Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Nubian Donkey

Mary and Joseph

As we enter Passion week we read about Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. Many believe that it was a Nubian donkey whose line was domesticated 6000 years ago and commonly used as a burden bearer to carry people and supplies. It was probably that same breed who carried Mary, then pregnant with Jesus, into Bethlehem.

Nubian Donkey Baby
Nubian Donkey with Jack
Donkey Running

The reason this is fascinating is that this breed is often known to carry from birth a mark upon their backs that makes them distinct. It is the sign of the cross that stretches across their shoulders and down their backs. Legends have been written to remind Christians that it was Jesus who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Two Nubian Donkies
Cross on Donkey Back
Nubian Donkey Standing Near Cardboard Cutout of Donkey

Below is an example of what has been written regarding the markings of the cross on these humble creatures and the message they truly bear.

The Donkey’s Cross

“Bring me the colt of a donkey.” was the Master’s request.

A young donkey was brought to Jesus
to carry Him into Jerusalem

A week later Jesus was ordered crucified
The little donkey so loved the Lord that
he wanted to help Him carry the cross.

But alas, he was pushed away.

As he turned to leave, the shadow of
the cross fell upon his back and shoulders

And there it has remained, a tribute to
the loyalty and love of the humbles of God’s creatures.

How a Sparrow Caused a Mini-Revival

Sparrow

St. Helens Parish ChurchIn 1979 there was a sparrow that somehow got into the rafters of St. Helen’s Parish Church in the English town of Brant Broughton. At the time, they were recording a guitar recital for later broadcast on the radio. The chirping bird didn’t exactly chirp with the beat. So the pastor, Rev. Robin Clark, (I’m not making up that first name) asked the congregation to leave and then asked a friend to bring his pellet gun over to the church in order to have the offending sparrow shot.
 
The killing of the sparrow became front-page news. The “London Daily Telegraph” ran a headline that said, “Rev. Robin Orders Death of Sparrow.” Editorials and letters to the editor flowed, chastising the cruel and unusual Sparrow on Ledgepunishment for this lowly bird. People who hadn’t darkened the door of a church in decades suddenly remembered Psalm 84:3 in which it is declared that even sparrows are welcome in the house of the Lord.
 
Once again there is evidence that there are no empty moments in the Lord. God used this small sparrow to awaken the minds and souls of people to remember the truth of His word. This little sparrow caused a mini revival. Its fall to the earth caused some to finally look up.
 

Sweet Spartacus the Pit Bull is on the Mend!

spartacus pitt bull

What has our world come to when a human being, God’s highest creation, is so deluded with false information, fear and rage that they recklessly torture and mutilate a dog? Yes, its true, the story is not even 72 hours old at this writing.

Spartacus Stabbed
Pit Bull Stabbed

At approximately 4 am on Saturday, Oct 11, 2014, the Los Angeles Police Department was notified of a dog being brutally stabbed in the Hyde Park area. Spartacus, a 2 year old, male Pit Bull, was taken to Pet Care Veterinary Center where he endured a two-hour surgery and received over 1,000 stitches! Not only was the dog deeply stabbed repeatedly, police reported he was hit over the head with a shovel. Fortunately Spartacus did not sustain any broken bones or internal injuries. And, when he recovered from anesthesia he was able to wag his tail and seek out loving hands to pet him!

Pit Bull 1000 Stitches
Pit Bull Stabbed LA

The Los Angeles Police Department continues to investigate this heinous crime while Spartacus is safely sheltered by Ghetto Rescue FFoundation. The FFoundation posted this poignant statement on their Facebook page: “Spartacus did nothing wrong, except to be born as a breed hated by some. His family has loved him a long time.”
 

 
The name Spartacus comes from the name of the Greek City Sparta where the gladiators fought humans and animals for crowd entertainment. This dog Spartacus may be a big strong warrior type animal but is clearly not a mean or vicious fighter. If he were aggressive he would have fought back against his attacker.
 
Today, when I heard this horrible report, my heart grieved deeply. But, I know there is always a message of hope, found in God’s Word that applies to every situation. To me, this story unfolded just like King David recorded his despair in Psalm 27:11-14 (Living Bible)
 
11 “Tell me what to do, O Lord, and make it plain because I am surrounded by waiting enemies.”
 
Spartacus was surrounded and attacked by someone waiting to do him harm!
 
12 “Don’t let them get me, Lord! Don’t let me fall into their hands! For they accuse me of things I never did, and all the while are plotting cruelty.”
 
