Thursday, January 31, 2013

A "Boom"-ing Victory!

The Short Tail Weasel is an incredible example of the character trait of initiativeWebster defines Initiative as: Character Trait manifested in a readiness & ability to initiate action; an enterprising spirit; a go getting attitude; energy & drive; & get-up-and-go . The Short Tail Weasel has a high metabolic rate, requiring it to eat the equivalent of 40% of it's body weight a day! Finding prey & avoiding being prey, is an ongoing initiative. It's strong sense of smell has it tirelessly investigating all cracks & crevices, persistently pursuing until it locates its food.

Here's the deal! I'm constantly on the look-out for my next meal.
Measuring from 5-14 inches long, this 5-ounce carnivore, with its incisor teeth, is a force to be reckoned with. The weasel's speed helps it to initiate its attacks on its unsuspecting prey & predators. The weasel's stream-lined , slender body allows it to turn on a  dime, positioning itself perfectly in most contests. Pouncing on its victim, it bites with the intent of piercing the base of its prey's skull. Once its teeth are in place, this power-packed mammal does not let go, no matter what size the prey is!

"I want to sever ewer vital chords "(& take a bite out of ewer day)!
The weasel's lightning speed & dogged initiative is complimented by its change of coats. In summer, the weasel benefits by being hidden with a golden brown coat. In winter, a pure white coat helps camouflage it in the snow, giving it an advantage over its predators. Weasels have the reputation of being one of the most efficient killing machines on earth. Small rodents & birds, Beware!

Ewe could nickname me "The Exterminator"!
The individual I'd like to introduce to Ewe as an example of Initiative is Corrie ten Boom. Corrie was a watchmaker's daughter in Holland, in WW2 . Corrie & her family were devout Christians who provided a refuge for Jews & other Dutch resistance fugitives, hiding them from the Nazis in 1943 & 1944. They showed real creativity & initiative in keeping their "Hiding Place" a secret.

I had to be very clever to hide people from the Gestapo!
Corrie  & her family rescued over 300 Jews & resistance workers before being betrayed. A man was pretending to need some money to bail his wife out of jail. He said that she was arrested for hiding Jews. Corrie got the money together , only to be arrested along with her family. Fortunately, the Nazis were unable to find the people that were hiding in a "secret" room hidden in Corrie's bedroom. They were able to escape safely a few days later.

 We were happy to hear "all the watches in your closet were safe."
Corrie & her family were arrested & sent to the horrid concentration camps.where only Corrie & Willem survived. While at Ravensbruck, in Barracks 28, Corrie & Betsy initiated secret Bible studies & told many prisoners about the saving knowledge of Christ. They even learned to be thankful for the fleas in Barracks 28, which kept the guards away.
Corrie wrote a book that was made into a movie.

Miraculously, through a clerical error, Corrie was released from prison. She traveled from 1944-1977, speaking in 64 nations about her life experiences. In one church, she even met a converted prison guard who sought her forgiveness. God gave her the necessary grace to forgive this man that she had despised. Corrie wrote from 1977 till she died in 1979 on her 91st birthday.
Taking her difficulties to God Helped Corrie get His perspective on life.
Sheep have Shepherds that illustrate initiative in caring for the sheep. Besides the daily meeting of basic needs, the Shepherd also travels to the highlands, prior to taking the sheep up there for the summer. While there, he will prepare the pastures, removing all plants & other potentially dangerous items to the sheep.
I'm helpless without my Shepherd!

As Ewe think about ewer Good Shepherd today, be glad that His initiative led to God's blessings in ewer life!  Jesus loves You!

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that  He loved us and sent His Son..." 1 John 4:10

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Newton that's not a Fig!

"Resoluteness" is a character quality that is very often built into a life through not quitting. Webster defines Resoluteness as : a fixed purpose; firm determination; unshaken firmness. In the world of nature, the English Bulldog is a prime example of Resoluteness. It's tenacity & resolve make it nearly impossible to deter, once it has made up its mind to do something!

