Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Problem Solving Skills We Can Learn from a Squirrel

We’ve all run into problems that we’ve struggled with, not really knowing how to even begin solving them. The problem we are facing can seem insurmountable. At times, we might ask for help with the problem from a co-worker. My wife Tammy has found watching YOU TUBE videos to be quite helpful in solving some problems. But did you know that we can learn much about problem solving by watching how a squirrel approaches a bird feeder that has been designed to keep him out?

If you’ve ever had a bird feeder, you know that squirrels stealing your bird food can be a big problem. And you are certainly not the first to experience this. Just go to any store that sells bird feeders and you will see any number of feeders that have been designed to keep the squirrels out.

In years past, I’ve tried just about everything to keep the squirrels out – from using a baffle to coating Vaseline on the bird feeder pole – but nothing worked in keeping the squirrels from the bird food. This summer, I finally grew tired of financing the diet of the neighborhood squirrel population, and purchased a few Squirrel X feeders, which are advertised as “your best defense against squirrels.” We’re told that that “Now you can enjoy any number of birds in your yard without the pesky squirrels with our Squirrel-X squirrel proof songbird feeders.” Right. Tell that to the squirrels. Continue reading

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Squirrels and Weeds: Frustration and Perseverance

I spend a good amount of time reading and writing on our patio. My wife and I both enjoy watching the birds come to the feeders that we have installed just off the patio a few years ago. What I don’t enjoy are the squirrels who help themselves to the food intended for the birds. But try as I might, I can’t keep them out of the feeders. Last year, we bought a baffle. All that did was provide a nice seat for the squirrel to rest on while feasting on the bird food. I tried using Vaseline on the feeder pole, and that didn’t work either. More than a few times (and I just did it again as I wrote this), I’ve chased a squirrel away from the feeders and followed him as he took refuge in a nearby tree.
This year it’s even gotten worse as chipmunks have joined in the fun of frustrating me. Not only do the chipmunks join in eating the bird food, but they also dig in my potted plants on the patio. And recently, either a chipmunk or squirrel took a chunk out of a ripening tomato on one of my mother-in-law’s plants, and they consistently eat the small berries on our strawberry plants. All of this is very frustrating. Though I’m not having much success against these scoundrels, I’m trying to persevere.
The frustration continues with weeds in our lawn and flower beds. Despite putting down a preemergent in the spring, weeds still come up. There is a curse on work due to the Fall, and that curse impacts all of our work.  After Adam and Eve sinned, in Genesis 3:17, God told Adam that he would curse the ground, with thorns and thistles. I persevere by using Roundup, but I know that more weeds will soon be up. It’s a never-ending battle. Tim Keller says that the Fall means we should expect to be regularly frustrated in our work.
Now those are somewhat humorous examples but isn’t this representative of the Christian life? Think of some of the frustrations you run into:

  • Learning a new skill
  • Overcoming that familiar sin in your life
  • Growing in the Christian life
  • Learning a new job
  • Raising your children
  • Resolving conflict at work or in a key relationship

To achieve any worthy goal, you will have to go through frustration. I believe Michael Jordan was the greatest player ever to play basketball. But it’s his famous quote about failure that is relevant here:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
What does the Bible say about dealing with frustration and persevering? Here are 10 verses to encourage you:

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 – As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.
Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

We all deal with frustration. How do you persevere and endure in the midst of these frustrations?