What Manner Is This…

I’m often amazed at how God uses the ordinary to teach extraordinary lessons. While watering the cattle after feeding, I was enjoying the peaceful view and solitude of the morning’s hush. As the cattle finished up “breakfast” and began moving about, I noticed “Lulu Belle” and “Mavric” coming alongside one another. Knowing she was already pregnant, I knew this wasn’t a conjugal visit. What I didn’t expect was the lesson God had prepared for me.

As my cows strolled across the pasture, they stopped and “Lulu” began what I can only describe as lovingly cleaning “Mavric’s” ears and his neck with her abrasive tongue. I mused, He must have an itch, as he lowed softly at her ministrations. Now I’ve seen cattle clean each other’s head and ears before, but that morning’s actions seemed different. In the past, I’d laugh about it because while “Mavric” can stick his massive tongue up his own nose and lick his eyebrows, he can’t lick behind his ears.

Whether it was “Lulu’s” motherly instincts or something else, she continued licking and cleaning her sire for several minutes. As the stock tank was silently filling, my heart whispered, what manner of love is this. Watching “Lulu” care for her herd mate reminded me of how not that long ago she cleaned her twin calves (“Emma” and “Rose”) in the same way. I couldn’t escape the overwhelming feeling I was viewing an act of sacrificial love.

First John 3:1 reads, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” Watching my pasture pals show love and kindness toward one another, I felt convicted by how often I fall short of this sacrificial, agape love that John wrote about. It’s a love that puts the needs of others before your own. As humans, we too often see love as transactional. I will love you, but only after you have shown me love. God’s love doesn’t work that way.

John 3:16 reminds us that God loved us so much that He surrendered His place in heaven to come be with us. He taught us how we can be redeemed from our sinful life through our faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus gave His life not for an individual or select group, but as a sacrifice for all humanity. He did this while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). THIS is the depth of God’s love for us. And this is the love we, as God’s children, must show in our lives.

Do we show God’s love to the world around us? Share on X

In teaching His disciples, Jesus Christ shared this verse. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.(John 15:12). Throughout the New Testament, we read examples of how God in the flesh (Jesus) sacrificially loved those around Him. He patiently taught us through parables; and He was a living example of how we are to live with, and love, one another. God’s love is not transactional, nor is it reserved only for other Christians or members of our immediate family (both physical and spiritual). It is a love so powerful that once we have it in us, it becomes an endless supply that spills over into everything we say and do.

My adopted mama showed me in my teens what God’s love looks like when put into action. She was a gregarious little woman who never met a stranger; greeting the world with a smile and a kind word. Many years later, God used another sweet little woman to do the same thing. Ms. Mary at our church shows me what it means to love like God every time I see her. It doesn’t matter if we meet in a hallway, in the sanctuary, or on a street corner. It doesn’t matter if we’re at a formal dinner function or she’s busily cleaning up a mess others left behind. When she sees me, she stops what she’s doing, opens her arms, flashes a bright smile, and comes in for a hug.

As she’s embracing you tightly, she seems to stand up on her tippy toes and proclaims, “I love you.” I can promise you this. Anyone who has ever met Ms. Mary in person and receives a “Mary hug” will not leave feeling the same way as you did before the encounter. Both her words and her actions permeate your soul; and in them you can literally feel God’s love coursing through her. I walk away from every encounter with dear Ms. Mary, thinking, I want to love like that Lord.

Among my dad’s many wise sayings, “You get what you give” is one I’ll always hold as a treasure in my heart. In his simple way, he paraphrased another of Christ’s teachings, found in Luke 6:38.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure,
pressed down, shaken together, and running over
will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure
that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

 As we near the day of celebration for the arrival of God’s great gift of love to us, let us endeavor to show God to the world through our love. As 1 John 3:1 tells us, many won’t understand us because they don’t know God. It is exactly this difference that we need the world to see more of these days. Of the many things I’ve learned in this life, knowing that I can never out-give or out-love God is chief among them. In case I miss you next week, please have a very Merry CHRISTmas and remember that both God and I love you very much.

God’s blessings,



Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.


44 thoughts on “What Manner Is This…”

  1. J.D., like you, I marvel at how God uses the ordinary to teach us. It’s why I named my blog “Days & Thoughts”. Thank you for sharing your cattle stories for they provide lessons for us all. Praying I show God’s love to those around me!

  2. One day, through God’s grace, I may grow up to demonstrate the love your critters do. Until then, I look forward to giving you a hug should God determine our paths will cross. Thank you, kind sir.

  3. Another amazing lesson about God’s love given you by your beloved cattle, J. D. Loved it! Yes, God’s lessons are all around us if we simply take the time to open our eyes and truly see.
    Merry Christmas to you!

  4. The stories you share are always so powerful. This is no exception. I pray to share God’s love like those creatures of His and like Ms. Mary. Wishing you a blessed CHRISTmas my friend.

  5. How beautiful! I, too, am amazed by the lessons God teaches us through the ordinary. We have much to learn from God’s design for the natural world. I’m thankful for Christians and writers such as you who take the time to notice them and share them with others

  6. The lesson you share from Lulu loving Mavric also reminds me of Jesus washing the disciples feet. Sometimes loving others places us in vulnerable and humbling positions and we have to put the love and concern for others above our own needs. It’s wonderful what we learn from God’s creatures–often the lessons our animals teach us are much easier to understand and appreciate than the lessons (or hard knocks) we get from humans. Wishing you a Merry CHRISTmas, J.D. and Diane.

    1. So very true Ms. Katherine. I thought many of those same thoughts that morning ma’am. I would die for some folks, but would I surrender myself enough to clean out their ears with my tongue, or to lick all sorts of mess from their hide? LOL I need to become much more humble than I am today. God’s blessings my friend; and Merry CHRISTmas!

