Be a Pink Flamingo for Christ

There were two Pink Flamingos on my lawn today! Can you imagine?

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Standing so very still, it was hard to believe they were real. What an attention getter these brightly colored birds are! Soon, all the neighbors noticed and commented on their presence. Their long legs and necks, their large bent beaks and the unusual color of their feathers makes them a most noticeable bird. Okay, they were plastic – left as a joke!

I have seen these birds before, but only at the zoo. Usually the beauty of their gorgeous orange/pink color adds to their stateliness as they pose, standing still in the water.

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But once at the zoo, I saw several gawky looking birds. Their long gangly legs looked uneven as they waded in the pool. Their shaggy feathers appeared a dirty white and gave the impression of being uncared for. Surprisingly, these too, were flamingos.

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The color in their feathers comes from their diet. The Pink Flamingos have a diet rich in a kind of shrimp that is filled with a pink that dyes the feathers of the bird that eats them. So, these other flamingos were simply dining on something else.

What a pity, that they miss out on the beauty they were created for! They too, could be transformed by consuming the right nutrients.

Can you imagine being so filled with something that you take on the very appearance in color of it? As Christians, we are given the opportunity to dine on the very Word of God. Doing so will transform our lives.

As we consume His Word and absorb the personality of Jesus Christ, we will begin to look like what we are taking in. We can become “Pink Flamingos” for Christ! We can stand out in a crowd, be noticed, point the way for others.

flamingo-1792211_640Maybe that is what scares us. Maybe we don’t want to be noticed. Maybe we want to be ‘lukewarm’ so as not to call attention to ourselves or offend anyone. We can be so stubborn and refuse God’s Word and eat what we want. Then we become like those dingy, drab, dirty-looking birds: recognized as Christians, but with a note of pity: that we have missed the beauty God created us for.

God’s Word tells us in Revelation 3:16 that lukewarm Christians will be spit out of God’s mouth – He wants nothing to do with them.

Feed yourself on God’s Word! Let the power of his plan be revealed in your life as you become transformed into a “Pink Flamingo” for Christ.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good.” Psalm 34:8

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I lift my hands

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The other day I was helping put up a ceiling fan. We had to work with our hands above our heads; and quickly, it became very tiring. Soon, all the blood ran out of our arms and our hands got numb. Our shoulders ached and muscles we didn’t even know we had, cried out in rebellion.

 

We don’t often hold our hands up for very long periods of time. It isn’t the natural relaxed state for our bodies.

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In Exodus, while Moses held up his hands, his army had victory. When his hands dropped, they began to lose. Moses needed help. Two assistants came to help him by bracing his arms so his hands could remain uplifted. And his troops gained a victory!

In 3 of the Psalms, David records that he raised his hands to God. And in I Timothy, we’re told to raise our holy hands in prayer. So in the Bible, it seems holding up your hands is a good thing.

If this is pleasing to God, why didn’t he create us like that? It would have been a simple thing for Him to do. After all, trees lift their branches. It’s their normal position – a stature of having extremities raised heavenward.

I think it’s because He wants our lifted hands to be voluntary – our choice. It’s a way of offering praise. And it’s a way of asking for the gifts He’s prepared for us: salvation, blessings, answers to prayer, in a posture of readiness to receive them.

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Too many times, we go around with our hands clenched in anger, fear or frustration — or just trying to hold on to what we have. So that when we pray, we are unable to receive what God wants to give us.

 

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Because to receive, you have to open your hands.

 

 

I like the song written and recorded by Sandi Patty I Lift My Hands To You because it encourages me to lift my hands. Join me, lift your hands to God – showing Him that you’re ready to receive the blessings and answers to prayer He has for you today.

Are your Blessings running low?

When I got to the lake to take my walk today, the most noticeable thing was the water level. It had dropped to an extremely low point. Very few birds could be seen on the water. Rocks lay exposed. At first glance, the water looked shallow and scummy, the banks muddy and messy. It was as if the blessing of the beauty of the water had been taken away.

rock-328783_640            Could this be like our lives? What would they look like with God’s blessing withdrawn like the water in the lake? We immerse ourselves in God’s blessing when we have it. We revel in it! It surrounds us and holds us up as we float on it. My first thought was that to lose even a little of it would not be a good thing.

But where the trail came near the water, I stepped off to have a closer look. I saw hundreds, perhaps a thousand tiny fish! Fish not usually see because the regular depth of the water obscures them from view. This blessing of these fish had been there all along but had gone unnoticed.

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From there I could also see that the ducks and geese had gathered in a small inlet to feast on the algae that had grown on the underwater rocks which now lay uncovered. What a blessing they were enjoying!

Many bottles and cans stuck in the sandy lake bottom were also now exposed, and a couple of kids had made their way down to the rocks’ edge to pull them out. So, this ‘clean up’ effort was made possible by the lowered water level.

If these benefits were occurring when water was withdrawn from the lake, could there be benefits in our lives when God seems to withhold His bounty for a time? Would our examined lives reveal hidden blessings?

If we take the time to look, the answer is probably “Yes”.

