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Life in the Coop

Asked to name the most fearsome beasts around, lions, tigers and bears would surely come to mind. However, there are other fearsome beasts - if you're a chicken. Owls, hawks, foxes, coyotes, racoons, and even neighborhood dogs are all deadly to chickens. But guess what else is very lethal to chickens? Other chickens!

Lots of people have stories about life on the farm and a particularly mean chicken, rooster or hen. Chickens peck at each other. And if one of them ever starts to bleed from the pecking, other chickens may join in on the injured bird and sometimes peck it to death.

The fact that chickens like to dominate each other is even seen in our basic language. The phrases “pecking order” and “rules the roost” refer to how the most dominant chickens act aggressively toward the rest. The others learn to just stay out of the way of the “bully chickens” if they want to stay alive.

Poultrists have a variety of suggestions to help the problem. Be careful of overcrowding. Make sure the chickens have stuff on the ground to pick at and plenty to eat. But a certain amount of pecking seems to happen.

Pat Tillman was an NFL player with a multi-million dollar contract and a new wife who enlisted in the Army in response to 9/11. He was well trained as an Army Ranger and deployed to Afghanistan. He was killed April 22, 2004, by “friendly fire,” meaning that he was accidentally killed by his own troops.

All Christian casualties are not caused by the enemy either. Sometimes members try to dominate one another and “rule the roost.” People have left the church discouraged, wounded, or worse after being damaged by not-so-friendly “friendly fire.”

Obviously conflict among brethren is not new. Paul warned against biting and devouring each other (Gal. 5:15). He said some brethren, guilty of serving themselves, not the Lord, needed to be avoided because they actively stirred up trouble and division in the church (Rom. 16:17-18).

And how should one respond if they are the object of such petty behavior? Peter said Jesus is our example. (1 Pet 2:23 NIV) “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Don’t peck at others. And if pecked at, follow the Lord’s way and don’t peck in return.

- Tim Orbison


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