God Has Friends In Low Places

I was sitting in the backyard listening to an audiobook and getting a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Two mockingbirds were darting back and forth just a few feet in front of me. They began making so much noise that it was becoming difficult to hear my audiobook. I knew that they had a nearby nest and were only trying to protect their young from a potential threat. Apparently, mockingbirds don’t understand that a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair doesn’t pose a threat. I wouldn’t have harmed them even if I had the ability because Atticus Finch said that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Then I saw two beautiful bluebirds sitting side by side on the lowest limb of the large live oak tree. These two little birds were just minding their own business. Like me, they seemed to be doing their best to ignore the noise and the antics of the paranoid mockingbirds. Every five minutes or so, one of the bluebirds would fly over to an old birdhouse. Mary’s been meaning to replace that birdhouse because the wood is rotting. After observing this for over an hour, Mary came out and told me that the bluebirds have a nest in that dilapidated old birdhouse.

I thought there must be a severe birdhouse shortage in our area for these bluebirds to have chosen this run-down dwelling to build a nest. It was then that I had somewhat of a revelation about the beautiful and Holy taking up residence in dwellings that are far beneath them. Jesus was born in a smelly stable. There might have been a pair of bluebirds nesting in that stable. The Holy Spirit resides in the followers of Christ:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I’ve met some rough-looking followers of Christ over the years. Many of Christ’s most fervent followers were once prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, gang members, murderers, on and on the list goes. And then there’s me… Regardless of how we might look on the outside, we’re all broken down “birdhouses” on the inside. As the Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

Yet, this sinless Jesus will put His Spirit in all that ask Him to. Wow!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus was born in a place that most homeless people would have avoided. But, Even if Jesus would have been born in the most magnificent palace on earth, it would have been far beneath Him. It’s as if God chose the lowest of places to emphasize this. Yes, that’s it exactly.

The disciples were grief-stricken after Jesus explained to them that He would have to die. He comforted them with there words: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

The night before the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter cowered before a small group of slaves, denying three times that he even knew Jesus. Weeks later, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood before a crowd of thousands of powerful Jewish leaders, likely some of the people who condemned Jesus. Peter boldly declared that Jesus is Lord. Then he told them to “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40). I think saying things like that was politically incorrect even in that day. I wonder what he’d say today. Regardless of what he said, his message was effective, and “about three thousand souls” committed to following Christ that day.

Years later, after being arrested by the Romans, Peter was told that he would be crucified if he didn’t renounce Jesus. Contemporary sources write that he refused to renounce Jesus. He told them that he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Savior. Instead, he asked to be crucified upside down. They granted his request.

It’s been two thousand years since Peter’s crucifixion. Many have been executed for refusing to deny Jesus. In the face of death, many others renounced Jesus and lived.

What choice would you make if put in this position?

By definition, a true follower of Christ is someone who has the Spirit of God living inside of them. I still think it will be a difficult choice, but if the Holy Spirit is in you, you will say no to this life and yes to eternal life.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Having God’s Spirit living inside of us gives us Unshakable Hope.

Rewritten from a post five years ago.

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on May 23, 2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 102 Comments.

  1. Beautiful post, Bill. It has always impressed me how Jesus was born and then died in humble circumstances. He won’t be coming back that way though. 🙂
    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Its not a decision that should ever have to be made. There is no reason why anyone shouldn’t know what im uhbout, who im worshipping, 🙂hmph, n second guessing whether im ready to die for him right…..now.
    2we1ve.com

    Like

  3. Bill, I love how you take the simple things and think about them (like Jesus wants us to do) and recognize that there are lessons in these observances. Thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit and putting your observances and thoughts into your blog. They are interesting and definitely inspired. Two verses came to mind when I read this blog, and previous blogs. Philippians 4:8 which tells us to think or dwell on what is right and pure… and also Colossians 3:2 tells us to set our minds on things above, and not earthly things. I believe you take both of those teachings to heart and pass them along to us. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A beautiful message Bill, eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart and wisdom to be able to take us from a old rotting bird house that we thought needed to be replaced because it was not “up to standard” to a dwelling place for the Lord to sow and grow. He can and does meet you where you are as long as the door is open!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A powerful post indeed Bill. Reading Foxe’s book of the martyrs I am convinced that only in the power of the Holy Spirit would we be able to stand faithful to Christ in the face of death or worse torture.
    Blessings to you and Mary.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such a powerful analogy!! We all have the broken down birdhouse inside of us! Amen!! And the ending, Lord May we be unflinching in our declaration of You! Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good stuff Bill, really good!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This was almost as good as going to church! Pastoral in every sense of the word, and right on time, given the brokenness in our country and around the world. Thanks, Bill. It’s so good to hear your voice again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That paralyzed preacher can preach!!! it is common curtesy to call the broken ole shacks you have seen God move into, and my phone never rang! Oh yeah, my inbox was empty! love ya bro!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This brought tears to my eyes this Sabbath morning. Thank you Bill for serving Christ so well in such a time as this. (Continuing to pray for you and for Mary . . .❤️)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can attest to Jesus having many followers in the addicts and alcoholics!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Encouraging, uplifting post as always brother Bill !

