Following the Ordinances of Heaven

Canada Geese ( Branta canadensis)…Lesser Canada Geese (Branta hutchinsii)

There is nothing common about these magnificent birds. They live from coast to coast & from Mexico to the Arctic. Because they are herbivores, they eat everything green from new wheat to golf course grass. Canadas are very adaptable. They thrive at life. DSC_0062_974sigGiant Canadas are well named as they have wingspans to 6 feet and males may weigh over 23 pounds. Their longevity is another amazing attribute, the average lifespan of a Canada goose is 10-25 years. It is no surprise why their population increases. Examine the photos for an understanding of the word gregarious…Canadas “hang” together. The famous Canada Goose V flying formation allows flocks to fly up to 70% farther than when flying alone. Pilots have reported geese flying at altitudes of 9000 feet, at average speeds of 40-55 miles per hour; they can fly at 70 mph with a tailwind! We know they mate for life. We humans could learn from their example. A male is the gander and a female the goose. DSC_0070sigDowny body feathers keep them warm in below zero temperatures which send us scurrying for heat-indoors. These feathers retain their insulation qualities even after the bird dies. Down is best at keeping humans warm.

DSC_0120sigWhile there may be thousands of them in view, there is nothing common about them. How might we explain the ability of these birds to live almost everywhere on the North American Continent? How are they able to withstand extremes in weather, both heat and cold? Why do they mate for life? Because the Canada Goose does not follow prescribed human directives. There is an unseen power to be found in these birds. Whether there are 1000s honking and splashing in one place or a pair in flight over head careful observation reveals power. Canada Geese follow the script. God gives it to them. In Job 38:33 God asks Job two questions.

1.       Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?

2.       Can you establish their rule on earth?

We have libraries full and an internet packed with knowledge about these geese. But Canada Geese act and live the way they do because they know the ordinances of God. His instructions are written in their DNA. They do geese things each day because the rule of God directs them. Refrain from taking them for granted because we see them often. They are completely uncommon.DSC_0086sig

Stunning Power

DSC_0204_834sigPhotographs of nature always catch my attention. My offer to you:  six pictures of natural objects for your eyes to focus upon. The first, the final yellow leaves of fall clinging to the branch despite a strong northwest wind. The second, the gray white seed of stiff goldenrod transformed by ripening from brilliant yellow to gray white, matching the color of winter to come. The third, cottonwood yellow and what happens when the final moisture dries from the leaf. The fourth, little bluestem purple, a permanent fall favorite of mine. The final two photos are of the common Canada goose. Remember, however, there is nothing common about the Canada goose.DSC_0005_842sig

These six will be our evidence, only six. Understand, there are millions, even an infinite number more which may stand as evidence. These six photos were taken less than 10 minutes from the living room couch where my current book awaits my attention. It is conceivable that within this small area there are millions of other photos to use as evidence. My choice this time, trees, grass, flowers and birds. Subjects not chosen to use as evidence are the stars, planets, the sky, and the ocean, these are the colossal examples of evidence. These six photos are more than enough proof.DSC_0210_836sig

Each speaks of the power of invisible God. But, to speak of the power of God is something my mind is highly unqualified for. Sorry, your mind is not qualified either. To offer these six photos of evidence that God is the creator of the earth and universe is sufficient. Our minds then move to the infinite number of living things inhabiting the earth. All were formed by God. Scientists estimate there are from 5 million to 100 million species, and only 2 million of them have been identified. Actually, this is unfathomable, but it is clearly evidence of God’s power.

To me the greatest demonstration of the power of God is found in HOW he created all we see on earth and beyond. We know one thing about how God created. There is unimaginable power in this: God created all we know and see by speaking them into existence. He SPOKE and there were cottonwood trees, geese, little bluestem and stiff golden rod. God spoke and it existed. Are you able to speak anything into existence? You know I can’t.DSC_0217sig

My final question, what power might God possess if he can say a word and something exists which did not before? You do not need to take my word for it. The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of the power of God. We read, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:3

To keep us clear about God’s absolute power. He also willingly gives us the faith we need to believe and understand his power. This bi-level faith enables us to believe and it saves us from our sins. Paul, the author of the book of Ephesians wrote this about faith, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Search for evidence of Gods power. It is easy to recognize, we are surrounded by it. Why would there be so much evidence of God on earth and in the heavens. One reason is he wants us to know him. Amazing, the God of the universe, creator of all things wants to know you-and me. We can speak to him through prayer, another of his gifts to us. These truths are stunning.DSC_0009sig

Strength and Confidence

 

Has your day been hectic? Did you try multi-tasking? How did that go? Does hurtling through your day work well? Our culture promotes a go all the time lifestyle. Does it really work?

