Witnessing a Bird Phenomenon, and a Message to God’s People

Healing in His Rays - Malachi 4:2

Hello friends,

It’s been awhile since writing here, but it appears to be a perfect time to pop in and say “Surprise!” and share something amazing that happened last week. Please pray about what you read here. For me, it was life-changing. But it will need your own personal confirmation and application.

But first:

 A Personal Back Story: 

Recently I asked Father why I haven’t received many dreams, insights or revelations in awhile—specifically the kind from nature. Life feels dry, although to some degree, I understand why. I’m heavily committed into writing a book, and it’s challenging and time-consuming. But still. I miss the freshness of His presence, you know? The kind of “visitations,” or even “heavenly peeks,” that leave you speechless, yet overflowing. That kind.

After asking, the answer came. It has to do with my faith. God answers us in life, according to our faith! I’ve been wallowing in weak faith—sensing a deep tension in my spirit over the circumstances of my life, and playing a blame game. Blaming myself, (by playing reruns of past mistakes and sins) and blaming others. (feeling angry and critical) None of this fixes problems, of course, it only makes them worse. I’ve also been numbing myself too much, running from a destiny that feels right at my wing-tips. It’s like I know God wants us to fly by faith. He keeps showing “HIS-story,” and says we can be a part of it, screw-ups that we are. Amazing! But how UNcomfortable it is, meanwhile, to know you’re destined for something big, but still struggle with immaturity. To reach a higher plateau, we have to grow up. For me, dropping a negative story I keep telling myself is a major part of it. It’s childish. It’s faithless. And it’s been the reason for my spiritual dryness and clouded vision.

If this answer from Father wasn’t gracious enough, He then outdid Himself. He granted my heart’s desire before I could turn my attitude around! The very next day I witnessed a rare phenomenon in the bird kingdom—one that, (I’m humbled to say) has left me both speechless, and overflowing. :-)

 The Bird Story: 

Saturday, July 9th, 2022, a girlfriend came over for lunch, and we were sitting on my back deck. It was another stellar day for upstate N.Y.: sunny, and in the high 70’s. I noticed the large trees in my yard were very noisy and active—uncharacteristically so for mid-day, mid-July. Robins, cardinals, bluejays, mourning doves…all sorts of birds were flying back and forth, landing in the grass, and happily eating from my one, small feeder.

But my friend and I noticed some of the birds were acting strange. One of the of Robins, for example, leaned forward, put its head down, and spread its wings out wide! It laid prostrate for about 20-30 seconds, popped back up, and continued whatever it was doing.

Another robin did this same thing. And then a few minutes later, a Blue Jay landed on the grass. It too laid down flat as a pancake and spread its wings out wide! 

My first thought was a hawk was nearby, and the birds were playing dead. But neither of us had ever seen this odd behavior before. Then, (as if all this wasn’t intriguing enough!) after my friend left, about 10 minutes later, I went outside to clean up a few things. That’s when I saw a Black Starling in the grass doing the same thing!

(And no, I didn’t think to get my phone, to get a picture. I could barely breathe, as it was!)

 Behind the Behavior: 

I immediately consulted a bird-watcher I know, who wrote a book about birds. He said it sounded like “bird anting.” It’s actually common, well-documented behavior in over 200 kinds of birds, but rare to observe in the wild! Several online sources confirmed this. (Yes, I went berserk studying “anting” after this!) In fact, it totally eludes most biologists and professional bird watchers. 

Basically, there are two kinds of anting: one is “passive” and one is “active.” In “passive anting,” a bird will spread itself onto ants, (often disturbing a nest on purpose) and invite the ants to crawl onto them and bite them. In “active anting,” they will take ants in their beaks and place or rub them on their bodies. The ants secrete formic acid which is believed to be stimulating and soothing to birds, who have discomfort from molting feathers. It’s a counter-irritant, in other words. Not unlike the unusual practice of applied bee stings, or nettles to relieve the discomfort of arthritis, (yes, some people do this!) or a capsicum rub for sore muscles.

While there are a few other theories out there, there are experts who have devoted years studying this phenomenon who conclude this is the reason for anting. 

But here’s where it gets more interesting. I didn’t see any evidence of a disturbed ant nest anywhere. All this took place in my flat lawn, on grass. And while all the birds did this in a sunny corner of the yard, they were in different areas, some up to 10 feet apart!

