Tag Archives: Jesus

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?

Give us Today

Vern and Bee just returned from their morning walk. Vern rode in a puppy stroller surrounded by blankets and a bone for chewing, while Bee led the way. Once we got home, Vern was placed in the backyard so he could do his business. He was a little subdued given that he slept through most of his stroll. But as he got orientated to his surroundings, he began to look around the yard at all the green grass, hostas, and the pink azaleas that serve as a border.

For Vern and Bee, the days have not changed except for the inclusion of our presence on a constant basis. Everything else seems normal for them, making them clueless to the fear and uncertainty that has permutated the world. All they see is a beautiful spring day with green leaves sprouting from trees and freshly mowed grass.

Matthew 6:11 states, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus knew that there would be periods of time full of insecurity and anxiety. Times that could cause us to be consumed with dread if we focused on the future. He knew the importance of keeping our eyes on only today.

Matthew 6:34 states, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Vern is lying on his bed fast asleep without a single concern. Since being in our home, he has been fed and given a safe place to sleep. He trusts that we will provide for him. Why shouldn’t he?

In the same manner, we should focus on today and trust that God will abundantly provide for us. I pray that we will take a minute to thank God for specific blessings that he has revealed to us during this time of uncertainty. Blessings that we may never have experienced if life had gone on as it was.

New Beginnings

Vern came home on Saturday.  With all his cuteness, pee and sharp teeth. Bee didn’t know what to think at first. I am sure she wondered what the black ball of fur was doing running in the backyard. To her dismay, it was another male moving into her territory.

After a few minutes of tossing around in the grass, Bee made it clear to Vern that she was the alpha dog and as long as he understood this, everything would be well. Given that Vern thinks Bee is his mother, the two are working things out.

But Bee is not Vern’s mother and she has nothing to offer, no matter how hard he tries to find it. A couple of times when he has sought a nipple, Bee pushed the little puppy off. But this doesn’t seem to cause Vern to get too upset. He seems to be enjoying life and all its adventures.

What a wonderful example to follow at this time when frustrations are high and anxiety of the unknown is prevalent everywhere you turn. We have never experienced an event like we are living through and truthfully no one can give us the answers we so desperately desire.

My only option for peace of mind is to look to the truth, the Word of God. Only here can I find hope. John 1: 1-5 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

These verses speak of Jesus as the Word and the light. No matter how horrendous things seem, it states in verse five that the darkness has not overcome the light. And I believe it! As dark as the world seems right now, the light of Jesus is brighter.

Vern and Bee are working it out. They have been able to get in a pattern where they are enjoying one another’s company. In the same manner, Jay and I have also moved into a rhythm of being confined to home with constant puppy entertainment at our disposal.

Today’s Decision Become Tomorrow’s Life

Bee has no idea what is getting ready to happen. Life as she knows it, will forever change.  She has no way to prepare for the little puppy that will be joining our family unit. Maybe that is for the best.

Often, I wonder how the future will unfold before me. Will the days ahead reflect my past or will they take on an entirely different hue? Will the decisions that are looming in front of me create a detour in my life that I will welcome or regret?

Will the decisions that I need to make today impact tomorrow? How do I know the choices will turn out well? I don’t. But there was a man that can assist me when I am unsure.

Jesus states in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So today, before Vern (our new puppy) comes home, I will focus only on what God has given me in the present, not the future. And my present includes a little Frenchie that is lying in front of the fire dreaming of how great she has it. For now.

Stepping Stones of Regrets

Bee has no regrets. If she does, she hasn’t told me about them. As she lies in front of the fire and sleeps peacefully, there are no signs of guilt. Only peace.

On the other hand, I have stepping stones made up of regrets that reach back into my past. A path that I avoid going down at all costs. But one that draws me to take when I am least expecting it.

I wonder about the rich young ruler who happened to meet Jesus on the road. I have to speculate, when confronted by Jesus, that he regretted his decision, and had wished he had changed his decision for the eternal life he hungered for.

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:17-23)

Wishing we could have changed our actions is common to man. For this man, he wanted the treasures of heaven but he wasn’t willing to let go of the treasures of this earth. Feelings of guilt consumed him.

How often do we retrace our steps to see the regrets of life flash in front of us? We will never know if this wealthy man changed his mind and gave up what he was clinging to for a relationship with Jesus. But for no other reason, this passage gives me hope. Not because the man walked away, but because Jesus gave him an invitation to come back.

Bee has no regrets to erase but I do. Guilt that lingers as long as I walk down my own pathway. But there is hope. And his name is Jesus. Waiting alongside the road offering me to take on my burdens and transforming my regrets to peace.