I Try to Protect My Flock

In 2017 we were visited by a small flock of chickens. This blog, and the blogs for the next three weeks are about those memories.

I evicted the raccoon, ground hog, and opossum from the premises. Then I repaired the 8’x10’ barns to prevent predators from hiding close to the coop and put up new fencing to keep predators out of the chicken yard. The chickens and squirrels get along together, and the chickens love to eat little worms, frogs, and every kind of moving bug they can catch. Bugs are happy meals for happy chickens. (Yes! They do eat small frogs.)

Every night I latch the doors to the coop and latch the gate to the chicken yard. I feed the four hens and one rooster well, keeping food and water available 24-hours a day, and I give them scratch, table scraps, and other goodies every day. I try to protect my flock.

Carol and I decided to let the hens hatch a batch of chicks. All four hens took turns laying the eggs in one nest. I suppose the hens drew straws and Goldie was chosen to be the Momma. Twenty-three eggs fit inside the nest, so we began gathering the rest.

In New Mexico, we raised chickens and turkeys from 1973-1978. Buying the chicks at 3-days old, we didn’t hatch our own, therefore, this would be the first time we hatched … uh … let our hen hatch them, and we had a lot to learn.

I forgot that the mama hen turns the eggs several times a day. Thinking that one of the hens laid an egg on top of the 23, I took it and put it in the refrigerator. (We wash all the eggs we collect.) Four days later, Carol and I were negatively surprised when I cracked that egg to cook it, and dropped a fully-developed chicken as big as the first two digits on my baby finger into the pan. It had previously died in the fridge.

One night I got home late and forgot to secure the coop. The next morning, I found chicken feathers all over the yard, but no rooster. Fred (the rooster) apparently had fought the predator to protect his harem, and gave his life for them. But in the fracas, Fred also mortally wounded the opossum, and I found the opossum’s carcass in the corner of the yard. However, something else (coyote?) had jumped the fence and took Fred’s carcass.

Never again will I forget to secure the coop.

After Goldie sat on the nest for three weeks, the eggs began hatching. Eleven hatched, but one died. I called the remaining babies “Our ten chicklets.” I made sure I closed and latched the coop, but there was something else I didn’t know: the other hens would hurt or kill the babies.

Making the fatal mistake of allowing the hens to be in the same coop with the babies, the next morning I found eight dead chicklets. It was my fault, and I felt terrible. Even worse, while Goldie was trying to protect her young’uns, the other three hens attacked her. That broke our hearts, and I resolved to keep the hens away from Goldie and her remaining babies until they were older. Goldie recovered, but a week later, one of the chicklets died.

The remaining chicklet is nearly full-size now, and she has a name: Baby. So, we have Red Head, Whitey, Elona, Goldie, and Baby. Now the hens don’t attack Baby; it’s just the regular “pecking-order” that takes place.

As I’ve been thinking about all this, the Church came to mind. Too often, if someone’s theology differs from ours, they are labeled or branded as in error. Regardless of theology, if they tend to differ in other seemingly important areas, the church often tends to shun them or separate from them. We sometimes “kill” them socially by damaging their reputation. And if we allow our emotions to control us, we can even insult Jesus by splitting His Church. This ought not to be!

People who are made in the image of God should not act like animals. I Peter 4:8 informs us that we should look for ways to love and protect God’s flock.

Neither you nor I are perfect, so learn to accept others as they are. Love and honor God by loving and protecting His flock. Remember: you need their friendship as much as they need yours.

I’ll tell you more about the flock in the next three weeks.

What’s the Basis for Your Faith?

The title of this Reflection is a question I’ve been asked several times. Years ago, I often said: “The Bible is the basis for my faith.” But my answer has changed. Now I joyfully say, “Eyewitnesses, and the empty tomb where Jesus was buried is the basis for my faith.”

What’s the difference? To answer that, I’ll use a Protestant version of the King James Bible.

This version of the KJV Bible (printed around 1885) has 66 books, 1,189 chapters, 31,102 verses, and 788,258 words in the text. It contains stories and narratives that relate information such as numbers of people killed in numerous battles, lists of kings, priests, and prophets, and genealogies of various people.

But that information, and a lot more, is based on various dating and numbering methods. For example: some cultures listed the second year of the king’s reign as the first year simply because some kings were killed before the first year was complete. Sometimes the second year of a baby’s life was counted as its first because 1st-year mortality was rampant. Sometimes, a king and a co-regent reigned simultaneously, yet their individual reigns seem to be listed consecutively.

Various versions of the Bible – even various KJ versions – have different word and verse counts. Other things are documented differently, depending on the original ethnic scribes or subsequent translators.

All of that, plus more, give people opportunities to call the Bible wrong – therefore, impugning the integrity of the Bible – which, consequently, tends to impugn the integrity of those of us who believe the Holy Bible.

Therefore, I no longer say the Bible is the basis for my faith because detractors, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and adherents of other religions think they have grounds to prove the Bible wrong.

I now rely on eyewitnesses and the empty tomb as the basis for my faith. As surely as the person on the right of this blog witnessed the US Navy Blue Angles flying over Duncanville, Texas, there were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection and of the empty tomb in which He had been buried. That means Jesus rose from the dead. How can you argue against a person who predicted that he would die, how he would die, by whose promptings he would die, by whose hands he would die, and that he would come back to life in three days – and it all come true? Are you going to call him a liar? Not me; especially since much of it was also predicted centuries earlier by others.

