Javalina

Javalina

I have run out of bird pictures so today I am showing you a picture of a javalina. The more proper name for this critter is collared peccary. They look and sound like pigs, but scientists assure us they are not pigs.

This particular one is a mom, and it made an appearance with several little ones, while I was on a mission trip recently. The closer look, and the lack of new birds to show you, caused me to do some research on this little pig. Uh Peccary.

Just like pigs, they have a disk of cartilage forming that distinctive nose. That nose is a deceptively powerful organ and it is how they identify the world around them. You and I probably rely on our eyes the most, but a javalina will rely on its nose. The sense of smell is so specific that they identify each separate individual in their herd or family by smell, even from some distance away.

As a person who often has strong allergies, and therefore often has almost no sense of smell, I cannot imagine what it would be like to stick my nose in the breeze and say, “Cousin Stinky is on his way over.” I admit I can identify a large number of people by the way they sound. I can recognize a number of people by the way they move, even when they are too far away to truly see. I can even tell by the way a hand lands on my back that it is my wife. But I cannot identify any of you by smell.

Probably because of my nose blindness, to borrow a phrase from a commercial, I am surprised by 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, where the Bible teaches the importance of smelling good. Well, maybe not good, exactly. Maybe smelling Christ-like.

14But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? 17For we are not like the many who market God’s message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.

This passage indicates we are to be the ‘Fragrance of Christ’ to God, being an ‘aroma of death’ to the rejecting world, and ‘an aroma of life’ to those who are being saved. Now that is quite a mental image isn’t it? Is it any wonder Paul follows the assertion by saying, ‘And who is competent for this?”

Let me try to help you to understand what it is asking for. We believers are to glorify God. We can do so because God will work in us to bring out a basic Christ-likeness. Here that likeness is described through the sense of smell instead of sight, but it is still being like Jesus that is being described. God sees this Christ-likeness, when we are obedient, sacrificial and choose to serve Him. Here described as the ‘fragrance of Christ.’ For other believers it is when we model the Savior that we attract them to salvation. We edify them in Godly living, and model Biblical living.  In other words our lives demonstrate the life found in Christ.

However the picture for the ones who will reject Christ is totally different. These are confronted with the sacrifice of Christ, His death on the cross. They become aware that Christianity is a death. To serve Christ they must die to self, to serve God they must kill their own ideas and lofty principles. For some this sacrifice, this death too self, is too much to ask, and to them we become an aroma of death.

Don’t be discouraged, nor surprised by this; simply accept it as a part of God working through you.

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Satyr Comma

Side Comma Top Comma

Normally on Tuesdays I would put up a picture of a bird and a devotion based on the characteristics of that bird. Unfortunately I am running out of bird pictures, therefore I have given you something different today. The two pictures above are a butterfly. They are the same butterfly.

This is a comma, probably a satyr comma. I am still relatively inexperienced at identifying butterflies so I am not confident in the exact species, but it is undoubtedly a comma. These butterflies have the ability to look like a leaf when their wings are closed. And they keep their wings closed almost all the time.

But the top of the wing, the view you get when they open their wing is a bright, almost metallic orange. It is a spectacular sight to come across a comma with its wings open, but it is their habit to leave their wings closed. They do this for safety, since when their wings are closed they can be very hard to pick out among the detritus on the forest floor. By being hard to see they are highly unlikely to be eaten.

The differences between the two views can be very dramatic when the bug flies. It will hold its wings open and glide, looking like an orange reflector floating through the trees. Or it will flap as it moves looking a bit like a flittering, blinking signal light. But in both cases when it lands the bright orange flips off and it seems to disappear.

Sometimes Christians can be like this. They will show themselves to the world in a bright attractive way, but their inconsistency in Christian living is like turning off the light. They can appear strong and exemplify the benefits of righteous choices, and the light is bright and attractive to a lost world searching for answers. Then they can tell an off color joke or let out a swear word and the light blinks off.

Perhaps more often than the light blinks off because they brushed up against immorality, the light blinks off because the Christian felt the need to keep their spirituality low key. Just like the butterfly fears being eaten, many Christians fear attracting the attention of those hostile to Christianity. The devil has convinced too many people it is impolite to talk about Jesus, and we will become subject to some horrible persecution if we live our beliefs out publicly.

We make a foundational mistake when we listen to this kind of propaganda. The mistake is listening to the wrong person. Satan may tell us to keep our light to ourselves, but Jesus tells us just the opposite.

Matthew 5:16 (HCSB) “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker
Here is an acorn woodpecker. This bird understands the storeroom principle better than most people.

The storeroom principle is, you will only get out of storage what you put in storage. The principle hold true whether storing things in a toolbox, closet or the human heart. Whatever you do store will be available later, but what you don’t store won’t.

The acorn woodpecker earned its name because of its habit of making lines of holes in trees and storing an acorn in each one. Birders call this practice caching. Just like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter, the acorn woodpecker will come back for them at a later time.

We humans are much more sophisticated and we have a multitude of different storage containers, for a wide variety of situations. But we might miss the applications of storage which we did not design and choose.

In Mathew 12:35 Jesus refers to a storeroom from which evil people draw evil and good people draw good. By looking at the verse before it, we can see this storeroom is a euphemism for the heart.

Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. Matthew 12:34-35 (HCSB)

The human heart is a storeroom, and when you store good things in your heart, then good things are what will come out of you later. But of course the opposite is true as well, if you store evil you will find your heart overflowing evil into your life.

When life shakes us up and something evil comes spilling out of us, quite often from out of our mouth, it’s because we are living out the storeroom principle. But it is possible to make some intentional choices earlier in the process, and by storing good things in your heart you guarantee good things will be what spills out.