This is why I believe the birds were “sunbathing,” actually. (A gentler choice; maybe more like applying lotion to feather shafts) If you wish to read a long, scholarly work that will melt your brain, see: “Relationship of Anting and Sunbathing to Molting in Wild Birds,” A scientific study published by the American Ornithological Society: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4084474 

Four notable conclusions from the study:

  1. Both “sunbathing” and “anting” are complimentary behaviors.
  2. Both serve a “comfort-motivated” purpose: to provide heat and relief from the irritation of losing old feathers and growing new ones.
  3. Both happen when there is unusually rapid feather renewal.
  4. “Sunbathing” (on the ground) is just as rare to observe in the wild as anting.
     

℘ Story Addendum: 

The next day, Sunday, I spent all morning and afternoon lounging on my deck. I studied bird anting and sunbathing, prayed about what it all means, and wondered if the birds would do it again. 

But the trees were deathly still and quiet! No birds landed in the lawn the whole time I was there. Only a couple birds came to the feeder. The weather was the same: sunny and high 70’s. What made the day before different? Was the sun in a certain position in the sky? Was the humidity perfect, the wind just right, the planets aligned? It’s a mystery. But the birds knew. They knew there was a “sun moment” in time to grab, and they grabbed it.

 Let the Birds Teach Us: 

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you…” ~Job 12:7

Often when God speaks to us, He does so in three’s. It’s a way of strengthening or driving home a point. The meaning of three different bird species sunbathing is triple amazing. Birds molt at different times. But whatever these birds were going through, they were going through at the same time. And they came together in the same place to focus on the same thingthe sun.

Pray whether the Spirit of God is confirming this same message to you or not. Because for me, I believe this is a sign (one of many that have, and will be given) that we’re in some sort of “last days;” days which will be transitional and tensive. In the same way these three species (signifying unity, with differences) were experiencing rapid feather renewal at the same time, so there’s going to be an “end-time remnant” of people who will experience rapid spiritual growth. They will rapidlylet go of their fears, doubts, and childish ways, and rapidly grow up into the fullness of Christ. No more waffling and wallowing in weak faith! There’s no time for it. Because “winter” is coming, and it’s coming early. This is why what will happen, will happen quickly.

Another takeaway: The position of the birds was laying prostrate. They weren’t stirring up ant homes. They weren’t numbing themselves with distractive counter-irritants. They were seeking comfort and healing by going to the source of all life: the sun.

The meaning of this seems clear. This end-time remnant will be characterized by a worshipful heart-position and focus. In the days just before the second visitation of Christ, (His coming via the Holy Spirit) we are told believers “came together in one accord (i.e. heart/purpose)” ¹ in order to wait for their “power from on high” ² as Jesus instructed them. Even so, in these last days, before the third and last visitation of Christ, the end-time remnant will be gathered by a singular focus, again. It won’t be a literal place, per se, but in a pursuit of gazing on Christ and depending on Him, they will look to their left and right and discover they are connected to others with the same focus.

Finally, when I was praying about this whole experience, this verse came to mind:

But for you who fear My name, [with awe-filled reverence] the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wingsAnd you will go forward and leap [joyfully] like calves [released] from the stall.” ~Malachi 4:2 AMP

Interestingly, instead of “wings,” some translations have:“the sun’s rays”! (e.g. NIV, CEB, GNT) Visually, the Hebrew word means an extension, an edge, or a border. (including of a garment)  Like the woman who touched Jesus’ hem and was healed, those who act on their faith, even if they only place themselves in the furthest rays of Christ’s glory, are going to be healed. They will go forth from the imprisonment of their personal “stalls” and leap in green pastures. Or staying true to our metaphor: they will fly.

I’ll never understand Malachi 4:2 the same way again, including why it’s in the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament—a very short chapter attributed to the last days. (i.e. the “Day of the Lord”) It comes right before the beautiful part where the hearts of fathers and children will be turned to each other.

For birds who have ears to hear.

