Sunday, October 15, 2017

Jewel # 298 (Oct. 12, 2017)

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Tamandua Anteater

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Spiny Anteater

“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Unusual Anteaters

“Be ye glad and rejoice forever in that which I create.”
(Isaiah 65:18)

A very unusual anteater lives in the country of Costa Rica in Central America.  It has the name TAMANDUA or COLLATERAL ANTEATER, and it feeds on tree termites.  It wraps its long tail around the branches so it will not fall out of the tree.  

It is prettier than most anteaters, with shaggy white or tan legs and tail and tan fur on its neck and throat, with the rest of the body covered with black fur. Actually it looks like it is dressed in a black sleeveless sweater.  The only thing unpleasant about this anteater is that it gives off a bad odour when excited. 

One of the most unusual anteaters is known as the SPINY ANTEATER and lives in the Australian deserts and New Guinea.  It has a long, slender beak and a pouch for carrying its young, like a kangaroo.  On occasion it adds to its unusual character by swallowing dirt.  It is really a very strange creature in most every way.

It doesn’t give birth to little ones as most animals do, but, like a bird, hatches them from eggs!  The single egg is carried in the female’s warm pouch outside her body until it hatches.  After the little one hatches, she nurses it with rich milk.  Then, within about ten weeks, the little one develops a shiny, silky fur that covers its entire body.  It has partially webbed feet with four strong curved  toes.  It will soon use these for digging in the ground or tearing apart decaying trunks of trees or other splintered wood to fill its stomach with ants and termites.  Of course, by that time it is on its own and no longer fed by the mother’s milk.

A full-grown spiny anteater’s body is only about a foot long, covered with hollow spines over a coat of black fur.  The broad front feet are equipped with short nails for digging, and each hind foot has an extra-long nail it uses to comb out its hair.  Its face which is actually a long, round snout, is smooth and equipped with a pair of dark nostrils and ends in a tiny mouth.  Its tongue is long and sticky, enabling it to lick out ants and termites from their hidden areas.

These unusually interesting examples of animal life, together with a great variety of related ones in various parts of the world, perform a wonderful service.  They destroy termites and ants that are very destructive of valuable timber and wooden constructions.

The more we consider the wonders of God’s creation, the more we should be glad and rejoice, just as the opening Bible verse says.  We may be sure He is glad when we do.  We can trust the Word of God, the Bible, to tell us the truth about creation: “By Him were all things created” (Colossians 1:16).

Love you all - Grandpa 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Jewel # 297 (Sept. 29, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Stay Away From Killer Bees

“I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause who
doeth great things . . . marvellous things without number.”
(Job 5:8-9)

Most people are familiar with honeybees. They are very useful in pollinating flowers, fruit tree blossoms and other plant life, as well as being the source of delicious honey.  They, as well as wasps and other insects, are all an important part of God’s creation.  

However, in attempting to develop or improve certain characteristics of particular creatures, breeders sometimes interfere with the plan God has made for these creatures, and that is almost certain to lead to trouble.

Sad to say, that’s how killer bees have become a serious problem in areas of South and Central America.  About 1950, some were brought to Brazil from their natural, God-given African homes. Beekeepers wanted to crossbreed them with honey bees of Brazil so they would produce greater amounts of honey, and then the beekeepers would make larger profits.  But, unknown to breeders at that time, it was a serious mistake.

There are thousands of species of bees in the world, but only honey bees make honey and wax that man can use.  And there are only four kinds of honeybees: the German, the Western, the European and the African.  Each species lives in its own geographical location with a particular nature best suited to its surroundings.  

The bees in Africa, for instance, have different circumstances to cope with in the wild life of that country than the Western bees have.  African bees defend themselves by flying  together in huge, angry swarms and attacking their enemies with hundreds of stings. 

The unwise cross breeding experiments in Brazil resulted in a new type of bee called “killer bees.”

These are actually a cross between African and the Western honeybees, with a few German honeybees also included.  These killer bees attack in large masses when bothered and annoyed, and many animals and even people have been killed by their many stings since these experiments started.

Since 1985, these vicious bees have gradually worked their way northward into Mexico and even into the southern parts of the United States.  It does not appear that they will be a serious problem farther north.  That’s because they prefer the warmer climates of the south, similar to the climates of Africa and South America.

This tragic experiment and resulting trouble should remind all of us that only God’s ways are perfect, and men should be very careful before making changes in them.  How much better it would be for each of us to follow what the beginning Bible verse says and to remember Psalm 25:4-5:  

Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, 
and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation.”   

