FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Meow

If you have followed my blog for any time or read any of the archived entries, you know that I have had a past love/hate (ok, mostly hate) relationship with the squirrels. Well, I made my peace with the squirrels and, as you might have read, extended them grace. Great grace, I would say, since I purchased and had erected a squirrel feeder. Yes, a feeder just for them. One of my friends commented, “You are actually, intentionally feeding the squirrels?!” And I said, “Yes!” They have a feeder and I fill it with corn, seeds and nuts!

Oh, but now it is the cats!

Specifically, it is my neighbor’s cats.

All nine of them.

Yes, nine!

They are ever in my yard and ever after my birds! (For those who don’t know, I also intentionally feed the birds.)

I enjoy watching the birds and hearing them sing. They remind me of the Scriptures and remind me to be calm, to slow down, to enjoy life, to trust my Lord (Matthew 6:25-34).

But those cats! I know that they have only recently killed at least six birds. I saw them torture, tease and torment one. By the time I’d rushed from my kitchen to chase them away, it was too late. I have found piles of feathers and down beneath the feeders, behind the barn and under my car.

I see the birds pecking and searching the grasses beneath the feeders, and I think, “What are you, dumb? Why do you insist on eating on the ground when the feeders are perched high – safe – on posts or hanging from the limbs of the trees? How dumb can you be?”

At the very least, they are slow learners. You would think that they would know by now that the cats are coming; that the cats are not their friends; that the cats are the enemy, prowling, looking to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

And with that thought, it hit me! Sometimes (hmm, too many times), I’m not very smart either; I’m a slow learner. Like the birds I have flirted with the enemy, knowingly placed myself in his path, blindly turned my attention to other matters thinking them more important while ignoring his threats. I’ve assumed myself smarter, faster even, than the enemy.

We need to understand that Satan is real. Satan is powerful. The battle is real. The battle is continuous. There is never a time when he is not on the prowl, watching, waiting, ready to pounce. Though Satan was created as the chief of all angels, God limited his boundaries and his powers (Job 1:9-12). Still, he is wise, cunning, deceiving and always at work – like those cats, stalking, watching for whom He may devour (2 Corinthians 11:4, 1 Peter 5:8). Might this be why Jesus said we must pray daily for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13)? Hmmm.

Satan is the enemy who disrupts our lives. But guess what; He doesn’t have a chance against Jesus.

POSSIBLE RESOURCES

  1.  How to Have a Meaningful Quiet Time                                                 http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/how-to-have-a-meaningful-quiet-time-1338122.html
  2. How to Have a Quiet Time                                               http://www.lifeway.com/Article/how-to-have-a-quiet-time
  3. How to Have a Quiet Time – According to Martin Luther                             http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/advice/faithqa/whats-quiet-time.html

 

ps Those cats don’t have a chance against me!


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Grace for Squirrels

Yes, the squirrels, again.  We are still at war.  Or at least we were until this afternoon.  Here’s what happened.

During travels to the beach last week we stopped for a waterfront picnic and a little shopping in one of the small communities between our home and the beach.  I found something called a “Soda Bottle Birdfeeder” and had to have it.  Really.  I couldn’t wait to return home to “install” it – especially since it required me to drink a soda before I could use the bottle.  (A soda is a very rare treat for me these days.)

Anyway, I guzzled a Sprite thinking the green bottle would be ideal.  After washing and drying the bottle, I inserted the hanger, filled the bottle with birdseed, attached the spigot-like piece that would permit small birds to perch and feed and promptly suspended the feeder from an iron hook that hung over a branch of a tree in my backyard. The birds seemed to immediately find the new feeder and began devouring the seed. Joy – for me and the birds.

I marveled at the birds and new feeder for a day before noticing that it appeared to be hanging somewhat lopsided. A closer inspection revealed the handiwork of a squirrel. Unable to cling to the iron hook and unable to reach the “spigot,” a squirrel had apparently hung upside down from a nearby branch and chewed a hole into my “soda bottle feeder. Just a few more nibbles would have caused it to tumble to the ground had I not noticed in time! I bought the feeder because I knew the squirrels would not be able to reach the “spigot” and would not be able to grasp the hook; it never occurred to me that they would figure out how to chew holes into the bottle.

To say that I was livid would be an understatement! The squirrels had already overtaken the other feeders that I have in my back and side yards; “Surely,” I thought, “they will let the birds enjoy this one.” Even as I was inspecting their handiwork, they were munching away at the seed in my other feeders. So, I took the feeders down! Every one of them! Then I sat on my back porch and watched for hours how they (and, sadly, the birds) came to the branches and the posts in search of seed to find none. “Let ‘em starve,” I told my mom.