Spartacus and the Pit Bull breed is generally accused of being vicious and uncontrollable, primarily because some human owners are guilty of taunting the dogs and fostering aggressive behavior. As Cesar Milan says “ there is no suchcesar and pit bull thing as a problem breed. However, there is no shortage of ‘ problem owners’…” and “My kids are around Pit Bulls every day. In the ‘70s they blamed Dobermans, in the ‘80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the 90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the Pit Bull.”
 
13 “I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see His goodness to me here in the land of the living.”
 
Thanks to the prompt response, by the Los Angeles Police, and availability of the skilled veterinarian and staff at Pet Care Veterinary Center, Spartacus was able to hold onto life!
 
14 “Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and He will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and He will help you.”
 
As the investigation continues, Spartacus is safely housed, through Ghetto Rescue FFoundation, away from his neighborhood! What a victory for Spartacus! And, what a victory for us to remember when we’re being falsely pit bull stabbed in la accused or tortured; God never wastes anything and is always showing His salvation and way out! Genesis 50:20 confirms this promise: 20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Now that Spartacus is on the mend he’s able to resume his calling of touching lives with unquestioning love and affection for many days to come!
 

Pastor Leslie

 

Tender Hands Heal the Hurting Heart of a Crying Baby Rhino

Orphaned Baby Rhino

A three-month-old rhino was brought to Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centerrhino crying after being found next to his dead mother who had been tragically and brutally poached for her horn. It was a devastating sight, as the animal would not leave her side, and was crying inconsolably.
 
 
Ultimately, they had to sedate the baby rhino to move him to the center, and with the help orphaned baby rhino of a gentle caretaker they were finally able to calm him. That caretaker sat on the ground holding in her lap the baby rhino’s head, stroking it to calm him. That gentle touch helped the baby to sleep, and eventually gain strength to eat.
 
 
This story of this baby rhino is a reminder about how much tender action and attitudes play in healing hurting hearts. Humans, in particular love to be loved. Harshness pains us, and even when we are healthy, un-gentleness touches the sensitive spirit like frost touches flowers. It stunts growth and damages. Gentleness helps all the delicate things in us to heal and grow.
 

 
Each day many people, like this baby rhino, have a great need for tenderness. No one knows the secret burdens many of those around us are carrying. Not all grief wears the outward garb of mourning; smiling faces quite often veil heavy hearts. Many people who make no audible appeal for help crave tenderness as they bend beneath heavy burdens.
 
Tenderness can seldom go wrong. There is no day when it will be untimely, and not a place where it will not be welcome. In a world that so quickly tears down, tenderness does no harm. In fact, as David wrote, “Thy gentleness has made me great.” Psalm 18:35
 

Oogy, the Dog who Survived a Bait Dog Past

oogy dog

As “Dog Heirs” reported, Oogy is an Argentinean Dog who has overcome a very traumatic past.
 
oogy the dogAs you can tell from the photo, he’s missing an ear and has scars all over his face. His injuries were inflicted when he was just a puppy and used as a bait dog for dog fighting. When he was found he was severely injured and left to die in a cage without food or water. Larry Levin, Oogy’s owner said, ‘Oogy had been lying in his cage for five to seven days before he was discovered by police. Levin told PeoplePets, “Nobody knows how he survived. It’s absolutely a miracle. I believe at some level he wanted to survive.”
 
Larry along with his twin boys, discovered Oogy when he was taking his elderly terminally cat to the vet hospital to be euthanized. When Oogy saw the boys he ran over knocking down one of the boys and smothered him with kisses. The family asked about Oogy and they were told of his oogy the dog story ordeal and the fact that he was homeless. They decided to adopt him. Since then he has deeply affected his family. He has a strong impact on everyone who meets him and is an encouragement to anyone who has come through horrendous times and situations.
 
Oogy reminds us of the wonderful scripture that states, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28) This dog had a wonderful purpose to supply encouragement to the Levin family and far beyond.

 

The Joy of Ginger!

The Joy of Ginger

Ginger CookiesGinger is not only a rich, reddish brown colored, robust, aromatic spice, ginger also describes the state of being high spirited or full of pep! When I think of the spice ginger, in my mind’s eye, I immediately see warm ginger bread bathed with freshly whipped cream or, ginger spice cookies with icing. The aromatic memories waft through my brain and simultaneously stimulate my taste buds and bring back memories of long, cold winters in New England.

Ginger HorseWhen I think of the name Ginger, I recall feisty, high stepping, red headed, fillies (horses or humans) who exuded deep strength and endless energy. Gritting their teeth and tossing their manes, in the wind, they charged joyfully through life.

