(From www.bobrussell.org)

Rodney McCann, a preacher friend of mine, recently contrasted the vulture with the hummingbird. “Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over our nation’s deserts. All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.”

Followers of Jesus Christ are commanded to, “be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Eph. 4:23). And Philippians 4:8 reads: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  As we approach the celebration of America’s 242nd birthday, it’s appropriate to ask, “What do you see when you look at the United States of America?” Do you see a nation that was birthed out of selfish greed and a lust for power or do see a nation that was born because the Pilgrims came seeking freedom to worship God?   Do you see the writing of the Declaration of Independence as a stiff-necked rebellion initiated by violent rebels who refused to have a submissive spirit toward their fatherland? Or do you see a providential revolution begun by courageous heroes who were determined their descendants would be free from tyranny even if it cost them their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor?

Do you see a nation built on the backs of slaves or a country that was one of the first to valiantly abolish the evils of slavery even at the cost of over 600,000 lives?

Do you see a history of extensive poverty and social injustice or do you see a land of opportunity where a backwoodsman like Abraham Lincoln and an African American like Barack Obama could become President of The United States; …the most powerful leader in the world?  America has scars in its past, but so does every nation in the world. America has problems in the present, but so does every other nation in the world. America has uncertainty in its future, but so does every other nation in the world. I sincerely believe that we are privileged to live in the freest, most prosperous, most generous, most magnanimous, most resourceful and most opportunistic nation in the history of the world. Whether you see it positively or negatively mostly depends on what you’re looking for.

It’s a matter of perspective. You can go through life searching for that which is putrid and foul and feed on it and become increasingly bitter. Or you can go through life looking for that which is excellent and praiseworthy and become thankful and joyful. You can be a vulture or a hummingbird. It’s up to you.

In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

In 1895 Katherine Lee Bates wrote these words to “America the Beautiful”:


O beautiful for spacious skies

 For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!


America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!


O beautiful for pilgrim feet

Whose stern impassioned stress

A thoroughfare of freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America!

God mend thine every flaw

Confirm thy soul in self-control

Thy liberty in law!


O beautiful for heroes proved

In liberating strife

Who more than self their country loved

And mercy more than life!


America! America!

May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness

And every gain divine!


                    Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY.