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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Examine a Feather

Feathers are living miracles. They are one of my favorite things in nature. There are many reasons to view them as perfect wonder.

Their bright colors are even iridescent. They form patterns and designs. Agreed, feathers are beautiful.

Birds fly with them, and swim and dive with them. Don’t take this lightly. How feathers interact with air and water is actually breath-taking.

They shine, they can be waterproofed, they are wind proof, and they are repairable.

No human mind has designed anything like them.

They fall off. Its called molting. New body feathers, new flight feathers, gradually new feathers replace the old worn feathers. No human engineer can replicate it.

Feathers provide us with physical evidence that humans can molt too…not with feathers, with their sin. The same grand Designer has a perfect plan to make every human new. The sinful self can be shed-like a bird molts a feather. A new creature, a new “sins forgiven human” is the result. Molting in birds is caused by hormones. The perfect Creator engineered it. The shedding of human sin comes when a human believes in Jesus. The Bible explains it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

 

You can start over. You can be free of your past. You can shed your sorrows and hurts. Jesus will do it for you, ask Him. It’s the perfect human “molt” and it lasts forever.

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The Impossible Becomes Possible

 

 

 

 

Pick a bird. Which is your preferred feather carrier? (there are four shown)

Why only four? You will know soon enough.

Perhaps some facts will help in your decision.

DSC_0067_2069WPThe Cardinal would be a great choice. If you like brilliant red, the cardinal is your bird. Cardinals eat seeds, fruits and especially during nesting season, insects. They build a four-layer nest with twigs, followed by a leafy mat, that is covered with grape vine bark, and the final layer is grasses, fine roots, and pine needles. You may also choose the cardinal because of its song. Distinctively cardinal is the long string of clear down slurred two-part whistles.

Did you choose the Robin? Most of us think of the robin as the harbinger of spring. Their cheer filled song lifts our spirits. Because they are large and common, we see them often, especially on our lawns as they eat the earthworms they find there. They do eat worms and other insects but the robin is a mainly a fruit eater. Perhaps because they are common, you may choose robin.DSC_0046_2157wp

Maybe you have chosen the chickadee. Any resident of the north country soon comes to admire this little black and white dynamo-in January when the thermometer reads below zero. The chickadee seems unaffected by the cold. Its cheery song brightens each day. It is an omnivore like the robin and cardinal, so this may not help you decide. You may like the fact that every winter night, the chickadee goes in to a torpor. That means it can lower its pulse rate and its body temperature to conserve energy and survive bitter cold.DSC_0077_1966wp

My guess is you did not choose the American crow. Did you pass over the crow because of its all black plumage? Would it help if you knew the crow’s feathers shine in sunlight? Did you say no to the crow because it is large and its caws are loud and disturbing? The crow is an omnivore too. But then you may decide you don’t like the idea of it eating the eggs and young of other birds. Perhaps reminding you that the crow eats carrion does not help either. But, they are very social. They work together in raising their young, even older siblings, that includes offspring up to two years old.

We are not done with the crow. You did not choose it. Hold on one moment for one other fact. The American Crow is considered to be among the most intelligent birds on the planet. One source claimed the crow to be second only to humans in intelligence. Want to change your mind?DSC_0044_2155wp

Why only four birds?

This is about favoritism.

What is favoritism? You were asked to choose, your thoughts were directed, so you chose one over the other three. It’s very acceptable to all of us that you preferred one over the other three. Favoritism regarding your bird preference is your personal choice. It is ok to favor.

With birds we may choose one over the other. With others, any human, favoritism has no place. In the Bible, James, brother of Jesus, wrote the book of James. He is specific and direct about favoritism. He wrote, “how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” James 2:1

Do you sense how quickly, how easily we show preference for one person over another? Return to the birds a moment. Think of how you made your choice. They are all birds. Yet you chose one-you desired that one more, you favored one.