I wish that I could have captured the ruckus. It seems that every bird and every squirrel in the town descended upon my backyard. They screeched, grunted, cawed and made sounds imaginable and unimaginable. They flew away or scrambled through the trees only to return again and again to the sites where the feeders had stood or hung. I felt badly for the birds, but those squirrels! THOSE SQUIRRELS!!!! I just want to enjoy the birds. I don’t want greedy little squirrels eating up all of my seed – MY SEED!

And that is when the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to me. “Have you no grace? Yes, even for the squirrels?” I thought, “Seriously?” And His Spirit said, “Yes. Seriously.”

Now let me go ahead and tell you that it wasn’t really about the squirrels but about me and my propensities for showing (or not) grace to others.

Max Lucado describes grace as “God’s best idea. His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly.” He says that nothing rivals it and that “when grace happens, generosity happens – unsquashable, eye-popping bigheartedness.”

If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you’ve probably read about my love for giving gifts. But if I am honest, I choose to whom I give. In that instance with the squirrel, it was clear that the same applies to grace. I choose to whom I extend grace. And I immediately wondered, “What if God chose to whom He extended grace? Would he extend it to me?”

 

Ephesians is clear that our behavior as Christians is to be permeated by kindness, characterized by compassion and evidenced by consideration of others. We grieve (1 Corinthians 12:26) and rejoice with others. We forgive (Ephesians 4:32). We love (John 13:34-35). We extend grace just as we have received grace (1 Peter 4:10).

So, I fed the squirrels.

Squirrel Feeder

 


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Lessons From a Squirrel

If we would pay attention, all of life can teach us a lesson, even a squirrel.  For example, just this morning as I sat on my screened porch for quiet time with my LORD, I learned that the porch is not always the best place for me.  I can too easily become distracted by the swarms of birds that come to my feeders, the neighbor’s cats that slither betwixt and between my Hostas, the beeps of the garbage trucks, the hoot of a faraway owl and THE SQUIRRELS.

This morning in particular it was a squirrel that distracted me, so much so that I stopped to capture video.  I’m thinking that it is a mother-to-be squirrel because she is obviously building a nest in my neighbor’s attic (not the neighbor with the cats).  I watched her sneak in and out of the attic venting carrying small branches of leaves.  She would poke her head from the venting, watch and listen for things or people that might harm her then, when she deemed it safe, climb to the roof ridge before scurrying down one side of the roof and making a jump to a nearby tree.  She would gnaw a branch from a tree then, with branch in mouth, make the return trip – jumping back onto the roof, climbing to the ridge then down to the vent and into the attic.  I captured a series of photos and three 10-minute videos.  She must have made a gazillion trips.

So what did I learn? I mean, other than not to have my quiet time on the screened porch. I learned a lot, but I will share just one lesson – one I believe is powerful. God calls us to be lifelong learners.

My neighbor’s attic is not that squirrel’s first home. It very likely is not her only home because typically squirrels construct at least two nests – one to live in and a backup in the event something happens to or danger comes near the first. My neighbor’s roof may not be the first roof that squirrel climbed. Squirrels are continuous learners, forever learning which trees to climb, how to escape from predators (remember those cats), where to build nests, how to find food (like they’ve discovered my bird feeders), where to hide their goodies, etc. They cannot afford to become complacent and to stop learning, and neither can we.

Proverbs 1:5-7 teaches us that the wise hear and increase in learning, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and that fools despise wisdom and instruction. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:13-14 that as believers we are to be continuous learners growing in the LORD. TM Moore writes, “The basic meaning of the word, “disciple,” is learner. A disciple is one who learns. A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who learns from Him.”

What are we to learn? A lot! Our calling is to learn about Jesus, who He is, what His plan is and how we fit into that plan. Colossians 2:2-3 (MSG) says Believers can be woven into God’s tapestry of love, be in touch with everything there is to know of God and “have minds confident and at rest” because they will be filled with the wisdom and mystery of God. Who wouldn’t want this?!

Jesus commands us, “Learn from Me” (Matthew 11:29 ESV). The verb “learn” as used here expresses continuous action. When we want to talk about an action that is happening now or at this time and is unfinished, we use the present continuous tense. Learn now, learn later, learn repeatedly, learn continuously. That’s a lesson from a squirrel. That’s a lesson from our LORD!

SOURCE

http://www.colsoncenter.org/the-center/columns/talking-points/16887-lifelong-learners