Archive for August, 2008

The Mockingbird and The Crow

I was recently walking my dogs on one of those unusually cool summer mornings.  One of those mornings that causes you to pay a little closer attention to the world around you.  As we walked I noticed a red tailed hawk skimming just above the tree tops.  As he entered a clearing, he was suddenly attacked from above by a single mockingbird.  The mockingbird squawked, squealed and pecked ferociously at the head of the enormous hawk.

 

Breaking his motionless flight, the now desperate hawk quickly rose and fell, and moved side to side in an effort to shake the relentless mockingbird.  Unable to fly away from the determined intruder, the hawk made his way to the highest branch of a distant hickory tree. 

 

As the hawk began to regain his composure a lone crow appeared in the distance.  Calling his familiar caw he flew a path that took him just above the hickory and the resting hawk.  The hapless crow did not notice the hawk and continued to fly on his noisy trek across the morning sky.

 

The hawk, on the other hand, did notice the crow.  He left his lofty perch and began apparent pursuit of the crow.  As he drew closer the crow realizing he was being followed began to flap his wing faster and utter a series of highly stressed calls that signaled his realization he could not out fly the quickly approaching hawk.

 

Much to our surprise, the crow’s and mine, the hawk passed by the screaming crow and continued on out of sight.  The crow was now safe, but in his anxiety had called much attention to himself.

 

The dogs and I, even the mockingbird stood there in disbelief.  Ten times the size of the little mockingbird but half the heart.

 

As I think about that mockingbird, I am reminded of the 27th Psalm verses 2-3;

 “When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.” 

 

The confidence of the mockingbird when faced with the “evil man”, the hawk, who was advancing against him to devour his flesh, put his trust in the God that made him.  He did not fear, he took on the enemy and saved his life as well as those of his family.  He took no care for his own safety, he went forward and did what needed to be done.

 

On the other hand, the crow thought only for himself.  He took the path of the weakling and trusted no one especially himself.  The hawk was menacing in his presence but had no power left to overcome the crow.  He was a defeated enemy who flew off into the morning sky to nurse his wounds.

Fathers, which bird do you choose to be?  Do you choose to be the mockingbird or the crow?

 

As fathers we are to trust in the fact that our enemy has no power left to overcome us.  We are to put our trust in Jesus who has already defeated the enemy.  Just like the mockingbird, we must have confidence in the fact that the enemy can do nothing but go back and lick his wounds once we have taken authority and fought the fight.

 

If you struggle with how to find the confidence of the mockingbird, let me know through a comment to this article.  There are fathers among us who will be happy to discuss your situation and help you through your battle.  As the bible says, “one can chase a thousand and two ten thousand”.  Together we will chase the enemy out of your life to lick his wounds.

 

En servicio como padre

Dave

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The POW Father

I recently had the opportunity to visit the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville Georgia, along with my wife and my youngest son.  It was a stifling day with the sun bearing down on the Georgia clay and temperatures exceeding the century mark.

 

I thanked Almighty God when we entered the museum building and came under the influence of the air conditioning.  Being a veteran, I was anxious to see how the plight of our POW’s from all wars was portrayed.  Would their interment be downplayed and given a quick painting with the brush of those who oppose war in any form and reject anyone who has anything to do with it, or would it be splashed with red, white, and blue and described as a group of great patriots.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to observe. 

 

Men and some women, who set off to defend their country, to preserve freedom for those of us who, all too often, take freedom for granted were subject to the worst that humanity could throw at them.  Thirty two thousand, yes 32,000, men held in a 26.5 acre stockade, with no shelter, limited water, no sanitation facilities, and clothing so scarce the dead bodies of  the approximately 13,000 that died were stripped before burial to provide for the living. And this was in the United States!

 

Andersonville Prison (Camp Sumter)

Camp Sumter, commonly called Andersonville, was one of the largest military prisons established by the Confederacy during the Civil War. In existence for 14 months, over 45,000 Union soldiers were confined at the prison. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, and exposure to the elements. The largest number held in the 26½-acre stockade at any one time was more than 32,000, during August of 1864. Today the beauty of the prison site belies the suffering that once took place inside the stockade. (United States Park Service, Department of the Interior; http://www.nps.gov/ande/)

 

Andersonville prison was just one of the tragic examples of abuse.  If you live in the North, don’t think you treated Confederate POW’s any better.  Study the accounts of Camp Douglas, in the Chicago area, and Elmira Prison, Elmira New York.