Even though I'm cute, Stubborn is my middle name!
English Bulldogs have very sweet dispositions, yet they are not easy to train or raise. They require a firm, consistent hand, & lots of food rewards, to offset their extreme stubbornness! Generally passive by nature, some males may act aggressively toward other male dogs & do not socialize with cats. Their Resoluteness is also seen when they are feeding. Never feed an English Bulldog with other animals present!

Do not Mess with my Food! I'll Huff, & Puff, & Blow ewer house down!

The individual that illustrates the character trait of Resoluteness, is the former slave trader John Newton. Born in London in 1725, John had a rough childhood. Although his mother was kind, she died before his seventh birthday. His father was a sea captain who was away during his childhood, providing little guidance for John. After being sent to boarding school at age 11, John later was drafted into the British Royal Navy. John was extremely stubborn,  refusing to obey orders on many occasions. He tried to run away but was captured & profusely whipped. His Resoluteness led him off the ship & he began working for a slave trader.

I was a real dysfunctional child, yet God continued to love me!

John continued to decline, treating slaves badly until he himself was enslaved for 5 years. He was finally rescued by a slave trading friend of his father. On his return journey, John was caught in a violent storm & the ship was sinking. He cried out for help to the God of his mother, & the cargo miraculously came out & plugged up the hole , causing the ship to drift to safety. This was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity. He read a Bible & Christian literature on the return trip & considers March10,1748, as the date he stopped drinking, gambling, & using profanity.
John was never the same after his dramatic conversion!
After his conversion, John continued work in the slave trade , serving as a first mate & captain. John treated slaves differently, & years later, denounced slavery, working resolutely with William Wilberforce to pass the Slave Trade Act of 1807.This Act abolished slave trade before he died on Dec. 21,1807. During his lifetime, he also had to Resolutely pursue the ministry, waiting 7 years before he was trusted with a church. As a minister, John met the poet William Cowper at his church , & both men wrote Olney Hymns in 1779.This included Newton's classic, "Amazing Grace".

 Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me...
 I once was lost but now am found
 Was blind, but now, I see
A recent movie telling the true story of Newton & Wilberforce.

Sheep have a Shepherd who Resolutely protects & cares for them. Although he faces many hardships, He exhibits unflinching devotion to the flock's well-being!

A Shepherd's work requires long days & long nights.

 The Good Shepherd was Resolute in His mission on this planet. His love for His sheep, both Ewe & me, was all the motivation he needed! What a great thought to go into Ewer day with! 

 "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd
 gives His life for the sheep." John 10:11

Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Underground" Heroics!

The Ant, an insect that is mentioned in the Bible in a positive light, is our next topic of study in Character. Ants are known for their diligence & their service to their queen. Scientists estimate that there are 1.5 million ants for every human being on the earth! 12,000 species inhabit every continent except Antarctica. That's odd, because the one continent I thought would have ants, doesn't!

As a Harvester ant, I have a ? for Ewe. Can Ewe carry 50x ewer weight?
While the queen is the mother of most in the colony, the ant colony is actually run by older servant-leaders, who lead by example. As diligent servant-leaders, ants do what needs to be done, without being asked! Younger ants model the behavior of older ants & the work gets done! If only they could "lay hands" on our children! Wouldn't that make kid's chores run more efficiently?

As scouts, we gather food by leaving a trail for others to follow!
Harvester Ants are very industrious .They cultivate seeds & then store them in underground granaries. If water seeps into the granary, the ants will take each seed to the surface to dry, which requires a tremendous amount of time & effort. Another example of diligence is seen in their use of aphids. Some ants will volunteer to gorge themselves & act as living "milk tanks", storing aphid's secretions for future use. They hang suspended, in an act of Service for the good of the colony!
The Ant is a great example of a diligent servant!
An individual that has displayed this same Diligence & Service during her lifetime was Harriet Tubman. Born a slave in 1820, Araminta  Ross worked on a Maryland plantation, "Minty" was raised by Christian parents, & at age 11, was working in the fields. Eventually, she was called Harriet, which was her mother's name. At age 13, she was hit in the head with a 2lb. weight, trying to shield a runaway slave from his master. As a result , she was in a coma & suffered with terrible headaches & a "sleeping sickness", which caused her to black out for periods of time for her entire lifetime.

