By Diane Houghtaling

†When my husband put up a new bird feeder he had made for me, a pair of cardinals came to eat each day. One morning I noticed Mrs. Cardinal acting a little strange. After munching at the feeder she would fly to a small tree outside another building near our house. From her perch on the branches she would fly at the window in the building as if to attack it and quickly return to the branch.

She did this over and over for quite some time, attacking and retreating. Eventually she would fly back to the feeder for a little nourishment and then return to the tree and begin attacking the window again. Each time I looked out the window I saw she was still at it. We figured the bird was probably seeing her reflection in the window and thought she was attacking another female cardinal. I was struck by her persistence as she carried on this ritual well into the day.

At first I thought, "How silly. Doesnít she know sheís attacking herself?" But when I thought more about her actions I saw that we could all learn a lesson from Mrs. Cardinal. If only we were as diligent and persistent to attack our "self," which can be our greatest enemy, as that bird was.

Some years ago I did the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. I saw the difference between being self-centered and God-centered. I had thought that my life was centered in God until I did the study and found out differently.

I learned that a life thatís more centered on "self" depends on themselves and their own abilities rather than depending fully on God and His provision. A self-centered life wants to be in control and thinks they know whatís best for their lives. When things donít go the way they want, self raises its ugly head and grumbles, complains and manipulates to get its way. Self likes to be affirmed and applauded and has a way of stealing Godís glory.

Self, or the sinful nature thatís within each of us, is continually at war with the spirit that God has placed within us. As we persist at diligently attacking this selfish, sinful nature, we will die to ourselves and be controlled by the Spirit of God that dwells within us.

"Focusing on self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God" (Romans 8:7 Ė Message Bible).

Letís ask the Holy Spirit to arise within us and give us the strength, diligence and perseverance we need to keep fighting our sinful nature and to die to self. As we give Jesus control of our lives, we will become more God-centered. Letís learn the lesson of the cardinal and never give up.

Hope Ministries Inc. is a Christian counseling center. If you want to speak confidentially with someone, call us at (845) 482-5300.