How can a person debate that? Jesus either rose from the dead, or he didn’t. It isn’t “The Bible” I have to believe – it is eyewitnesses I believe. Witnesses such as Matthew, Peter, John, and others who documented their observations. They had no idea that their writings might be saved for people to read centuries later. However, because their observations and stories were found to be authentic, they were incorporated into a group of books that became the Holy Bible.

Merriam-Webster defines the word bible as: a publication that is preeminent especially in authoritativeness or wide readership. Many bibles abound such as the Machinists’ Bible, Deer Hunters’ Bible, Flower Gardener’s Bible, the Holy Bible, and many more.

The topic of Jesus’ rising from the dead has been found by archeologists in ancient Roman documents because it was a political concern for the emperors. Therefore, it is worth our time discussing it, but not arguing over it.

But I don’t blindly accept the Holy Bible. We can believe it or we don’t have to believe it; but there isn’t much sense in arguing over it. The fact is that the Holy Bible is not just a spiritual book; it is one of the oldest and greatest history books in existence. It’s also a matter of faith. But faith goes both ways: you either have faith to believe Jesus rose from the dead, or you have faith that he didn’t rise from the dead. You have faith to believe the Bible, or you have faith not to believe it. You have faith to believe in God or you have faith not to believe. Everyone’s life is based on faith in something or in someone.

The historicity of Jesus living and dying has been proven by non-biblical sources, so that is not the issue. His raising from the dead is the issue. But you’ll also discover that Jesus’ resurrection has been proven by atheists and agnostics. Of course, they became believers in Christ once they verified the deity of Jesus Christ.

Not only does the empty tomb provide me with answers for this life, it also substantiates my faith for eternal life. And I ask you to turn to Jesus Christ and live for Him.

The Joy of Family

In mid-August our daughter, and her husband in Colorado asked Carol and me to join them for a 5-day vacation in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Our other daughter, and her husband, came up from Texas, and our dear friends Charles and Cathy trekked from New Mexico.

What’s going on? We found out.

They all gave Carol and me a surprise 53rd wedding anniversary party! They even gave me my favorite party-food: chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and vanilla ice cream. That combo became my favorite 60 years earlier at my 13th birthday party in San Diego, California.

We had a great time in Pagosa Springs. Breakfast was on our own; Rebecca, a certified Health Coach for Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, gave us ground-breaking ideas of how to enjoy our retirement years – beginning with proper eating-habits. (We began our new eating plan after the ice cream & cake.) And nightly dinner was in Charles and Cathy’s condo. What a time we had!

I enjoyed Rebecca’s teaching as a Health Coach. Implementing her information helped me to get down to my target weight. Starting at 183 pounds, I got down to 164, and there’s no special diet. I eat the food I want, I have more energy, and my clothes fit better. It’s a matter of eating good food and limiting our calories. My daily caloric limit was 1,750, but I seldom ate more than 1,600, and I never went to bed hungry.

Charles and I did what we always did in Pagosa – we went fishing! I kept two of the three catfish and all six rainbow-trout I caught. I should tell you: I like to eat catfish, but in the future, I’ll leave the catfish catching & cleaning business to the restaurants. Those critters are difficult to clean! The restaurants also cook them better than I did.

The smallest trout we caught was 14 inches, and the largest was 19. The trout are easy to clean, wonderful to eat, and Carol makes trout-fish sandwiches with the leftovers. I like that better than tuna-fish sandwiches.

One daughter and family lives in Colorado, and the other daughter and family lives in Texas. One son and family had moved to California, and another son and family moved to Indiana. But Carol and I don’t plan on moving, so we see our son here in Arkansas every day. We play racquetball, and he beats me 95% of the time, but I enjoy the game. Maybe I should mention: the 5% of the times I win are a gift: he humors me by letting me win.

When it was time to part ways in Pagosa, we asked if Serena, one of our granddaughters, could spend a couple of weeks with us. The request was granted.

Carol and I haven’t had small children staying with us for quite a while, and this was a treat.

Seven-year-old kids are smart. They know what they want, and endeavor to get it. But Serena is polite and learned my house-rules quickly. She learned to clean her plate, make her bed, and pick up the toys before bed-time. And it didn’t take long for her to learn to like my Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and my Braum’s vanilla ice cream. I had to make sure I got my fair share of it.

My name for Serena is Bunny and she calls me the Old Goat. Bunny and I hopped around and had a good time. In fact, we had such a good time that Grandma (Carol) had to settle us down several times.

Bunny likes animals, and surprised Grandma with a palm sized Anura. That word in Ancient Greek means without tail and is a frog. There are over 6,300 recorded species of Anurans which amount to about 88% of amphibians today. But even one frog was enough for Grandma. “Keep it out of the house” was the order.

Bunny didn’t talk much around people whom she didn’t know, but she was a talking machine around the house. Bunny enjoyed putting puzzles together with Grandma.

The day after we returned Bunny to her parents, our house felt almost empty. In fact, after breakfast, I turned to see if Bunny had picked up her plate – but no Bunny. Carol said, “I miss her, too.”

The joy of family is one of the greatest pleasures I know and is one of the greatest gifts of God to us. Spend time with your family while you can and cultivate a loving friendship. You’ll be glad you did.

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