Just a few verses later James reminds us why favoritism can have no part in human relationships. He reminds us that God’s royal law is for us to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” He adds, “But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.” James 2:8-9

You say, “this is impossible!” I cannot overcome my weakness, I show favoritism constantly.” You are right. Favoritism is a universal human failure. But there is hope, always hope.

Once Jesus disciples questioned him about who could be saved? Do you know what Jesus answered them? “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.

We have true hope. We can trust Jesus, he is the One who makes the impossible-possible.

Real Power

Power. We like to have it; power over others, for control, and a sense of safety and satisfaction.  We even view it as comfort. At times we resent others who have power. That means they can direct our choices. Because it seems they have more privilege we may be envious.

Power, as in control, authority, rule and dominance is what most humans strive for. When we have some power, we want more. This is a characteristic of power. We recognize power in humans who have it. These individuals have control and ability to use it.

We are not skilled in understanding power we cannot see. The greatest power of all is invisible to us now.  Yet we humans demand evidence. To believe it, we must see it.

We’ll use a bird to provide evidence of unseen power. This bird is my favorite example for demonstrating unseen power. Watch this bird; see the power. It is the chickadee that is a superb model of unseen power.DSC_0023_1697sig

The average chickadee weighs .3 to .5 ounces. One half an ounce or less, this is a lightweight. Its wingspan is from 6 to 8 inches. This smaller than a sparrow bird is a year around resident in northern climates from the central United States to as far north as the Yukon in northern Canada. Temperatures in these regions range below zero F for days, even weeks. How does the heart of a chickadee keep a body of ½ ounce from freezing? There are a number of significant factors. We can call them elements of power. Here are four:

+Feathers…during fall the chickadee will add 25% more feathers.

+A daytime body temperature of 100+ degrees F.

+Nighttime body temperature lowers from 14-20 degrees, the bird enters a torpor-call it nightly hibernation.

+A very high daytime metabolism requires all day feeding. In fall while adding feathers, a chickadee’s brain sluffs off last year’s neurons and adds new ones to increase memory and remember seeds it has cached during warm months for winter survival.

 

But the chickadee is not the only example of unseen power. Similar elements of power are actually found in all birds that are year-round residents of the northern climates of the world. Pull on the threads of these elements with me. Where does each thread lead us? As we follow them we will find all of them leading to one mutual source. God is the source of this power.

 

What difference does it make to know the source of unseen, real everlasting power?

 

We humans have another need, its peace of mind. If we are honest, the world is out of control. Murders, crime upon crime, lying, mistrust, sickness and bad things happen daily. Fear steals into our lives, we feel powerless, at risk. We long for peace in our hearts and minds. Actually, it seems that if there is a God, he has no power. If God existed and was all-powerful none of these power robbing events in the world would happen.

 

Sin exists too. Sin is the cause of a world out of control, the source of powerlessness. Sin entered the world through one man-Adam. With sin came the greatest power thief-death. Neither you nor I truthfully could say we welcome death. There is no human living who has power over death.

 

The Creator of the chickadee is the only one with death defeating power. Through another man, the Son of God, Jesus, came life-everlasting. Love is the power that overcomes death. God is love. He loves both of us. Romans 5:8 tells us this, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”DSC_0033_1706sig

 

Power to create bird that can overcome the frozen severities of northern winters is magnificent-beyond comprehension. But power over life ending death belongs to only one: Jesus. This is the ultimate, true power. Believe this and eternal life is your gift from God.

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

Which Way?

This may be one of life’s biggest questions. Here it is, “What is the way?” This question comes often, if not daily. Sometimes the question relates to major life decisions; to take a job, leave a job, to buy a home, or sell a home. Sometimes this question relates to interpersonal matters. Should I marry him? Should I divorce or keep trying? Which way? It is an unchanging aspect of life. From the time a child begins making choices to the time a gray head is laid to rest, humans are faced with decisions which begin with, “which way?”

You would be thrilled with me if in the next sentence you were given a formula, which if followed, would always provide the correct answer to “which way?” You know better. Life has taught you that there is no such thing. With a sigh, you resign yourself to living life knowing that in future days you will face the question, “which way?” You know that at least half the time you will choose the wrong way. Possibly some months you will find most of your “way” decisions were wrong.

There is no comfort in this. We often choose the wrong way. We suffer the consequences of our wrong way choices. Our wrong way choices bring pain to self and others. Wrong “way” choices bring regrets. Some of them last a life time. This is the opposite of comfort. It’s heartache.

But. There is a way. For the rest of your life you can walk in this way. You will still make bad choices. You will say wrong things. Mistakes you regret will still occur. However, there is a way. It is not a formula. It is not a 10-step plan to better life. It does not cost you, it is free. If it seems too easy, it’s not. This way cost someone their very life. The blood of this person spilled on the earth. No, making this way was not easy.

Isaiah, the prophet of the Bible wrote about this way. He said, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”  Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) Long ago Isaiah said, “This is the way, walk in it.” Our logical question is, “What is this way you are referring to?”

The wonderful answer is found in the words of Jesus. He is the One who died for the sins of all. His blood was spilled for our sakes. Jesus plainly said, “I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father (God), except through me.” (John 14:6) The truth is, there is a way, a perfect way.  In all of our lives, there is a way…it’s Jesus. When you turn to the right, seek Jesus. If you turn to the left, seek Jesus. In big decisions, some this week-seek Jesus. Whether your job, personal relationships, or any other thing in life, the way for all of life is Jesus.DSC_0010_007sig

The sun has a “way.” As does the moon. Likewise, a river. Even a train has a way, the tracks. Humans have a perfect “way,” in Jesus. Consider these words what your ears hear behind you: Jesus is the way, walk with Him. When we choose the wrong way, Jesus calls to us, “Follow me.”  No comfort is more real for us today.DSC_0041edsigDSC_0094_028sig

Drops or Ocean?

DSC_0008_1270sigDSC_0012_1271sigExamine the photos. They came from a brisk walk in the woods today. The air temperature was a comparatively warm +13 at depart time. On return, the thermometer read +10. The temperature is only detail. The photos provide evidence the massive truth Sir Isaac Newton stated about 3 centuries ago:

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.”  Isaac Newton

Now the photos. These are the “drops.” There are two photos of leaves remaining on thin branches. We know leaves are essential to photosynthesis. They are green because of chlorophyll. Two more show lichen and fungus on bark. Again, we know lichen is a composite organism of fungi and alga working in a symbiotic relationship. We can see its beauty. The remaining three photos are of holes in tree trunks. We know woodpeckers are the principal reason. We know they were searching for invertebrates to eat.DSC_0026_1273sigDSC_0028_1274sigDSC_0036_1278sig

Now for the “ocean.” We know leaves are food manufacturing factories. How is it that in photosynthesis oxygen is a by-product and carbon dioxide which we exhale is the gas all green plants require to make food. Why are fungi and an alga able to work in tandem? And wood peckers…there is the barbed sticky tongue, the skull that cushions its brain sparing the bird from life threatening concussions. What about the gradual decay of these trees. They become soil to grow generations of plants whose seeds have not yet been produced. This process ensures renewed soil fertility. No human intervention is needed.DSC_0030_1275sig

Actually, my attempt to reveal the ocean is just “drops.” We know much about the earth we live on. Libraries are filled with books about the earth. Really, those are the “drops.” One article states, “Even after centuries of effort, some 86 percent of Earth’s species have yet to be fully described.” Understand this statement refers to life forms on earth. When we consider earth systems, cycles, physical laws and more we come to admit Isaac Newton was correct what we know about the world we live in can be summarized as “DROPS.”

No need to worry about our puny understanding. There is One who knows all, everything. The Psalmist knew it. He wrote. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5 Do you worry about things. Do you ever feel inadequate? Be comforted greatly. The truth about God is great comfort. He is: great, mighty, and infinite in understanding. What is most important in all of this? God understands us-perfectly. He loves us perfectly. That’s an ocean!DSC_0050_1282sig