This is our new rooster, Mr. Silkie (far right). We’ve been “roosterless” for over a year, since our previous rooster, Rootie, hopped up on the fence and crowed one-too-many times. Catching the attention of an eagle who lives in a tall cottonwood nearby, Rootie became the main course for supper that evening. (Eagles make for cool songs and symbols of freedom, but horrible neighbors for folks who have small animals and poultry. ☹ )
We auditioned another rooster a few months ago. He was quickly “fired,” for eating eggs - and teaching the hens how to do it as well! It’s good for the flock to have a rooster, one who watches out for them and warns them of possible danger - and takes the hit for them when there is real danger. So, we were glad when some friends asked if we wanted one of their Silkie roosters, assuring us that “It is not aggressive - and doesn’t eat eggs!”
Well past dark after Mr. Silkie’s first day with the hens, I went out to shut the flock in the coop, only to find that Mr. Silkie was still under the coop - waaaay under - in the farthest corner. I tried shining a light in front of the door that leads out from under the coop. That had worked well with the hens (see my previous post). But not with Mr. Silkie! I even grabbed some sunflower seeds and sprinkled them in front of the opening. He didn’t budge from his post in the far corner. Stubborn rooster!
It was one of those below-zero nights, so I was getting cold, gave up and headed back into the house tell Violet that we might have a frozen rooster in the morning. Violet reminded me, “Remember, Mikala told us that this was her favorite rooster, so we need to figure out how to get it out and into the coop!” I guess I gave up too easily.
I bundled back up and headed out to the garage in search of a long, thin scrap of wood, one that would reach to the far corner under the coop. Sure enough. I found a ten-foot-long piece I had saved from a cutting long ago. (There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when one of the million scraps you have saved actually finds a use!) My hope was that I could use the stick to gently move Mr. Silkie out of his corner and guide him to the opening.
Thank God - literally - it worked! Mr. Silkie followed my stick-led guidance and came to me at the entrance. I left the stick near the coop, figuring I might need to repeat the procedure a few nights in a row. (Us guys tend to be slow learners ☺ ) But I was delighted to discover Mr. Silkie was safely in with his girls the next night!
In the previous post, I compared Jesus to the light that the hens had followed to come out of the darkness under the coop. The incident with Mr. Silkie reminded me of a simple truth that not everyone automatically “flocks” (pun intended) to Jesus to get out of their darkness. Some people need a little extra help. Don’t give up on those folks! (Remember, we're ALL God's favorites!) Ask God to show you how you can gently move them out of their darkness and guide them to see that Jesus has what they need.
It’s no secret that light is a powerful thing. It determines when we go to bed and when we get up. Without it we can’t read or drive. Very often I hear people say things like, “When the sun comes out it’s like someone flipped a switch on my mood!”
Not long ago I witnessed another great example of the power light has to change lives, and the experience opened my eyes to another simple truth - learned from our chickens!
We were in a cold snap where the outside temp didn’t get above zero for at least a week. During the winter months we have a light in our chicken coop that comes on an about an hour before sunrise and goes off an hour after sundown. When the temp gets consistently below -10 degrees at night I replace that LED bulb with an infrared heat bulb to help warm things up a bit for the hens. The infrared bulb doesn’t give up much light, just heat.
One night I got home late, long after it was dark outside. I always go into the coop to collect the eggs and make sure all the hens are on their roost. And I always count to make sure they’re all “present and accounted for.” We have sixteen hens, and on this night I counted eleven. I have never had such a discrepancy between what should be and what is! I counted again. Eleven. I needed to go out into the chicken "run" that’s attached to the coop and find out what happened. A couple possibilities popped into my mind: Either I’d find five frozen hens, or I’d find a racoon with such a full tummy that it couldn’t move. Thankfully, I found neither!
What I did see was five confused hens underneath the coop (Our coop is a couple feet above the ground, and the girls love to hang out underneath it.) How did I know they were confused? Because each of them had a cartoon bubble over their heads filled with “????s,” of course! ☺ They seemed to be okay, but I could not get them to come out the little door that leads from under the coop into the run. They just stood there under the coop not knowing what to do. And I didn’t know what to do to get them out. I don't fit through their little opening, and I would not crawl under there if I did! So, I went back inside the house to consult with our resident “farm girl,” Violet. Of course, Violet knew what to do. “Just hold a flashlight above the little door and shine the light down in front of the door. They’ll come out.”
Sure enough! One by one, they made their way to the light, coming out from under the coop into the run where I scooped them up and put them into the coop! Violet later told me that, since the infrared bulb doesn’t give off light, those hens didn’t know where to go to get into the coop. (Not sure why the other eleven did, but I can’t read chicken minds.)
