Re: Squirreling Around
"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Ac20:30)
"For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were set forth to this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God, even our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ju1:4)
"But those who are outside God judges. Therefore PUT AWAY FROM AMONG YOURSELVES THE EVIL PERSON." (1Co5:13)
It's been a few years, and I don't know how old squirrels live to be, so I don't know if this lesson is about the same squirrel, or not; but it seems to live in the same tree.
This squirrel is a neighborhood nuisance. Also, in the past year, I've been informed that our local squirrels are carnivorous, and so will rummage into bird nests and eat birds and their eggs. I sometimes see this squirrel wriggling its nose up towards the neighbor's bush where the sparrows like to roost. It also digs holes all over in neighborhood lawns; NOT for nuts. One neighbor, trying to get some grass to re-grow, has had to put down wire netting, otherwise the squirrel will come along and dig into the freshly seeded area. It digs and burrows into bark-dusted flower beds. If it was not inside city limits where certain laws prohibit it, and the danger of the close proximity to houses, I would go squirrel -hunting-. (problem solved!) I am a firm supporter of P.E.T.A.; as explained on a bumper sticker I saw a couple years ago: People Eating Tasty Animals. And squirrel, as I recall from my youth in Illinois and Missouri, is tasty eatin's.
A lot of people say that squirrels are 'stupid', because when they bury their nuts, they can't remember where they buried them. But I am here to tell you that this one squirrel, at least, is -quite- 'skilled' in SUBTERFUGE. I feed the sparrows 'cracked wheat' bread. It's my favorite bread to eat, and the sparrows also go crazy for it. And...squirrel absolutely loves it, too. But seeing as how squirrel is carnivorous and also goes after sparrows, I have a purposeful campaign to -NOT- let him have the bread I throw out for the sparrows.
First time I chased him away, he hops around a bit by the garage, and then back down the driveway, somewhat in the fashion as the old cartoon characters where somebody might be 'sneaking' up on somebody; paws and legs lifted high, set down gently, walking along in "stealth" mode, nose pointed in the direction of the bread. Only problem: going right down the middle of the driveway, he wasn't "sneaking" on anything...I could see him plainly. So, after a few runs, he figures out that, even though I'm inside the house, I can still see him, so the tactic changes. I chase him away, and he goes scurrying up the neighbor's maple tree...but then he goes down the -opposite- side of the trunk from my line-of-vision, scampers to the neighbor's flower beds next to the fence, skulks along the fence, around the front of the neighbor's house, and next thing I know...there he is again, plopped amongst the sparrows, eating the bread. So perhaps I chase him and he goes over to the other neighbor's chestnut tree, climbs up into it...but then he knows to come back down, along that fence, skulks along the base of the basement of my house, out-of-sight under the window I'm looking through...and Voila! There he is again. Or the most brazen is, when I've chased him away, and the sparrows also fluttered off; so give it a minute and the sparrows are flocking back, there's squirrel, in-amongst the hopping sparrows, pretending to "flock" back, head-to-head -among- the sparrows as though he was also a sparrow.
Squirrel is just like children. Where my store is, we've pretty much got the area kids trained that the front area of the building is not for skate boarding or roller blading. But every once in awhile, some kid will go rolling by, even though there is a sidewalk at ground level that they -could- roll on. The other day such a kid went by, so, seeing that he was loitering in the middle of the street, I went to the corner of the building to let him know he was being watched. After a bit of pretending to work on his 'tricks' (because he was actually waiting for me to disappear inside so he could roll around next to the building some more), he makes hand/arm gestures in my direction indicating, "WHAT?" So I gestured back that he was not to be rolling next to the building. After another minute or so, he pretends to skate off down the street. I go to the other corner of the building, thinking he might come along, and I would 'surprise' him. A bit of time went by, he didn't come, so I went inside. No sooner had I been inside, but what... here he comes again, rolling by. And this time he stops, right next to the end of the building. So, I go out again and this time give him an in-your-face tongue lashing, with him responding with the typical insolent, "WHATEVER!" And he saunters off, back to the place where he had been previously pretending to practice his tricks. And I remained, in full view of him, and -watched-. After a couple more minutes, he must have figured out that I wasn't giving up...and he took off another direction. And that's been the end of it with him.
