Tag Archives: Jesus

Misplaced Power

Bee stood in the way of Vern’s food. She sat down and wouldn’t budge. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to. Vern was under her spell. No matter how many times we placed the food near Vern, he refused to eat. Instead, he scanned the room to note where his female companion could be found and wouldn’t take his eyes off of her.

Vern has grown to be the size of Bee and is stronger than her. So why would he allow this mellow Frenchie to have so much power over him? Before we start calling Vern a coward or calling Bee a bully, we need to turn inward to where we misplace our power.

Jesus knew that we would struggle with placing our feelings onto people that don’t seem to care for us in the way we want. In his day, he was particularly concerned about the people that were trying to please the religious leaders that set unbearable rules and regulations onto the masses. Jesus knew that it was impossible to please this establishment and it hurt him deeply.

In today’s world, we struggle with wanting approval as well. It could be from the church we attend but mostly it is from social media. With technology allowing us to share our lives for everyone to see, we can get caught up in our self-worth being defined by the number of likes we receive.

So what is the answer? Jesus gives it to us in Matthew 11:29. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Instead of striving to impress others, take on the yoke of Jesus and learn from him. It is where rest for our souls can be found. Give it a try. Instead of reaching for Facebook, pick up your Bible and learn from Jesus.

As for Vern, he finally did eat his breakfast and shook off the shackles of being under Bee’s power. More than likely, it will happen again. But thankfully, we don’t have to live with misplaced power.

Close to Home

Vern only knows what is directly in front of him. He doesn’t know how other dogs live. He only knows about his yard, house, and what he spots when we walk around the block. Vern knows what he will be receiving when I say “treat” or “dinner”. But if he wanted a different yard to play in or a different kind of food, he would be out of luck.

So far, life has treated the little French bulldog well. But if he was to get hurt or lost, he would have a difficult time without our assistance. And as little as our puppy knows, he does have the sense to realize how much he needs us for direction and protection.

In Mark, chapter 6 a multitude of people come running after Jesus. They didn’t have food for the day or a way to protect themselves from the elements. But they came anyway. And what is Jesus’ reaction to these people that appeared to be lost? Mark 6:34 states, “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.”

Have you ever thought of yourself as lost or unprotected from the hurled rocks that are being thrown at you from all directions? If so, you are just like these people that came to Jesus. And just like them, there is a shepherd that wants to guide you home.

Vern rarely tries to get out of the fence or squeeze through the screen door. He has become content in knowing that if he stays close to his human provider, he will be safe and loved.

If only we could imitate the animals that God gives us to help us home….

Facing our Fears

Vern loves to go camping but when it is time for sleep, he transforms from a confident male to a meek puppy full of fear. Last night as we lay our heads down and turned the light off, Vern began to cry. At first it was a soft whimper but when we didn’t react, it transitioned into a loud howl. No matter how many times we reassured him that it would be okay, the cries continued.

So finally, he got what he wanted. As I reached down and brought him up into the bed, I knew that it was not going to be pleasant. And I was right. All night, Vern snored right in my ear. An intermittent sound that reminded me of riding a bike over gravel. If that had been the only issue, I believe I could have gotten some sleep, but it wasn’t. Either his paws were pressed into my back or he was moving around to get comfortable.

Fear is one of the strongest motivators known to man or beast. We will persist down the wrong path in life due to being afraid of change. We will stop our dreams in midstream when the fear of failure or even success takes over. Fear is why so many people never reach their full potential.

Jesus knew fear like no one else and he looked it right in the eye and conquered it. Matthew 26:38-39 paints a clear picture of this fear. “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘”My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as your will.’”

As we know, Jesus took the cup of the cross and went straight into the depths of death for our sake. Hopefully, because of his willingness to fight off fear, I can do the same.
I am not sure where Vern will sleep tonight. I hope he will conquer his fear and sleep on the floor. But only time will tell.


(I want to dedicate this entry to Lucita Lyons, my sister in Christ. She passed away this week from breast cancer. This woman of faith encouraged me to keep writing, even after my main muse, Carl died. I will always remember her for supporting me through my fears.)

The Art of Contentment

Vern appeared perfectly content. After breakfast had been served, he went for his morning walk around the neighborhood. He spotted a deer in the distance and pulled tightly on the leash when another larger dog came into view. But now that he was home, Vern had nothing else on his agenda but to do a little relaxing before taking a short nap.

Life for Vern is light and free of burdens. Not so much for all of us humans. All of us have concerns weighing on us. Covid has impacted all of us in our own unique way. And if it isn’t this nasty virus on the top of our minds, then it must be the political craziness that stirs all around us. And the list can go on and on….

