Another Use for 5 Senses

Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste; every human has multiple senses. Some have 5. My gratitude for just the ability to see and hear returns with every trip outside.

Our senses reveal the magnificence of earth. Our minds revel in the splendor and grandeur of earthy majesty. Millions of photographic images of earth grandness are irrefutable evidence.DSC_0184_1006sig

Yes, we are beauty fanatics. We find beauty using all 5 senses. Have you ever wondered why a sunrise or sunset takes your breath away? What about the powerful sound of the surf, the wilderness call of a loon, the rustle of leaves in a south breeze? The scent of pine, the ocean, and freshly turned earth delight our noses. The soft touch of downy feathers, a flower petal, a gentle breeze on our skin calms us and thrills us at the same time. What about the taste of a fresh crisp apple just picked from the tree? On this earth we are surrounded by magnificence.DSC_0032sig

Our senses connect us with earth majesty. They give a fullness, and richness to life. They are gifts. DSC_0007sig

Our 5 senses point us to God. Why do humans have 5 senses? Do you take them for granted? Another question, what is the origin of human sensory abilities? Actually, this is a profound question. Reflect on your answer. Know the answer is filled with an unfathomable peace centered reality: God.

Pastor, author and speaker, Dr. Paul Tripp calls earthly beauty “sign beauty.” Tripp tells us “sign beauty points us to eternal beauty. He writes this about God, “Only his beauty can give you hope, strength, and peace. Only his beauty can give you life… be sure to look beyond what you are thankful for and see the Creator.”

Make time to go outside again, soon. Use your senses, delight in the majesty of the earth you live on, use them to lead you to him. Then remind yourself, “There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. Deuteronomy 33:26 He is God today; his promises are real. His help always available. Just ask him. He is near.DSC_0025sig.jpg

Truth Walk

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Here’s an invitation. Take a walk with me. You may stay at your computer. This is a walk with photos. Everything you read and see will be true. Welcome to the “truth hike.”

Our location is a United States Fish and Wildlife Waterfowl Production area (WPA). As we begin, the wind is from the southeast. The temperature is above freezing and it’s nice to be outside. We take a few steps and a plan is made. There must be white-tailed deer nearby. We adjust our direction, we will stay along the west border of this wild place so our scent drifts northward and not into the WPA.

A “prescribed fire” has recently been completed here. Contrary to what you may think, fire is healthy for a prairie like this. When fire has removed the dry vegetation, it provides a chance to see the history of the area. We stop to examine what looks like a femur from a former resident of this place. We leave it, it will nourish the mice and become part of the prairie soil.DSC_0008sig

We trek northward. We pick up a deer trail and follow it into reed canary grass. More than once a deer has jumped up in front of me. They like bedding in this thick grass. We stand and wait, expecting a large mammal to rise up from the grass. But it’s quiet, only the wind rustles the grass. As we reach the top of the hill boulders buried in the soil catch our attention. They are covered in lichen. The kind in the photo is a type of crustose. No deer yet, but this lichen is old, many deer have passed this rock.DSC_0009sig

The chances of a deer seem improved as we look east. A compact oak savannah grows along the edge of a very interesting looking wetland. We’ll take a photo of the empty bird’s nest to prove to children there are times in the year when nests do not have eggs in them. We take the deer trail into the oak savannah. We barely make a sound. We find fresh deer scat, but again, there are no deer. The ice on this wetland stretches from shore to shore. We step on the edge for a few photos to the southeast. We do not take a chance by walking out toward the middle.DSC_0026sig

Now the wind is in our faces. Our scent blows behind us. We’ve been quiet too. We walk a few steps and stop, watching and listening. We come to another low place filled with reed canary. But this one has water in it. No deer in this one. We take the deer trail leading to the south-east. There are tracks frozen into the ground at the edge of the place we are leaving. Deer use this place, often. As we reach the crest of a small hill, the dried stalk of a fall aster catches my eye. The seed has already dispersed. Still, it seems like a good subject for a photo.DSC_0032sig

Now we reach the edge of the prescribed burn area. Our search for deer now seems futile. But we stop and look behind us often. It seems wise, wolves and coyotes always check their back trail. In just a few minutes we will have returned to our starting point. But as we walk downhill and through burned cattail stalks the white shells of water snails stand out against the charred black cattail. They are beautiful. I did not mention this until now, but during the entire hike my eyes were watchful for muskrats on the ice or edges. They appear to be frozen in for the winter. Speaking of winter, look at the size of their huts! DSC_0039sigThere is an old-timer adage about this. The size of the hut is a winter predictor. Small huts-mild winter…large huts-strong winter. These are the largest I have seen for a few seasons. This may or may not be truth. Hmm, we’ll see.DSC_0044sig

Our “truth hike” comes to an end here. All of these events are true. They happened today. 