Would we discover blessings we often don’t notice, or take for granted? Probably yes. God blesses us with every new day, each breath we take, every friend, every sunset. There is even blessing in times of hardship. We just need to take the time to look and notice, like the tiny fish in the lake.

Could we feast on the growth of our faith that has grown in the depth of God’s blessings? Yes. Perhaps it is not fully exposed and realized until the level drops, like the algae covered rocks.

Have we allowed things to creep into our lives that we need to remove? Undoubtedly, yes. But like the garbage on the lake, we may ignore them until we see their trashy presence in full view. Then it’s an opportunity to clean things up.

Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time to every purpose under heaven.” And if you’re feeling like God’s blessing is somewhat lower than usual in your life, don’t be discouraged. You have a wonderful opportunity for discovery, feasting, and clean up before you.

And before long, the depths will return.

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Turn Your Head Around

Walking in one direction around the lake gave me a singular perspective. The sky was totally overcast as I looked up and onward. A gray haze was settling in not too far above my head. It gave a dreary look to everything in front of me: the lake, the trees, the houses. And the effect on my mood was similar. I felt weighted down, sluggish, gray.

duck circleAs I walked, a group of ducks who were feeding in a tightly moving circle, moved away from me, and I thought, how often that is the case: wild animals fearing humans will seek to get away from them. But personally, I internalized and felt rejected by these ducks.

As I came around the curve of the lake, I looked to see if the mountains too were submerged in gray, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that they were not! The sky was clearing from the west and the sun was able to illuminate the mountains beautifully. Above and around me was overcast, but in the distance, was the hope of a beautiful and sunny day.

My spirits were lifted, and my mood changed.   The day took on a forecast of hope and promise.   Miraculously, my outlook had totally improved just by turning my head around! God showed me that there was more to life than what I was choosing to focus on.

How long has it been since you turned your head and looked around? It seems that in the rush of today’s world, we don’t take the time to look around; not to see the beauty, or gain a new perspective. We’re so busy with our nose to the grindstone and our shoulder to the wheel and the weight of the world on our backs; we’re afraid of losing momentum. And yet sometimes, we need those moments to clarify what is around us now. Those adjustments of the neck help us reevaluate our situation or confirm that we are on the right track.

I decided to reverse my direction and cover the same ground, only from a new perspective with the sunny vista before me. There seemed to be more spring in my step as I retraced my path. Meeting up with the group of ducks again, I waited for them to flee from my approach. But they did not. They kept coming towards me, circling in their tight group, and continued by me as if I weren’t even there!

I looked back and saw the ducks; which I had presumed were judging me, were simply following their pattern of feeding: churning up algae to eat by paddling in a circle, moving slowly around the perimeter of the lake. I had mistakenly read something into their behavior that wasn’t there!

How often we do that in life. We allow our mood to be affected by external factors, and then mistakenly interpret the world around us. In doing this, we defeat ourselves!

Don’t allow that to happen!

my-lakeTake a moment to straighten your neck, turn your head and look around you. Take in all 360 degrees plus what is above and beneath you. Allow God to show you what He wants you to see. Ask Him to help you refocus on the hope and future He has for you.

Casting Down their Golden Crowns

At the end of summer, the bounty of the season becomes plainly visible. Fruit trees are heavy with ripening fruits of all kinds. Vegetables are on their second or third crop. Vines of gourds and squash are laden with maturing produce.

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One of the most dramatic looking plants is the Giant Sunflower. These can grow to be 10-12 feet tall, with thick, bulky stalks and large, broad, flat leaves. Most spectacular, however, is the head of the sunflower. The bright yellow-orange petals stand at attention around a wide dark platform of seeds up to 2 feet across!

The larger these giant heads, the more they weigh. Often, these giant sunflowers will be seen with their heads braced by support poles or with ropes making a sling of sorts to help with the weight. Still, the heavier and more abundant the seeded head, the more it droops. Eventually, it may bend down all the way to the ground, if it doesn’t snap the stalk first.

sunflower-1705178_640Several of these extraordinary flowers grow around a lake nearby. Early on, they overshot many of the other flowers in the bed. By mid-summer, they were towering over everything else, standing alone as giants among the rest. Watching them grow all summer was exciting. But soon it became obvious that the strain of the large showy heads was too much for them.

The sheer weight of the head of the flower began to bend the stalk. The spectacular golden-crowned heads, bowing down reminded me of the lyric in a hymn about the future:

“All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea…

Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea”

from Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber © 1826

What a posture of homage these majestic flowers assume depicting our purpose and privilege on earth is to attain crowns so that we may offer them to Jesus. What a beautiful image, illustrating how one day we will all bow down and lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus: a token of our gratitude for what He has allowed us to experience and produce in our lives.

Rev. 4:10 gives us this: “…the 24 elders fall down before Him who is seated on the throne… and cast down their crowns before the throne,” to honor and glorify God.

It is not our purpose to be grandiose and showy, but to honor God with what we are, to worship Him with what He has allowed us to produce. These beautiful colorful flowers will always remind me that what we are given is for God’s glory.

And our posture should mimic nature’s own.

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