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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Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

This is a ring-necked duck. Do you see the ring? I bet you don’t.

But now let me tell you the ring around the neck which the duck is named after is chestnut brown. In this picture the ring is partially visible.

Back when the bird was named they did most of their study with the aid of a shotgun. When looking at dead specimens in a lab the ring around the neck was this bird’s most obvious trait.

However when you look at a living example of the species it is nearly impossible to see any brown on it. This means the trait that it is named for is totally useless as a field mark to identify the bird by in the wild. Instead people identify it by the purple sheen of the head, and the slight crest making the head seem pointy.  From closer up they recognize it by the distinct black, white and charcoal color pattern on the bill. From further out they recognize it by the white spot on the side between the light grey and the black breast.

All of these things are great field marks and yet the distinctive feature it is named after is not visible until the duck is dead.

The Christian life is like this. The common idea is that anyone gets to call themselves Christian. They determine for themselves what criteria they meet to bear that name. Trying to tell people there is a real eternal definition of the word which must be met is useless because they believe they get to make up their own definitions.

But no matter what happens in this life once we are dead, once we stand before the eternal judge, it will be obvious what we are. We will either be identified by Him as Christians or informed that He never knew us and cast into outer darkness.

That field mark which will show up so brightly in heaven is whether we have Jesus in our hearts. Not a designer Jesus we came up with or that some group redefined historically, but the real Jesus. The Eternal Son of God who came and died on the cross for us.

Romans 10:13 (HCSB) For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

Mountain Cathedral

Mountain Cathedral

Dog on Colma di Mombarone. Photo by Dan Fador.

 

Praise God, I am not a flatlander.

Down there, under the clouds, is a world overflowing with flatlanders. Men and women who exist under the spell of technology. They schedule themselves by the atomic clock, they measure themselves by the paycheck and they amuse themselves by the befuddlement of millions of pixels.

What I see, what I know, what I touch, is beyond their knowledge. It’s beyond what they ever hope to know. They cannot experience God on this earth like I have known Him.

I have seen the spectacles of the spring wildflowers. I have experienced the ghostly fear of the quaking aspen. I have felt the murderous intentions of an early blizzard. Even when these mountains spite me with hardship and loneliness, I understand the poetic license within their foul temperaments.

The reverence of a stalking mountain lion is a testimony. The roar of the spring runoff is a sacred psalm. These are my revelation of the Creator. These are my Gospel of the loving Christ.

Die on the mountain or seek comfort from the technology of the flatlanders? I have made my choice.

It’s time for the mountain to win one.

Praise God, I am not a flatlander!

 

 

This post was my entry into the Flash! Friday Micro Fiction Contest for today.  The photo included above is the prompt for today’s competition. Perhaps you would like to go over and draw up an entry?