Tag Archives: Jesus

Us and Them

Carl looked up at me and then turned toward the door and pranced out with my husband for his daily walk. If he could talk, he would say something like, “If you want to come with us, that is okay, but it doesn’t matter to me.”

When he takes to the streets, Carl makes it clear that it is all about “us” and “them”. He really doesn’t care about the feelings of the other dogs or humans that he comes across, just as long as he has the undivided attention of my husband, Carl is perfectly content.

Since social media has given people their own personal platform, people are becoming more and more about us and them. Social apps are bombarded with extreme views that automatically categorize friends and family into “us” or “them”.

With each comment, a brick goes up into the wall that divides “us” from “them”. A wall that is being built without concern for others. So how do we take down the bricks to create a world that focuses more on “we”?  It starts when we take our focus off of “me” and place it on a man that walked the earth two thousand years ago.

This man lived each day of His life for everyone to be a “we”. As He was getting ready to die for each one of us, He prayed to God for unity. “I have given them the glory you gave me, that they maybe one as we are one.” (John 16:22)

Whenever I am tempted to put an “us” and “them” brick into the wall, I have to take my thoughts to a hill covered with blood and tears. And when I am there in my mind, I look around and see others that could be on the other side of the wall looking up into the eyes of the man who died for “we”.

Being a dog, Carl will never understand how he may be hurting others when he walks by them with his nose in the air. But unlike Carl, I hope the next time I am feeling the temptation to place a brick of “us” into the wall, I will remember the “them” who resides on the other side.

The Power of Silence

Carl doesn’t have a lot to say. Every once in a while when he is upset or wants our attention, he will give us his ear piercing screech that will stop you in your tracks. Other than these times, he is for all purposes, quiet.

I have been giving some thought to the fact that here is a dog that hasn’t spoken a word, but has lots of admirers. People who run into me always ask about Carl, and how he is doing. And all this without saying a single word.

We could all learn from Carl. I know of times when I have opened my mouth, only to regret the words that came out. Hurtful words thrown out like feathers from a pillow scattered into crevices that were impossible to retrieve. Words that stained the hearts of others.

Jesus wasn’t quick to speak and when He did, the words were thoughtful and held eternal power. Notice His interaction with the Pharisees when they brought a woman who had been found in an adulterous situation.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”(John 8:4-11)

I can’t imagine how irritated the Pharisees were when Jesus was drawing in the sand and saying nothing. They wanted Jesus to speak words that they could use against Him, but He remained silent. And when Jesus finally did speak, the words were words that brought life and not death.

Since Carl can’t speak, I thought I would give him an opportunity to try posting this blog. Thinking maybe he might want to say something to his cyberspace friends. But even with some bribing, he just sat there.

Thinking about what he will write for the blog.

I have a lot to learn from my silent friend. As hard as it can be, in the future, I hope I can be quiet when wanting to speak. And like Jesus, speak words of life and not death.

Small Skirmishes

As we pulled into the campground overlooking the lake, raindrops started spitting at us in all directions. We quickly put up a canopy to keep dry. I tried to coax Carl to come in from the rain but all he did was stare at me as if I was crazy.  He just couldn’t understand that if he came in under the cover, he wouldn’t get wet.

Finally, after a little prompting, Carl came in from the rain while we finished unpacking. After some sniffing and marking his territory, he found a place to lie down and get comfortable. All went well for a couple of minutes until his sister Bee got in his space.  Then Carl had to let Bee know that he was the alpha dog and she needed to fall in line. 

How often do we need to fall in line with what God wants us to do? So often, we can cross over the line and just like Bee, come head to head with an unpleasant experience. Many times, we are caught off guard and don’t even realize what we have done, or how to rectify the situation.

In Judges 4, Barak, the main military leader, was given a specific command by God. He was told to take 10,000 men and go fight the enemy. But he was afraid, and wouldn’t do it unless Deborah, the designated judge of the time, would go with him.

Because he refused, Barak didn’t receive the blessing that God had intended for him. Instead of giving him recognition for leading his men into battle, a woman took the glory for the win. History records that Jael killed Sisera, the enemy’s military leader, which gave the Israelites the victory.

How often do we miss out on the goodness, God has in store for us? All we need to do is simply obey in the little battles of life. God knows that if we can win the small skirmishes, we are more apt to go forth into the big clashes that will come our way.

Carl won the confrontation that he had with Bee. He walked away feeling strong and in charge. Bee on the other hand, didn’t feel totally defeated, and will probably not back down the next time the two act like bullies.

Either way, Carl and Bee’s Frenchie scuffles serve as a good reminder that I need be attentive to the simple acts of obedience that God sends my way. If only I could teach the two of them to obey me..

Stuck Behind the Wall

Bee is still healing from her broken leg. There has been some improvement with the bone mending but recently an infection on her leg has caused us to be concerned. The cast has been rubbing up against her leg and intensified the infection.

There are times in our lives that we are broken. It could be from a death, a diagnosis, or a wrecked relationship. No matter what caused us to be shattered, we usually have the opportunity to mend and become even better than before.

