Make Yourself at Home


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bible Reading: Colossians 3: 12 -17

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Colossians 3:16

BACK IN 1909, nineteen-year-old Robert F. Stroud, a laborer with no formal educa­tion, shot and killed a man in Juneau, Alaska. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Two years later he assaulted a fellow inmate with a knife, adding another six months to his term. Five years later he killed a prison guard in the dining room with an ice pick. Altogether, Robert Stroud spent more than fifty years of his life in prison for his crimes, forty-three of them in solitary confinement or isolation. He died at age seventy-three.

Yet people don’t remember Robert Stroud as a murderer. Early in his prison ca­reer, Stroud became interested in birds, supposedly when a stray canary flitted into his prison cell. With the prison’s permission, he began raising birds in his tiny living space. When birds became sick, he requested books on bird diseases and doctored them back to health. As the years passed, he continued to study birds and bird dis­eases and eventually became one of the world’s biggest authorities on the subject­ all while serving a life sentence for murder.

Robert Stroud’s life story was dramatized in a 1962 film starring actor Burt Lan­caster. Since part of Stroud’s sentence was served in the infamous Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay, the film was titled Birdman of Alcatraz.

How did the murderer from Alaska become the Birdman of Alcatraz? It all began when he turned his prison cell into a home for little birds. As he cared about these creatures and devoted himself to curing them, he changed. And even though he spent most of his life in prison paying for his crimes, he is most famous as a birdman, not a murderer.

Get this: Whatever you make a home for in your life will influence you big-time. If you constantly entertain yourself with music, videos, and Web sites that glorify the nastier sides of your culture, you are giving that stuff a home in your life. And like it or not, whatever you welcome into your life as a roommate eventually starts bossing you around. An old proverb states, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” You have control over the things you allow to live inside you.

According to Colossians 3: 16, the Word of God is a good choice to let nest in you. When you let God’s Word into your life as a permanent resident, it changes you. God’s Word will make you more like him.

REFLECT: What sorts of things are you letting nest in your heart?

PRAY: Talk to God today about your desire to let his words live in you and change your life.


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