Monthly Archives: May 2011

Agressive Robins

 

Our resident robin has been attacking our windows for the last week. Evidently, it’s defending its territory against rivals; in this case its own reflection. In the spring, both in our current location and in an earlier house we’ve faced warrior robins a number of times.

 They sure mess up the windows and the surrounding area, a trait that makes Mary Helen very unhappy. I try to tell her that they are only doing what comes naturally, but she’s not pacified. She wants me to invent some kind of gadget to shoo them away from our windows.

 I haven’t done any scientific study, but I’d guess we get the same pair back every year. You’d think they would get to know us and become friendly like the chickadees. But no, as soon as they nest, they scold us unmercifully whenever we go outside. And they often build their mud and straw castles in the most inconvenient places. One year it was on top of the ladder we had hung on the side of our house. Another year it was on the garage door opener. We’d got in the habit of leaving the garage door open during the day. Not very thoughtful of the robins. A year ago, they built their abode on one of the supports of our deck. Can you imagine the scolding we got when we tried to enjoy the fresh air?

 Oh, I know robins are innocent of any malice. They’re just acting out their robin-nature which makes me wonder about all the talk about getting back to nature. If we happen to be human beings we don’t want to give in to that temptation. If we do, the result will be insults and anger and aggression and wars and sleeping around and eating until we’re stuffed and a whole lot of other junk. Stuff that our culture may tell us is quite natural. You get the idea.

 Counter intuitively, Jesus expects His followers to act contrary to their old nature. After all, one of the main purposes of redemption is to deliver us progressively from our fallen nature. That means being meek like the Master instead of aggressive and pushy. And tough as it sounds, Jesus taught us; Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39) Wow, that’s hard.

 Paul exhorts us to follow the same New Covenant principle. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends… (Romans 12:17-19)

 Like the robins, we might find it easier to give in to our nature, but God expects a much higher standard from His children. ©

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Clouds Do Not Extinguish The Sun

I commented to a friend the other day how welcome the sun was after so many cloudy and stormy days. An inveterate optimist who seems to always discover a silver lining in otherwise gloomy circumstances, she pointed out that the sun was always there, even when hidden from view. To ensure that I didn’t miss the spiritual application, she also reminded me that the Lord is always with us even when things look dark.

I don’t often appreciate people turning an innocent comment about the weather into a soapbox. But this particular friend is such a sunny Christian who faces challenging circumstances with laudable faith, that one can’t be annoyed with her. Don’t you wish there were more positive, hopeful Christians committed to spreading sunshine wherever they go? In my case, her comment has inspired me often to revel in the promised presence of our triune God—and led to this devotional.

The Bible is replete with reminders of this truth.

                The Lord is my shepherd…He leads me…He restores my soul.

                He guides me…I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23)

 It ‘s hard to imagine someone facing more challenges and difficulties than David. And yet he was able to pen not only the twenty-third psalm but many other gems. The following verse from his pen, I often claimed during our missionary years:

                I have set the Lord always before me.

                Because he is at my right hand,

                I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

 Jesus warned his disciples three times about his coming death, an event that could have totally shaken their faith. To prepare them he explained; I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.…He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. (John 14: 16-18)

 Then just before his ascension from their sight, gave them the Great Commission Embedded in that command was his promise:

                And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)

 Knowing that our Lord is present beyond the veil of sight, will not deliver us from troubles. Economic challenges will sometimes stymie us. We must continue to remain vigilant in traffic. Illness may lay us low. Sorrow could dog our footsteps. Relationships may falter. Persecution might come. But we will never be alone.

 Angels will be attending our pathway. Jesus Christ will be praying that our faith fail not. The Holy Spirit will be within us empowering us to resist the enticements of our own fallen nature. The Father will be operating behind the scenes so that all things in our lives will work out for our good and His glory. The Holy Spirit will be interceding for us with groans that words cannot express. All the resources of heaven will be bent on carrying us triumphantly to heaven.

 We live in a fallen, chaotic world prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and wars. But as the hymn writer reminds us: Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.

 Although sometimes hidden, the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. (Psalm 84:11)

Taking Things For Granted

How fortunate it is that God reminds us from time to time to be thankful for what we take for granted. Last week a terrible series of storms marched across the US. In Ontario we felt the whiplash of their passing. Although the winds knocked down trees, removed shingles and plunged thousands into darkness, we didn’t suffer any of the tragic losses felt by our American cousins. For that we are cautiously thankful, for we know that it is certainly not because we are more worthy than they. A more generous people than Americans is hard to find on planet earth.
However, we did learn a lot from the storm. Those lessons concern not only being thankful for good, sunshiny twister-free weather. We are especially thankful for electricity and the ingenuity that God has built into those He created in His own image. Last Thursday the storm blew a tree over the power lines across the road and we lost power for three days along with 600 others. We found ourselves singularly unprepared for this eventuality. As the temperature dipped close to freezing, the house got colder and colder. We had no heat source whatever. A couple of times during the next days, we drove to our daughter’s house, a half hour away, to get warm.
For light we did have a few candles and a oil lamp. I couldn’t find a flashlight. How could we live without being able to read? How would we entertain ourselves without the TV?
Since we live on a rural property we have a well. With the pump disabled, we soon found ourselves without water. Fortunately, we had some water we could use for flushing the commode and washing hands. The summer before I’d installed a barrel to collect rain water off the roof. And we had some bottled water for drinking and brushing our teeth.
At first we fired up the backyard BBQ to boil water in a can and heat up some soup. Finally, deep in our storeroom we found an old propane camping stove that we could use to fry eggs and heat water to wash up without blackening our cooking pots.
Would we lose all our frozen food—the scores of containers of soup we’d painstakingly cooked, the meat, the bargains we’d found at grocery stores? Fortunately, the power outage was not widespread and we were able to buy ice to keep things cold.
Everything takes so much longer and is so much more difficult when we lose the boon of electricity. So, we’re suddenly very thankful for light bulbs and furnaces, for stoves and freezers, for coffee pots and water pumps, for computers and TV’s. Truly, the Lord has made man a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honour. Now if only we’d learn to redirect the glory to its source.
We will try to remind ourselves in the days ahead not to take good things for granted whether they be the conveniences we enjoy or the people in our lives; and especially not to take God’s grace in Jesus Christ for granted. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights. (James 1:17) And as Romans 2:4 reminds us, the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience…should lead us…toward repentance. Including repenting for unthankfulness.