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Being taught by a bluebird deeper meanings…Love it Bill. S.o true
    I’ve been thinking and praying for you Bill (and Terri in her condition and situation).

    Liked by 2 people

  14. “What choice would you make if put in this position?” – That question has haunted me much of my life, probably because I know that alone I’d be the coward fir sure.
    But we AREN’T alone, are we? He “will meet all our needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” I’m so glad He’s living in this humble little house. Thanks for posting this, Bill.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Bill,

    I love the picture of Jesus indwellling the lowliest and broken of people. It’s going to be exciting to see how many cast off people will be whole and happy in Eternity!

    In Christ,

    Gary

    Liked by 3 people

  16. This brought tears to my eyes, Bill. A beautiful post. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you, Bill, thank you, I’m so very thankful for your huge sacrifice. Hope I could too. Love you, Jacquie

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It’s amazing how easily we can forget all that Jesus endured. I’m grateful that you reposted this Bill, it’s a perspective fog remover, from our end, that we all need to more mindful of. Glad to hear you are enjoying the fresh air, getting outside and enjoying the scenery. God’s grace, peace and blessings to you and yours as always.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great post! Bob and I just read it together. Thank you brother Bill, its SO good to hear from you and we so appreciate your inspiring message!
    Love the birdhouse too!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Beautiful message. I am thankful to have the Holy Spirit in me. I am thankful to show God’s love in words, thoughts and actions. I pray I will show His love and glory every moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Beautiful message, Bill. You have such a gift at noticing simple things in life and teaching a deep spiritual message from it. God bless you and your wife!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m so glad you weren’t attacked by those mockingbirds. Years ago (during nesting season), one flew at my head several times while I was out for a walk–nothing with me to defend myself. I ran with my arms over my head and let out a loud yelp every time the bird dive bombed at me. They can be feisty! / Praise God he inhabits our decrepit birdhouses; praise God the indwelling Spirit does indeed give us unshakable hope! Wonderful analogies and imagery, Bill!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Another wonderful post Bill, thank you for blessing us with it. I too enjoy watching the birds in my backyard and think they offer us many lessons.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Thanks Bill. All your posts are great but this one seems to me at this time to be one of your better ones.

    The birdhouse and bluebird allegory is right on, though it’s actually less allegory and more, “Hey. Watch this and learn.” Which you did. Which you turned on to us. Then I thought about the mockingbirds and their birdy fit. Though they are what they are, let’s say pretty different, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them called paranoid, but it fits.

    On an unrelated note I got dive-bombed by a big blue jay once many years ago. Right on top of my head. My early-teens daughter saw it and laughed out loud. I guess this jaybird engaged in and considered paranoia before deciding on actual attack. I’ve seen mockingbirds attack other animals. Glad they decided to just be noisy nitwits and not slam you. Maybe you have a future post regarding their behavior.

    Attempting the ongoing effort of understanding the apparent unexplainable of real Christianity, I think the answer lies somewhere in the great humility of the Lord, which is often hard to understand and pretty much unexplainable until we consider the love factor, which is often unexplainable and hard to understand. As I think you kinda stated, it comes down to the simple, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” This is not necessarily easy to know all the time because of life interference in the form of noisy paranoid mockingbirds, who, from their perspective are only being what they are and protecting their little ones.

    Maybe somehow or another we are all being what we are and doing our best within our circumstances, which the Lord has allowed for reasons we don’t understand.

    I know we all must try to be more like our Lord Jesus. He is our loving, kind, perfect example, but also the greatest Man who ever lived and stood up to more difficult circumstances than anyone.

    But also, today, I think we all need to be more like Bill.