The Ginger we are sharing today is a lovely combination of rich color and unbridled tenacity! Her story goes like this: About a year ago, in 2014, a friend arrived at the door holding a miniscule, female, Chihuahua puppy, who had just experienced a near fatal run in with a car. Estimated to be about three months old the puppy weighed barely over one pound. On closer examination, by the veterinarian, she was diagnosed with a double hernia and other expensive medical issues that may have been the reason she was cast into the street to fend for herself.

The Joy of Ginger
Ginger the Dog
Ginger Dog

Despite of the complexity of her medical conditions, the Book family willingly underwrote the cost of her care and ongoing treatments required to restore her to complete health. Originally the Book’s intended to find a new home for this puppy but that was not what the Lord had in mind. She recovered from her surgery and wiggled her way into every heart in their home.

Ginger with Family
Ginger Laying Down
Ginger getting Hugged

Today, sweet Ginger, is the “spunky, sweet little doll that holds her own well in this crazy household.” says her forever Mom, Rhonda Book. Regardless of the difficult start little Ginger had in her early life, she recovered and lives a contented life.

Ginger and Boy
Ginger and Dogs
Ginger Kid

She is a living example of the foundational scriptures of Ark Animals Ministries; “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you…. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this , in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?” Job 12: 7-10 (NASB). God holds Ginger in His hands everyday to share a story of survival and bring great joy to a busy household.

 

 

Ark Animals Ministries thanks the Book family and so many others around the world who live by the Word of God and follow the direction of Proverbs 12:10 which says: “Good people are good to their animals” The Message Bible (MSG).

Please click here to submit a picture and share your stories with us too!
 

Pastor Leslie Becker

 

Mother Tiger Nurses Piglets!

Tiger Piglets

Tiglets anyone?

Although this is not a recent story, it is a story that has weighed heavily on my mind for many months. It took me some time to recognize a few of the many messages easily overlooked. If one only recognized the story as just another happy ending news release much would be missed.
 
Sad TigerThe story goes like this; in late 2006, a mother tiger gave birth to rare triplet cubs. Evidently there were challenges with the pregnancy resulting in a premature delivery, low birth weights, and ultimately the very sad demise of all three cubs. The mother tiger, although physically fine, immediately began to fall into a state of depression and declining health. A call for help was sent out to many zoos in search of orphan tiger cubs that could be brought in as surrogate babies. Unfortunately, no orphan tiger cubs could be found.

Tiger Nurses Piglets
Tiger Nursing Pigs

Knowing that some mother animals will take on the orphan of another species, the veterinarians decided to take a risk and bring in the only babies immediately available, piglets! In spite of their natural predator to prey relationship the piglets, adorned in tiger striped pajamas, were immediately welcomed by the tiger nursing pigs mother tiger. As you can see from the photos the tiger is very engaged in the maternal experience and the piglet/tiglets are obviously quite content. What human would ever have thought we would live to see a piglet napping on a mother tiger?
 

 
As I thought about this heart warming and engaging story, I became aware of three complimentary messages God laid out through these animals. The first connects us with the team providing care to this mother tiger. Against “nature’s odds of success” they stepped up to the plate and took a seemingly hopeless situation and turned it around for good.
 
James 1:27, Expanded Bible (EXB) says; “Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans and widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.” The team didn’t walk away from the situation leaving the tiger grieving and certain to die of a broken heart. They focused on caring for the mother tiger and took the risk of bringing in the piglets to soothe her.
 
Next we see the promise of Psalm 147:3 (NASB) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God provided the piglets to heal the mother tiger’s heart. To encourage the acceptance between the species, God even led the team to bind the piglets in tiger striped material to enhance their surrogate presentation!

Tiger Nurses Piglets
Tiger Piglets

Lastly we can see a fore shadow of the confirmation of words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 11: 6-9 (NASB) regarding the return of Jesus. Just like the tiger and the piglets living in harmony, when He comes all adversity will cease between men and beasts!

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

 
If we take the time to look at every situation God’s hand of direction and tiger piglets protection can be seen. Animals know God and do not question Him. Unfortunately most humans do question Him and depend on themselves for everything. God called us all to leave our selfish nature behind, to help meet the needs of the less fortunate, to reach out with kindness and love our neighbors regardless of their race, creed or religion. We need to trust in Him, not ourselves, to pay attention to all that is going on around us and He will show us solutions.
 
We can all take counsel from the writing of Job in chapter 12:7-10 ( NASB) “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
 

Pastor Leslie Becker

 

The Restoration of Lazarus the Dog!