So I was reflecting on Jesus and if he was present today what he would be talking about and doing with his time. And as I studied what he talked about and what he did, I was a little surprised. Jesus never discussed politics nor did he get involved in heavy discussions about the way the Romans were treating the people of the day.

Instead, Jesus focused on the kingdom of God. He spoke in parables to the masses that had come to him for hope. He healed people and removed demons. He raised people from the dead and fed thousands with only a loaf and a couple of fish.

Jesus saw our inner needs being far more important than all the stuff swirling around. And I believe if he was here today, he would say exactly what he said over two thousand years ago. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Vern has found a cool spot near Bee and is enjoying a moment of tossing around on the rug. With no cares or worries, this little dog has a lot to teach me. When I want to place the afflictions of the day upon my back, I need to look down at my four legged friends and remember the one who is always there to take on my burdens.

In the Shade of Little Things

Vern slipped his little body through my legs and slithered outside where he began to explore the freedom of the world. My first attempt to catch him was unsuccessful as his small black frame slipped from my grasp. I had to take a different approach so I rushed back inside and found the treats that stopped him in his tracks.

Even though Vern is a little guy, he has made a huge impact on our lives. His sweet personality and curious nature have brought a smile to our hearts.

Have you ever noticed how God uses little things to draw us closer to him? It could be so small at first that we might not even notice it. A tiny voice in the back of our mind, a new friend that speaks a different way of doing life, or a virus that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Jesus stated in Mark 4:30-32, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth, but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”

God uses little things to create the biggest changes in our lives. This has become apparently clear as we all have struggled to be grateful in the times of Covid-19. But if we focus on the little things that we have been given, hopefully, we will not miss out on the shade God is providing.

Words of Life

Vern was incessant on picking up any small pebble or plant that he could find along the hard concrete road. If it was in anyway in his reach, it was in his mouth for at least a good tasting. After he would roll it around for a taste test, he would decide to either swallow it or drop it back on the road. It was just what he does.

Vern’s behavior of picking up stones reminds me of the parable of the sower. Jesus states in Mark 4:3-4 “Listen! Behold a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.”

The crowds of people listened intently to the parable but most didn’t understand what he was trying to say. Today, in our world there is a sower sowing for all to hear. Right now as you read the words that Jesus preached, the sower is sowing.

What happens to the word will depend on the softness of your heart and your willingness to take it in and mull it over. If you let the words fall to the ground without taking it in, the birds of the air, or Satan himself will pick it up and take it away.

Instead of letting it drop away without much thought, pick up your Bible and cultivate the word in your heart. You might be surprised at how impactful it can be in these unprecedented times.

As for Vern, hopefully with time, he will quit putting everything in his mouth. But for now, I can’t imagine what is mulling around in his mouth.

The Positive Power of Immediacy

As soon as Vern was taken out of the stroller and placed down on the hard concrete, he immediately took the lead. He was not going to let his sister Bee push ahead of him through the neighborhood. No, he was determined to be in charge.

How often do we immediately act? Vern doesn’t even consider thinking about his choices, he just does what his little puppy brain tells him. That can include eating rocks or flipping bugs up in the air until someone gets hurt. No matter what he does, he acts immediately.

I never thought of doing things immediately as a positive attribute. Many times, if we rush into an act without too much thought, we can be considered rash and irresponsible. So why is the word “immediately” used over thirty-five times in the book of Mark?

After Jesus was baptized, it states the Holy Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. When Jesus approached Simon and Andrew and asked them to follow him, they immediately dropped their fishing equipment and went after him. When Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, they immediately went to the synagogue where Jesus entered and taught. And the use of this word goes on and on throughout the book.

How often do we over think the things that the Spirit puts on our hearts? How many times have you thought of a good deed that you could do but your created excuses took over? Instead of reacting immediately, it is easy to think the situation right out of our minds.

Vern on the other hand, acts without thinking about any of the consequences or outcomes of his actions. He just does. Even if the end result doesn’t always produce a positive outcome, at least he does it. I can learn from Vern and act when it is clear that the Spirit of God is directing me. How about you?

Taken Up and Carried

Vern just doesn’t understand why he is unable to open the doggy door. Even though he walks up to it, nothing happens. Bee on the other hand, just has to approach the opening and the plastic sheet magically rises up long enough for her round body to enter.

At first, Vern got pretty agitated with it and tried to follow Bee through the opening. But once after his paw felt the weight of the door come down on it, he stayed away.

Why does it appear that doors open for certain people and remain closed for others? Why do certain people seem to have an easy time of reaching their goals while others struggle their entire lives?

If we look at it from an earthly standpoint, it can appear very unfair to us. Why would wealth come so easily for some and impossible for others? When we compare our circumstances with others, we can become jealous and angry with God.

Instead of looking towards the treasures of this world for our joy and peace, we should look to the author of life. Given that he created each of us to be unique individuals, shouldn’t we try and discover the doors he wants us to walk through?