You see, parents, it is not that children -CANNOT- be trained. It is that most parents 'give up' before putting forth the necessary time and effort. How many wring their hands, "I tell them what I expect, but they -just- won't obey!" Well, that's because you haven't -trained- them. Children have infinite amounts of energy to rebel, and their minds are continually swirling, 'thinking' of -ways- to GET AROUND the RULES. Parent, you must catch them -everytime- they show up at the 'bread' next to the sparrows. Remember back to your own childhood and your shenanigans and -anticipate- your child's moves. Don't let them GET AWAY WITH stuff, and pass it off with the excuse, "Kids will be kids". That's the whole point: Kids -are- kids, which is why parents must be exhaustively vigilant with them.
Training a child, in many ways, is not all that different from training animals. Back in college, when I had thought to get a double major, one in education, the intro course in psychology was something (I forget now its title) in elementary human development. The basis for -human- learning was based on lab experiments with animals: monkeys, mice, dogs, etc. The concept of reward-and-punishment. Trouble is: society has learned the "reward" concept, but not "punishment" when it comes to children. They will give rewards, or withhold rewards. But they do not punish. They see the results of experiments in the lab, but then for children falsely assume that withholding a reward is the same as punishment. It is not. The opening verse (above) describes the cure for a child's "foolishness"... the "rod of correction". Some call it the "board of education". Something that 'hurts' when it is applied. Something which is unpleasant enough that the child will modify their behavior in order to avoid a repeat of the session.
But just like the squirrel, coming up with many variations on how to reach the bread, children are VERY SMART. They know what your 'buttons' are that they can push. They also know where your limits are. If you start -counting-: One, Two, I really mean it!, Three, Don't test me!, Four, I really mean it!, Four-and-a-half...the child knows. Don't play counting games with them.
When they get older they also become quite the philosophers. They will argue. They will contrive explanations. They will -lie-. Somebody once e-mailed me asking about playing a certain video game, even though his father apparently was telling him NOT to. [link] In the first e-mail the premise was that he was -considering- getting the game, and in my own observation of the matter (I wasn't born just yesterday), it was obvious he was looking for excuses and/or reasonings to use against his father. In my first reply I chided him for trying to circumvent his father's wishes. A bit later another e-mail comes: He HAS BEEN PLAYING this game (apparently had been all along), wondering if there was anything that would condemn him to hell for doing so. (words to that effect) Did he think I had forgotten his first e-mail? Was he merely -considering- the game...or has he been -playing- it, in disobedience to his father? And... has the father been following up the matter... keeping tabs on his son?
It's like a person told me one day, something an uncle of his said to him when he was a youth: If you always tell the truth, you will never have a problem REMEMBERING WHAT YOU'VE SAID.
And as we consider several angles to Mr. Squirrel, we also see today's church. How does false doctrine, worldliness and apostasy enter the church? By many different means. I'm old enough, my memory goes back to the 70s. The pastor is -conservative-, he does not let rock bands into the church. But at youth parties, young boys and girls "pass-the-apple". That's the one where a boy holds an apple between his chin and chest, passes it to a girl's chin/chest (no hands), who in turn passes it to a boy's chin/chest. First time I saw that game in a 'church' setting, I was flabbergasted that the leaders would not only condone such a game, but schedule/plan it. In fact, as one boy and girl were 'together' in such a manner, the girl became uncontrollably 'overcome' being in such a proximity to the boy, essentially swooning...and the leaders did nothing about it. In essence, teaching kids to be promiscuous.
The pastor doesn't allow rock bands, but several skilled musicians are invited to sing in the choir, or play in the church orchestra. They don't know the Lord. Then, given enough time, the unsaved musician is promoted to leadership. A NON-CHRISTIAN leading the congregation in music.
The pastor doesn't allow rock bands, but some of the youth or college aged people have learned these 'cool' choruses at this conference or camp, and they've brought along their guitars to strum -rhythmically-, and the chorus has some rhythms and syncopation that are 'cool'. Then as the strumming of the guitar is gotten used to, next thing you know, somebody brings a bass. Thump, thump, thump.