"There are 1 or 2 things I have a right to, Liberty or death."
At the age of 24, Harriet married John Tubman, a free black man. She expressed to him a desire to be free, however, he was not in favor of her escaping & threatened to tell the master if he heard anything else about it! Harriet still believed she had a right to be free, so she was determined to pursue her dream. In 1849, She fled via the "Underground Railroad", which was comprised of a number of farmers & Quakers who hid & transported her to freedom in Pennsylvania. She was finally free, with a burden to free others.

"I never ran my train off the track, & I never lost a passenger."

Harriet found work in Philadelphia & saved some money to help her in her quest to free other slaves. As the conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet risked her life often. She made 19 trips back into the South, diligently helping over 300 slaves escape to freedom. She returned to take back family & anyone desiring to be free. During the Civil War, she served her country as a spy & a nurse. She fought slavery & served her fellow man until she died in 1913, at the ripe old age of 93.

I was called" Moses" because of leading others out of slavery!
Sheep are cared for by Shepherds that display noteworthy service & diligenceShepherds know a secret that both ants & Harriet have discovered. They know that real life is all about laying down Ewer life for others!

We're thankful for Shepherds to look out for us! Hip, Hip, Hooray!
The Good Shepherd is all about Serving others. What a great
thought to take into Ewer day, asking Him for guidance to lead
Ewe to the people today, that need His touch.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor.15:58

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who is Ryan Lee?

Today, I'm going to introduce you to a young person I teach in Sunday school, whose name is Ryan Lee. I've decided to write about Ryan Lee because he's a young man of character!

Do I "Boar" EWE, Ryan Lee?
First of all, Ryan is faithful! He faithfully attends & participates in Sunday School & church every week. He also is faithful to fill his life with things that are going to help him grow spiritually!

I'm Hog Wild over Ewe, Ryan Lee!
Ryan Lee also illustrates character in his relationship with his Mom. He  knows that obedience is a way to display his love for his Mom & his Lord Jesus Christ! 
Ryan Lee is a little "Quack-y" , but quite obedient!
Ryan Lee also displays character in the area of integrity. He is as honest as the day is long! He even owns up to his own shortcomings, which is rare in today's society.
I hope Ewe agree with Ryan Lee & Me-"Honesty is the best Policy"

Finally, Ryan Lee has a heart of compassion. He cares about people & feels what they are feeling. When watching the "Jesus" film, Ryan Lee was brought to tears by what he saw them do to his Savior. Empathy & Compassion are beautiful traits to see in a young person.

Come here Kitten & let me help. Does that make it feel better?
Sheep love getting together with each other & with their Shepherd. This is similar to what Ryan Lee enjoys in going to church & Sunday School.

We are Family! Family is a gift from God!
Ryan Lee is an ordinary young man who's not perfect, but is aiming at the goal of being faithful . Don't Ewe love how God uses young people to teach us some simple, yet profound, life lessons?

But Jesus said,"Let the little children  come to 
Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Mt. 19:14

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Savages Redeemed"!

Orangutan mothers, in addition to the Grizzly, also illustrate the character quality of Sacrifice. As Ewe recall, Webster defines Sacrifice as: "destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else." We have observed how Sacrifice was modeled in the life of the mother Grizzly bear, willing to die rather than let anything happen to her cubs! In the world of nature, the Orangutan mother also illustrates this rare character quality of Sacrifice.

We stick together like peanut butter & jelly!
 Orangutan moms are all about Sacrifice. Before the baby is even born, they are busy preparing a nest some 99 ft. in the trees. Once the baby is born, mom is the baby's sole source of its needs. Moms are their chief source of food, transportation, care, & support. Infants are very dependent, only weighing 3 lbs. at birth, toothless, & practically hairless! Moms say good-bye to their own lives for the sake of the baby's. Now that's a picture of Sacrifice!
Ewe need me, Oh, Ewe need me, Oh, how Ewe need me!
 Jim Elliot , Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed Mc Cully, & Roger Youderian all gave their lives in an attempt to reach the Auca Indians, alias, Savage Stone-Age Killers! Fortunately, that's not the end of the story. The incident grabbed national attention & sparked a rash of  renewed interest in missionary work. Life magazine even did a 10-page spread on the tragedy, informing the public about the lives & work of the missionaries.