Jesus stated in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

I am excited about the distinctive door that is just for me. The one that can be opened if I just seek.

In a week or so, the electronic device that Bee has will also be placed on Vern’s collar, so he will also be able to enter and exit the house at his leisure. Until then, Vern seems content to be taken up into our arms and carried in and out.

Maybe, the next time you can’t get through the door you so desperately want to enter, look around. You may just find that you are also being carried.  

Living a Full Life in Difficult Times

It is amazing how such a small puppy can consume so much food. The first couple of days Vern was with us, he ate very little. After he got acclimated to his new environment, he drastically changed. Vern now eagerly awaits the sound of the food being poured into his bowl. Even when he has finished his portion, he rushes over to Bee, our older Frenchie, in the hopes of a left over morsel.

During this time of being shut in the house, my appetite has also increased. I enjoy watching cooking shows which of course leads to baking more. I have also been pulled into watching more television and exercising less. Every day begins with the desire to do things that are good for my physical and spiritual self. But usually these important activities get pushed to the side for the things that feel comfortable.

If there ever was a time to imitate Jesus, this is it. He demonstrated how to live a fulfilled life in the worst of situations, starting with the event of being tempted in the desert by Satan. Jesus had been fasting for forty days and he was extremely hungry. (I can’t help but think that this is how long we have been in a stay home order from our government.)

Jesus was vulnerable. He was weak and alone. The conditions were perfect for temptation to turn to sin. Satan knew this and pounced on Jesus with all that he had to offer. The first temptation in Luke 4 would have probably broken every one of us.  “The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)

Satan went after Jesus’ physical need for food. And that is where most of us are today. I know that I have justified how much I have eaten during these days of having nothing else to do.

Jesus didn’t budge so Satan went to plan B. “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)

Notice how Satan offers Jesus the authority and power of the world to Jesus. And if you read on, you will note that Jesus doesn’t dispute the fact that Satan has the authority over this world. But Jesus doesn’t accept the power that could have been easily his. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t willing to sacrifice our salvation for his own desires of power. How do you feel about your loss of power in these days of being told to stay home?

The last temptation Satan threw at Jesus tested his pride. Satan told Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple so that the angels would catch him. This temptation would clearly demonstrate to everyone that Jesus was truly the Son of God. If everyone saw angels saving him, they would bow down and worship him.

How often have we sought out some kind of recognition in these times of being anonymous? Everyone wants a voice in how to solve this pandemic. No matter what television channel you listen to, someone wants the platform. Even in our own homes, we shout out our self-righteous opinions.

We sure can learn from our four legged friends. Vern only eats when food is placed in front of him. He does tussle with his sister with an understanding that she is the alpha dog in the house. Occasionally, Vern will bark out loud, but typically is quiet.

Thank you Lord for the animals you place in our homes and hearts. Help us to follow your Son’s example as we go through these uncharted waters. Give us the faith to look to you to meet our daily needs.

Entangled in Our Own Power

Vern looked up from his bed, gazed around the room to see who was present, cushioned his head between the bumps in his blanket, and drifted off to sleep. With a sense of peace, the little puppy drifted into a land of slumber filled with other puppies frolicking around him, making him the king of the world.

Being a new arrival to this life, Vern has no understanding of the changes that have taken place in our world. In his mind, life couldn’t be better. With no worries and all his needs met, he is one happy pup.

Vern has no control over who will put his food in his dish or why the water never runs out. He just believes it will happen which leads to the serenity he possesses.

All of us humans could learn from this little puppy. In this time of Covid 19, the economy closing down, and fear ripping through our country, we can easily get entangled in our own power or loss of it.

There have been times in history that have looked just as bleak. One specific period of time, a little over two thousand years ago, the brutality of the Roman Empire consumed the thinking of everyone. Crosses of innocent men lined the borders of the city to intentionally let everyone know who ruled.

Then entered a man with talk of a new kingdom, an eternal one that extended beyond the grave. A man who healed people and forgave the sins of the wicked. He not only promised freedom from the physical world but also the spiritual soul of every man.

Jesus didn’t change the brutality of the Romans nor did he make life easier for the ordinary people that followed him. What he did, was far greater. He gave those who believed hope. Hope in a loving God that didn’t just love from a distance but came down to earth and endured the pain for each one of us.

No one knows what will happen in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. But we do know what happened outside of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus actually rose from the dead and walked among us. All he wants is for us to transfer our focus off of the unknown and place it on him.

Vern is fast asleep. A sense of trust dictating his every move. Knowing that even when he tears up my hostas or pees on the floor, he will still be loved. And if he can trust the imperfect humans that have given him a home, why can’t we trust our Heavenly Father who was willing to sacrifice his only Son for you and me?