Lazarus Dog

lazarus dogThis is a wonderful story of the restoration of Lazarus the dog. Sadly this mixed breed pup was hit by a car and then dropped at a shelter by the owner who could no longer care for him. The shelter tried to place him in a new home but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Unfortunately, like many other animals, he was injected with euthanasia by the shelter vet. He was basically reported as deceased only to be miraculously found “a little wobbly” but fully alive the next day!

Lazarus Dog
Lazarus put to sleep

Today, thanks to the fabulous team at Two by Two Rescue in Helena, Alabama, Lazarus was placed in a new home and is now vigorously playing with his housemate Tucker, another rescue dog.
 

 
To me this story is a wonderful reminder of the passage in Jeremiah 32: 27 that says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there ANYTHING TOO HARD FOR ME?” There is nothing too hard for God! He is in the full restoration business and proved it here through this animal. If He will do it for the dog, He is certain God Callingto do it for any of us who will call upon the Name of the Lord! Everything God creates has a purpose in this life. Isaiah 59:1 says: “Listen now! The Lord isn’t too weak to save you. And He isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call!”
 
We have all experienced loss, despair and the fruits of our own poor choices. But, that doesn’t matter one bit to God! In Isaiah 40:28-29 we are told:love god “God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.”
 
If you feel kicked to the curb, broken down, busted or disgusted with your life, take heart and know that God will make a way! Just like Lazarus, we too can be fully restored to fulfill His purposes in this life!
 

Pastor Leslie

 

Rescued from the Trash

dog rescued from trash

dog rescued from trash pileWhen this Cavalier King Charles pup was rescued from the streets of Montreal, he had at first been mistaken for a pile of garbage or a plush toy that had been thrown out. He was found by the Quebec Society for the Protection of Animals. Though he was terrified of the electric razor it had to be done to ensure that he could move and dog rescued from trash pileto discover any injuries. But, as the disgustingly thick mats of fur caked with mud and rubbish were cut away, it revealed a sweet but terrified and mistreated pedigree dog underneath.
 
dog saved from trash pileTo read this story and see the pictures creates an ache in the heart of anyone who has compassion. But it is not just animals that are trapped living among the trash and covered in filth. In one degree or another we all struggle to survive in the midst of the rubbish and filth that have attached to us as we have journeyed through life. Sure it is not visible to the naked eye, but it is very real and corrupts our feelings and thoughts. Hidden wounds remain and fester, and all of our own efforts cannot deliver us from our situation. An outside hand with a heart of compassion is needed, and like that pup, we have fear that the process will be painful.

Dog Saved from Trash Pile
Dog Saved from Trash

In the same way a compassionate person delivered this dog, a compassionate God seeks to free us. If we will in humility give Him access to our hearts, He cleanses us and heals us. He helps us become what He intended us to be, unencumbered by the messes of days gone by. The groomer of our soul not only dog rescued from trash provides our cleansing once, but is daily attending to us as we remain in His care. For it is written, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
 

Cadence the Pitbull Teaches Us The Power Of Forgiveness

Cadence Pitbull

Cadence PitbullTo have lived is to have scars, both emotional and physical. As humans, we often use these scars to protect ourselves from further pain and shield us from the unknown. However, by allowing our scars to define us, we are held back, deprived of the ability to truly be happy. But what if we didn’t allow our to wounds paralyze us? What if we looked at our past hurts as stepping-stones and as encouragement to seek out a better life? Rather than allowing our hearts to be filled with hurt or hate, what if we chose to forgive?
 
When Eldad Hagar found Cadence, it was clear that she had been abused for most of her life; as her body was riddled with wounds and scars in different stages of healing.

Cadence Dog

Many of us would look at what Cadence had been through and when imagining ourselves in her place, we can’t fathom ever getting over the horrors of her past. But unlike most humans, Cadence allowed herself to be vulnerable. She recognized the comforting touch from a stranger and without hesitation; she Cadence Rescue took a chance that this stranger would bring her the love and happiness that she had never felt before. It is because she opened her heart to the unknown and let go of her past that Cadence is now living a life full of joy and love.
 
As rescuers, we see this time and time again: Dogs who have been abused, abandoned, or forgotten and seem broken in every way- trust the hand of rescuer, thus rising up from the ashes, learning to love again. Why is it easier for our canine friends to forgive and why do believe that we can’t? Well… Maybe it is that these dog rescue stories give us hope that we will know how to accept the second chances we long for. Or maybe dogs are destined to teach us how to live. And just maybe, if we choose to wear our scars openly, as Cadence does, it will help us show others they too can heal.

Cadence is already a therapy dog to any who will listen to her story and put into practice her method of believing in a brighter day.
 

 

Taken from an article written by Annie Hart