There is another consideration about truth. We prefer the truth. We need truth. Because our world is filled with untruth, the beautiful truth we find in nature is one of the reasons we delight in time outside. Today’s “truth walk” was earthly. But each photo reveals the glory of God. They point us to the “eternal truth-walk.” Isaiah said, “This is the way, walk in it…”

Jesus is eternal truth. He is the author of truth, he is full of grace, and truth. He is the Creator of the truth we witnessed on our hike. Jesus also said this about truth to those who believed in him, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Take a truth walk outside where you live. Then take a “truth walk” today in your soul, believe in Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life.

Which way should we “walk?” Walk with Jesus, He is the way.

Persist in This

 

Unnoticed, in silent existence.

We pass it without a glance.

It’s beautiful.

An amazing organism team; fungus and algae.

Too lowly to consider.

Some fix nitrogen fertilizing soil.

All live in harsh habitat; surviving drought, cold, heat.

Miniature chemical factories…producing 500 bio-chemicals;

controlling light, repelling herbivores, driving off attacking microbes, for survival.

Lichen persists on the earth.

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Jesus, Creator of extraordinary lichen.

We pass him by without a glance.

He’s Savior.

He’s inexplicable-three in One.

Suffered a lowly death on a cross.

Only solution to our sins.

Persist in Him; survive a harsh sin filled world.

Receive eternal life…free.

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The Testimony of Geese

Lurking” begins in late winter. There is no malice or mischief in this waiting, it is intentional. There is still ice on wetlands. The “lurkers” stand on it. Some late winter days they loiter for hours. As warmer weather approaches and the ice melts from wetland waters, the “lurkers” get serious. No other loiterer is permitted to be in the place the two original “waiters/lurkers” have chosen. These waiters are not employees of a restaurant. They wear feathers. They fly. They honk. Sometimes they perch with webbed feet on the roofs of buildings to keep watch over their wetland turf. The early spring lurkers are Canada Geese (Brantis Canadensis) Imagine a large bird with a long neck and flat, webbed feet on the peak of a roof. But there is no danger, they can fly.DSC_0129_985sig

You may wonder why write about Canada geese in spring-when it’s near the end of fall. Today, the geese provide us with perspective. Winter is coming. These geese live outside 24/7. They have no warm building to escape to. Geese do not possess cupboards filled with food. They do have down feathers that keep them warmer than most of our human constructed warm weather gear. They will face freezing temperatures, snow, even blizzards. They live outside all day, all night in conditions we humans would expire from. They live.DSC_0154_993sig

Now, the rest of the spring story. Before the ice is off the wetland, the pair of Canadas begin nesting. The goose (female) builds the nest. She lines it with down from her own body. The gander(male) becomes his mate’s consistent body-guard. He is a true force.  25-30 days must pass as the female incubates and the male guards. Reading about this miraculous process does not provide the magnitude of effort two birds expend to produce a clutch of 4-6 young. She stays on the nest except for brief periods to get water and enough food to sustain her. My memories include a Canada goose incubating her eggs and observing her with head down and neck stretched over the nest-during a snowstorm. I got cold and went inside. The next morning, with ice covering the wetland she was still there. The gander was still guarding. That day for almost 30 more, they stayed on task. My activities that day after sunset included a warm meal, and a warm bed sheltered from any of the freezing elements both geese were experiencing for the entire night. That’s persistence. That’s unselfishness and dedication. It is self-sacrificing, all for the next generation.DSC_0160_996sig

Now, the perspective we can take from the life of a Canada goose. They never give up. This may sound strange, but they never complain. Cold or wet, comfortable or not geese persist-in every season. Yes, you say-they are geese! But they provide a living example we can learn from.

How are geese able to persevere, in all conditions? It’s mercy. It’s great faithfulness. The living example of the geese for us reveals the mercy and faithfulness of God. As Creator of the geese. God provides everything Canada geese need. Water, food, oxygen, yes-shelter, instincts to nest, fly, protect and stay with the same mate for life, these are evidence of the faithful mercy of God. You know the geese cannot generate any of these things by their own strength.

It is a short step now from the example of the involvement of God with the Canada geese. You and I were made “in the image of God.” Why is that important? Only human beings are given the distinct and separate designation of being “made in God’s image.” No other living things fit this category. Humans were made by God to reflect the character of God. We fail often at this-we are sinners. But God never fails. His faithful love exists each day for the Canada Geese who are facing the extremes of a northern winter. Even greater is the faithful love God offers us. It never ends, never ceases and wonder of wonders, it begins new every morning. Look at the geese and see the great faithfulness of God. Best of all, you and I can do nothing to earn this great love of God, it is not necessary. God loves us first, long before we have any idea we need His love. That’s a miracle.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23DSC_0167_998sig

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

The Best “Dessert”

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You can have dessert first… it’s the best.

Yesterday we brought up the subject of humans and faith. Candidly we recognized we put our faith in things that are temporary. An easy one is turning water into ice. Our faith is unwavering in the principle that water freezes-every time when the air temperature is below 32 degrees.

We acknowledged that faith in water freezing is faith in something temporary. We had a chance to think about faith in Someone everlasting, eternal. If we are honest, we realized that faith in God is unending, while all the things we put our trust on earth are temporary.

