Tag Archives: Jesus

Intentions, A Personal Encounter with Jesus

Carl is very intentional in what he does. He knows what he wants and doesn’t waiver from doing everything he can to get it. Take for instance his desire for treats. Carl will sit, lie down, or stay in order to get a piece of food. If he wants attention, he will take his paw and claw at your arm until you pet him.

But as intentional as Carl is for food, Jesus was more so for the purpose set before him by his heavenly father. A great example of this comes in the fourth chapter of John when he travels through Samaria.  Most Jews never would go through this region because they knew the people hated them. But Jesus intentionally walked to Sychar and sat down at a specific well and waited.

Have you ever been in a time of life where you felt hopeless and that God was nowhere to be found? This is what Photina felt as she went to get her daily supply of water. Stuck in a cycle of searching for fulfillment through men, this woman had no understanding of how to get unstuck. Deep down in her soul there was a yearning for something more than the men that she slept with. But she was drowning with no way to save herself from the life that she had created.

Little did she know that a man was waiting for her at the well that would change her life forever. A man that had intentionally walked through a forbidden land until he was tired and hot just to have a personal encounter with her.

I have a hard time understanding the compassion that Jesus had as he waited. Compassion for a woman that others had rejected and saw nothing good in. But not Jesus. He saw something in this woman that would cause him to deliberately walk out of his way and wait.

And if Jesus would intentionally go many miles out of his way for this woman, why shouldn’t I believe that he will go out of his way for me?

Photina was never the same again after her encounter with Jesus. Her two sons and five sisters were known for their outspoken confession of Jesus as Lord. And as ironic as it is, Photina was ultimately thrown into a well by Emperor Nero’s orders where she died for her faith.

Carl just scratched my leg so that I would pet his coat and give him the attention he believes he deserves. His intentional actions are a good reminder to stop and think about how Jesus deliberately searched for Photina and is now searching for me.

(If you enjoy reading this blog, you will enjoy my new book, Empty Hands.  It will be on Amazon on September 6th.)

A Walk For Faith

Carl and I are very different when it comes to walks. Our little dog absolutely loves to go out into the world and stroll down any path or road near our house. It doesn’t matter how long he and my husband go or even what the temperature is.  Just call Carl’s name and follow it with the word, “walk” and we have a happy dog.

Now for me, I will join Carl and my husband on a regular basis but it isn’t something I really enjoy. I find walking a little on the boring side and choose other kinds of exercise to accomplish my fitness goals. I particularly don’t like going when I am not sure of the final destination.

This is why when I think about the amount of walking the disciples of Jesus did, I become amazed. There is one particular walk that blows my mind when I consider how far they went without having a clue of the purpose of their journey.

It is a story that is easily overlooked and most people don’t even consider the circumstances surrounding the walk. It begins with Jesus being bombarded by a bunch of religious leaders trying their best to prove that He is a farce.  His disciples are beginning to wonder about who Jesus is and so instead of trying to convince them with words, Jesus plans a field trip.

So they start walking. I am sure the disciples were like most children we know and asked Jesus countless times if they were close to their destination. Given how I felt yesterday when walking four miles, I can’t imagine how they were feeling after two days of trodding down a sandy path in the middle of nowhere.

After four days, they finally come to a small town near Sidon which is between fifty and sixty miles from where they began. The disciples must have been a little cranky as they waited for some incredible miracle to happen. But all they saw were Gentiles that looked at them like they were scum off the bottom of their shoes.

Not seeing anything worth coming this long way was probably causing these men to become frustrated. To top it off, a woman’s persistent scream for Jesus could be heard over the crowd without any signs of stopping. As the woman drew closer, the disciples began to become extremely annoyed.

The disciples were probably getting a little aggravated with Jesus. The woman wouldn’t be quiet and Jesus acted like He didn’t hear her. Even after several disciples tried to get her to be quiet, she continued. They then turned to Jesus, but He didn’t seem in the least bit interested in addressing the woman.

Finally, the woman makes her way to Jesus and kneels down in front of Him and calls out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon possessed and is suffering terribly.”

