A Tale Of Two Birds

April 2, 2014
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Praise The Saviour Ye Who Know Him"1 (Lyrics)

Philippians 2:13 – For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (NIV)

Every morning that I commuted to church, I used to take great delight in spotting two beautiful, large birds. The first was a red-tailed kite which perched atop an old dead tree, constantly surveying the fields alongside the motorway for small prey. It was, in my opinion, a remarkable bird, and it often looked both majestic and regal from its high perch.

The second bird was a large, grey heron, standing alone in a small pond, continually looking for small frogs or fish to catch and eat. Its beautiful, sleek features and feathering always impressed me as I drove by its pond on my way to church.

Recently, the habitats for both birds have been destroyed. The kite's dead tree was chopped down to make way for a whole new set of ugly office buildings; the heron's pond has been almost drained and totally devastated by new "upgraded" landscaping. I was both deeply saddened and very annoyed at these changes, as well as being concerned about how both of these birds would cope.

The red kite changed its perching place to another set of trees on the other side of the motorway. It still manages to catch enough prey to feed itself and has adapted almost completely to its new situation. Sadly, the heron still stands on what's left of the pond and is looking tired, bedraggled, and hungry. If it doesn't adapt by finding a new pond, I fear it will die.

The two birds have reminded me of what happens to churches when changes affect their work and mission for God. If they get trapped in the past, then they will be hopelessly put in a futile position and subsequently die. If, however, churches manage to cope with change and make the right qualitative adaptations, then they will evolve and live. If they allow God to work within them for His constant purposes in an ever-changing world, they will thrive; if they remain unmoved and unconcerned about what's currently happening, they will be starved of people and eventually close. The same choice is basically theirs: adapt or expire.

Questions for personal reflection: What changes are currently affecting the church I belong to? Is it adapting or expiring?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, but the world in which we live constantly changes. Show us what You are doing in the midst of all these cultural variations, and enable us to effectively continue our work for You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you John.

    Very timely John. Thanks for sharing.

    Your Devotionals are always inspirational and thought-provoking. Thank you John.

    Right on! Have you read “Love Wins” by Rob Bell? I know it’s a hot potato, but I’d appreciate your opinion as it has a message that resonates strongly with post-modernist ideas and generation X, Y, Z. Your sister in the Lord and by Scottish birth,
    (BC. Canada)

    Hi John;
    Your devotional says exactly what needs to be said. I’ve been there and gone through that and as you say, eventually, if the church does not change, it will die. We are now amalgamated with another church and have been for the past year and I look forward to worshipping with our new brothers and sisters in Christ every Sunday. Thanks be to God.

    I am an elder inappropriate small Presbyterian Church in Florida which presbytery thought should be closed as our numbers were falling. The pastor we had had no ambition to keep it going. To make a long story short we preserved and we have a new pastor for past 3 years who thinks outside the box and we are growing as we make ourselves visible out in the community. New people are joining. As you say a church can no longer just be within a building we have to be outside.

    Dear John Stuart (or “Traqair,” that I like to think of as “Tranquil air”),
    I like this part of your prayer:
    ” … enable us to effectively continue our work for You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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