Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered November 19, 2011 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Puppy Love

John 13:34-35

(RealAudio available)

I would like to speak with you today about love.  Puppy love.  Now you may wonder, what kind of love is that?  Well that's what we need. 

In Jesus' day there was a great lack of love.  Everybody was into legalism and the Pharisees and so Jesus had to even go so far as to come up with a brand-new commandment.  The 11th commandment.  He says here in John 13:34, a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.  Is that new?  Had they never heard of love in the Old Testament?  Had they forgotten love? 

There was a little girl who was frightened at night and there was lightning and thunder.  Do you get afraid in the storms?  She was.  She said, daddy, can I come in your bed and sleep with you.  He said, no.  God loves you.  You just stay right there.  She said, I know God loves me, but I need somebody with skin on.  God wants people with skin on to demonstrate his love to other people.  That's what we need.  Do we really love each other in the McDonald Road church, as God wants us to really love each other. 

James Dobson was driving along.  He was in Southern California and he drove by this convent and as he was stopped there he looked over and he read the sign on the convent wall.  It said, absolutely no trespassing.  Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Signed, the sisters of Mercy.  Is that brotherly love?  I don't think it's even sisterly love.  In John 13:35, by this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.  That is really, really what we need. 

I enjoy attending old engine shows.  I go to these shows where there's old steam engines and gasoline engines.  Old tractors.  The traction engines really attract me, I suppose, the greatest.  They're run by steam.  They're huge tractors.  Some of their wheels are eight or 10 feet in diameter and they all have boilers.  The boilers are basically a teakettle with a strong container full of water heated by wood and generating steam. 

You can't tell how much water is in those things because you can't look through the cast iron and steel.  But there is a gauge on the outside of the boiler.  A small glass tube which is, hopefully, filled with water.  If that tube has water in it then the boiler has water in it.  According to the tube, so is the boiler.  The first thing I do when I walk up there, I look at that tube.  If it's empty I go away, because there's going to be a boiler explosion.  In Medina, Ohio they had one of those huge traction engines which ran short of water and it exploded and killed a bunch of people at an engine show.  So be careful. 

I can tell how much water is in the boiler by looking at that gauge.  Is there a gauge on human beings that will tell us how much love we have?  There is.  Do you know what it is?  You look at the amount of love that you have for your brother and you can tell how much love is in your heart by what you're doing with somebody else. 

I've always enjoyed the McDonald Road board meetings.  They are smooth.  We don't fight.  People don't bring rotten tomatoes to the board.  It's a good meeting.  We enjoy it.  There's a pleasant camaraderie there.  We conduct our business in a good way.  That's the way it ought to be.  I believe that God would have us to be more loving.  In John 15:12.  This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.  If you can't stand the actions of your neighbor, you might question the amount of love in your heart. 

Somebody says, well how much does God love us?  Well he loves us with unconditional love.  It says that in Romans 5:8.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  He loved us when we weren't too lovable.  That's unconditional love. 

A small boy said, well what is unconditional love?  The father said, do you remember last year when you got a puppy for Christmas.  Yeah, daddy, I remember that.  We still have her.  She's grown up.  The daddy said, well, do you remember that you and your brother and sister used to pull that puppy around the house and used to even throw sticks at the puppy and do all kinds of bad things, tease her, and she would come right back and lick you in the face and love you.  He said, yes.  The daddy said, well that's unconditional love.  That's the kind that Jesus has toward us.  That's what we need. 

So Jesus said, I give you a new commandment.  Now actually, it was not a new rule.  They had heard of love before.  Of course they had.  In Leviticus 19:18 it says thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  There was nothing new.  You could even say that Jesus, maybe, plagiarized here little bit, because he said he is the one who is creating a brand-new commandment. 

Well he tells us an interesting thing.  Jesus said you need to love your neighbor and Jesus also said you need to love your enemy.  I think he said that because usually, they are the same.  Our neighbors are the enemy.  We can't stand our neighbors because they're so close to us and they don't get along with us and they're not good neighbors. 

Do you know what the problem is with the modern world.  We drove down to Florida this past week.  We had meetings down there.  Along the way every now and then you could see subdivisions.  I appreciate builders who build subdivisions.  I live in one.  But I don't like the houses to be so close together, and some of those houses must've been no more than 10 feet apart.  In fact, some of them are townhouses that touch each other.  I think we have become a neighborhood but we have not become a brotherhood.  There's a big difference.  I think we need to respect each other and love each other.  We need to be more loving. 

Jesus said in John 15:9, as the father has loved me so have I love you.  Continue in my love.  Verse 10.  If you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my father's commandments and I abide in his love. 

People come into the McDonald Road church and they are greeted by our greeter.  Our greeters here do a great job.  I really appreciate them.  People come in here and they detect that we are friendly and so they join the McDonald Road church because they think that we're friendly.  I believe that we are.  But do you know something.  Most folks who leave this church leave because they think we're not friendly.  They join because they think we are.  Nobody joins because of the 28 fundamental beliefs.  I suppose they should.  Doctrine should be the attracting thing here, but generally, people join because their daughter or their father or their good friend goes to church here.  That's why they join.  They leave because of coldness.  So let's warm it up a little bit.  Let's show our love. 

