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God's Grace: Loving Us Even Though We're a Mixed Bag


Belle, Pastor William's dog

May 31st, 2023


As some of you may remember, Sheila and I have a dog named Belle (because she’s a princess…. maybe diva is a better word). At the time that Belle came into our lives, Sheila and I had decided we wanted a dog. At that time, I wasn’t too big of a fan of small dogs (but I’ve since learned to love them too, so you can stop growling). I told Sheila I wanted a dog I could ride—like Great Dane-sized. But we were hoping the dog we found would be one we could rescue, so I was flexible.


In our search we saw all kinds of dogs, including those at the shelter and those on Craigslist. In fact, one evening we went to meet someone who was giving away a husky. However, we waited for awhile in a bank parking lot and they never showed up. Maybe the dog was a little husky to fit in their van (ba-dum-bump).


So, after a good while, we saw a picture on Facebook of a sweet little puppy a woman had found wandering the Bent Creek neighborhood. This dog was white and reddish-brown and black, and as cute as could be. So, seeing that she met our hope for a rescue, we contacted the woman. At the point she had posted signs in the neighborhood in Bent Creek, but no one had claimed this little puppy.


So, we met over at the Ingles in Candler. And when that little puppy came out of the car, it was quickly a sure thing. We took a few minutes to walk her around in the grass and knew it would be a great fit. So, we took her home and since then it’s been love every day.


Well…. not exactly. Belle is a good dog, but she’s not perfect. First off, she’s not big enough for me to ride. But beyond that, Belle is pretty sassy. She likes to back talk (back growl?). She is a jumper… (and yes, we’ve worked on it, so don’t email me ). She has run out of the house once or twice. She is obsessed with food. And she is pretty intense when she’s letting you know she needs a potty break. Oh yea, she’s also a good snuggler, got soft fur, is sweet when you’re sad, and is playful when you’re happy. You see, Belle is a mixed bag. But that day at Ingles when we met her, we made a commitment to raise her, sass and all.


You know, God is this way with you and I. Because the reality is that we are all mixed bags as well. In more ways than we would probably like to admit publicly. I write this article this week after a week of counseling all kinds of people. And you know what I find over and over again? We are more alike than we realize—sin and all. And yet, in that state, when Christ died on a cross and rose from the grave—so that we might be called his children – he did that knowing what he was getting: a mixed bag. Yet he did it anyway, because when he said he’d call you his child, he meant forever—sin and all.


John 1:12 tells us this “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” You see, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are his because he gave you that right. And now, no matter what you’ve done, you’re his. You’ve sinned? You’re still his. Lied? His. Gotten trapped in some shameful sin? His. Feeling like there’s no way to be forgiven? His. Growled a little too much? Still his. Like Belle will always have a place with us, as a Christian, you always have a place with God.


And you’ve got a place with your family at Starnes Cove as well. On June 4th, we will celebrate Homecoming. That will include lots of good music and reflection as well as a meal afterwards. If you can bring something—come on. And if you can’t, we’ll be happy to see you there too. Because no matter who you are, you’ve got a place with us too.


— Pastor William



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