The team sacrificed their lives & were martyred by 10 Waodani warriors. 

Auca Indians solved any dispute by spearing the individual!
 The death of he 5 missionaries left widows & their children fatherless. Elisabeth continued her work at the mission with the Quechua for 2 more years with her 10 month old daughter Valerie. They lived with 2 Huaorani women who taught them the Huao language. One of the woman, Dayuma, returned to the tribe of her husband's killers & opened the door for Elisabeth & Rachel Saint to live with the tribe, along with her daughter Valerie. So, in October of 1958, they continued the mission of her slain husband's team.

Living among the tribe opened up new doors of opportunity!

This movie told their story on the "Big Screen".

While living among her husband's killers, Elisabeth was able to continue sharing in the vision of her husband & his team. She was able to see this savage tribe be transformed by the power of God's love! Upon returning to the states years later, she wrote the book, Shadow of the Almighty, which told of commitment & faith in God's sovereignty & grace. Her willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel was bearing fruit in the Auca tribe.

Elisabeth with Valerie after Jim's death.

A beautiful story of faith & reconciliation.
Nate Saint's sister, Rachel, stayed with the Auca tribe until her death & was buried in Ecuador. Prior to her death, she was able to witness the evangelization of the Auca tribe, firsthand. She saw the Gospel of Mark translated & published in the Auca language. She also had the privilege of seeing Kimo, an Auca pastor & one of the killers, baptize Steve & Kathy Saint, Nate's children. God had used their sacrifice to bring salvation & the ultimate reconciliation.

God's love works miracles! Kathy Saint is baptized by one of her father's killers!
Rachel lived out her days with the Auca people.

Unlike missionaries, sheep have very poor vision, even though they do see in color. They rely heavily on their sense of hearing, the herd, & their Shepherds, to survive.

I may have poor vision, but I sure am Good Looking!
As Ewe live life today, walk with the knowledge that God's power can help reconcile even the most difficult of relationships. If there's any doubt, look at our Shepherd,these missionaries, & the Aucas of Ecuador!

" For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."
Mt. 6:14

Friday, January 18, 2013

Savage, Stone-Age Killers!

Sacrifice is another quality in an individual that reflects character,  Webster defines Sacrifice as: " destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else." In the world of nature, this trait can be observed in the life of the Grizzly bear. Mother Grizzly bears will sacrifice their lives if necessary, to protect their cubs, with no regard for their own personal safety. The Bible verifies this fact with the verse," Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool is his folly." Proverbs 17:12

Ewe better think about rooting for a team other than the Cubs!
Do ewe understand that I will not be separated from my cubs?
 The individual I'd like to examine that displayed the character trait of Sacrifice is the missionary to Ecuador, Jim Elliot. Jim was born into a Christian home in Portland, Oregon, in 1927. He had a desire to share the Gospel after his college studies at Wheaton, & in 1952, God called him to Ecuador. There he translated the Bible for tribes of Indians who were previously unreached. One of the tribes he  was attempting to reach, were the savage Auca Indians
" Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine.."
Auca women "Grooming", on a Sunday afternoon!
Jim was hired by Wycliffe to translate the Bible into the Quichua language."Auca" was their word for savage. They were a violent people who had previously killed any outsiders coming within their borders. Someone warned Jim that the Aucas were "savage, stone-age killers"! Yet Jim felt the Holy Spirit leading him to attempt to reach these people. So, he began assembling a team for the secret mission of "Operation Auca" in 1955. He gathered Nate Saint, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, & Roger Youderian.
We solve our conflicts by "spearing" people!
 Jim met with Dayuma, a girl that had escaped from the tribe, & she taught him some of their words. She also cautioned him about the Auca." not trust them. To you they might seem friendly for a while, but they will not stop short of killing." Jim told his team what she said & Pete Fleming responded , "Savage, stone-age killers... need the message of God's redeeming love more than many others." They began by planning to fly over their village.
"Pray for us! We're sure we'll have contact again today! Will radio you again at 4:30."

