, yellow Labrador Retriever. Pepsi lived to 13 years of age. He was a good, deep-voiced dog, who used to walk on the golf course across the road, “retrieve” rolling balls in his mouth, and run off with them. This practice, as you can imagine, endeared him to golfers. But a time came when he developed arthritis in his hips and could hardly get up and down. It was a sad trip to the veterinarian when the day finally came. So, I understand the feelings associated with loss of a favorite pet.
A joke that survives from the Old West is that a cowboy loved two things, his girl and his horse—he just wasn’t sure which he loved more. Animals get to us.
What concerns me about the pet funeral and burial phenomenon is what it may say about our culture’s understanding of the afterlife and the value of an animal relative to a human being.
There’s nothing in Scripture that suggests heaven will be an animal-free zone. We don’t know whether God will include animals in his eternal city; actually, I hope he does. We do know, as far as God has revealed, that Dog and Kitty don’t “go to heaven.” When an animal dies its existence ceases. Not so for a human being.
When a human being dies, his or her soul lives on eternally. And according to the Bible this afterlife will take place either in heaven or hell, depending upon whether the departed has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. Dog and Kitty may get their own graveyard in an affluent culture. But people live beyond the grave.
The animal kingdom is part of God’s creation. As long as human beings steward animals wisely, as long as we respect them as a gift from God, and as long as we apply the knowledge gained from animals for God’s glory, we are acting properly. Animals, like all of creation, are to be enjoyed forever.
We need not treat animals humanly but always must treat them humanely. We are not animals, but we should all be animal caretakers.
Praise God for animals. I still miss my childhood dog.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.
Of all God’s creatures, honeybees are among the more important.
I’ve always loved honey, more so now than ever, and after some misadventures with insects as a kid I’ve come to appreciate honeybees as an essential “bee-loved” part of creation. I enjoy watching them work, flower to flower, as I walk in neighboring areas or explore our own property. And I now realize just how critical honeybees are to agriculture.
Honeybees produces more than 157 million pounds of honey every year in the United States. That’s from about 50-65 lbs. per colony.
Meanwhile, approximately 400 million pounds of honey are consumed in the US each year. Obviously, that’s considerably more than our bees produce so we import 70% of the honey consumed in the US.
Honey is good for you
Raw and regular honey are differently processed. Raw means the honey is much as it was from the hive. It contains pollen and has no added sugars or sweetners. Regular or commercial honey is processed, pasteurized, and thus while it gets that beautiful amber look that American consumers want and it tends not to crystalize as quickly, it’s lost much of its original nutrient value.
Raw honey contains many nutrients, including sugars, vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and protein, and approximately 22 amino acids, 31 different minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Raw honey also contains some 30 types of bioactive plant compounds called polyphenols, which act as antioxidants.
Numerous studies have connected antioxidants with reduced inflammation and lower risk of heart disease and some cancers. Honey also helps gastrointestinal disorders and diabetes, reduces coughs, increases athletic performance, heals wounds and fight bacteria.
I eat raw, pure, unfiltered honey. It's worth the extra cost and I highly recommend it.
Bee pollen is good for you too
Bee pollen is another honeybee product with food value. It’s low in calories while rich in proteins, enzymes, vitamins, beneficial carbohydrates, amino acids and bioflavonoids. Bee pollen contains over 250 substances, including vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, micronutrients and antioxidants.
Bee pollen is a natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. Bee pollen contains more protein than any animal source and more amino acids than an equal weight of eggs or beef. Bee pollen’s health benefits include, fights inflammation, improves liver function, helps stabilize cholesterol, stimulate organs, accelerate rate of recovery, strengthens capillaries, helps fight heart disease and stroke.
And then there’s beeswax
Beeswax is also a valuable honeybee product, often worth more per ounce than honey. Beeswax is used in skin care products, candles, and furniture polish, along with what one organization listed as 101 uses for beeswax.
Honeybees pollinate food crops
Honeybees are also important for their work pollinating about one-sixth of flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural types of plant.
“More than a third of all crop species in the United States including avocados, almonds, and apples, depend on honeybees for pollination.“ Other examples of crops which depend on bees for pollination: macadamia nuts, Brazilian nuts, the kiwifruit, avocados, mangoes, almonds, apples, watermelons, passion fruits, and the rowanberry.
What makes bees so important for pollination is that honeybees and bumble bees typically practice “flower fidelity,” meaning that on a given foraging flight they tend to visit the same type of flower. This enhances pollination by moving pollen between the same type of flower.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, there are about 212,000 beekeepers in the country. Honeybee farms or hive locations are called apiaries and a beekeeper is otherwise known as an apiarist. These people may employ up to four workers to manage the colonies. More people work as honeybee pollination services providers while others are employed in organizations that deal directly with bee products. About 1.5 million people whose employment is connected to honeybees.
Honey is gold. Honeybees are better than goldminers. They’re gold producers of what is one of the creation’s best sustainable foods.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.
I've always loved animals. Always will.
Here are some thoughts about what role animals play in our lives and what role we should play in theirs:
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.
Michigan has lifted its ban on deer baiting. Too bad. This relatively new hunting habit should be banned for good in Michigan and in every other state. Currently, 28 states ban deer baiting, 8 others limit the practice.
Baiting is the practice of placing carrots or sugar beets or some other food product in piles in the woods to attract deer (or bear) to the food source. Hunters set up nearby and wait for deer, conditioned after a few days of finding food in this spot, walk into range of hunters’ firepower.
Deer baiting seems to me to remove much of the challenge or sport of hunting deer. Unsuspecting deer become ducks in a barrel. The hunter doesn’t have to take time learning deer’s habits, tracking them, or finding the place to stand that most probably will offer a shot opportunity later in the day. Apparently my view is shared by some who support baiting because one of their arguments is that they “don’t have time” to do “real hunting.” No, with baiting, hunters simply bait-and-wait. Doesn’t seem like much of a sport to me.
Banning deer baiting helps reduce the possibility of the spread of disease like bovine TB or chronic wasting disease, which is why Michigan banned the practice for the past few years. Baiting increases likelihood of disease because animals are eating in one place rather than multiple places across the landscape. Now, though, because of political pressure, baiting is back.
Deer baiting is generally not supported by natural resource scientists or their scientific studies. It’s not supported by environmentalists or conservationists. It’s not even supported by most hunters, just a minority who apparently believe they cannot hunt deer in any other way.
I’m not against hunting. Actually, I think baiting harms hunting because it removes much of the need for hunters to spend time in the craft and improve their hunting skills. To put it bluntly, about anyone can sit with a gun and shoot when a target comes in view. That’s not hunting. It’s a carnival shooting gallery.
Baiting should be banned for hunting of any and all animals in all states. Banning baiting for good would be better for not just the animals, or for the sensibilities of the modern public, but for hunters and hunting too. What’s not to like about that?
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.