 A Conclusion: 

If any of this resonates with your heart, pray for confirmation. Pray for spiritual eyes to see yourself in “HIS-story.” Nothing will happen when we wallow in ourselves or our circumstances. We won’t fulfill our heavenly destiny distracted with social media, news, entertainment. And we only make things worse when we numb ourselves with the indulgences of food, alcohol, sex. I am making a point to turn my focus heavenward, and spend more time “son-bathing” for the courage, wisdom, and healing I still need in life. Whatever it takes, Lord! The days are growing shorter. Whether we feel this or not, whether wwe’re among the end-time remnant or not, the Bride is being prepared. She is coming together in unity. And she is going to be revealed in her stunning beauty, clothed with the pure white robe of Christ.

Just wait for it.

Before you can blink an eye, this Woman is going to spread out her God-given wings, and fly!

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“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness and be nourished…” ~Revelation 12:14 KJV

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]” ~Isaiah 40:31 AMP

¹ Acts 2:11 /  ² Acts 1:8

Esther in Ephesians – Who Knew?

The following is a stunning article by Charis Pallo, on Charispallo.me. (The  original article can be found HERE) I hope my readers are as blown away by it as I have been. I read it every year as a reminder around the time of Purim, when the Jews celebrate Esther’s life.

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Yesterday I heard a friend talk about Esther. He reminded us of the preparation she went through to bring her to a unique position of influence. I’ve been fascinated by the life of the orphan queen ever since I had a dream involving Esther.

The story is told in the Bible of a young parent-less Jewish woman, adopted by her cousin, who rose from obscurity to the position of queen in the land where her people lived in exile. She dared to defy protocol and approached the king in the throne room without first having been summoned by him. As her cousin, Mordecai, reasoned, it looked like God arranged for her to be there to help her people in a time of crisis. It’s great story, the kind that is made into Hollywood movies. But, if you take time to read it, you will notice that the story is not as innocent as the Christian family versions.

Right from the beginning of the book it’s apparent that in this place men had all the power. It’s also apparent that this was a culture that accepted the practice of sexual slavery at the highest level. After the king banished his previous wife, Vashti, for refusing to parade her beauty (whatever that means) in front of a crowd of drunk men, officials scoured the land to find beautiful women (perhaps girls) to take to the ruler for his inspection. After a night spent with him, a woman moved from the house of virgins to the house of concubines. If the king did not delight in her, she was never summoned by him and never allowed to marry anyone else. This was no Miss America pageant.

Hadassah (renamed Esther) was Jewish. Ahasuerus (aka Xerxes) was the leader of the nation who had destroyed her country and her family and dragged them off as spoils of war. If this had been Nazi Germany our heroine could have been killed by one side for failing to cooperate or the other for being a collaborator.

Esther had no parents. For a cousin to take over raising her meant she, like most people with her background, probably suffered trauma as a child. She had deep hidden scars. She understood loss. Ethnic background is kept secret for a reason.

But Esther chose to learn all she could about the king. She had help from Hegai, the king’s eunuch. (In many eastern cultures it was standard procedure to castrate males working around the palace and make them eunuchs, like Daniel and his friends probably were, to prevent any possibility of cross-pollination, so to speak.) Hegai may have understood Esther’s background. Together they committed to this path as she received a year of beauty treatments – an ancient version of a radical make-over.

 

 

 

 

 

The king chose her as his wife and instead of banishment to the back rooms of the walled prison for women she lived in luxury as his favourite. Then came the day when she risked it all for the sake of her people. The king had signed an irreversible edict clearing the way for genocide for not only all the people in her ethnic group, but possibly herself as well. Making the decision to boldly approach the throne without being summoned was not made lightly. She asked others to fast and pray with her for three days first. Esther took the action with the full knowledge that she could lose everything, including her life. She was terrified. Such radical acts did not come easily to a woman raised in an oppressive patriarchal culture.

“If I perish, I perish,” she said.

In my dream about Esther a well-known evangelist phoned and asked me to help him with a sermon illustration. He needed two young girls who could help him dramatize the story. I told him I knew of two eight- year olds who might like to be involved.

“No. More mature. I need two ten-year olds.” he said.

He seemed very excited about a new revelation he had from the book of Esther in the New Testament.

“The book of Esther is in the Old Testament,” I corrected.
“Esther is in the New Testament,” he insisted. “It’s in Ephesians.”
“What version are you using?” I asked, feeling pretty confidant that I was right and he was not.
“The Transition Version,” he said, equally as confident.