This is how it happened at the Bible school I went to. I happened to be there about the time the music director was "pushing" the doors to see what the limits were. I was in the summer touring ensemble the summer of 1968, and we performed our tour concert at Central Bible Church. It was the first tour in which the guitar and bass were used in music to represent the school. The pastor of the church was -very- 'conservative'. Would he accept our music? Or would he walk up and put a stop to it once we got started? The music director was prepared for the possibility of this latter scenario, and as a group he discussed with us what we might do if that happened. He -knew- he was walking on thin ice, was pushing the boundaries...purposely. In that case? The pastor didn't say anything. The program was 'accepted'. Breathe a sigh of relief! The year after I left the school, they started using drums. In an album the one music teacher sang a solo with 'night-club' (tango) style piano accompaniment, and swooniness like 'love-making' music. And now today? The school is soooo worldly, you can read the past review from when the choir came to Spokane a few years ago. [link]
It's like the old story of the Arab and his Camel: They are travelling, and stop for the night. The Arab sets up the tent and lies down to sleep. Pst, Master. Yes, Camel? Could I come into the tent with you to sleep overnight? It's cold out here. The tent is too small, there is not room enough for us both. Pst, Master. Yes, Camel? Could I just poke my nose in through the tent flaps and keep it warm? Oh, alright. Just your nose. Pst, Master. Yes, Camel? Do you suppose I could put my head through the flap? My ears are getting cold out here. And this back-and-forth goes on, and by the time it is over, the -whole- camel is inside the tent, and the Arab is outside.
Over to the maple tree; up the maple tree and down; through the flower beds; over to the chestnut tree; hopping along the fence; skirting around under the window, next to the foundation; clear around the neighbor's house; clear around between the two garages over to the flowers, skirting back by the neighbor's house.... for one piece of bread.
As Jesus said,
Since I live within city limits, I cannot 'hunt' the squirrel. And in some cases, when/if I chase the squirrel away, it also rousts up the sparrows and they flutter away. Sometimes if I put a little more effort into it, and chase the squirrel (temporarily) -far- away, the sparrows get the idea that I was not chasing them, and they flutter back quickly to gobble up the bread before the squirrel gets back. As Jesus said...
As Paul says...
The same with satan's allurements, of whatever the nature. The girl or guy is being enticed, the answer should be "No!" And then "...nor give place to the devil" (Eph4:27)
Intruders come into the assembly and begin to "share" false doctrine. Such should be nipped-in-the-bud. Terribly UN-LOVING and JUDGMENTAL!?? Yup! ...if they say so. But such 'nipping' is the very definition of HOLINESS. We are not to be so paranoid that they won't come back (like Alpha Course) that we allow false doctrine to persist in the assembly. In the OT they placed guards so that "no one who was in any way unclean could enter." (2Ch23:19) If they are unbelievers, they shouldn't be there, in the first place. They are "unclean". The meetings of Believers for Bible study is not where unbelievers get saved. They are witnessed to, saved, and -then- brought into the fellowship. But if they come in as unbelievers and are allowed to "share", all they know to share is false doctrine; which corrupts the assembly.
When satan or his emissaries try to seduce us, they are seeking to -defile- us. And they keep -hounding-, just like the person who keeps trying to wear the person down with, "Aw C'mon! Nobody needs to know. You -feel- this thing between us, I know you do. Don't fight it."
I SAID: -NO-!!
When the True Believer thusly engages in (what the world calls) hate speech and judgmentalism, it is because of our -LOVE- for God and His unadulterated Word. We are not committing adultery because of our -LOVE- for God and the pure doctrines of Scripture.
Sometimes when I hiss, clap and stomp at the squirrel, it gets into fits of confusion and rapidly darts around, first this way, then that, then another... I don't know? Surprised? Trying to figure out -which- way to get its bearings to go to escape?