That incident reminded me how John in his gospel refers to Jesus as “the light of all mankind,” and that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” Jesus himself, in one of His seven “I Am” statements, says, “I Am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the Light of life.”
The simple truth is that we are often like our five confused hens, living what can often be a very “dark” world. Sometimes it is a world so dark and cold that we really don’t know which way to turn. In those dark moments we need to follow the chickens’ example and just make our way to the light - the Light that is Jesus. He came into this world to lead us through this dark world and to a place that will be safe for eternity!
This is our little feather-duster-of-a-pup named Blackberry. She's a Shih-Poo (Shih Tzu / Poodle). Blackberry joined our family in late November primarily to be a companion for our other "pup" a spunky, twelve-year-old Lhatese (Lhaso Apso / Maltese) named Hemmers - short for Hemingway. Technically, Hemmers is our "Grandpup," since he actually belongs to our son. But we've had the joy of raising him, because his "Dad" lives in a town and feels Hemmers is better suited for the country life.
Hemmers had a sister out here on "the farm" until a very unfortunate thing happened Memorial Weekend this past year. Sister Nilla was a big Lab / Hound Dog - and who knows what else! Nilla was a goofball who absolutely lived to play. Hemmers and Nilla weren't just "siblings," they were best buds and "partners in crime" who had grown up together for eleven years!
So, when Nilla died after eating some rodent that had been poisoned, Hemmers was depressed - to put it mildly - for months! He was "lost" without Nilla. We deliberated whether or not we should get him another sister - until we saw how happy he was on a "play date" with a friend's new pup. So, after checking puppies.com for possible new sisters we came across a litter of ShihPoos a couple hours away from here. There was one pup in particular that we had our eye on. But how do you pick a new dog that will be part of your family for years to come? How do you know from just a five-minute "meet and greet" which one is the "right" dog? I certainly didn't know, so we prayed that God would lead us to the right one!
After a snowy, two-hour trip to check out the three ShihPoos, the owner asked Violet if she had one she'd like to hold. She pointed to Blackberry and instantly fell in love with her. I wrote out a check, and we hopped back in the car with our new member of the family. A few miles out of town I asked Violet why she had picked that particular pup. She said, "It's the one we had our eye on in the picture." I said, "Ummm. No. It isn't," then got out my phone to show her the picture. Violet's response: "Oh, no! We got the wrong dog! Should be take her back?"
Having prayed for God to lead us to the right one, I said, "No. This is the one we're supposed to have."
And, oh my goodness! We definitely got the right, wrong dog! Blackberry's a goofball another level up even from Nilla! We call her "The Smile Machine." She has got to be the happiest pup I've ever seen. You just cannot help but smile when she's in the room. She's a perfect fit for our family!
Our "Right, wrong dog" experience reminded me of a simple truth from God's Word found in the book of Proverbs: "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21). We had planned to get a different pup, but God directed us to the one He knew was best for us - and for Hemmers!
There are probably as many answers to the question of the meaning of Christmas as there are people on the planet. In my estimation, it would be hard to improve on Linus' answer in A Charlie Brown Christmas as he steps on stage and recites from Luke chapter 2. He recounts the angel's "good news of great joy for all the people" message given to the Bethlehem shepherds about the birth of "A Savior who is Christ the Lord." Then Linus turns to his friend and says, "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."
Indeed! Christmas is all about Jesus - or at least it should be.
You know how, every now and then, someone makes a comment that's so profound it sticks with you for life? Well, here's one of those:
It was probably thirty years ago now. Anthony, Becca, Violet and I were at my parents' home for Christmas - on break from my pastoral studies at the seminary. Violet and I left the kids with Grandpa and Grandma for an afternoon of "spoiling." The two of us took a walk through the snow to visit some folks at the nursing home in town. One of those residents was the wife of the mechanic my dad had turned wrenches with at the local Chevy dealership. I started with some small-talk. Asking questions like "What did you have for Christmas dinner?" and "What did you get for Christmas?"
Mary brought my small-talk to an abrupt end with this comment: "David! Christmas is not about food and presents. It's about Jesus!"
I've probably forgotten 99.9% of what I learned in the classroom about being a pastor, but Mary's comment will - hopefully - stick with me forever. The simple truth about Christmas is that it isn't about food or presents or any of the other things we tend to make it about. It's about Jesus!
So, in honor of Mary St. John, "Have yourself a "Mary" Christmas!" (One that's all about Jesus!)
Pastor David Dauk