Monday, July 26, 2010

A Mockingbird Tale

And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Saturday morning, after a pot of black liquid motivation, I grudgingly dragged myself out to the back yard to tackle the unwanted, albeit necessary task of yard maintenance. I know people, younger than I, that actually pay for someone else to enjoy this pleasure. Imagine that!

As I was donning my yard-working shoes, I heard something that sounded halfway between a screech and a squawk coming from the midst of my big ash tree. (Yes, that ‘h’ is supposed to be there; it’s an ‘ash’ tree.) At first, I was unable to see what kind of creature was making the noise, so I whistled. All I got back was a screech/squawk. This went on for several minutes until I finally spotted him – a single mockingbird flitting from branch to branch oblivious to my presence or my feeble attempts to communicate with him.

Obviously, something had this little bird upset. I’m used to watching mockingbirds as they gaily (now there’s a word seldom used in this context!) dance high atop utility poles singing their endless variety of songs. But this was no song this bird was emitting. Finally, I saw something move in the crook of one of the gnarly branches, something grey or white, maybe both. I couldn’t tell. The mockingbird kept hopping from branch to branch all around this thing as if to attack but with some trepidation, squawking the whole time.

Soon, a second mockingbird showed up to join the fray. Both went at the thing, which was either indifferent to its attackers or too scared to move. The second mockingbird (I assume – they rather all look the same) directly left the battle and shortly returned with a third mocking bird to join the battle. This had to be serious! I went into the house and found a binocular to get a close look at what was causing these normally happy birds such agitation.

When I returned the cacophony of squawks and screeches was louder than before. There were now five mockingbirds surrounding the cowering bulk. It was difficult to aim my binocular to the right spot in the tangle of branches and leaves, but I finally spotted something rather large – larger than the mockingbirds – and feathery. There where white feathers on the bottom and grey feathers with white spots on the back. I couldn’t see the bird’s head, so I maneuvered under the tree to a place almost directly below the bird. I was still having trouble training my binocular on the bird, so I located the branch on which he was perched and followed it up until I spotted it. A hawk! Not large compared to some I’ve seen in these parts, and its markings were unfamiliar to me. I surmised that he was a young bird just learning to fly. He was probably out on a test flight and landed in my tree for a rest. Now he was being attacked by these vicious hawk-eating mockingbirds and playing possum was his best defense. But now there was another complication – me; I had spotted him. He knew he had to do something or be eaten alive by a flock of mockingbirds or be captured or killed by the human below. He found a branch with greater clearance to the open air and moved to it. The mockingbirds, although never physically touching him, continued to circle, attack, and evade. Soon the little hawk took to the air with a line of mockingbirds on his tail. He landed in a neighbor’s yard, and I don’t know what became of him after that. The mockingbirds called off the attack and returned from wherever they came. The original mockingbird returned to my ash tree obviously satisfied that they had fended off a vicious predator. My Saturday morning drama was over, and I still had yard work to do.

As I thought about this experience, it occurred to me what a small number of individuals can do when united against a common enemy. One sounds the alarm, another joins in agreement. Then that one calls on another, and that one calls another and then another until an army is built to confront the common foe. One can screech and squawk until his voice is gone and nothing is accomplished and he himself may lose his life, but when others hear the call, and perceive the common threat, and join in force, the enemy will be defeated and will flee. We are living in such times.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-11:

8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

Thursday, July 15, 2010



James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Act 15:14)


Why? Because ordinary people (a/k/a "average" people) do not live for God, or serve Him. Ordinary people only think about God on those selfish occasions when they "need" (or want) Him to do something for their own purposes. For the most part, ordinary people do not think much about God. Ordinary people, however, are very impressed with the world, with rich people, with powerful people, with Hollywood, with me, myself, and I. If the crowd does something a lot, it is okay with ordinary people. Ordinary people rave on about the emperor's new clothes. Ordinary people believe in evolution. Ordinary people do not take the Holy Bible seriously. Ordinary people love the world. Ordinary people love the praises of men moreso than the praises of God. Ordinary people seek the things of this world as their treasures. Ordinary people would rather offend God than offend a family member or a friend or an authority-figure. Ordinary people make a lifestyle of failing to glorify God. Ordinary people are not thankful for the salvation God has mercifully and kindly provided in Christ Jesus. Ordinary people spend their money on things that are not intended to help them to glorify God. Ordinary people do not really love God.

However, whenever God redeems a human soul, and that redeemed child of the King realizes the value of God's redemption (and realizes how wonderful God is), that person becomes an extraordinary person.

Such extraordinary people are not average, they are "peculiar" (to use Peter's word). They are outside of the average; they do not act like a naked emperor has clothing on. Creationists are not "ordinary" people; only extraordinary people take the Holy Bible seriously. Only extraordinary people store up their treasures in Heaven, disdaining the praises of men (while suffering humiliation and persecution as they seek to acquire the commendation of God). Extraordinary people disdain the ephemeral things of this temporal world. Extraordinary people would rather offend a family member or a friend or an authority-figure, than offend God. Extraordinary people make a lifestyle of glorifying God. Extraordinary people spend their money on things that are intended to help them to glorify God. Extraordinary people are thankful, every day, for the salvation God has mercifully and kindly provided in Christ Jesus. Extraordinary people are thrilled that God chose to create them as He did.

><> JJSJ