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Pr30:5) "...for prophecy was not formerly brought forth by manís choice" (2Pt1:21a)
The couple of days while this was being written I thought it strange: Mr. Squirrel was not appearing for his usual "sneak-the-bread" escapades.
This spring has been a tough one, getting the corn in the garden to sprout. We had what seemed like a nice warming trend, so I, along with many others in the area (including the one TV weatherman), planted my garden. Then it turned cold again, even with a couple of frosty nights. So now there are these gaps in the corn rows where nothing is coming up; so I bought some more seed and injected seeds into the gaps. Next day (the day I was concluding this piece and posting it to the website) it rained all day, and when I got home, what did I see, but, over half the places I had re-planted the seed, squirrel HOLES, and the seeds (just planted the day before) on the 'top' of the ground, with all their little 'germs' eaten out. Grrrrr!!! THAT -CRAZY- SQUIRREL!!! (Stomping and shaking the fist!) I went down the street to this neighbor that I know has an affinity for 'hunting', and asked if he knows of a "legal" way to get rid of squirrels in town. He then related an interesting tale. A couple days before, one of his cats had caught a squirrel, and the two cats were fighting over it on their back step.
Aaah, of course! The 'holes' were 'smaller' than "Mr" Squirrel would make. And I had just chased a 'smaller' squirrel out the back yard; a squirrel that in the past I've seen "Mr" chasing. It ran across the same fences and up the power pole, across on the wires to the tree. It's the squirrel that lives in that 'other' tree over 'there'. And sure enough, this morning (a day later), this new squirrel appeared from around the corner of my neighbor's garage, stood on his haunches while the sparrows were having their morning bread, looking, observing, 'scoping' out the territory vacated when the neighbor's cat caught "Mr". Needless to say, I made it clear to Mr. Newcomer that he was NOT WELCOME. He scooted on back and did not appear again. At least... not during my breakfast.
So now... is Mr. Newcomer the eater of corn germs? If I try to re-re-plant those seeds, will he eat them, too? (And here... I thought I had bought too many re-seeds! With this turn of events, I'll be happy if I have enough!)
Considering the topic of this overall piece, do we already understand the 'lesson' about to be reviewed? If a person is not standing firm against anything, it doesn't much matter. They are a lost cause. Sin -already- 'has' them. But if a person makes -a- stand against -a- situation and firmly says, "NO!" and GETS RID OF -that- obstacle to righteousness, is that the END of -all- conflict?
If I remember history correctly, WW1 was supposed to be the war "to end all wars". But then came WW2, Korea, Balkans, Afghanistan (both Russia and US), Kosovo, VietNam, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, N.Ireland, Falklands, Grenada, and on-and-on. WW1 was -NOT- the "end".
Just because one offer to sexual delights is resisted, doesn't mean that somebody else won't be coming along with a more enticing allure. Just because a child has been successfully trained in one matter, doesn't mean that they won't come up with another concept for disobedience or rebellion, that will need firm discipline. Remember the verse: Foolishness is "bound up" in the heart of the child. Remember that we are -born- in sin: "in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps51:5) If you will, as "flesh and blood" (1Co15:50), at the -genetic- level we are sinners. Flesh and blood -strains- to do evil. As the prophet says, "Both hands are on evil to DO IT WELL" (Mic7:3)
Thus, if our -flesh- is sooo bent towards evil, our -spirits- must be on a 'greater' CONSTANT VIGIL -against- evil.
I've never fought in battle... but I would visualize it as firing a machine gun at the enemy. You kill one, but then another appears around the corner. If you don't kill him, he's gonna get you. The soldier cannot kill -one- enemy combatant, and then sit down under the shade tree, take off the helmet, for a cool drink and relaxation. The -fight- isn't over until every last enemy combatant has been eliminated.
In the case of our spiritual warfare, when is that victory? When Jesus has come "conquering, indeed in order to conquer" (Re6:2) In other words, until we have been "changed" from corruption to incorruption (1Co15:50-54); we are in this spiritual warfare until either death, or the Rapture. It is not the ones who join in the "sharing" of "unity in diversity". No... it is PERSEVERANCE! Jesus says...
"...and having done all, to stand." (Eph6:13b)