Tag Archives: Jesus

Carl’s Identity

Carl pulled so hard that I thought I was going to fall forward on my face. He wasn’t pleased at all with his situation. Instead of leading the pack, he was steps behind the two dogs and it was clear that he felt doomed.

When he is walked alone, he usually struts himself with a confident air and appears totally carefree. But when walking with the other two dogs, if he isn’t steps ahead of them, his demeanor totally changes.

In the last two days, our country has suffered a great blow. 59 of our American citizens lost their lives when a man with no apparent cause sprayed gunfire down on a country music concert in Las Vegas.

What has hurt the most is the lack of compassion for the families of the individuals that lost their lives. Instead, politicians have used this opportunity to stand on their platforms and once again, we have become more and more divided.

If only our country could stand together and grieve with the victims of this senseless act. But unless we can place our identity in Christ this will never happen. Just as Carl wants to extend his lead over the other two bulldogs, we take our stand with our political or cultural affiliation.

It will only be when we go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and extend ourselves to the individuals that are suffering that we will find healing.

Carl will probably never understand how to get over his need to be first and in front of the pack. I am sure that the next time we go out for a walk, he will pull the leash and try to push ahead with his own agenda. But I have to remember, he is only a dog. Didn’t God create us to be so much more?

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New Normals

Carl woke from an evening snooze and looked over at the sofa. There, sleeping on his section of what had always been his spot, was the male dog that had made his way into his home and into his owners’ hearts. At first, Carl just stared at the slumbering animal. But then for no reason he jumped down off his father’s lap and went over to the edge of the couch and placed his head level with the pooch.

What happened next was shocking. Carl raised his leg and begun to urinate on the side of the couch. Why had our dog acted in such an inappropriate manner? Was he having to adjust to his new normal?

New normals. They come out of nowhere. Many times with no preparations for how to live through them.  A loved one develops Alzheimer’s and family members are faced with decisions that they have never encountered. A spouse dies and the uninvited new normal moves in.

Two thousand years ago, the most impactful new normal was born. The religious community was shaken to their roots by this event. Herod, the political leader of the day was so intimidated by this child that he had all male babies killed. Why would such a powerful man sink to such a wicked state of mind? Could it be that he didn’t want to live with the new normal?

And ever since this child was born, lived, died, and was resurrected, we have had to learn to adjust to the fact that life doesn’t rotate around us. We can try to brush his existence away by staying busy or feeding ourselves off of the world. But in reality, we will all have to face the truth either during this lifetime or the next.

Once my husband saw what Carl was doing, he moved quickly. With a pointing finger and a harsh word, Carl lowered his leg and moved away from the sofa. Overall, the dogs have adapted to their new normal but as we all know, it can get messy at times.

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A Tender Side of Carl

All is calm. Leo left to go to the groomers and both Carl and Bee are resting quietly. Since Leo has been with us, I have noticed a tender side to Carl as he relates to Bee. He has been very protective of his Frenchie sister. Many times, I have caught him sitting very close to her and nipping tenderly at her ear.

This behavior reminds me of how a courting young man holds his girlfriend close to him. It also paints a picture of how God draws near to us in the midst of difficult situations.

Joseph was a man that went from being his father’s favorite with a promising career to a man who was imprisoned for no valid reason. Throughout the book of Genesis, Joseph’s life is portrayed for all of us in the darkest most trying times of our lives.

I am sure he had no idea why he was sold by his brothers to foreigners. And just when he seemed to be getting his life on track, Potiphar’s wife accuses him of rape and he is wrongly imprisoned. To make matters worse, he is forgotten by Pharaoh’s butler and left in the dungeon for two more years.

How often have we felt forgotten by close friends, family, and even God? It would appear by what had happened to Joseph, he could have focused on being forgotten. But he didn’t. Genesis 39:2-3 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.”

Joseph serves as a model to all of us in the depths of our suffering. He could have easily blamed God and become bitter but he didn’t. Instead Joseph focused on God and all the blessings that he had received even in the direst times of his life. Even the Egyptian, an ungodly man, saw this and contributed Joseph’s success to God.

Joseph didn’t understand why he had to go through such suffering but if we study our Bibles, it is clearly stated. In the same way, we don’t understand why we have to experience the trials that we go through but there will be a day when it will be revealed to us.

Watching Carl interact with his sister has been a great reminder of how God wants to comfort us in our times of need. Even though we can’t see God, if we pay close enough attention, we will be able to see the picture He is painting in our lives.

Allusions of Reality

Carl could see his reflection in the window pane and started to howl at it. He couldn’t be convinced that what he was barking at wasn’t real. So instead of ceasing, he took the barking up another notch. Determined to make the allusive figure leave, he looked right at it and then back at me. Realizing my little dog wasn’t going to stop the ear piercing screech, I opened the door so that Carl could go out and see that the image wasn’t real.

Reality. As I watched Carl react to the suggestive figure on the other side of the glass, I began to ponder how we can be just like him as we go through this life. Reality can mean many things to different people. For some, making money, seeking power, and climbing the ladder of success is their reality. For others, putting all their hopes and dreams into their family is their definition of what is true and right.

But what if this life is a temporal set of circumstances that isn’t reality at all. What if what Jesus tried to tell us when he walked this earth is the only true reality? In John 12, Jesus knew he would be crucified in only a few days and his words became more urgent.