In 1938 Fredric Wisloff, a pastor, wrote these words, “quietness is strength, hustle and bustle are weakness.” Opposite of what the world tells us, strength is found in quietness. We do not realize it, but one who is continually busy loses strength. It is subtle. Pastor Wisloff went on to write, “much quietness imparts much strength.”

Wisloff got his ideas from Isaiah. Isaiah wrote about strength and confidence. In Isaiah 30:15 we read, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength…’” Isaiah combined quietness with confidence in God. Strength comes from confidence in God.DSC_0045_539sig

Determining to be quiet in a world that never stops will not be easy. Humanly speaking, it will be almost impossible. When our confidence is in God, He will provide a quietness to our soul that strengthens. Quietness equals confidence and strength. These are desirable qualities and they originate with God. He gives them when we are quiet. God desires quietness in us. He provides when we ask.

Multi-tasking, and a full schedule set our focus on things that eventually weaken us. Quietness? Well, it is counter-cultural. It is difficult for us to believe that the benefits of quietness outweigh the benefits of a busy hectic life.DSC_0066_550sig

Look outside, search for the quietness found there. Quietness is found in a Monarch on a flower. It’s a Painted Lady sipping nectar from a flower, a forest in sunlight, a glass calm lake, and a lone mushroom on a birch log. In each, there in the quiet strength that God puts in all of nature. Quietness is His gift to frantic humans. It brings confidence and strength. Quietness is my need. What if you were quiet? What might you hear? The offer of confidence and strength is too good to pass.DSC_0024_584sigDSC_0001_719sig

Evening and Morning

And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. Genesis 1:5

Evening…

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And there was evening and there was morning as God created 5 more days. (See Genesis 1:31)  Evening and morning…humans have received them each day since those first 6 days. We received them again today: evening and morning.

 

Morning…

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Awesome…in 5 Steps

We have 6 senses. Most of us believe we have 5. For adults, the 6th sense is greatly unused. Many children are drastically more skilled with the human 6th sense. Children are less inhibited by life experiences. They can see the wonder in the world we live in. The human 6th sense is a sense of wonder.

We are not referring to wonder as a question. That is the other type. We mean the human sense of awe at the natural world. Using our built-in sense of wonder intensely enriches human life.

If you are a skeptic, you’ve been thinking, “So what? Big deal, this is a non-issue.” If you are thinking this, your sense of wonder is buried under layers of proper adult behavior. Children lose their sense of wonder when they are inside for long periods. Adults and children both lose their sense of wonder when a majority of time is spent in front of a screen. Excessive screen time is unhealthy.

To get you outside quickly-Two things remain:

  1. How to revive your sense of wonder.
  2. A vital reason to rekindle yours and that of children’s sense of wonder.

 

Reviving your sense of wonder: (do all of these outside)

  1. Use your primary 5 senses: sight, touch taste, smell, hearing. Rather than using only your sense of sight-close your eyes and smell, touch, listen, even taste if safe. It takes time, but you will quickly enjoy this!
  2. Find a favorite spot outside. Go there on a regular basis. Look for things that you feel are beautiful in nature. Remember to look at the sky every time. Watch clouds if there are some.
  3. Be still-this includes talking…listen in nature more than you speak.
  4. After a few times in your favorite spot-lay down on the ground-on your back. It will surprise you…this is something you will like.
  5. Every time you go outside expect to be surprised by something unexpected, look for it.

Start with these 5. It is possible to spend the rest of your life searching for wonder (awe) in nature. It could become one of the greatest joys of your life.

Now for the vital reason: God created all of the natural world we live in. Everything in it points to Him.

God invites us to look at what He has done. “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” Psalm 66:5

What could happen to your life as you discover the awe of nature? I offer one answer to that question. If God has made all we see, and holds it all in order, doesn’t it make sense to know more about Him? God’s hand is visible outside. Your God given sense of wonder will help you see the hand of God wherever your eyes roam. Light the match, rekindle your sense of wonder. Even better, ask God to help. He is the only awesome.

