“NO” is a complete sentence

We have a small plaque in our kitchen that emphatically states, “’NO’ is a complete sentence.”

NOThat declaration is extremely important for children, especially teenagers, to understand. There is a lot of wisdom in those words. It expresses the same sentiment as “BECAUSE I SAID SO!,” in a less confrontational manner and it is far more articulate than “NO MEANS NO!”

Sometimes the best answer to a question is “no.” As a people pleaser, I always want to say “yes,” but it is unwise to do so. Saying “yes” every time would make me easy prey for telemarketers and committees seeking volunteers. Saying “yes” more often would make my waistline expand even faster.

Saying “yes” when you should say “no” makes you a pushover. We once had a neighbor who moved to another town but had business in our city that required him to commute for a time. He asked if could stay with us to avoid hotel expenses. Even though we were not fond of the guy, we said yes. We assumed he meant to stay for one week. He ended up staying with us for five weeks! He ate our food and monopolized our conversation. He never helped with chores or chipped in for meals. He even had us feed some friends of his who were in town for a visit. To him, we were the Doormat family and he was happy to take advantage of us. It was a fantastic lesson in the benefits of saying “no.”

Our Heavenly Father hears a lot of requests from His children and He always answers the prayers of believers. Fortunately, His answer is not always yes.

God sometimes says “no” for very good reasons. Sometimes we ask for things that are not beneficial to our spiritual development. Sometimes we pray for things that are contrary to God’s perfect will. We often ask for things out of selfish or prideful motives. We even ask for things for will hurt us.

There’s this thing I’ve been praying about for months now. I’ve prayed fervently and reverently. This thing I’m praying for is (in my opinion) a good thing that will benefit God’s Kingdom and me, as well. So far, God has said “no.”

I have to admit, I’m a little frustrated.

It’s interesting, and maybe a little ironic, that humbly accepting God’s “no” requires more faith than praying in the first place. When you accept God’s no, you acknowledge that He knows best.

If “no” is God’s answer to your prayer, don’t be angry and try not to be disappointed. He loves you more than you love yourself. God has a divine purpose and He doesn’t have to explain it to you. His NO is a complete sentence.


Schnauzers in heaven

We have two schnauzers, Deacon and Dodger. Deacon is 13 years old, highly intelligent and has a bark so piercing it will induce physical pain. Dodger is three and dense as a hickory knot, though he is disarmingly sweet and howls like a coyote.

Deacon, the dog you see at the top of this blog page, is likely the most famous schnauzer in Tennessee. We have lots of guests at our house and everyone knows Deacon (though not all are enamored of him). I have friends from Ghana and Nepal who ask about him. We have received Christmas cards addressed toHouse painting copy_2 him. He’s in our formal family photo and is featured in a painting of our house. I love Deacon more than any dog I’ve ever had. Sadly, I know his days are numbered. I try not to think of life without Deacon because it makes me sad.

Someone once asked Billy Graham if dogs will be in heaven. He replied, “God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he’ll be there.” That’s comforting if true. I hope Deacon is in heaven and I assume he won’t pee on the carpet there.

The concept of dogs in heaven makes you wonder what heaven is really like. In the Bible we read about streets of gold and mansions, which makes heaven seem more like Beverly Hills. That’s cool, but not my idea of paradise. When I think “paradise” I tend to picture mountains and trout streams. My daughters probably imagine something like Disney World. I should note that both my daughters are adults.

I once heard a high school student comment, “Heaven seems boring. It’s just one long church service with harps.” How sad, I thought, that this young’s man image of eternity was so completely wrong. Sure, there will be incredible worship of Jesus, we’ll all sing beautifully and angels will lead the celebration. But that’s just a slice of what heaven will be like. I’m no expert, but I believe heaven will be what God originally intended, a perfect place where He dwells with us. No illness, no depression, no evil and no dog poop. I’m hoping there will be trout fishing.  And football.

The thought of heaven motivates me to live for Christ, not because I can earn a ticket, but because I want my life to be pleasing to Him. I really believe in the concept of heaven and I equally believe in the concept of hell. Hell is a place devoid of God’s presence and it will be miserable and eternal. I want to be in heaven with Jesus… and my schnauzer. My dog is not a Christian, as far as I know, but he is, after all, a Deacon.