John 15:13, greater love has no man than this that a man would lay down his life for his friend.  I read a story about World War II in France.  Americans were fighting and trying to liberate the French and they were running out the occupied forces and at one point, one individual was killed and they came up to a Roman Catholic Church where there was a burial ground beside the church.  A lot of churches have cemeteries right beside them.  They had this cemetery and so these three men said, could we bury our friend here, and the priest said, well, I suppose you could.  Was he a baptized Roman Catholic?  And they said, well, he could've been.  We honestly don't know.  Then the priest said, well then you can't bury him in the cemetery.  They said, what will we do?  And the priest said, well I don't know, but I cannot allow you to bury your friend here in our cemetery.  It's for Roman Catholics only. 

So the soldiers thought and they got a shovel from the neighbor and they dug a hole on the outside of the fence and buried their friend near the cemetery but on the other side of the fence.  It was an unmarked grave and so they decided to come back the next day.  They came back and they were going to put some flowers on the grave site and they couldn't find it.  They had just buried him there yesterday, and they looked and looked and there was no fresh dirt along the fence.  They thought, what in the world?  We know we buried our friend here. 

The priest happened to be out in the cemetery and came over and they said, you know, we buried our fallen comrade right here yesterday on the outside of this fence.  Then the priest said, well you know, I got to feeling guilty during the night and so early this morning I came out here and I moved the fence.  So now he's in the cemetery.  That's great.  I think that love makes an opening.  So if you're in a clique and there's a group of you who kind of hang tight together, open the clique for others.  Make room for others among your closest friends.  Do that.  That'll be something really, really great. 

There's another verse that amplifies this.  It's in Romans 12:10.  I'd like to read this according to the King James.  It says, be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love in honor preferring one another.  We need to prefer one another.  That's real love, isn't it?  Romans 13:8 says, let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another.  You're in debt to love one another.  For he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 

There were two American soldiers who were in Siberia and they were prisoners of war during World War II and lo and behold, after the war they were released.  They were given permission to board the ship, however it was the last ship out before the cold weather came and the ice would be there and so they had to have a lottery and determine who would go be able to board and who would not and these two closest friends, one of them was chosen to go and the other one had to stay behind.  They were very disappointed and dissatisfied.  One would have to be in Siberia all winter long before he could go home. 

Finally the news came, you can board the ship.  The ship arrived last night and you are only allowed to take one bag.  Your most precious possessions you can take with you and that's all.  So everybody started loading up.  The two friends were there.  They were saying goodbye and the one said, you know, you are my choicest possession, and he unloaded his duffel bag he said, crawl in my duffel bag, and he hoisted him up and carried him  onto the ship.  That was his prize possession, and that's what you call loving one another.  That really is. 

First Peter 1:22.  Let me read these words to you.  These are special.  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart.  Isn't that great.  Deeply from the heart. 

I had a meeting that I had to go to in the evening once here at the church.  I'd been here in the day and went home for supper and some people said, can you come back, we need to meet, so I came back.  My little granddaughter said can I come with you grandpa?  I said, well sure, come on.   So she came with me and there were various people here working at the church that evening.  So there we were having our meeting and my little granddaughter, I noticed she went into my office and came running out and went to some part of the church.  Then I saw her come back into my office again and then she went running out and went somewhere else.  Then she came back into my office again.  I said what is going on?  So I went into my office and found her with her hand in my candy jar.  I have a candy jar in my office that I keep chocolate candy in.  She was taking that candy and sharing it with the people who were here at the church.  Showing them love.  That's what we're supposed to do.  So one distinguishing fact of a Christian is that we love each other.  I think that's just great. 

Romans 12:10.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Above yourselves.  Galatians 5:14 says the law is fulfilled in  one word, that you shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

You've probably heard this allegory of the wolves and the dogs.  The wolves were very worried about the dogs and so they sent a spy into the area where the dogs were.  They were so numerous and the wolf scout spied on the dogs and found out that some of the dogs were indeed very big and they were very numerous, but he noticed something else about them.  The wolf went back to his group and said, you know, don't worry about those dogs.  Every dog hates every other dog, and they're all snapping and biting each other, so they are no threat at all.  The Bible says in Galatians 5:15, but if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.  I've never had a church member bite me.  I've been a pastor for 46 years and kind of looking forward to retirement, not because you bite, but because my time has come.  So I just want to urge that we would be more loving and kind. 

This week I was down in Volusia county in Florida where our meetings were and I needed one more story for this sermon today about puppy love.  So I went into the Volusia County library and I met the librarian.  I said, I need a story about a puppy that demonstrates love.  She said, I just heard one this morning.  She said, in fact, you see that man over there at the checkout counter where the books are.  She said, go over there.  His name is Charlie.  He told me the story this morning.  He'll tell it to you. 

