Tag Archives: Jesus

Could Carl Be Possessed?

I used to think that Carl could be demon possessed. I couldn’t trust him and wasn’t sure if we would growl or nip at me. The months that followed his tail removal surgery were difficult for all of us. We didn’t know if Carl would grow out of his distrust for us and we had to even question if we should keep him. InkedIMG_1328_LI

The months have now turned into years and other than a couple of occasions when he has been awakened by a nightmare, Carl has become a gentle little boy. We even commented the other day about how sweet and obedient he has become.

Being demon possessed has been a controversial topic since the beginning of time. Since it is mentioned many times in the Bible, I must believe that it is a real condition that plagued people, particularly before the innovation of modern medicine.

Mary Magdalene was one of these individuals that was stated to be demon possessed. And not just by one demon but by seven! Just the thought of the torment she must have lived through is incomprehensible. Today, she would probably be homeless, distrusted by her family, and living on the streets.

We don’t know the time or day that Jesus healed her but we know from Luke 8:2 that He drew seven demons from her. But it isn’t so much the fact that she was cleansed from the demons that is so amazing but what she did with her life after she was healed.

This woman is mentioned several times throughout the life and death of Jesus. She apparently turned her life around and not only hung out with Jesus but also helped finance his ministry. She was so grateful for what He had done that she devoted the rest of her life sharing the Gospel and how He had changed not only her physical life but also her eternal life.

Luke 7:41-43 states, “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.”

Mary Magdalene had been forgiven much.  She knew there was nothing about her that deserved the loving kindness that Jesus extended to her. And in response, she spent the rest of her life sharing what her savior had done for her.

I have a lot to learn from this woman.

As for Carl, he has been reaching up and literally yanking on my shirt with his teeth. I am not sure what he wants but his annoying persistence is making it difficult to write.  Maybe I am wrong about the demon being totally gone.  It just comes out less often. Got to go.  Carl won’t stop pulling at my arm.

 

The Power of a Voice

Carl has been screeching for some reason for the last couple of minutes. It may be that he wants my attention or that he wants to be fed.  But for whatever reason, his familiar voice can be clearly heard by everyone in proximity of our home.

Everyone who lives close to us, knows this voice.  Whenever he pitches up, I am sure they say, “That has to be Carl.”

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We all have a distinct voice if you think about it. Each of us have a different sound that comes out when we speak. Some of us can be identified as soon as we open our mouths, while others may not be as easily recognized.

Joe, my deceased father-in-law, has one of those distinct voices that could be clearly identified, even after two years of his departure from this earth.  So when my sister-in-law placed her phone up to my ear and let me hear a message from the past, I knew without a doubt that it was him.

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It was after listening to him ramble about the need for toothpaste and how if he didn’t get it,  he would have to retreat to soap, that I began to laugh at the memories of his final days. I was surprised at the inward feelings that arose from hearing his familiar voice. Emotions spurred by the events that took place between he and I.  Some fond and some downright draining.

I was startled by the uprising of sentiment from hearing his voice. Startled that after so many months that my heart still hurt for this man that was such an important part of my life.

But if I was emotionally stirred when hearing my father-in-law’s voice, I can’t imagine how the disciples must have felt when they heard the voice of Jesus, days after he had died on the cross.

The voice that they had heard on the mountainside as He preached the words to the multitudes.  The voice that they knew when He reached out to the lepers and spoke the words, “ I am willing, be clean.” Matthew 8:3.

His disciples must have also been moved  when He looked deep into their eyes and pulled off a piece of bread from the loaf and stated, “Take, eat, this is my body.” Matthew 26:26.

But as moving as all of these times were,  it must have been when they heard his voice after the resurrection that consumed them with emotion.  A heart throbbing emotion that would take them to their knees and place a motivation in their hearts to follow Him into eternity.

It is this voice that I want to hear one day.  The voice the disciples heard so many years ago. The voice that Paul heard on the road to Damascus. But most important to us, the voice that will say when we see Him in heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Carl’s screeching voice has penetrated through my thoughts and has brought me back to the here and now. And as painstaking as it is to hear, I can’t help but smile and thank God for this little dog’s voice along with the  voices of the past, present and future.

 

The Disenchanted

If I could go into the mind of my little dog, I wonder what he thinks about the life that he has been given.  Is Carl truly content with how it has all worked out for him? Is he thinking about a life that he wishes he could have had?  A life full of frolicking with his Frenchie siblings?

Carl's Frenchie Pack

Could Carl be disenchanted with his life?  If so, what would he do to be able to change it? Would he run away in search for the life that he thought he should have had? Or could he find contentment in his life with my husband and I?

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We will never know. But what we do know is that everyone has been given a unique life to live. It is like a card hand that has been dealt and how we play the hand will determine are character and integrity.

One of the saddest stories in the Bible has to do with a man that had been dealt an amazing hand but he didn’t see it.  For three years, Judas walked beside Jesus and witnessed incredible miracles and heard messages that were spoken with great authority.

He believed that Jesus was going to be king and over take the Roman Empire. And as Jesus took over, he would become rich and powerful. But that didn’t happen. As the days drew closer to the death of Jesus, Judas knew that he had to take a different approach if he was going to become rich and powerful.

So Judas went to the religious leaders and was given thirty silver coins to betray Jesus.  Instead of finding satisfaction in what he had done, Judas felt a need to go back to the religious leaders with the hope that they would give him a place among them. But they only treated him with contempt which was too much for him to bare. At this point, Judas felt there was no other recourse but to hang himself.

All because he was disenchanted. You see he couldn’t see who Jesus was because he was focused on who he wanted Jesus to be.  Can’t we all relate to this?  If something goes terribly wrong in our life, don’t we all become disenchanted with who God is?  Thinking that we know best, we can easily become angry with God and in some cases deny his existence.

When we are in our darkest hours, we need to take our eyes off of who we want Jesus to be and place it on who Jesus is. You see there were others that died that day and one man’s outcome was totally different from Judas.

Three men hung from crosses, two robbers that deserved their punishment and one that was God. And as they hung there, one of the robbers realized who Jesus was and asked for forgiveness. And it was granted. This criminal that knew he was guilty and deserving of death was forgiven and taken with Jesus into Paradise.

This is the Jesus I know. Enchanting isn’t it?

 

 

The Act of Pruning

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Carl was not happy about being on the other side of the fence.  But he needed to be there as my husband cut down the grape vine that we recently discovered last summer. As Carl made himself known to us by his loud whine, we cut off the branches, pulled off the long thin climbers, and chopped the large vine down close to the ground.

Just like the grape vine, many plants need to be cut back in order to reach their full potential. Year after year, we have cut back our fig tree to see it come back with beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. So even though it looks almost impossible to believe that new vines will grow back and produce grapes, we just have to believe that they will.

It is interesting how God created plants to flourish when they are pruned back.  So why shouldn’t we think that He wants to do the same with us?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2

The word pruning means cutting or thinning. So when you think about how God prunes us, you probably aren’t thinking of a pleasant experience but one that will include some form of suffering or pain.

No one likes suffering and the physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial hardship that comes with it. But if we read this scripture again, we know it is for our good and God’s glory.

I personally would like everything to go as I plan but in the times of suffering, I can be encouraged by the fact that God is pruning me so that I will produce more fruit. And as I reflect on my life, I do believe that the hardships have molded me into someone who relies more and more on God.

Carl has also been pruned on several occasions in his life and I do believe that it has helped him to become the sweet little fella that we all love.  Having his tail surgically removed was probably the severest pruning he has lived through. But even though it was extremely painful and he no longer has a tail, Carl has adjusted and become an inspiration to us all.

Wavering Faith

Carl is out with his human dad buying a snow shovel. The guys already have cabin fever after only a couple of hours of snow that could paralyze our community for the next few days. Carl is not much a fan of the snow but he wasn’t going to pass up a chance to spend time in his favorite place in the world, the big black truck.

Once they returned and we had lunch, we all got in our winter gear and made our way out into the winter wonderland. Both Bee and Carl tolerated the wet snow for the chance to get some exercise. The dogs weren’t sure what to think about all the white flakes floating through the air. Every couple of minutes they would shake their bodies sending the snow in all directions.

Sending the snow in all directions reminds me of the night when Jesus was taken by the soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Apparently after Jesus was taken prisoner, all the disciples scattered. And this was only hours after the disciples proclaimed that Jesus was from God.