 

The point being, left to our own devises, we as a human race can act no better than any other animal on this earth.  What sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our creation in the image of God.  When we don’t recognize that unique relationship, we revert to the influence of the evil of this world.

 

Malachi 4:6 tells us; “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

 

In the Civil War, fathers fought against sons and brother against brother.  Evil rained in the United States of America at this time.

 

I don’t want to minimize the hardships and atrocities POW’s of other wars faced as there were many.  What I want to point out is this is a country founded upon the belief in a God of love. Yet evil still found a way to reign in the midst of this country’s greatest struggle.

 

We as fathers today face many struggles.  We are not different than the fathers of the Civil War era.  We love and we sometimes hate and in the midst of our hate, we open the door for the same evil that permeated the walls of our own POW prisons, to rule in our lives.

 

Guard your hearts, my dear, fathers.  Always keep love on the point of your spear.  That way when you find yourself in that moment of anger, perhaps love will clear your vision and you will address the situation in a better way.

 

Don’t be a prisoner of the spiritual war we fight every day.  If you are taken captive there is much damage that can be done in a very little time.  Rule your heart with love and exercise your authority in justice and in truth marinated in the blood or a God who loves you more than anything in creation.

 

En servicio como padre

Dave

The Bug and the Windshield

I was reading some notes I took from a sermon given by one of my spiritual mentors back in 2004.  In that sermon, Ernie Fitzpatrick challenged his congregation to “Stop being the bug and be the windshield instead”. 

 

As I read these notes, I remembered the position I was in.  Out of work after a lay-off, I was reaching the end of my savings and was desperately seeking any type of income to make the mortgage payment and to put food on the table.  Gasoline had not skyrocketed yet, but it might as well have been $10.00 a gallon as it was a pinch to assure there was enough gas left in the car to drive to the occasional interview.  I seriously doubted my ability as a husband, father and even a man to provide for my family.

 

I would look at people I met with a different eye.  I was always measuring myself against them and trying to figure out why they could go to work everyday and I could not.  Although not a handsome man, I was clean, fairly lean, had a full head of hair with very little gray.  Perhaps I was not tall enough, not smart enough, or not quick enough.  I just didn’t know and was beginning to believe it didn’t matter anyway because I was living out some curse that would lead to my ultimate destruction.   Worse than that, though, was the idea that I would fail my family in the process.

 

I prayed and read my bible daily, I kept up to date on the latest events in my chosen career field, and I even keep a keen eye out for opportunities outside anything I had ever known before.  Still nothing was happening.

 

In my minds eye, I was less than a bug.

 

Seeking some form of hope we soon found ourselves leaving the denomination we were members of for most of our married lives, only to arrive at a little known fellowship of  people who, although full of love, seemed to have some very different views on God and on life in general.

 

In this time everything we thought secure was tested.  Every measure of success, every truth we thought we knew, and every person we thought we could trust; even our faith in God was tested.

 

Everywhere I turned it seemed I was smashed upon the windshield of life like the bug I was.  Once a proud husband, father, professional man; now a bug spattered upon the windshields that stood on every side.

 

Ernie’s challenge made me think.  Why should I be a bug?  If I believe in a God who is the Creator of everything, why could He not make me the windshield instead of the bug? 

 

What I failed to comprehend, until much later, was that He already had made me the windshield.  I was not the bug at all.

 

Newton’s second law of inertia says; “For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction”.  Said in a different way; “you exert back as much force as is exerted on you!”  Put in terms of the bug and the windshield, as the bugs were flying into me, I was exerting force back at a level that was needed to overcome.  The enemy was the bug, I was the windshield!

 

 I now understand!  All of the pressure I had been experiencing was exercising my spiritual muscles.  Much like the weight lifter, God was allowing me to experience increasing weight so I would need to exert back more force than I ever had in the past.

 

He was making me a stronger warrior!

 

As a father, this meant he has been preparing me to be a better father and grandfather. 

 

Fathers, don’t look at the circumstances you are presently facing as a barrier.  You must learn that you are the windshield.  All these circumstances you now see, these are the bugs and they will not overcome.  Just change your thinking and you will see the secret of becoming a great warrior.

 

You are the windshield not the bug!

 

En servicio como padre

Dave


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