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Dear Kidsermons Readers,

Sorry that I have been remiss in posting timely sermons recently, but I am taking some time to deal with the death of our beloved Golden Retriever, Bjorn, who passed away while we were at the family cabin. Bjorn was an outgoing and exuberant example of unconditional love. It is no accident, I think, that the word “dog” is so close to “God.” Bjorn welcomed everyone and went out of his way to meet and greet all who would come within range of his wagging tail and soft nose. Bjorn&Hydrangeas

He trotted to church at West Tokyo Union with us every Sunday and would wait patiently outside. After the service was over,  he would enthusiastically greet all of the church members. Bjorn was a very compelling reason for many of the younger church members to get to church on time. They relished getting to play with him before and after the service. At times, Bjorn was invited into the sanctuary as he was an excellent object lesson and helped to teach important spiritual truths during the children’s sermon.

Bjorn was a retriever and he loved to offer gifts. He always met me at the door with slippers or a ball. He met visitors at the door with socks or at times, some other more embarrassing pieces of laundry. He even attempted to lead some folks into the house by pulling on coattails, sleeves or wrists… but always gently and with an encouraging wag of the tail. Bjorn loved everyone. He wanted to bring everyone home.

Whenever members of our family would hug, Bjorn would saunter over and look up at us, expecting to be included in the embrace. Our family hugs almost always included one hairy dog. Bjorn knew that love was for sharing. When one of us would get sick, Bjorn would climb onto the bed and lay down, staying with us until we were well. Dog breath may not smell the greatest, but it has some amazing healing properties.

Bjorn was an answer to prayer. Nine years ago, when we told our children that we were moving to Japan, there were wails and tears of protest. We tried to soften the blow by promising them that we would finally get a dog for them in Japan. Our older daughter had always wanted a Golden Retriever pup, preferably male. In fact, every birthday wish from the time that she was about four, she later told us, had been for a puppy. Upon arrival in Japan, we learned a couple of things… not many places in Tokyo would rent to a family with a big dog, and Golden Retriever puppies were prohibitively expensive (over $2,000 each). I felt sheepish about praying for a dog, but I prayed anyways. Any dog would do, but a free Golden would be wonderful. Yes, I admit that I asked God for a dog.

A couple of weeks later, a friend called. Would I be interested in a free puppy? Of course! A family that she knew had three pups left that they wanted to give away to good families… all pure-bred Goldens and one male left. Wow. Bjorn joined our family amid tears of joy. After a year of intense training, we had a loving, gentle and amazingly patient dog.

Almost nine years later, Bjorn is gone, but many, many friends and piles of warm fuzzy memories remain. Thank you, Lord, for sending us Bjorn. We entrust him back to your loving arms. He was a very good dog. Thank you for letting him be part of our family.

With love,


4 comments to Bjorn

  • Mary Lewis

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have two dogs, one of whom is a 15-1/2 yr old bichon frise, whose age has made her mostly blind & deaf, but otherwise she is quite healthy. I dread the inevitable goodbye. I also prayed about having a dog, and am sure God gave me this wonderful friend, who came to me as an 8-wk old puppy. They find their way into our hearts for sure. I trust God will comfort you and your family at this time.

  • Leanne Strommen

    I am shedding a tear with you. Your story of how God answered your prayer with Bjorn is beautiful. Dogs truly are gifts from the Lord and shining examples of God’s unconditional love. I am confident that Bjorn’s doggy heart was as blessed by your love for him as you were by his love for you. I am giving my Sam a belly rub of appreciation as I say a prayer of gratitude for him and one for comfort for you and your family.

    Thank you so much for sharing your wise and wonderful work with all of us via this website and your books. You have a gift for speaking deep and meaningful words to God’s children of all ages. I have been a fan for many, many years.

    May you know the peace of Christ in this season of sorrow.

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