Many times we can know something in our minds but if the conviction isn’t in our hearts, it won’t impact our lives. James states this perfectly in James 1:5-6 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

I must admit that my faith can waver like the waves in certain situations. It is so easy to believe God will show up in the times that I feel confident but when I see no hope in certain circumstances, I can begin to doubt. This verse has convicted me and hopefully I will not allow doubt to reign in my heart.

As for Carl and Bee, they continued to shake the flakes from their coats. We ultimately turned back and made our way home to the warmth of our fire place. After entering the house and taking their coats off, it didn’t take long for the two bullies to find a spot where they could remain warm and watch the snow fall from a distance.

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Temporal Joy

There was a marked contrast in how Bee and Carl were behaving. Carl was strutting around with a joy based on the fact that his earthly father loved him. They had just gotten back from a long walk in the cold weather. Just the two of them. Then there was Bee. She was clearly annoyed that she had been left behind.  No matter how I tried to console her, she was upset and demonstrated it by being domineering. IMG_2852IMG_2803

Another contrast that I noticed happened last night at the end of one of the most exciting football games I have ever witnessed. The Minnesota Vikings were down by one point and it appeared that the New Orleans Saints were going to move on to the quarter finals. With only one play left and over 61 yards to cover, Case Keenum threw a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs to win the game.

But it wasn’t the way that Case initially reacted to what happened that caught my attention. Even though many compare how he ran around the field trying to find someone to hug to Jim Valvano when North Carolina State won the national basketball championship in 1983.

It wasn’t even the fact that Case shouldn’t have been the quarterback playing in this game. Being the third in line at the beginning of the season, who would have ever believed that he would be the one throwing the football?

No the contrast came when Case was interviewed to share his thoughts about this moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG2XgL76uwI

He shared how this was the third most important moment after giving his life to Jesus Christ and marrying his wife. Then he walked off.  And then what I saw in the background as they moved the cameras off of Case caught my attention.

There was Stefon Diggs reenacting the play that won the game. With photographers all around him, he reenacted catching the ball and running into the end zone.

I can totally relate to what he was doing. I have also tried to recapture that brief joy that comes from doing something incredible. If not physically trying to reenact it, thinking about it and playing it back in my mind and hoping to capture that emotion that came with the initial act.

But I have never been able to experience the same joy that came with the act itself. And that was what stood out to me. Case knew it too. He knew that the throwing of the football was third in his list of priorities.

For all of us, we will have victories (maybe not as spectacular as this one) and we will also have defeats. And as long as we have our priorities in order, we can experience an eternal joy that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Who is in Your Boat?

Carl continues to live in a state of anxiety. He just can’t shake it.  No matter how often my husband and I come to his rescue, he still believes that his sister will cause him harm. Every night, we have to use our bodies as a wall that gives Carl the courage to scoot past his sister and jump up into his bed.IMG_2799

No matter how often we come to his rescue, Carl can’t believe that we can be powerful enough to protect him. I was doing a lesson in Matthew 15 and was asked how the disciples must have felt when the storm came up and Jesus walked across the water to the boat.

Earlier in the day, the disciples had been a part of one of the greatest miracles they had witnessed since Jesus began his ministry. They had taken the bread from Jesus and handed it out to over ten thousand people. It was through their very hands that the five loaves of bread and two fish fed the multitudes.

Then why couldn’t they believe that Jesus, who could heal the sick and feed the multitudes, rescue them from the raging waters of the sea? When I thought about it, I had to confess that my faith can be just like these men. I can see and even be a part of incredible miracles one moment and then question the power of God in my own life.

It is easy to believe that God can do great things for others but when it comes to the uncertainties of my life, I have to pause. Just like the disciples, my faith can be limited.

The extremely cool thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t just calm the winds. He also didn’t leave Peter in the water when his faith wavered. Jesus did something that I need to always remember. He got in the boat with these men. And He will get in my boat too.

Carl has made it back to his bed to sleep the morning away by himself. I went back to be with him and sit on the edge of the chair and stroke his head. As I ran my fingers across his head and onto his back, I couldn’t help but visualize how Jesus sits with us when we go through the rough storms in our lives.

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