The beach where they met George & his friend!
Nate flew over the village for 3 months, dropping "goodies" from 
their yellow airplane. They finally landed on a sandbar & set up camp. They built a tree-house for protection, They made contact with 2 natives & took one, whom they named George, for an airplane ride. The next day was Sunday, Jan. 8,1956, & after a time of worship , they contacted the base for what would be their final time. They were all found speared to death, in the river near their campsite, each knowing the risk, yet giving the ultimate sacrifice.

The beach where the plane & bodies were found.

 A Shepherd's life is one of sacrifice. Putting the needs of the sheep first is a full time occupation, that requires endless hours of care. Sheep are helpless & are incapable of protecting themselves.
Ewe & me , & me & Ewe ,So Happy Together!!
Sacrifice is something that we are all acquainted with in our lives . We appreciate it when people sacrifice on our behalf. Enjoy the Good Shepherd's love & involvement in Ewer life today.
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Jn. 12:25

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The King of "Stick-to-it"-ness!

This blog, I'd like to investigate the trait of Perseverance, as we continue to examine character. Webster defines Perseverance as:
"The act of persevering; continued, patient effort; persistence". Perseverance, as with any trait, is a direct result of the Holy Spirit's shaping of a person's character. In the world of nature, we see this trait clearly on display in the King Salmon.
I'm not Elvis, but as the "King Salmon", I'm the state fish of Alaska!
King Salmon are an ideal illustration of Perseverance. They will instinctively travel 2000 miles to reach their spawning grounds. They swim 25 miles a day after switching from ocean salt water to fresh water on their dangerous quest. They persist in their trek,  not stopping to eat while in fresh water, ensuring that they'll reach their final destination, where only the strongest survive!
Are Ewe sure we can't stop for lunch? I'm Hungry!
Have Ewe ever tried to jump 15 feet up the current of a waterfall?  
On their trek, there are numerous obstacles to overcome. First, they must swim against the current which requires more energy. Next, they must negotiate waterfalls, which at times, demand that they jump 15 feet high to advance. Finally, they must avoid bears, birds of prey, & fishermen, persevering to reach their final destination.

Bear with me! I can't talk with food in my mouth!

This King has been Dethroned!
Upon arrival at the spawning ground, a territorial "male" mating rights battle ensues, resulting in: "to the victor, the spoils"!(Chance to mate) The females each lay 30,000 eggs, which develop in various stages ; embryo, fry; & parr; before starting their arduous journey back to the ocean. After caring for their young, the parents drift off & die, knowing that perseverance helped them to pass the torch on to the next generation.

Only the "Strongest & Fittest" will survive this Trip!
 Eric Liddell is an individual who illustrates the character trait of Perseverance. Eric returned to China a year after winning a Gold medal in the 400 m., & a Bronze in the 200 m. events in the 1924 Olympics. While he served as a missionary, he was married & had children, In 1943, prior to being imprisoned in a WW 11 Japanese internment camp , he sent his family to Canada for safety reasons.

To God Be the Glory! He gives me the strength to run!
While in the internment camp, Eric continued to persevere in this difficult situation. Separated from his family, he decided to serve others in the camp, rather than feel sorry for himself. He counseled, lead Bible studies, & taught lessons to the children. He touched many lives with the love of Jesus Christ. The Chinese government recently released documents confirming the story, that he allowed a pregnant woman to take his place in a prisoner exchange. Eric's health declined & he finished his final race on Feb.21,1945, dying of a brain tumor, but crossing life's finish line into a bright future!

Eric in prison camp." Christ for the world, for the world needs Christ!"
Perseverance Pays Off, in the Long Run!
Sheep require constant care due to their vulnerable condition. The Shepherd must persistently look after them , tending to their need for food, water, shelter, health, & protection. If a Shepherd faithfully perseveres, he will have a healthy, contented flock.

Ewe Know I Love spending time with Ewe!

As Ewe reflect on the persistent Love of the Shepherd today, allow His peace to saturate Ewer life, knowing that Ewe aren't alone.

"...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross..." Heb.12:1,2