There the owl nests…



Barred Owl Nesting Box

“There the owl nests and lays
    and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow;
indeed, there the hawks are gathered,
    each one with her mate.” -Isaiah 34:15

It seemed like a nice verse to emblaze onto a nesting box built in hopes of attracting a barred owl; in context, however, Isaiah 34 is prophetically speaking of the destruction of God’s enemies and the animals said to inhabit the desolated ruins.

It is not altogether inappropriate, for in winter when the owl begins nesting, the woods of Minnesota are arguably desolated. And yet, I will decidedly take scripture out of context in this instance and decide that “There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow…” as an inspiring and delightful verse to inscribe on a nesting box. Here’s hoping an owl helps the box live up to its inscription!

If The World Hates You

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)

At the time of this post, social media is ablaze because apparently ‘Christians’ are upset that a certain corporation didn’t print reference to a certain Christian holiday on its seasonal cups. Unfortunately, by posting about this, I find myself in the awkward and ironic situation of perpetuating a trending topic I oppose by speaking against it. Oh well. C’est la vie.

Arguably most Christians, myself included, don’t care about what’s printed on a cup, provided it’s not outright anti-Christ. We are not boycotting a corporation for living up to its expected, secular status. In fact, it’s arguably better that our beliefs and celebrations aren’t secularized, commercialized, and monetized; so most Christians I know are not speaking out against the cup.

This topic has become much larger by those who oppose the ‘Christians’ crying out against the cups. They have taken it as an opportunity to attack Christians on social media insinuating we are focused on a cup rather than feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Suddenly the ‘tolerant,’ ‘non-judgmental,’ ‘open-minded’ ‘progressives’ are painting broad strokes of generalized criticism against Christians.

Oh how tempting it is to go on tirades and rebuttals against each and every post attacking Christians by using this controversy invented by social media trolls; but that is not my style and our Savior would have more to say about that than what is printed on a cup. So let us as Christians turn the other cheek and remember…

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)


Enjoy This Meaningless Life

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. —Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (NIV)

The passage was taped into my dad’s notebook planner. We never knew it was there; it was discovered by my mom and sister after he passed. I’ve never given Ecclesiastes much thought as a book in the Biblical canon. I’m sure I’ve had an occasional dose of it throughout years of sermons and devotions, mostly in the patter of “there is a time for everything…” but the book never particularly resonated or remained with me. Well, when a passage of Scripture is found taped inside a departed loved one’s personal belongings, it causes one to take notice.

By our request, the passage from Ecclesiastes was included in the sermon text for my dad’s funeral. It was all too fitting, not just to put life into perspective at a funeral, but also because it was apparent that such philosophy guided my dad in his business, family, and philanthropic life. In context of the entire book of Ecclesiastes, it becomes all the more profound and humbling; especially to a young artist and professional seeking to find balance and success with ambitions for this life.

The writer of Ecclesiastes (a successful man in earthly terms, and identified most likely as King Solomon) states, in a nutshell, that everything in this mortal life is meaningless, so enjoy it as a gift from God our creator. “Meaningless! Meaningless! …Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless,” is the opening of the first chapter, and that just about sums up the entire book. The sun will continue its revolution, the waters will continue their cycle, but as mortal men our toils and pleasures are meaningless and we will return, forgotten, to the dust from which we came.

In this modern life, apparently no different than those in the ancient world, we humans get so wrapped up in our own ambitions, achievements, riches, titles, and mark we seek to make on this Earth that we lose sight of how meaningless it all is. Another translation opens the first verse of Ecclesiastes with “Vanity! Vanity!” That’s what our ambition for greatness is. Meaningless vanity.

As I search and struggle, juggling careers, seeking financial security, attempting artistic significance, this book came in divine timing with my father’s passing;  a reminder that everything is meaningless, everything is mere vanity. So let us enjoy this life! Whatever we do, do it with all our might! Let us use our creative talents to serve our Creator, let us enjoy this Earth; but let us not do it for the sake of vanity. The pleasures of this world are a gift from God, but our true reward is not of this world.

Ecclesiastes: in a paradox, this book allows the Christian to enjoy labor and life more by showing us how meaningless it truly is. Meaningless! Meaningless! A chasing after the wind…