Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me

Nubian Donkey

Mary and Joseph

As we enter Passion week we read about Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. Many believe that it was a Nubian donkey whose line was domesticated 6000 years ago and commonly used as a burden bearer to carry people and supplies. It was probably that same breed who carried Mary, then pregnant with Jesus, into Bethlehem.

Nubian Donkey Baby
Nubian Donkey with Jack
Donkey Running

The reason this is fascinating is that this breed is often known to carry from birth a mark upon their backs that makes them distinct. It is the sign of the cross that stretches across their shoulders and down their backs. Legends have been written to remind Christians that it was Jesus who said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Two Nubian Donkies
Cross on Donkey Back
Nubian Donkey Standing Near Cardboard Cutout of Donkey

Below is an example of what has been written regarding the markings of the cross on these humble creatures and the message they truly bear.

The Donkey’s Cross

“Bring me the colt of a donkey.” was the Master’s request.

A young donkey was brought to Jesus
to carry Him into Jerusalem

A week later Jesus was ordered crucified
The little donkey so loved the Lord that
he wanted to help Him carry the cross.

But alas, he was pushed away.

As he turned to leave, the shadow of
the cross fell upon his back and shoulders

And there it has remained, a tribute to
the loyalty and love of the humbles of God’s creatures.

Shrek the sheep

Shrek the Sheep

Shrek the SheepThis is Shrek the sheep. He became famous several years ago when he was found after hiding out in caves and ravines for six years. And as you are able to see, his fleece grew because there was no one there to shear it. When he was finally found and shorn, his fleece weighed an amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just less than ten pounds, with the rare exception reaching fifteen pounds. For six years Shrek carried six times the regular weight of his fleece and this was due simply to the fact that he was away from his shepherd.

This is a great reminder of the passage in John 10 where Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His followers His sheep. This is a great example as to what happens when a person who knows Jesus Christ wanders. Without Christ’s constant refining and pruning we will accumulate burdens we don’t have to bear.

When Shrek was found, a sheep shearer took care of Shrek’s fleece in twenty-eight minutes. His sixty-pound fleece was removed and all it took was coming home to his shepherd.

 
The Bible says Christ will lift the burdens we carry, if we will stop hiding. He will take the burdens we have been carrying accumulated over time away from Him.

Remember His Word – “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30
 

Baby Lamb Rescued from Drowning in a River

baby lamb rescued

two norwegian guys rescuing a lamb from the riverHow many times have we all made poor choices and ended up in situations that were out of control and disastrous? To be honest, this lamb caught in the turbulence and currents is too reminiscent of a time early in my life when I foolishly thought I really knew what life was all about. Attitudes I held led to decisions that put me in an impossible place, and there seemed to be no way out.

Norwegian Guys Rescuing a Lamb
Two Norwegian Guys Rescue a Lamb

Truth be told, it took something disastrous to make me realize that there is very little in life that I am absolutely in control of, except my free will. Self-importance had me view myself as being invincible, and that distortion made me completely vulnerable. Like that lamb, I needed someone who was bigger than my circumstances, and could save and guide me to safety. That is why this set of pictures has great meaning to me.

Baby Lamb Rescued
Norwegian Guys Rescuing a Sheep

These two Norwegian lads saw this distressed and dying lamb and did what it could not do for itself. They took a risk and rescued it, getting it back on solid ground. When Jesus was criticized for eating and spending time with sinners He told them a story about a lost sheep. He shared how the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine to go find that one that was lost and “when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, two norwegian guys rescuing a lamb from ocean ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:5-7)
 
I was that lost sheep and will never forget the day that the loving hand of God reached into my life securing me, and saving me from my own ignorance and pride. I am yet ever thankful to know that there is a Shepherd who can lead me beside quiet water, and who will guide me to quiet pastures. And if need be, I know He will walk me through the valley of the shadow of death and I will fear no evil because His rod and staff will comfort me. (Psalm 23)

Mother Tiger Nurses Piglets!

Tiger Piglets

Tiglets anyone?

Although this is not a recent story, it is a story that has weighed heavily on my mind for many months. It took me some time to recognize a few of the many messages easily overlooked. If one only recognized the story as just another happy ending news release much would be missed.
 
Sad TigerThe story goes like this; in late 2006, a mother tiger gave birth to rare triplet cubs. Evidently there were challenges with the pregnancy resulting in a premature delivery, low birth weights, and ultimately the very sad demise of all three cubs. The mother tiger, although physically fine, immediately began to fall into a state of depression and declining health. A call for help was sent out to many zoos in search of orphan tiger cubs that could be brought in as surrogate babies. Unfortunately, no orphan tiger cubs could be found.

Tiger Nurses Piglets
Tiger Nursing Pigs

Knowing that some mother animals will take on the orphan of another species, the veterinarians decided to take a risk and bring in the only babies immediately available, piglets! In spite of their natural predator to prey relationship the piglets, adorned in tiger striped pajamas, were immediately welcomed by the tiger nursing pigs mother tiger. As you can see from the photos the tiger is very engaged in the maternal experience and the piglet/tiglets are obviously quite content. What human would ever have thought we would live to see a piglet napping on a mother tiger?
 

 
As I thought about this heart warming and engaging story, I became aware of three complimentary messages God laid out through these animals. The first connects us with the team providing care to this mother tiger. Against “nature’s odds of success” they stepped up to the plate and took a seemingly hopeless situation and turned it around for good.
 
James 1:27, Expanded Bible (EXB) says; “Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and without fault is this: caring for orphans and widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence.” The team didn’t walk away from the situation leaving the tiger grieving and certain to die of a broken heart. They focused on caring for the mother tiger and took the risk of bringing in the piglets to soothe her.
 
Next we see the promise of Psalm 147:3 (NASB) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God provided the piglets to heal the mother tiger’s heart. To encourage the acceptance between the species, God even led the team to bind the piglets in tiger striped material to enhance their surrogate presentation!

Tiger Nurses Piglets
Tiger Piglets

Lastly we can see a fore shadow of the confirmation of words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 11: 6-9 (NASB) regarding the return of Jesus. Just like the tiger and the piglets living in harmony, when He comes all adversity will cease between men and beasts!

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. 7 Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

 
If we take the time to look at every situation God’s hand of direction and tiger piglets protection can be seen. Animals know God and do not question Him. Unfortunately most humans do question Him and depend on themselves for everything. God called us all to leave our selfish nature behind, to help meet the needs of the less fortunate, to reach out with kindness and love our neighbors regardless of their race, creed or religion. We need to trust in Him, not ourselves, to pay attention to all that is going on around us and He will show us solutions.
 
We can all take counsel from the writing of Job in chapter 12:7-10 ( NASB) “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you; and let the fish of the sea declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
 

Pastor Leslie Becker

 

Linus the Cow – 1500 lbs. of Love

Linus the Cow

Linus the Cow
“This is my favorite photo in the world – me and Linus, born to a dairy cow and ordered to be killed when the farmer saw he was a male (and thus useless in the dairy industry). A compassionate individual intervened, and he was brought to a sanctuary. I met him when he was a few days old and 60 pounds, and he would always try to sit on my lap. Today, 7 years young and 1500 pounds, he still tries to sit on my lap.”

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau