We Don’t Know

We live in the need to know age. Call it the information age. We expect to have an answer to our questions fast. My question was where does the chlorophyll which makes plants green come from? In .52 seconds, there was a response on my browser.

Careful reading of a research article written to explain the origin of chlorophyll revealed words like: competing hypothesis, possibilities, appear, may be impossible, and likelihood. Synthesize these words into one synonymous phrase and the words are: we don’t know.

We don’t know. These three words acknowledge human limitation. These three words allow us to consider the reality of a Creator. Where does chlorophyll come from? I know. This is not boasting. God made it. Chlorophyll is a “work of God.” Before green plants, God made chlorophyll.

The wisest man in recorded world history, Solomon, wrote these words. They help me with the many “why” questions in life. He said, “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the maker of all things.” Ecclesiastes 11:5

Perhaps your biggest “why” question is not about plants. It may be a painful question, “Why did my loved one die?” “Why does he/she have cancer?” Why doesn’t God heal them?” I don’t know.

Perhaps the hardest question for all humans is, “can I trust God?” In a word: Yes.  You can trust Him. Completely.

You do not need to have answers to life’s hard questions when you know God is trustworthy. The same wise man, Solomon, also wrote these words, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5 Trusting in God not our own understanding secures our lives with eternal hope. God knows.

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Either Way-You Win

Darkeyed Junco WPOne of my favorite birds is not a flashy multicolored wonder. Gray, black and white are considered ordinary. It is not a large bird. It does not fly at blazing speeds. Its beak is not curved or hooked. It does not have talons on its feet either. One more thing, it does not sing a spectacular song.

You are wondering. Why is this bird a favorite? What is it?

Stretch the suspense, go farther with me before you know.

This bird has been classified in the genus of American sparrows. Genus, that’s biology talk for family. Yes, I said it is in the sparrow family. Sparrows are common. Its 5 ½ to 6 inches long. Its size does not make it a favorite. Its wing span is a slight 7-9 inches. It is a ground bird seeking its food on the ground. 75% of its diet is composed of seeds. During nesting it adds protein from insects. Even more, during nesting season it nests in coniferous forests. But not in the trees, look for its nest on the ground.

It would be true to say this little sparrow sort of disappears for the summer. We said it is not flashy, and it is absent during the summer, it nests in the north in forests.  How could anyone find this bird delightful?

But it is delightful. The gray and black with white bars on their tails is actually beautiful. No need to be a flashy flier, they flit. It’s wonderful. Their beaks have perfect symmetry, the claws on their feet match the color of their body. And their color coordination is superb. What about that song? It’s a trill a bit like a Chipping Sparrow and similar to the Pine Warbler. A great pleasure comes from seeing a small flock of them feeding on the ground or perched on a branch.

Why a favorite? I get to see them Some of them spend winter in our backyard. They bring anytime joy to my birdbrain with their soft calls and deep color contrast with snow. Oh, you want to know what it is?

A Dark-eyed Junco is our bird star. Junco hyemalis for the biologists who are reading.

But Dark-eyed Juncos are a favorite of mine for another reason. It could be because they are in the sparrow family. It could be their quiet but pleasurable songs. It is true, black, and shades of gray can be eye appealing. The main reason these birds are favorites is they show me God.

John 20:31 tells us about the words written about Jesus in the Bible. It reads, “But, these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The Bible gives us specific documentation about the life of Jesus. It identifies him as the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

The Dark-eyed Junco speaks of Jesus without words. The power of Jesus is seen in the Junco’s quiet life and how it lives through all seasons cold and warm. Jesus power is seen in this tiny 5-6-inch-long bird’s ability to safely locate a nest on the ground and know when to migrate northward safely. The fact that Jesus is divine, truly God, is heard when the Junco calls and when its black gray feathers contrast in exquisite beauty against white snow.

Want to see Jesus? There are two clear options, read the Bible, and watch the birds. Either way you win.

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3 Miracles of Gravity

Here are three miracles for you.

 

Trumpeter swans and geese on the water. They are grace, majesty, and beauty coated in feathers. Why was it possible to photograph them yesterday? Go to the root of this question with me. Birds and all other physical objects remain on earth because of a force. Gravity is the answer this question.

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What is gravity? It is a force. Like a longer explanation? It is a force by which a planet or other object draws objects toward its center. Gravity is a phenomenon of nature. Interested in a first-hand gravity experience? Try jumping out of a plane with a parachute. Where there is matter, there is gravity. Gravity keeps the birds in the photos on water. For that matter, you and I on earth. It is gravity that keeps celestial objects arranged and in orbit.

 

What is gravity? Peel away everything we know about it and we come to this statement: We don’t know. What? In our modern, technology, information age we don’t know? That’s right, we do not know. We only know how it operates, how it behaves.

If we don’t know what it is, do we need it?

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Think about life with no gravity. There would be no swans, no geese. Sadly, no birds at all. All birds would drift into space. Without gravity all life on earth would drift into space, including humans. But, without gravity we could not live on earth. The two most important things for life would drift into space. Earth would have no atmosphere, and no water without gravity. Imagine, earth without gravity, actually you can’t. No birds would be a minor issue.

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Gravity is a natural phenomenon we cannot see. The invisible force of gravity means life on earth. Explain it how you wish, in the end miracle is best. This is number one.

The trumpeter swans and the geese point us to a second miracle. Birds are anti-gravity miracles. Birds overcome gravity through an anti-gravity force called lift. Further, birds have hollow bones. The body shape and their center of gravity is where most muscles and organs are located enables them to overcome this force. Birds are made to fly. From their eyes, to their blood, hearts and lungs birds are made to defy the invisible force of gravity. If birds did not have the ability to fly from creation, would there be birds at all? Imagine birds trying to learn to fly. They would die. Some would be injured, then eaten by predators, the rest would die in the attempt. It would be death by gravity.  Only God, who made gravity, would know how to make a creation that defies it. Make birds miracle two.

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Miracle three is that gravity is evidence of love. The love of God is made clear when we drop a newspaper to the floor. Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) is credited with the discovery of gravity. He said, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.” And perhaps it was his study of gravity which prompted him to say these words, “What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”

Why can’t we know everything? Why is gravity beyond human comprehension? Because we aren’t God. God reminded Job of this fact. God said, “Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” Job 38:33   Honestly, though we try, Job was not the only human who could not set up God’s dominion over the earth.

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Why is gravity evidence of God’s love? It gives us physical life on earth. God is love. He not only provides gravity for life. God provides eternal life through Jesus who died for our sins. Discover this love yourself, read John 3:16, watch a swan or a bird.

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The Real Super

The Real Super

Recently many have super things on their mind. What is super? The synonyms for super richly deepen our understanding. Super is wonderful, fantastic, great and marvelous. Super is tremendous, splendid, terrific superb and brilliant.

Second question, what is more than super? More than wonderful, great, terrific and brilliant. Above is synonymous with more. Above is our clue to what is more than super.

DSC_0133_1635sigGod is more than super. He is literally and figuratively above all things. We see evidence of the presence of God on the earth he created in small things that are min-super. This week two birds came for a drink at our bird water basin. The Downy Woodpecker and the House Sparrow are marvelous examples of the power and divine nature of God. These birds have the ability to fly. It is a miracle, the combination of feathers, lightweight hollow bones, and muscles for flight, that God has put in these two birds. Their calls and presence among us reveals a part of the divine nature of God. Birds are one of God’s gifts to us…one super.DSC_0128_1633sig

The moon is second super. Last month there were two full moons. The photo is of the second full moon in the month. The second full moon in a month is called a “blue moon” because full moons seldom occur twice in the same month. The photo was taken about an hour after the moon had risen. Light snow had fallen hours before and there were thin clouds still moving eastward. They made the moon seem hazy. The next morning this very moon was eclipsed as the earth moved between it and the sun. This moon was also one of three consecutive “super” full moons. Super moons are more brilliant than regular full moons. They occur when the moon being full coincides with it being close to the earth. If we have been paying attention to the moon recently our eyes have been provided with much beauty. Wonderful is a better description than super.

What is the real super? It is what we take for granted. Every breath, each heart-beat, health and an almost infinite number of daily gifts provided by God. We take the provisions of Almighty God for granted. We can. He allows it. These daily gifts are a boundless super. To put this truth in perspective we need to read the words of a man whose name was Elihu. He was a contemporary of Job, a man who has a book of the Bible named after him. Elihu reminded Job of the greatest super: God is always present and His power keeps us and the earth functioning according to the will of God. Elihu reminded Job this way, “If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust.” Job 34:14-15

On this day when super is on our minds, it is right to give thanks and be reminded of what is really “super.”DSC_0135_1636sig

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