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I know you’ve thrown a tough curveball to handle, but I also know your faith and your Mr. Larry are both strong enough to see you through this. Please know that I, and many of our mutual friends, are praying fervently for your peace, God’s will in your life, and His mighty hand upon your shoulder dear friend. God’s blessings.

  7. I think it is so precious that God put into animals the desire to care of each other. I love the picture of your cows doing that. Thank you for this illustration of how showing love impacts more than just the recipient. All those who behold it are also in some way affected.

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Debbie. Sometimes it feels like He created the entire universe to show us and help us discover who we are supposed to be and how we’re supposed to live in unison with Him. Thank you so much ma’am.

  8. What a beautiful lesson of love and care! I love how God opens your heart, eyes, and ears to absorb His message. Thank you for your ministry and how you share the love of God. Merry Christmas to you and Ms. Diane. 🙂

  9. Another wonderful message taken from the farm animals. God’s love extends to the animals, as well as to us. Prayerfully, God’s love extends to others through us!

    Merry Christmas to you and Miss Diane!

    1. Amen ma’am. So very well said; “God’s love enters others through us.” Oh that we become better conduits for His love, peace, mercy, and grace. God’s blessings, and Merry CHRISTmas ma’am. I loved your recent CHRISTmas article on Advent in Refresh ma’am. Great job!

    1. How very true Coach Mark. We get so busy trying to navigate the world that we forget who’s path we’re supposed to be walking along, and whom we should be walking it with. God’s blessings my faithful friend.

  10. I wish and pray that we could truly understand this kind of love and grace. What a beautiful picture as we prepare to celebrate our wonderful Savior. Thanks JD, your words provided me so much hope today. Merry Christmas

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Yvonne. There is so much that we’ll never be able to fully understand in this life; but oh the joy that is coming when our understanding is made complete on that day my friend. God’s blessings my world-traveling friend, and Merry CHRISTmas wherever you are on that day.

  11. You bring such a smile to my face and a nudge to my Spirit, JD. Give it up for Mavric and his herd mate LuLu (two of God’s best ideas) to demonstrate the Gospel … For God so loved and sacrificed in order to demonstrate His love!

    May others walk away from every encounter with us, having experienced the love of God in some small measure.

  12. Your spiritual insights from the ordinary happenings around the Cross Dubya always amaze me! Thank you for your reminder of how much God loves us and how much we need to share that love with the world! Wishing you and Diane a very blessed CHRISTmas, J.D. !

    1. Thank you Ms. Kathy. I think of the wonderful gifts God has bestowed upon you and my meager gifts pale in comparison. Yet together, we can do all things through Christ my friend. I so very glad our community of Christian writers and speakers understand that when we lift each other up and come together to obey His will for our lives, we have a much larger impact in this darkened world. What an honor it is for me to stand alongside industry greats like you and so many others. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  13. Oh, this encouraged my heart! His love is so extravagant. Thank you for the reminder to loves others as He does, J.D. People are desperate for the gift of transformative love.

    Merry Christmas to you and Ms. Diane!

    Peace and grace,

  14. My folks used to refer to any of us who were dragging along and coming in last as the “cow’s tail.” Well… I’m sorry to be the cow’s tail in reading another of your characteristically insightful cow’s tale from the Cross-Dubya. It has been an unusually demanding week around the Gallagher compound and I’m just now beginning to catch up, and blessed to have the reminder of how much God loved us in the days when we were in “the far country” away from Him. Like Lulu, He always takes the time to clean those parts of me that I cannot reach on my own. God bless you, my friend, for warming up our hearts as Christmas approaches. May yours be blessed in ways you and Diane never anticipated.

    1. Amen sir. I’ve learned that it isn’t whether I place first or last, but whom I put first and last in life. When we put God first, we’ll always be assured of finished my friend. And yessir, I’m grateful He knows what I need before I do, and how to reach where I can’t. I sometimes wonder how many blessings He’s sent my way that I’m not even aware of. That traffic accident that I wasn’t involved in. The random violence that rocks so many communities. That heart attack that never happened because He slowed me down from my frenetic pace. Oh, the goodness of God we don’t even consider. Praying you’re recovery is on track and you’ll be all better by CHRISTmas brother. God’s blessings.

  15. A beautiful example of God’s love in us. it’s a good lesson for me as I have been letting the stress of the season eat away at my good intentions. May we all celebrate Christ this week in our words and actions. Merry Christmas, brother JD!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Karen. I’m most pleased you enjoyed the post ma’am. It seems we all get just a bit more stressed this time of year. Whether “last minute” shopping, year-end goals, tax-planning, or travel, all of it can add up to a tsunami of stress and added pressure in our life. I’m so very grateful that God is ready to embrace us, settle our souls, and give us peace and rest. Now, if we can just remember to reach out to Him and ask. 🙂 God’s blessings dear friend, and Merry CHRISTmas!

  16. Isn’t it interesting how God gives us the capacity and ability to love our brothers and sisters even though we have never met them? It’s that agape love taking root. I have to say, my friend, I have grown to love the Texas rancher who so dearly cares for his herd, his wife, his dog, his donkey, and the ranch God gave him.
    As I watch my dog O’Malley wash Rio’s ears so thoroughly, I have to stop and take thought how God gives us those inner yearnings to care for others. And it warms my heart.

    1. As I have my dear and precious sister in Christ in Birmingham. I’m so looking forward to giving you and Mr. Parky the biggest hugs you’ve ever gotten. It might be in heaven’s glory, but it’ll be worth the wait sweet friends. God’s blessings, and thank you for sharing how my buddy O’Malley shares his love with Rio. Oh, but that we could love, forgive, and welcome others as well as God’s creatures do. God’s blessings ma’am.

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