    Blessings to you, brother.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Dear Bill, your posts are always timely – to give hope where needed; even when we don’t realize we need it – the Lord is so good! Please pray as I begin organizing the book Filled with Grace and Wrapped in Glory as my first devotional. This filling is related to your message here. He always chooses and fashions as He desires those in whom He pours out His grace. Blessings as you continue to be a channel for the living water to flow through. A new hymn I have been memorizing this week has been a blessing – If You But Trust in God to Guide You. You would love it! I can send a link.:)

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Thank you for this post, Bill! It’s good to hear from you. I am a dilapidated birdhouse, but I’m so glad God loves me enough to come live in me.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Wonderful post and one so many need to read. I am going to repost it on my facebook page as I know some of are my “friends” really don’t know the Lord. may you feel God’s peace in all that you are able to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Thank you for re-posting this Bill. Creating excellent thoughts, realizing again that this old worn down body, still is home to God The Holy Spirit Himself, by His choice even.
    I had to share this on fb so other friends could contemplate their blessing with the in dwelling Holy Spirit Of God, and maybe start a small flame for not yet Christ followers to consider, or re-kindle a low spark some friends have buried, who used to be on fire for Christ.
    God Bless you Bill, a valuable, obedient servant of Jesus Christ, with ears always tuned to Holy Spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. It was good to hear for you today, Bill. I appreciated the parable of the birdhouse.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. This is a beautiful parable of God’s amazing love and grace. Sometimes I feel so unworthy. Thank you, Bill, for reminding me that my worth has nothing to do with it.I

    Here in New Mexico we have a wide variety of birds in and around our yard: goldfinches, doves, swallows, crows, mockingbirds, and even a road runner or two. I enjoy sitting in the back yard, watching and listening to the birds.

    A few years ago, I was doing some yard work, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a rattlesnake. This happened about two weeks after a neighbor had killed a six foot long rattler, less than fifty feet from where I was standing.

    I immediately froze and looked all around, but I didn’t see a snake, or anyplace where a snake could hide. Then I heard the rattlesnake again. It sounded loud, like it was very close. In fact, it sounded like it was right above my head!

    Cautiously, I tilted my head back and looked up into the tall tree that I was standing under. On a low branch directly above my head, I saw — not a snake — but two mockingbirds.

    “That was a good one,” I said. “You almost gave me a heart attack.”

    They cocked their heads and looked down at me, then looked at each other like “Yeah, we really got her good!” I half expected to see them do a high five with their wings, lol. The mockingbirds had already impressed me with their imitations of various cell phone rings. But their imitation of a rattlesnake was top notch!

    Liked by 4 people

  31. Silvia Lia Leigh, MD

    Dear Brother Bill, I just like your letters. Reading about the birds in your garden, I see that you have not lost your holy sense of humor. What am I saying… lost it? Not at all! I suspect that you have added to it. This gift, to be able to smile in your spirit, and express that joy in human words, it is God’s gift. It is one of the most attractive gifts given to men. In the eyes of God, and mine too, you are a very special man! See yourself thru God’s eyes! You will be surprised how wonderful you are! Here we say: Like Father, like son!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Silvia. Regardless of the trials we face, we can retain our joy if we have eternal hope. But, depression can attack us, but we can come out of it. I know this.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Amen!! Powerful message. I love the visual of the broken down birdhouse. When Jesus takes up residence in our hearts, His light shines through our cracks and broken places. God bless you Bill for this beautiful message of hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Bill, this made me cry… I am such a bird-person. This morning I was watching a wren defending an old birdhouse I set up by our deck. Then we laughed at a bunch of hummingbirds fighting over the feeders. Not too long after we looked at Mr. Bluebird viciously patrolling the property and then a sparrow flying up from a nest he took from the Robin family. Funny, I just got back from the store to buy grape jelly for the orioles.
    Why am I so worried, when the God of the Universe says I am the place He wants to inhabit? Why do I fret when He says (and shows us) so clearly that He takes care of every need.
    I was deeply moved by what you said, Bill … as I know many others are, too.
    THANK YOU!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  34. Great post Bill. The Mockingbirds also remind me of how easy it is to be distracted from our faith, and that there is but one focus!

    Like

  35. Beautiful and inspiring thoughts. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Bill
    As always your posts remind of what’s truly important and relevant. In these times of rancor toward one and other, we all need to step back, take a deep breath and recommit to positive and uplifting actions and words despite the maddening crowd. Love to the gang
    Janet

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Powerful post, Bill. A much-needed message!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you Bill for this post. I love how you enjoy watching the birds and used the lovely metaphor on Christ’s Spirit dwelling inside believers…….what a blessing!
    Bill, I continue to keep you in my prayers and think of you and Mary often. A couple posts ago you mentioned prayer requests. May I ask if you will pray for me? My TBI has experienced a devastating set back and I feel my recovery is at ground zero again. Much love, Viv

    Liked by 3 people

  39. I always need your wise words at the very moment I read them! You are always my best Pastor. Thank you Bill. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  40. So humbling to think that He resides within us when we accept Him even though we are so so unworthy.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. bornagain732

    Amen!!! This was a wonderful post!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  42. Bill, you have used a beautiful metaphor here. I will not soon forget it, Thanks.

    Liked by 4 people

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