John 12:44-46 states, “Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

Could this light he is referring to be the true reality? If so, where can we find it? And how can we be sure that we are living a life based on truth and not on an allusive falsehood?

I must remember the facts about this man. Jesus died. Just like we all will do. But this is where He was different. He actually rose from the dead and walked on the earth. He ate bread with his friends and even allowed Thomas to place his finger through the hole in his hand. But what gives me the most encouragement is that He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

So if Jesus is the reality that lasts for eternity, it gives me a lot to think about as I ponder how to live out my life.

After a while, Carl stopped barking and laid down on the cool floor to wait for another allusion to bark at. As the daylight changed how it reflected on the window, the figure that he once saw disappeared and was no longer real.

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From Old to New

First of all, I want to let everyone know that Carl is doing well. He has stopped coughing and has resumed his normal activity. But whatever Carl had, Bee now has. She has been displaying symptoms for the last couple of days. The only encouragement is that since Carl is now better, I am hoping that she will also get over this sickness.

For two days, Carl, Bee and I were imprisoned in my bedroom while a team of four painters scurried through my house and painted all the walls. Once they were finally finished and we were able to leave the confines of the bedroom, I felt I was going into a new house. With each wall painted and no pictures displayed, it felt like we were at a fresh starting point.

Since I haven’t moved in over thirty four years, it felt good to think I had a new pallet to work with. I could display pictures in an original format and rearrange furniture. It will be the same house but new in many respects.

Jesus shared an interesting parable in Luke 5:37-38 that took some study to understand. He stated, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will spill, and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins.”

I am sure the Pharisees were just as perplexed as we are today when hearing this parable. The Pharisees were stuck in their traditions and didn’t want to change how they had worshipped God for centuries. Jesus had challenged their convictions and they not only didn’t like it but wanted him killed. The new wine, Jesus, could not be placed in the old wine skins, the Pharisees’ desire to maintain the power that comes from being religious leaders.

For us today, when we encounter the real Jesus, it will cause us to want to change. He will cause us to have a desire to be different than what we have been. And hopefully, the new wine of Jesus can go into our transformed vessels. As for my house, I am in the process of changing things up. Placing pictures that have meaning in the forefront and packing up pictures that have no significance.

Carl has been perplexed by all the changes but as long as he gets his food and has his usual throne to sleep on, he will be fine.

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Muzzled

Carl was awake most of the night. He had started throwing up two days ago and last night it became chronic. Several times my little dog placed his paws on the bed frame hoping that I would pull him up on to the bed. When he realized that he wasn’t going to sleep with us, he made his way to the couch until he became sick again.

Once the morning came, I called and made an appointment for him to see the vet. Even though he wasn’t feeling well, he still demonstrated to all of us that he didn’t like getting his temperature taken or having someone move their hands all over his body. So the muzzle had to go on to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

A muzzle is an interesting apparatus. The one that Carl wears allows him to see but he can’t open his mouth very wide. It has a purpose and if used correctly can ensure that our little dog can receive the care he needs.

As humans, we don’t need a muzzle to keep us from biting others but sometimes we should wear one when we can’t control what we say. I know several times a week, I will think about something I said and wished that I had used a muzzle to keep the words from coming out.

As I looked over the scriptures that pertained to speaking out of turn, I became more and more convicted about my own misuse of words. Psalm 141:3 states, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Ephesians 4:29 states, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

But the verse that always makes me sit up and pay attention comes from James 3:5. It states, “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” We may not realize how the words we say can have such a powerful impact on others.

Carl’s muzzle won’t fit over my mouth but it sure can serve as a visual reminder that I can use when I am tempted to say the words that I should keep to myself. It has been a day since we took Carl to the vet. The vet was puzzled by his symptoms and we still don’t think he is totally back to normal.  Only time will tell.

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To Be Touched

My heart went out for Carl. He was clearly depressed and there wasn’t anything that I could do to improve his state of mind. He had been left by himself at the pet resort for four days. His sister Bee had gone to stay with a family and wasn’t there to share the kennel that they had occupied in the past.

During the days, he spent his time playing with the other dogs but none were his sister. I am sure the nights were probably the hardest as he lay in his crate waiting for a familiar face to appear.

Once he got home, his entire demeanor was somber.  The playful Carl was nowhere to be found. Instead a quiet subdued dog occupied the body of my little pet.  It was clear that he had missed the human touch that he was so accustomed to receiving.

Human touch. We can take it for granted. Particularly if you get a large dose of it on a regular basis. But not everyone experiences hugs or holding hands. Many people are either rejected or don’t understand the significance of this basic need.

Jesus knew the importance of touch. Many times He reached out to the ostracized.  In Matthew 8:2-3, He is willing to put his hand out to someone who has been shunned for years. “Suddenly a leper came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing, He said, “be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

Jesus could have easily healed this man without the personal touch he extended. But He knew that this man needed more than just being healed. He needed the contact by another human being.

Carl also needed the touch of his family members. He had missed it deeply. But after a night of resting on my husband’s lap and receiving the stroking of his hand over his furry back, Carl transformed back into the rambunctious Frenchie that we have grown to love and adore.

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