So I went over there and met Charlie and I said, I understand you have a dog story.  He said, I sure do.  He said, this happened to me and it was my dog.  I said, well tell it to me.  I took notes and I'm going to tell it to you.  Charlie used to live in New York.  He lived just southwest of Buffalo.  This story happened in 1972 and it was his own dog. 

One day he was out hiking along Caderooskus creek and all of a sudden a stray dog came running up.  The dog was wet.  Obviously had been in the creek.  The name of the creek means 'a foul-smelling river bank'.  The dog, Charlie said, was a smelly, homeless mutt.  Came right up to Charlie and made friends with him and Charlie said, you stink.  He said, ccome on Stinky, let's walk through the woods and so they did.  Stinky followed and finally Stinky followed Charlie all the way home. 

He said, mom guess what.  I have a new dog for us, and she said, you do not.  You cannot have a dog.  He said, well look at this dog.  She said, we obviously don't want this dog.  He said, Stinky is a good dog.  She said, she stinks all right, but you cannot keep that dog.  He said, please.  She said, no.  She said, you can have her sleep on the porch, put a rug out there and send her home tomorrow. 

So he put a  rug out there on the front porch and fed her and Stinky became his dog.  It was summertime.  School had just gotten out and Stinky followed Charlie wherever he went and they had a great summer.  They became very close friends and that dog loved him like no other dog he had ever imagined.  You know, a dog can love you better than a person can sometimes.  In fact, man's closest friend is three letters.  You know what man's closest friend is?  G, O, D.  You thought it was d,o,g.  Well a dog can be man's closest friend. 

So summer became shorter and shorter and finally it was time for school.  So one day Charlie went off to school and Stinky couldn't go.  Stinky realized something was different and day after day Charlie would get on this big bus and go away and finally the dog began to detect the sound of that bus coming way up the road and knew that Charlie would be on the bus.  So the dog came running on the bus route a quarter of a mile to where the bus dropped off the neighbor children.  There, when the door opened the dog ran in and there was Charlie.  So the dog rode the bus a quarter of a mile every day. 

This happened every day.  In fact, the bus driver got to know the dog.  She would pull up and she'd say, come on, Stinky.  Charlie's back there.  Go get Charlie, and Stinky would just come running and jump up into Charlie's lap and lick his face and give him a bunch of love.  How wonderful it was. 

Then one day Charlie did not go to school because he had a dental appointment.  When his mother brought him home around five o'clock there was a big yellow school bus sitting in their driveway.  Charlie thought, what in the world is happening?  So they pulled up and got out and the bus driver was there and she was just crying.  She said, I'm sorry to tell you.  She said, I killed Stinky.  She came to where you were going to be on the bus and I wouldn't let her on the bus.  I said, Stinky, Charlie's not here.  You go home.  And I would not let her on the bus.  She didn't believe me and so I didn't know it, but she ran around the bus looking for you and I took off and I felt the tires run over something and I stopped and there was Stinky crushed by the heavy weight of the bus. 

So she said, I brought Stinky here, and they looked and sure enough there was the crushed dog, and it was hard.  The mother got a soft towel and brought it.  They got a shovel and went to Caderooskus creek to that island where they had played on that little island and dug a hole and buried the crushed remains of Stinky. 

You know, as Charlie told me that story, he said, that's the best dog I ever had.  Never ever had a dog that nice.  To this day, 39 years later, I still have her collar.  I keep it.  I loved that dog. 

You know, that's love.  That's the kind of love we need.  First Thessalonians 3:12.  May the Lord make your love increase and overflow with each other.  Only God can make your love increase.  If a dog can love that much, can't we love more.  Can't we be more loving.  Can't you be more loving to your kids, your wife, your husband.  Let's be more loving.  I think God will help us. 

Zephaniah 3:7.  The Lord your God will take great delight in you and he will quiet you with his love.  God is always for us.  He loves us more faithfully than the sweetest puppy.  God's love is there forever. 

I think we all have times when we smell bad.  When we stink.  We are little Stinkys.  We're pretty human and if we're loving and kind, most folks will overlook our odor.  Love erases a lot of bad things.  Maybe some of us are in a bad way because our supply of love is exhausted while at the same time we're oversaturated with stench in our lives.  We've lost our job.  Different things.  We're not too lovable or too loving but Jesus can correct that imbalance.  Jesus will give you more love in your life. 

So pray that you, at this Thanksgiving season, will be more loving.  Be thankful that God is loving.  Let's all be a little kinder, a little nicer today than we were yesterday.  Let's sing our closing hymn, Tis Love That Makes Us Happy, and it really is.  It's time for love.

Hymn of Praise: #565, For the Beauty of the Earth
Scripture: John 13:34-35
Hymn of Response: #579, ‘Tis Love That Makes Us Happy
Sermon Notes:  Sermon notes available as PDF

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 11/30/11