Protecting Territory

 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

–          Matthew 10:28-31


Okay, the ornithologists are looking at the photo and they are thinking, “Sparrow?  That’s a robin.”  There were a couple of sparrows on the driveway, but I had my reasons to take the picture of the robin.


Spring is here.  If the photo didn’t get cropped in your browser, you can see a couple of robins heading for the puddles in the driveway.  The puddles were formed by melting snow yesterday.  The robins were headed for a final drink before the puddles completely disappeared.  We call that area of the backyard the ‘birdbath.’


With Spring, the grass may soon start growing and we’ll hear lawnmowers.  With that sound, my allergies kick into full gear as the mowers spread the worst pollen, for me, into the air.  With Spring, our winter visitors will leave, and hopefully will not come back.  (I will explain in a bit.)  With Spring, the burglars come.


Burglars?  What burglars?  How do the words Spring and Burglars connect?


A couple of weeks ago, my wife told me one morning that she heard someone try to open the sliding glass door that leads to the back porch.  I shook my head.  We have nothing worth stealing, but the uninformed burglars wouldn’t know that.  The sliding glass door has a vertical blind in case you want to fix breakfast without getting your hair done or face shaved.  Okay, I could have used other reasons, but this is a family site.  My wife’s solution was to close the blinds.  After the first night, I made a point to close the blinds before going to bed each night.


Then, when watching television over the weekend, I heard what sounded like a thump followed by scratches against the glass door.  My thought was that our winter guests were trying to leave by the wrong path.  You see, we have a partially finished basement.  There are huge gaps in places and one basement wall is not complete, by a long shot.  Thus, mice come in to stay warm.  We have traps, poison, etc., but on one of the humane traps, we noticed that the mice were able to eat the bait without springing the trap.  We figured, leave them alone as long as they don’t make a mess.  If we don’t feed them, they’ll go back outside in the Spring.  I figured that a stupid mouse tried to go through the glass rather than the interstate highway the mouse family has just a foot or two below in the basement wall.  But there was no evidence other than the noise.


Then a day or two later, I heard it again and knew what was going on.  It is Spring.  And with Spring, the mice leave, but the robins come back to the eaves of the covered back porch to build their nests.  The neighbors cut down all the trees in the backyard years ago, so our covered back porch became the only shelter for the robins near our house.  We have had other birds nest here, but the robins have taken over in recent years, since the last tree was cut down.


Mr. Robin, in the center of the picture, will protect his territory in any way that he can.  While building his nest, he swoops down from the rafters to take a breather on top of one of the trash cans.  While doing so, he looks in all directions to see if there are any threats.  Each time that he looks to the east, he sees another robin.  He attacks with every bit of ferociousness that he can muster.  He tries the head butt tactic first.  If that doesn’t work, he immediately shifts to the use of his talons to scratch the other bird’s underbelly.


But no matter how ferocious his attack, the stupid other bird is back in the same spot the next day!  What is with this other robin?  How can Mr. Robin ever get rid of his rival?


Of course, Mr. Robin is seeing his own reflection in the sliding glass door.  As I recognized the sequence in the sounds, the thud – head butt – was always followed by the scratching – attack with the talons, I knew that our burglar was our summer guest, making too much noise.


But what if it had been a burglar?  About ten years ago, I heard an elder at church talk about a series of thefts from the church kitchen.  “If they stole it, they needed it.  Isn’t the church supposed to help people in need?”


When I realized that we had no burglar, I thought of what had been said.  I also thought of what a few people have written about lately in their blogs, how the church is getting very soft on sin.  Are we to the point that we encourage thieves to steal from the church, because the church is there to help them?


If that elder had his own home robbed, would he have had the same philosophy?


The church installed security cameras, but I still hear of strange things that cannot be found.  Since I am not on the ruling body anymore, I am out of the loop on the latest issues.


But the issue that does bother me is that we seem to trash almost all the Ten Commandments in churches today.  I mention this in general terms, not thinking of a single church or denomination.  Worshipping only God goes out the window to build self-esteem.  Honoring parents goes out the window, because parents are flawed, thus hypocrites.  Being a potty-mouth occurs while at church on Sunday (with a few), so can we expect them to not use God’s name as a curse during the week?  As for keeping the Sabbath day, what is the ratio of attendance versus membership in the church?  I know.  There are a few shut-ins.  We’ve mentioned stealing, but what of committing adultery?  Have you ever heard of a church leader who fooled around?  Coveting is a victimless sin, as some say, so it went away a long time ago.  What they don’t think of is that coveting leads to the other sins, but it angers God, because He has already given you all you need.  When you covet, you are telling Him that He didn’t do it right.  That leaves false witness and murder.  Should the church hang up a banner to advertise, “We are the non-murder church!  Come check us out!”


Yet, rather than address the elephant in the room, the church worries about the hot topic of the month, usually debated between liberals on one side and conservatives on the other, or what passes as either for that church.


Do I have opinions on the hot topics of the day or month?  Sure, but I would rather look at the larger issue.  In all our arguing about the latest hot topic, we have forgotten God.  We are running around trying to fix something that was fixed when God had men write the Scriptures.  All our running around is in direct opposition to what Jesus said in the Scripture above.


Science has not invented contradictions that nullify the Holy Scriptures.  Science ignores the Scriptures.


Judges 21:25 (the last verse in the book) states, In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”


To protect the church territory, the church needs strong leaders who are God-fearing and well-versed in the Scriptures, but we already have a king.


His name is Jesus.


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