But, yesterday, I forgot something important. In my opinion it’s like saving the best for last, perhaps like dessert. You ask, “how could you?” My response, what do you expect from an imperfect human? Regardless of this, I DID forget the most important fact about faith in God. That is to remind both of us where faith comes from.

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What do you think? What is the source of faith? If we use simple logic (and my logic limit is simple) we conclude there are two answers. We generate faith in God-or-God gives us faith.

Examine these choices with me. If we generate faith in God ourselves, we know immediately there is a problem. For us to trust in God we must not want to be God ourselves. Have you ever gone just one day without trying to be a little god, solving your problems yourself? Sorry, but we are like toddlers in this respect. We daily say to God, “I’ll do it myself!” See the problem? How can we have faith in God if we are trusting ourselves? We cannot generate faith.DSC_0091_917sig

At this point we know the other answer is best. This truth should give us both great peace of mind. God gives us faith. Perhaps you wonder what does it cost? It was costly for Jesus, He painfully died for us on a cross to save us from our sin of making ourselves little Gods. Then He gives us faith-free. True faith is a gift from God. Jesus initiates and perfects our faith. He is our faith champion, and our Savior.

Would you want it any other way? We know our hearts. We’d rather not admit it but our default setting is to be a little god. This news, that Jesus gives us faith is eternally better than dessert.

Faith, it’s eternal dessert, better than all desserts. Served by an eternal loving Father God. It’s not fattening, but it is addicting. If you want more, ask God. He freely gives us faith and then, by his great love, he GROWS our faith. It’s called sanctification, God’s process of making us holy.

Why the photos with these words? They are evidence of God’s love. Examine them, the earth is full of the steadfast love of God-the same God who saves us and gives us faith far greater than all the earthly things we put our faith in. Faith is like the best dessert, but it is eternal, free, and life changing.DSC_0084_912sig

Humans and Faith

The first winter cold has fastened its grip on us. Snow is on the ground. Yes, it feels like winter. This cold day has me thinking about faith. Don’t shake your head.  Faith goes well with cold. One reason is heat. Stay with me, no head shaking. Northland dwellers rely on sources of heat to keep homes warm. When cold increases, it is wonderful, even life-saving, when we can touch the thermostat and raise the inside temperature. We have faith heat is on the way.

What is faith?  My choice of the best two words synonymous with faith are confidence and trust. But reliance, conviction and belief are excellent ways to comprehend faith. We put our faith in an enormous number of things each day. We have faith that water will come from the faucet when we thirst. We have faith that the lights will come on when we flip a switch. I thank my friend Rick who works for a power company for “keeping the lights on.” We even exhibit faith as we move to a chair to sit down. We even expect the chair to hold us. Daily we display faith just by living.

We exhibit everyday faith on a larger scale with nature. Actually, this would be an amazing exercise for all of us. How many things in nature do we “believe” and “trust” will happen? These are things we do nothing about. A few come to mind. We put water in our freezer and expect it to become ice. We awaken in the morning and breathe. There is never a question, “will there be enough oxygen?” Never do we debate if the sun will rise. It always peeks above the horizon at the time predicted. Yes, it is so regular we are able to make sunrise/sunset tables. Consider one more, your heart. No human ever has the ability to will their heart to beat. Yes, we can do things which affect heart rate, but the life-long beating of the human heart is both a gift and an act of everyday faith.sunrise matt hendricks2

Author and speaker, Ravi Zacharias has written the book The Grand Weaver. It is worth picking up a copy. In it Zacharias quotes essayist F.W. Boreham. Zacharias paraphrases Boreham’s words about faith with these words. “Faith is actually the mainspring of the universe, the sheet anchor of civilization.”

We put faith in so many things. Have you considered what is often the most difficult for us to have faith in? My small man submission, it’s God. Amazing, isn’t it, we trust that the sun will rise and set, we trust there will be oxygen to breath in, and our hearts to beat. We never have to think about it. But we waver when we consider faith in God who makes all of these possible. Zacharias’ words further clarify the significance of faith he states, “the loss of faith is a dreadful thing because it takes away hope and even threatens love.”DSC_0025_762sig

We are greatly loved. God loves every human alive on earth today, all of those once living, and all of those yet to live. Have you given thought to all of the temporary things you put faith in? Would you consider putting your faith in Someone who could provide you with the cure for death?

Consider these closing words from Ravi Zacharias, “The Bible is a book on life building, written for us as we sojourn on this planet. Interestingly, it also tells us that the rudder and sail remain in God’s control and that we enter the high seas with the understanding that we must trust him.”  (page 45)

What do you believe, have faith in? Where do you place your trust and confidence? To confirm your answer, watch the next sunrise, observe the clouds scudding over head on a northwest wind. Know that He is the One on which you may anchor your faith. He never fails, forever.DSC_0059_902sig

Thank you Matt Hendricks for your sunrise photos!