The Nuthatch is No Chicken Little

nuhatchI don’t have any hills in my yard, but I do hear the sound of music. My feathered friends have begun their annual return, and they’re filling the air with their joyful melodies. As they arrive, they’re met by the faithful chickadees and nuthatches who have fed on sunflower seeds and weathered the winter.

If, as some say, the chickadees and nuthatches are deficient in color, they are more than proficient in conversation. The chickadee is reported to have a vocabulary of around 50 distinct sounds including phrases, like “danger!” “feed me!” or “I’m single!”

As the chickadee is busy chattering, the nuthatch listens intently; verifies the message; and, if necessary, acts as a watchman on the wall and sounds a predator is present alarm. While the nuthatch is no Chicken Little,  Eric Greene, an ecologist at the University of Montana, lightheartedly says the bird will “retweet” valid warnings to his neighbors.

The importance of conversations cannot be overstated, and ours ought to be more than idle chatter. Jesus said a person will be either justified or condemned by the words they speak (Matthew 12:27).  Our conversation should be more than great swelling words of emptiness (2 Peter 2:18), or persuasive words of deception (Colossians 2:8).

How can we fine-tune our vocabulary, so our conversation is pleasing to God? We can start with a prayer of David: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

Counting Down

Calendar with strikethrough crosses fields. Vector ImageAn annual rite of the holiday season is the Christmas countdown. Each year, children count the days to Christmas with an eager expectation, that is only matched by their mothers’ stressful preparation.

Now that Christmas has passed, other countdowns have begun. Some people are counting down the days until the start of the new year, and others have already circled the number 14 on February’s calendar in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The number 14 is significant to another group of people.  They are counting down the 91 sunrises that stand between them and the start of the baseball season.

When they hear the number 14, they think in terms of a Rose and and a Banks. Pete Rose was a gritty presence on the diamond during his professional career; however, he was given a lifetime ban for committing baseball’s unpardonable sin.

Like Rose, Ernie Banks also wore the number 14, but his legacy remains untarnished. Even though he had not played for over 40 years when he died in 2015, Banks remains a cherished favorite of the Cub’s fans to this day.

Professional athletes know their fans can be rather fickle and their celebrity status is the result of their performance.  If they do not measure up to the expectations of their fan-base, they are quickly booed.

Fortunate for us, this is not the case with God—His love is not performance-based. He will not bench you because you strike-out, but He will toss you another bat, and say, “Ok slugger, give it another try. Focus and remember, you’re the eye of My, and I’ll be in the batter’s box with you; so, swing away (Psalm 17:8).

The Beauty of Spring

bartram_trail_pic1My two favorite seasons of the year are Spring and Fall.  In the cycle of life, I think these are the two most refreshing seasons of the year.

Even though Spring doesn’t official begin until March 20th, God blessed us with Spring-like weather this past weekend.  As I was enjoying the day, I thought about the many blessings that God gives His children, and two words from John 3:16 came to mind:  He gave.

As I was tilling the soil in my garden, I thought about several things God has given:

  • He has given the warmth of the sunshine.
  • He infused flowers with their delicate fragrance.
  • He designed your taste buds, so they would be tickled by the flavor of food.
  • He engineered your eyes so they can see the beautiful landscapes of His magnificent creation.
  • He gave you ears, so you can hear the three greatest word that have ever been spoken:  I love you.

The I love you verse of the Bible is John 3:16, and when you read it you discover the greatest gift that God has given: “He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life.”

Take a moment sometime today to give yourself a gift.  The next breath you take, make it a deep one, and then pause to thank God for the beauty and fragrance of life. Then take about 4 more minutes, and listen to this brief and beautiful song.

29 More Days

2010_01_21_blog_seed_catalogs-008With the foul weather, frigid temperatures, and bone-chilling wind, it’s hard to believe that the first day of Spring is about a month way.  Proof of this is the frequent appearance of seed catalogues in my daily mail.

Bright red roses and other fragrant flowers will soon be in full blossom.  As the buds of these plant begin to form, gardeners will sniff about them in anticipation of their pleasing aroma.

The scent of a flowering plant is designed to attract insects for the purpose of pollination.  In 1953 chemists could only recognize 20 of the chemicals in a rose’s fragrant bouquet, but now they can identify 1,700 different scent compounds.

The sweet fragrance of flowers reminds me of a couple of verses in the Bible:

  • In Revelation 5:8, John speaks of “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
  • In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul encourages us to “be imitators of God, as beloved children, and to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

I’ll leave you with a question to consider:  Are you know for raising a stink or for a life that is “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God?”

The Sound of Spring

finchI always look forward to the coming of Spring; its arrival is heralded with the song of yellow finch as they eat from the thistle filled feeder hanging from a tree. They are often joined by their redheaded cousins, and cardinals eat from another feeder close by.

These brightly colored birds do something that we generally associate with human activity. I’m speaking of praise and worship. In Psalm 148:1-4, it is clear that God’s creation is to actively praise Him. When you skip down to verse 7, it suggests that the song of the bird is an act of praise to God.

The Psalm closes with these words: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord.”

I want to encourage you to give some consideration to what you say today. When you make a choice of words, make sure they are choice words.

Your choice of words will define you. Are you known more for your tongue lashings or for your words of grace and encouragement?

This was the centerpiece of James thoughts when he said: “For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water (3:7-12)”

Birds sing because they have a song, and you should praise God because he has put a new song in your heart.

Psalm 40:2-4: “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust, and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.”