I immediately felt the dream was important. There was a lot more to it. It was about something taking place in the heart of the Church that includes women and honours femininity, about shocking methods God sometimes uses to get us where he wants us, about preparations for future assignments and about reaching higher for the most nutritious food. But telling you about all of it will take too long for a single blog post, so I’ll just talk about this part.

I read the book of Ephesians looking for references to Esther. I didn’t see any, but I did see this. Ephesians can be divided into three parts. The first part tells the believer in Christ how their identity and position has changed. I recommend writing down all the phrases in the first two or three chapters which talk about new identity. Amazing! You are blessed, faithful, holy, blameless, pure, for His praise… so many wonderful hard-to-believe good words! These phrases in particular caught my attention:
You are chosen.
You are lavished with the riches of His grace.
You are raised up and seated with Him.
You are privy to the mystery of His purpose.

Wait. Esther was chosen from among many. She was lavished with luxurious perfumes, ointments, jewels and fine garments. She was raised up from obscurity as an orphan to life as a bride of the king, seated beside him. She became privy to secret information about her purpose in being there.

Then my eyes fell on these words in the third chapter: We have boldness and access with confidence to heavenly places through our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Esther had access to the throne! It was the king’s love for her that saved her life. It was his generous hand extended to her that granted her whatever she asked of him.

I was beginning to see the parallels. The first part of Ephesians tells us who we are and where we are now. When we begin to understand our high calling and how God sees us through the eyes of love we begin to understand the transition that is taking place in us.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve seen rows of Bibles for sale subtitled, The End-times Version, The Mother’s Version, The Christian Worker’s Version etc. This always struck me as odd. Was it not all the same Bible? What these “versions” do is highlight passages relative to the person they hope will buy a copy. These passages highlighted to me in Ephesians made it a Transition Version of the story of life in Christ. In Him we are given a make-over, we are given a new position, we are changed – for a purpose.

Many of us are familiar with Ephesians 2:8. For by grace you have been saved through faith... It’s a gift. The evangelist reminded me he was looking for something more mature. Two ten year-olds! Keep going. Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The next part of Ephesians teaches us about walking this new identity out in the context of relationships, singing and rejoicing together, submitting to and  cooperating with each other, raising up those for whom we have responsibility to become people who fulfill their callings. Love. Honour. Be patient, Understand. Seek their best. It’s an entirely new lifestyle and no longer a competition for survival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third part of Ephesians tells us what all this preparation is for. We could all be happy enough with the story of a pretty beloved bride just kicking around the palace of Christianity, smelling the roses, picking out the goodies at the smorgasbord of the King’s bounty. But she is beginning to get the message, “Good grief, girl! Do you see the injustice going on in the world around you? Do you know about the plans of the opposition? The devil and his forces are determined to destroy you and your people. Do you know who you are and your position and why you are here now? Do you know you are in a unique position to actually do something about it?”

It’s a little overwhelming.

In the story Esther appeals to her master/husband. As a result the chief planner of the planned genocide of her people is himself hanged on gallows he built for Esther’s cousin. Then the king did something remarkable considering the history of ruthless power-seeking of his predecessors. He was not like them. He gave Esther and her people authority. He gave Mordecai his signet ring. He gave them swift horses from his own stable. Something unprecedented was happening here. Even the media of the day changed sides out of fear of the power now in the hands of the former victims.

On the very day their enemies planned to have mastery over them, the reverse occurred. From India to Ethiopia the victims-no-more took up arms and turned the tide. Then the king asked Esther again, “Now what is your wish? It will be granted to you.” His generosity was greater than she ever imagined.

The last chapter in Ephesians tells the Church, the Bride of Christ to stand strong in the strength of His might, to put on the armour He provides, to pray at all times in the Spirit, making supplication for all the saints.

The orphan becomes the Bride of the King of Kings. He gives her helpers in the form of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to prepare her for her calling. She is raised up and has access to the throne because she is loved. In the shelter of His love she learns who she is, where she is and how this new identity works its way into relationships. Because he adores her, the King equips her with authority to fight the enemy that comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

Esther is in Ephesians. Who knew?

For such a time as this.

Pictures from: https://charispsallo.me/2020/03/09/for-such-a-time-as-this-esther-in-ephesians-2/