Friday, September 23, 2011

Lesson from the Vaux's Swifts

Ever spent an evening waiting for sunset so you could watch thousands of birds dive into a chimney?

That was me.  A friend.  And over 2,000 eager birdwatchers gathered to watch this spectacular event.

 The Vaux’s Swifts are in town.

They’re headed South.  
      (Do they really know that’s where they’re going?)

They always stop in Portland first.  
      (How do they know to do that?)

They stay for just one month.  
      (Who tells them it's September 30th?)

And they just happen to prefer sleeping in the Chapman Elementary School chimney while they’re here.

Thousands of swifts in one chimney.
The same chimney year after year.
For just one month.

But before they sleep, they gather from the miles they’ve traveled throughout the day, swirl around in groups waiting their turn, and then dive into the chimney in one funnel-like swoop.  

 It’s spectacular!
(Pictures don't do it justice!)
Better than a fireworks show.

And everyone claps.

But I wondered. . . .who were they praising?
And was it really necessary?

The Vaux’s Swifts were already doing a pretty good job of it.

Praising their Maker by being who He made them to be.
By doing what He created them to do.
Allowing themselves to be guided by His unseen Hand.
Following His appointed path for them.
Headed in the direction they were assigned.

And, along the way, their life of praise caused many bystanders to stop in their tracks.

And look up.

Monday, September 19, 2011


What do we call the people we're closest to, spend the most time with, and love the most?  We call them OUR family.  OUR friends.

Our “loved ones.”

We talk as if they belonged to us. 
Just like we would say OUR car.  OUR home.  OUR possessions. 

The difference is. . . we wouldn’t call our things. . .our "loved ones.”

There are many things that belong to our God:

“The sea is His. . .” (Psalm 95:5)

 “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1a) 

 But Scripture also says. . .
I am his.” (Song of Solomon 2:16)
 And you are His.

The difference is. . . .He loves us more.

In fact, the Bible never says He loves His sea, His earth, or any of the fullness thereof.

But the Lord does say. . .
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
In the same way He loved His Son:  “before the foundation of the world.”  (John 17:24,25)
“He loved us, and sent his Son.” (1 John 4:10)

 Our God owns “the world and they who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1b).

But we are His “Loved Ones.”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Display

What does it mean to “Be nothing but a capacity for Christ to live in”?

It means our lives are just a setting for the life of Christ to be on display.

We’re studying the “Women in the New Testament” in our ladies’ Bible Study each month.
But we’re studying these women, so we can look at the setting of their lives, and see His character and life on display in that setting.

Mary Magdalene was one of those women.

She watched Christ die for our sins.
She watched His burial.
She was the FIRST to see Him after He rose from the dead.
And she was the first person commissioned to tell others about it.

Mary watched the entire Gospel message played out -- an eyewitness to one of the most pivotal events in human history.

Her life became a setting for His life and the gospel message to be on display.

When she first met Jesus, Mary Magdalene was possessed by seven demons. 
She was enslaved, tormented, living a destructive life.
Her situation was without remedy. 
She was hopeless.

Hers was a desperate situation that she needed Christ to walk into and do what only He could do.

And that’s exactly what He did.

Evil spirits never willingly came into the presence of Christ.
And they never willingly left the person they were tormenting.

But they went out of Mary and others because they were unable to resist the presence and power of Christ.  He walked into her life, spoke a word to the evil spirits, and they obeyed.

And Mary Magdalene was completely transformed. 

She was allowed to follow Jesus during much of His public ministry. 
She ministered to Him of her “substance” and was completely devoted to His Person.

And when Jesus died . . . she was there.

She saw Him bleed and suffer.
She heard every word He said from the Cross.
And she watched Him die.

The disciples had forsaken Him and fled in fear.
The Father had forsaken Him . . . . only because He had become sin for us.

But Mary Magdalene was there. 

Still there when His body was taken down from the cross, she watched in the shadows as two other devoted followers buried His body and rolled a large stone over the mouth of the tomb.

Eager to have one more opportunity to show her devotion to Him, Mary arrived at the tomb early on the first day of the week.  

But, when she arrived, the stone was rolled away from the tomb. 
And the tomb was empty.

The trauma of all she had witnessed and the thought that someone had stolen His body, was more than she could bear.  So she did the only thing there was left to do. . . .she wept.

She forgot that He said He would rise again.

Angels asked her why she was weeping. 
Jesus stood behind her and asked the same question. 

But she was so overwrought by her grief, she didn’t recognize Jesus.   
Or the joy the empty tomb should have meant for her.

But Jesus spoke her name. . . .“Mary.”  
And she knew His voice. 
She knew He was alive!

And Jesus commissioned her to tell others the good news.

Christ had walked into Mary's desperate situation and accomplished by His death and resurrection what only He could do.

We weren’t eyewitnesses of all that Mary saw.
But what she witnessed is the same thing that rescued us from our desperate situation.
And we've also been commissioned to tell others.

The best place to start is by being "nothing but a capacity for Christ to live in."

Our lives just a setting for His life to be on display.

[Click here to listen to a fuller version of these women's stories.]