Far Beyond Marvelous

A walk with the camera this afternoon revealed marvelous things. It was not a walk in an exotic place. Our backyard is comfortable, familiar.

On a set timetable my walk was brief. Limiting time outside narrows our ability to see things. Time limits distract us from paying attention.

Yet, any time outside is beneficial. It takes the edges off. Worries shrink. Problems seem solvable. Marvelous things can be seen by distracted eyes. Mine saw three.DSC_0002ed

The sugar maple in our yard signals season change. Maples herald fall, they inspire awe in the process. A Northern Flicker revealed the second marvelous object, Virginia Creeper berries. Stems a deeper red than the most scarlet Maple, the purple berries create a stunning contrast that draws the eye. For number three you have the right to disagree. It was a common house fly. To be specific a cold common house fly, cold enough to allow a camera within a foot of its highly visible perch. This fly will likely not reach its full life span. In two days, the forecast calls for frost. When not annoying me, I find beauty in a single fly.DSC_0009ed

What do we do with marvelous things? We can relish them. Changing leaves bring the reminder of cold to come. We can appreciate them. Marvelous things quiet our souls, and marvelous things are also created to give glory to God. The source of everything marvelous is God. Breathtaking? It’s God. Magnificent, thank God. Spectacular? God.

These three marvelous things of today have long-standing origins. All were planned by God before recorded history. There is no word descriptive enough for that. It is far, far beyond marvelous. These three simple marvels were planned long ago and have occurred with predictable timing every fall season. That kind of dependable only comes from God. For He is faithful. Millennia have passed, and every fall leaves turn color, Virginia Creeper berries turn purple and flies go into slow motion. These marvels happen every fall. In them God shows us His great faithfulness.DSC_0005ed

God is faithful in all things. Isaiah reminds us.  He said, “Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” (Isaiah 25:1)   When God tells us He loves us, it’s true. He tells us Jesus died for our sins. He did. This is the greatest act of faithfulness ever given. This is beyond marvelous.DSC_0007ed


There it was, and not alone. My thought was, “this is a pair.”
Usually subjects with feathers disappear before this photographer is prepared. And, one of the two did fly away. But, one cautiously allowed photos.
Red-breasted nuthatches go with trees. Coniferous or deciduous trees make suitable habitat for these insect eaters. Just a bit longer than 4 inches weighing about the same as 8 jumbo paper clips, the Red breasted Nuthatch can effortlessly conceal itself. With equal ease it moves up and down the trees where it lives searching for its next portion of insect protein.
We know woodpecker beaks expertly excavate nest cavities. Red-breasted nuthatch beaks are capable of mining a nuthatch size nest cavity. Since both the male and female work as a team the task is done with the power of two. Red-breasted nuthatches choose a decayed tree limb, sometimes a rotting stump and often the soft wood of the Aspen tree.DSC_0027ed
An unusual nesting behavior has been given to the Red-breasted Nuthatch. Both male and female line the nest entrance and the upper interior part of the nest with pine resin. This creates an effective predator guard for the female as she incubates and the young after hatching. How did they acquire this protective behavior?
Hidden inside nest cavities skillfully constructed, instinctively concealed, and protected by a specialized security system, even experts know little about the development of young Red-breasted Nuthatches.
We do know this: Red-breasted Nuthatches are here because God placed them on the earth to ‘inhabit” His created blue planet. From the Bible, in the book of Isaiah we read of God’s plan and His sovereign power: “For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)
We may explain the presence of the Red-breasted Nuthatch as a member of a food web. But, Isaiah gives us a reason we may overlook. These beautiful little birds are here because God put them on earth to be one of its inhabitants. They fit in a food web which God created. The Red-breasted Nuthatch reminds us God is the all-knowing, infinite, powerful Creator.
Know too God is perfect in love. In the same chapter God speaks these words: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22) God’s love is for you, it’s His eternal life plan, that we may be inhabitants of heaven.
It begins with Jesus.

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Look at the Queen

The bee in the photo is the titanic. Two other bumble bees of the same species would not equal the size of this one.DSC_0039ed

This bee is a queen. If no one else is watching you could bow. She is a queen two spotted bumble bee.  There are some reasons why at least a fast salute to this sizeable queen would be appropriate.

First, she is a seasonal marker. When the queen comes out bumble bee work is nearly finished. Flowers blossoms are fewer. Freezing temperatures are near. The queen marks the change of season.

Next, she is a survivor. In the next days she will dig a hole in the ground her size. Her nest cavity will not be deep usually less than 6 inches. In this nest she will hibernate. She will survive winter temperatures of -25 F or -31 C often colder.

Have you saluted yet? There’s one more thing worthy of mention. The male bumble bee who mated with her will die likely before frost come. So will all of the worker bumble bees of her colony; and the old queen who began the colony last spring. All will die. She will live. She holds the future spring 2019 colony in her abdomen. One bee carries the next year’s colony.DSC_0059ed

You don’t need to salute. Know this, a queen bumble bee is an extraordinary creature.

Yesterday we called what happens with bumble bees a superior life plan. It is certainly efficient-and effective. God has made all of His creation this way.

God has a Superior Life Plan for humans. This plan includes the forgiveness of all your sin, and mine…all the sins of every human. This plan includes the infinite grace and mercy of God. He favors us with forgiveness we do not deserve because He is merciful. This Superior Life Plan is free. Jesus bought it for us when died on the cross. It is perfectly effective, and completely effective. The Superior Life Plan of God has no ending. This plan provides life forever-eternally.

It seems logical doesn’t it? God could create the bumble bee to mark season change. He could create the physical body of all queen bumble bees to survive subzero temperatures for months. He could design her body to preserve the next generation. Could God devise a way to give all humans a Superior Plan for eternal Life?

Look at the queen…and see the King of Kings.


The Superior Life Plan

The end is near. This is not a doomsday message from a want to be prophet. The end is near, it is a fact.
Blooming flowers will cease first. Freezing temperatures may hasten the end of blossoms. The work of pollinators for the season is near its conclusion for this season.DSC_0010ed
There is a cold reality coming. Many humans accept it with regret. Winter is nearing. Before full winter sets in the bumble bee in the photo will be dead. It sounds dreadful, but it is a nature fact.
The workers of a bumble bee colony will all be compost or food for others long before winter arrives in the north country. But there is a plan for the colony this bumble bee comes from. The bumble bee in this photo is likely feeding the final colony of bumble bees of this summer season. DSC_0001ed
This last colony is special. Unlike summer bumble bee colonies, it contains a number of queen bumble bees. Before freezing temperatures end flowers and nectar flower each queen from the colony will mate and find a safe winter nest just her size. There she will hibernate till spring. The eggs within her body will become the first bumble bee colony of next spring.
Native bees also overwinter in a birth cell as a pupa or immature adult bee. They will complete development in the warm first flower weather of next spring.
Honey bees are different. They overwinter in their nest around the queen. They are not dormant, but greatly reduce their activity. They use honey stored in the hive for winter food and “shiver” to keep the hive and themselves warm.
There is unconventional beyond this world wisdom evident in the lives of these pollinators. There is a winter provision. There is a superior life plan. The life cycle of bumble bee and honey bees is perpetuated throughout winter.
Take a long look at these photos. Look at the bumble bee, the honey bee (I think it is.) God has provided for these creatures who provide us food with their pollinating work. Flowers for them in spring, summer and fall and a winter protection plan when cold arrives.
Call it mercy, call it love. Yes, God loves His creation. That includes us.
Are you suffering? Is there heart ache, human trouble which seems an insurmountable mountain? God provides. He loves His creation, all of it. Tell Him of your trials, your worries, your fears.
Read His promise to us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
He provides for the bees. He will provide for you, in ways you cannot imagine. Talk with Him, He is always loving you, always listening for your voice. His plan is superior.

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Hidden Things

Are there things you do not know? We are driven to know. To know is to understand.

We live in a culture where knowing things is priority. We want to know. We want to understand. We want answers. If we don’t know, we expect answers to our questions in less than a second.

But there will always be things we do not know. Things we do not understand.

Even small things can be mysteries. The Assassin Bug is one of them. They are found in all parts of the world.  Well, not in Antarctica, but everywhere else. In North America there are 135 identified species. We know other things about this bug. It has been placed in the Reduviidae  or true bug family of insects. About 7,000 species of insects are found in this group.

Seems quite common doesn’t it? Have you seen one? No worries, you can look at the photos.DSC_0047edDSC_0054ed

What should you know about the Assassin Bug? Know it has a needle like mouth. Know it injects other insects with a poison which both paralyzes the insect and liquefies its insides. I am not making this up. Know too, they are beneficial insects. They prey on soft-bodied insects. The ones that eat plants in our gardens.

We understand the place of the Assassin Bug in nature. We know things about its life cycle, its diet, the larger family of insects it is part of, and even how adult Assassin Bugs eat. But there are many things about the Assassin Bug hidden from us. Like why is the Assassin Bug in the photo missing a back leg?

The known and unknown life of the Assassin Bug presents us with a larger life truth: We live in a world where things are hidden from us. Yes, hidden even in this age where information is sovereign. Some hidden things don’t bother us…sort of out of sight, out of mind. Yet, if we know something is deliberately hidden from us we may resent it.

Are you struggling with hidden things you do not know or understand like I am? God has a word for us. In the Bible, the book of Jeremiah, we read these words, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3) God knows the hidden things that trouble you. He also knows if they should be revealed to you. He invites you and I to speak with Him about the hidden things which trouble us. All of them. He will answer.

His answer may be “you do not need to know this.” Do you know the one thing never hidden from us? The truth that God loves us.


Quench Your Thirst

It is so common 71% of the earth is covered with it. An aside worth mentioning, humans live on the 29% not covered. The body of a newborn baby is 78% of this common substance. It is ubiquitous. You know by now our subject is water. It is a global substance. It is abundant. Water is so common. Common things are often taken for granted.

No other physical object has the properties of water. It can be solid-ice. It can be liquid-in a glass. It can be a gas-steam.

Water does not boil until it reaches 212° degrees Fahrenheit (100° C). It freezes at 32° Fahrenheit (0° C). These two physical properties of water make life on earth possible. There are other properties which make life on earth possible. Water has the highest surface tension for all liquids. Insects walk on water because of surface tension. Water is “the universal solvent”. Many other substances dissolve in water, more in fact than any other substance.

Water is more than amazing. For a human, it means life. It is so important that each human on the planet should drink a half-gallon of it each day. Try it. But not all at once.

There is another property of water. Because each water molecule is two parts oxygen and one-part hydrogen, pure water is clear. That is because these two elements are invisible in nature.

Clear water is beautiful. Clear, clean water quenches our thirst.

Jesus compared Himself to water. He did not say he was like water. He said He was “living water.” He spoke these words to a woman at a well in Samaria, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Thirsty? We have two kinds of thirst: physical and spiritual. The woman who spoke to Jesus that day knew about her physical thirst. She came to the well to quench it. When she got there Jesus reminded her of her spiritual thirst. He told her about the other kind of water-Living. After a talk with Jesus she went away with her spiritual thirst satisfied.

We drink when we feel thirsty. Living Water cures the thirst of our soul.

Have a talk with Jesus the Maker of earth’s clear water. Tell Him about the thirst of your soul. He is the Living Water. His promise of eternal life is 100%.Superior-Black Beach