Then Jesus makes a statement that most people would have thought would be insulting. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s food and toss it to the dogs.”

The woman responded, “Yes it is Lord. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table.”

Then Jesus looked down with incredible compassion and stated, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 25:25-28)

So why did Jesus and his disciples walk so far into Gentile territory?  There is no other miracles recorded here. There is no interaction with important people or famous landmarks.  Why would Jesus take at least ten days out of his busy schedule to travel so far?

There is only one answer. To celebrate the faith of this one Gentile woman. This woman’s declaration of who Jesus was demonstrated a stronger faith than any of his disciples had shown since Jesus started his ministry. And Jesus wanted his disciples to witness it first-hand.

In the future while I take my walks, I will spend some time contemplating the distance these men covered. But what I will remember the most is how Jesus was willing to take the time out of his busy schedule to seek out this woman of faith and the miracle she received.

I don’t think Carl thinks a lot when he is going on his walks. But even so, I can learn from his walking attitude and try and seek out the miracles that maybe right in front of me.

Carl’s Perception of Truth

Carl has been gone for almost two weeks.  His life hasn’t interceded with ours except through pictures and Facetime. And even though we see him on the screen, he isn’t a part of our present.

My husband and I have been on a cruise to Alaska while Carl has been rotating between staying with our daughter and a pet resort. So it is easy to say that our reality on the cruise ship is very different from our four legged friend.

We have been experiencing average temperatures in the 70s while Carl has been enduring scorching 90 degree temps. Our reality has been sailing across the ocean at about 23 miles an hour looking out over beautiful snowcapped mountains while Carl has been confined to the backyard with four little people to get along with.

In other words, our perception of life has been altered by our circumstances. Neither Carl or my husband and I are living the truth of the life that we are typically bound by. 

So how do we know what truth is when our circumstances have been changed so drastically?  There is only one way.  Only one person who spoke truth regardless of the circumstances. John 14:6 states, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.”

Jesus is truth and the barometer in which to compare ourselves by, no matter our present circumstances.  So no matter where we are on this planet, if we know Jesus through His words, we will have the life He planned for us.

Carl may think that this life he is presently living will be his reality for the remainder of his days. He doesn’t know when he will return or if he will. On the other hand, as I write this, I know that tomorrow I will port in Seattle and I will fly across the country to my home in North Carolina where life will return to the reality that I am accustomed to. No matter where Carl and I find ourselves, I know that truth isn’t found in my circumstances or even the place where I reside.

Life From a Different Perspective

Carl has literally been kicked off his precious couch. All week, Eli, our grandson, has been staying with us which means Carl doesn’t get first bids on the place he calls his. But that isn’t the only thing that has had to change. All of us, including Carl have had to change our perspective.

Eli sees life through a different lens than most people. He has a touch of Autism that impacts not only how he encounters life but how everyone around him does. If you haven’t had the good fortune to spend time with someone with Autism, I have to tell you that you are missing out!

As a special educator, I was blessed to spend entire days with children that have a “seat on the rainbow”. These incredible little people taught me so much about how to live life to the fullest. But in order to encounter the blessing, you MUST take off your conformity glasses. I can promise you that if you keep them on, life becomes one entangled mess. But if you are willing to go a bit out of your comfort zone and let go of your own reigns, you will experience a side of life that is only available to a select few.

Just the other day, my husband took Eli for a bike ride. When he returned he gave me a taste of this other dimension. The first woman that they encountered on their ride was a woman that greeted Eli with “good morning”. So of course in Eli’s mind, that was what you do. So every person he rode past on the trail received a “good morning”. It didn’t matter if they returned the salutation or not. Or even if they grumbled or gave an awkward look.  The rule was “good morning” and Eli kept it every single time.

God has blessed us with many different kinds of people in this world. Jesus embraced the ones that we might tend to dismiss or turn away from. But if you would take the time to take off your own conformity glasses and try and see people like Jesus did, you might be blessed like we have been.

As for Carl, he has been very patient and willing to give up his spot for Eli. He has even realized that there is a benefit to having our little house guest around. With extra pets and a warm body to snuggle up against, Carl has also been blessed by our guest.

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..