Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Not to Raise An Ostrich

When I lived at home in Amarillo, Tx my family would eat dinner at Granny and Pa’s house once or twice a week. On one particular night, my dad, mom and brothers were over and some other uncles and cousins. My Pa took his place at the table and became unusually quiet.

Our big family was crowded around the little dining room table while some of us stood at the bar to eat. After enjoying the meal everyone started visiting until Pa abruptly announced, “kids, y’all come on. I wanna show you somethin’” 

We stood up and waited for him to turn either to the basement or the garage. The basement was where he kept his collection of Avon trucker cologne bottles, and the garage was where he kept his rock tumbler and metal detector collection. We couldn’t imagine what else he might have accumulated and where, but this time what he wanted to show us was in the basement. The dark, brown shag carpet lined, basement.

Before I go any further, I need to share with you my limited knowledge of ostriches. Did you know that the ostrich is the largest living bird in the world? A baby ostrich grows 10 inches per month and can weigh 100 lbs. by the end of its first year. Full-grown male ostriches can grow as tall as 9 feet.

The natural predators of the ostrich are cheetahs, lions and leopards. To keep from becoming lunch, God created the ostrich with the ability to run at sustained speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. To raise Ostriches it is recommended to allow ¼ - ½ acre of land per pair. Now, back to the basement we go.

Slowly we descended down the stairs, filed into the small space to find ourselves hovered around an oversized incubator. Pa flipped on the light switch, pointed to the incubator and stood back with pride so we could all see. Contained in the incubator was an ostrich egg the size of a pee-wee football. We all looked at each other, somehow not surprised, but shocked all at the same time. This egg was glowing under the light and you could almost see it vibrate as the life of the largest known species of bird in the world formed beneath the thin translucent shell.

“What in the world, Dad?!? What are you going to do when that egg hatches?” asked my dad. “I’m going to feed it milk with a bottle, son. I’m going to raise it!” To which someone astutely responded, “IN YOUR BACK YARD?”

In the book of James we see the progression of sin laid out for us. James 1:14-15 says first we are tempted. When we are tempted we are being drawn away and enticed by our own evil desires away from following God. When desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin and when sin is fully grown it gives birth to death.

I am thankful for my Savior Jesus everyday. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and life more abundantly.” This is a promise, that through Jesus we can be forgiven and live an abundant life in Christ.

Thinking about growing an ostrich in your basement? It’s about as good an idea as following temptation. James 4:7 gives us some guidelines to avoid having full grown sin in our hearts, 
“Therefore, submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, 
and He will draw near to you.”

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why Are You Still Here?

Chad and I may or may not have gone on a date to see the movie “Jobs” this morning while the kids were in school. Let’s pretend we did. Okay, we did. The movie was inspiring for many reasons, but one part in the movie got me all stirred up.

Steve Jobs had been betrayed and lost his position at Apple. Years later when the company began taking a nose-dive the new board invited Steve back in as a consultant. He began visiting each department and in the movie they showed him standing in the design department staring at rough drawings on the wall of what would become drawings of the first iMacs.

Even though the drawings were in the rough stage, Steve could see the passion behind their inspiration. He turned around to the design team, looked at the design leader and asked, “Why are you still here?”

The artist, looking stunned, refused to skirt around this very direct question, so he stammered until the truth came forth. “There are still some of us who believe in what you stand for.” He said. To which Jobs replied with a snicker, “And what is it that you think I stand for?”

Steve Jobs was looking to overhaul the company with people who were as passionate about his vision as he was.

In John Chapter 6 Jesus was giving a graphic description of what would be required of those who truly followed after Him. He said that unless his disciples eat of the flesh of the son of man and drink of His blood they will not have eternal life. Of course Jesus was not speaking literally; however, to the Jews who were ridiculing Jesus, He was making a clear admonition that unless they fully embrace
His death on the cross as complete payment for their sins then they could not receive eternal life.

Jesus was thinning out the crowd of those who were following Him for personal gain, notoriety and power to find those who were passionate enough about the work of the Father to persevere with Him until the end.

Many of the disciples responded to this call by saying, “these things are hard to understand.” When they couldn’t get Jesus to back down, many who were following turned away that day.

Jesus stood before “the twelve” who were left and asked “Do you also want to go away?” Basically, Jesus asked, “Why are you still here?” To which Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life.”

That’s passion! Simon Peter saw life in the words of Jesus where everyone else was consumed with dying flesh. “We have come to believe and know that you are the Son of the living God.” Peter testified.

Jesus calls His followers to selfless and challenging work!  I am always inspired to to see how others respond to the call. Some feel called to open their home to foster care and adoption, some mothers dedicate their lives to home educating their children, some plant churches and others travel thousands of miles to train and educate pastors. Some give their life to be teachers, nurses or doctors. Still others serve faithfully in the nursery, or teach three- year-olds in Sunday School.

If you asked these followers, “why are you still here?” they would point you to Jesus. They know what it means to find a life of purpose in Christ. The passion of their service to His glory testifies that they believe in what He died for, and should inspire us all to run the race!

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3