But occasionally, when we are broken, an infection of sin will set in and keep the healing process from happening.  If we are not careful, during these broken times, the sin of anger or bitterness can seep into our hearts.

While plagued with the constant inward thoughts we become stuck behind a wall built by all the why questions.  With no answers and only scabs created by hostility, we can become unable to move on. So how do we become healed? If we turn to God, our creator, the answer can be found.

David was often broken and could have easily been satiated with why questions.  But instead of focusing on questions that would keep him behind the wall, he focused on God.

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

  Praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits—

  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  

  who redeems your life from the pit                             

  and crowns you with love and compassion,

  who satisfies your desires with good things

  so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

Bee’s paw is finally getting better, but until it is healed, she has to wear a stylish cone that has to be worn to keep her from licking. Just like my little dog, when sin seeps in, we can use the cone of God’s word to shield us from aggravating our own infection.

Unintended Doors

Since the season has recently changed from winter to spring, Carl has made his way outside to frolic among nature. There is not a lot of wildlife for my little Frenchie to interact with but when a squirrel makes his presence known, Carl is sure to do his best to chase him up a tree or over the fence.

Bee, my other Frenchie, has just as much ambition to clear the backyard of unwelcomed guests as Carl. So one Thursday afternoon when both little pups saw the prey from afar, a chase began that ended with Bee falling and breaking a bone in her paw.

At first, I didn’t know if it was broken or just bruised, but after two days of limping and not putting weight on it, we took her to the vet where the x-ray showed a clear break. Bee was given a cast and we were given directions to wrap the cast to keep it from getting wet when she would go outside.

We have an electric doggy door which Bee has been using for several years.  Her collar has an electrical transmitter that lets the door know that she is near and will automatically open. But since we are supposed to keep her paw dry, we have taken the collar off to protect her paw from getting wet.

Bee doesn’t understand why this door is not responding to her presence. She has begun to give up on the door but every once in a while, Carl will trigger the door and Bee will slip through.

How often have we slipped through a door that wasn’t intended for us? This is why it is so important to closely monitor the friends we keep. I can remember in my past the times that I followed someone through a door that God never intended for me.

Proverbs 12:26 states it perfectly: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully. For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

My past has been sprinkled with doors that I slipped through because of the desperate need for acceptance.  Times that I didn’t trust God enough to complete me with people that hungered for His righteousness.

Just last night, Bee followed Carl out into the backyard without our knowledge. When she returned, her cast was wet and moldy. And just like her cast will decay, our hearts will also wane from God if we keep going through the door that is not intended for us.

From a Distance

The car slowed to a stop and the man rolled his window down.  Not sure what he was going to say, both my husband and I leaned in. “I just want you to know that you have a good looking dog.” As we thanked him, we couldn’t help but say back in jest, “You can have him, if you want.” (We were just kidding!)

I have also seen Carl from a distance and have to agree that he sure is cute and desirable. But what Carl is from a distance and what he is up, close and personable are totally two different things.

What is it about us humans that cause us to crave the things that are at a distance? So often, we feel the need to have the very thing that can cause us such heartache.

All the Samaritan woman wanted was to have a husband that loved her and she ended up with five broken marriages and a compromised life. The rich young ruler only wanted his wealth and ended up lacking the peace that comes from putting God first.

Jesus clearly tells us in John 6:36 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

If we can only stop looking in the distance for the bread of life and turn to the source, we will finally be content and full.

I personally can’t imagine life without Carl.  Even though it has been difficult at times, I am thankful God has used this little dog to help me draw closer to Him so that I don’t have to continue to desire what is at a distance.

Carl’s Comfort Spot

There was no disputing it. Carl was comfortable and he didn’t want to move. It was turning 9:00 am and he wasn’t even thinking about the possibility of getting up.  But do you blame him?  He had nowhere to go and the sleep he was going in and out of was just too enjoyable to give up.

How often do we wish for an easy alternative when we have been thrown a hard ball in life? I know for myself that when I have a problem that can’t be solved and keeps pestering me, I will tend to start daydreaming about my next vacation.

So why does God allow the hard times to come knocking on our doors of life?  And why does He allow them to not just knock on the door but shove through them and take residence?

Consider Peter. After Jesus was resurrected, this man spent the rest of his life telling others about Jesus. He was constantly persecuted and was crucified upside down for his faith. Peter chose a life of hardship over comfort for only one reason. He believed with his entire being that this world was not his home.

With a heavenly perspective, we all can withstand life’s hardballs. I have often heard that if we live our lives with heaven as our destination, we will be able to withstand the earthly storms that blow our way. But if we only look at life through a worldly perspective, we will end up hopeless.  

I don’t blame Carl for his choice for comfort. If I was a dog, I would look for the most relaxing spot in the house to lay my head. But we are not dogs.  Unlike all other animals, God breathed the breath of life into our nostrils, causing us to be eternal. (Genesis 2:7)

As an eternal being, I am looking forward to my life after this one ends. And I hope to see you there as well.