No Tears, No Sickness or Pain, No Death

DSC_0011_543sigI spent 30 minutes in another world today. The world was in my backyard. Since it was in my backyard, this world contained earth residents. Once in this world, my feet never moved. Here my eyes found the Cup Plant ( Silphium perfoliatum) Most were over 10 feet tall with deep green leaves and brilliant yellow composite flowers. They made a world of their own. Their nectar and pollen drew other earth residents too. Just watching and listening, I saw a Two Spotted Bumblebee, a Long-Eared Bee, A large Yellow-jacket Wasp, Syrphid Flies and multiple Painted Lady Butterflies. A small white insect landed on my camera lens. In this miniature prairie planted by my own hands were multiple other life forms I never saw. Most were invertebrate. All were present because the little backyard prairie met their habitat needs. The bees and butterflies were there for food: nectar and pollen.

DSC_0017_544sigThis world was quiet. It was peaceful. Bees shared the same flowers with other bees and the butterflies. There was enough for all. I witnessed the same flowers visited over and over. The nectar continued to flow. There was no fighting, rather a visible harmony existed.

My heart was calmed. Peace settled on my own mind and soul. This happened steps from my backdoor.DSC_0056_548sig

This quiet place reminds me of another real place: heaven. There is peace and harmony there. No sickness or death ever occur in heaven. There will never be mourning, tears or pain. The peace of God is always there.  God’s peace passes understanding. We can spend eternity there-not just 30 minutes. Jesus paid the price of admission.DSC_0070_551sig

More Than All

Socrates is considered a wise man. Perhaps he is best known for his gifted ability to question everything and everyone. Today we know it as the Socratic method.  The Socratic method of teaching is to ask question after question until students or readers arrive at their own understanding.

The method of Socrates can lead us to truth. Here are the questions:

  1. How much is abundantly more than all?
  2. If all is done what more can be done?
  3. Is there a limit to more than all?
  4. Do you know any human who can actually do abundantly more than all?
  5. Is “more than all” even possible?

Nature provides us with a specific example which can enable us to understand the truth, the answers to these questions. The natural world exists to point us to truth.DSC_0007_462_483sig(Beaded water on Indian-Grass)

Our example is the grasshopper. Specifically, Melanoplus bivittatus, or the Two Striped Grasshopper. The two-striped grasshopper is one species of more than 20,000 species world-wide. The two striped is the grasshopper with, as expected, two yellow stripes which run from their head to mid-wing forming a triangle. The ultimate habitat for the two-striped grasshopper is prairie. The two-striped is a herbivore, a plant eater. It eats flowers and grass. Flowers like Stiff Goldenrod and Monarda, and grasses like Indian grass and Big Bluestem find their way into the stomach of the two-striped. This grasshopper lives in a beautiful world. DSC_0020_464sig(Stiff Goldenrod)

DSC_0023_465sig(Soldier Beetle on  Gray headed coneflower)

DSC_0068_478sig(Ripening Indian Grass Seed)

In a prairie, there is always a harmonious balance. The eaters seldom overcome the plants. Plants dominate. But grasshoppers and their kind can and have overpowered everything. The over-abundance of grasshoppers and locusts is common in world history. Consider two. The first occurred in the United States. It is recorded in history as the grasshopper plague of 1874. In July of that year millions of Rocky Mountain locusts flew into the prairies of the Dakotas and all the way to Texas. By 1874 much of what had been prairie had been repurposed to become farmland growing wheat. This plague of locusts destroyed everything-even wooden tool handles!

The second plague occurred much earlier in human history. The setting was ancient Egypt. It is recorded in the Bible in the book of Exodus chapter 10. In this chapter, it is recorded that the locusts covered the entire country of Egypt and “darkened” the land, and after they were done eating, “not a single leaf was left on the trees and plants.”

Now, return with me to the first question: How much is abundantly more than all?

Few of us have ever seen a plague of locusts like that described in these two accounts. We realize that it must have been a natural disaster of the greatest magnitude, yet since we have never seen such a swarm of locusts, we cannot fully understand. But these plagues bring within sight of the truth. While these plagues contained millions of grasshoppers-neither were more than all. We can see the truth standing on the history of these locust accounts. No human could create the vast swarms contained in these plagues. No human could even make 1 grasshopper.DSC_0044_471sig(The Two-striped Grasshopper

God is our More Than All. He is able to do abundantly more than all. There is no limit to God. It is God who does “abundantly more than all.” This brings us to one of the greatest truths the human mind can consider. Since God is able to do abundantly more than all, like creating swarms of locusts and grasshoppers. Can God be abundantly more than all for you? What are your needs? What benefit would there be for you and I to trust ONE who is able to do abundantly more than all?  Does it help to know that this ONE who is able to do abundantly more than all so loves the world? The not so lowly grasshopper is just one evidence of the infinite powers of More Than All.

 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21