Love you all - Grandpa

Friday, September 22, 2017

Jewel # 296 (Sept. 19, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up “MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren 

Two Tropical Iguanas

“I will speak of the glorious honour of Thy majesty, and of Thy wondrous works.”
(Psalm 145:5)

Iguanas belong to the lizard family and are found throughout the deserts, forests and waters of the world.  Most iguanas look like miniature dragons but are actually shy and not a threat to people.  A mature one will weigh as much as ten pounds and may be six feet long or longer, including its tail.

The tropical green iguana makes its home among the trees from Panama to Brazil.  it also looks like a miniature dragon with its sharp claws and spine sticking up all along its back.  This one is also shy and hides when anyone cones near.   Except when hunting food it likes to stretch out on the branch of a tall tree and enjoy the sun.  It looks so much like the bark of the native trees that it is difficult to spot unless it is moving.

The main food of this iguana is wild fruit and tender leaves and shoots found high in tall trees.  Little ones are hatched from eggs laid by the female in a hole she has dug in the sand or ground.  Soon after hatching, she takes her young up into a tall tree where they feel right at home and live up there until nearly full grown.  They eat leaves and buds and drink water from cup-like leaves holding rainwater.  The parents often spend time with their young in the trees, but they gather much of their food down on the ground where they can quickly escape if anything dangerous appears.

Natives in those tropical areas have discovered that iguanas are good to eat.  As a result, it has been necessary to pass laws limiting the amount of hunting that can be done.  However, farmers are allowed to raise them on their own properties and sell them to meat markets, where they receive a good price.  Iguana meat tastes so good it is sometimes nicknamed “chicken of the trees.”

A contrasting species is the Galapagos marine iguana, somewhat larger and heavier than those found in deserts and forests.  Groups of these may vary in colour, but their leather-like bodies are most often brownish-black or gray.  Their skin is coarse and fierce-looking with fleshy upright spikes from the top of their heads to the end of their tails.

Large groups of this species will cling to the steep, rough rocks rising above low tides of the ocean beaches and feast on seaweed and other marine plants that grow there.  They are good swimmers.

Are you one of the happy people who believes and trusts the Lord God who created all things?  A Bible verse says, “Give thanks unto the Lord, and call upon His name” 
(1 Chronicles 16:8).  Is this something you do?

Love you all - Grandpa

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Jewel # 295 (Sept. 2, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

An Alarm Clock in the Ocean?
The Grunion

“The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. . . . The Lord is upon many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”
(Psalms 29:3-4)

Unusually high tides reach Southern California beaches from March through July each year.  When these extreme tides are due in the third or fourth night of the full moon, schools of grunion, a small, edible fish, swim into the surf and allow themselves to be washed ashore on a sandy beach—but not until the highest wave of the incoming tide has passed.

Ashore on the bare sand, females scoop out shallow holes with their tails where they lay hundreds of eggs.  The males follow quickly and fertilize the eggs, and then the females give a final swish of their tails to cover the eggs with sand.  This all has been accomplished within thirty seconds!  Then they all wiggle down the beach to be swept into the ocean by the next wave.

But how about the eggs?  How can they hatch in such a hastily made and strange nest?  The grunion have been well directed by their Creator in their timing, for no wave will reach the eggs until the next extremely high tide in another two weeks.  This amount of time in warm, moist sand provides ample incubation.  When a high wave finally reaches them, the eggs pop open and the little fish are washed into the sea to begin their lives.

This annual event is so reliable that the hour and minute can be foretold.  People flock to the beaches to witness it, some of them catching the fish in their hands.

Is there an alarm clock that tells the grunion just the precise moment to ride in on the highest wave?  And how do they know where the sandy beaches are?  If any mistakenly went to a rocky one, they would be pounded to pieces.  Their instructions come from their Creator, and there is no possibility that this pattern will change.  How carefully God watches over all His creatures.

After sin came into the world, all things were affected, so that today we do not see anything in perfection, but we do see something of His might and wisdom even in lowly creatures like the grunion.  A time is coming when all will be made right again:  “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17).  But before that takes place, there must be God’s judgment on this sinful world and all in it who have not had their sins forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14).

How important it is to listen to the warning: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).   

Love you all - Grandpa

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jewel # 294 (August 18, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Fierce Tigers - Part 2

“O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou
made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.”
(Psalm 104:24)

In the last issue we looked at some similarities between tigers and house cats.  Here is one difference—while our pet cats don’t like getting even a paw in water, tigers love to play in water or even swim in it, sometimes swimming great distances.

Baby tigers are cute and interesting.  Females usually have two to six cubs in a litter, and they are born blind and helpless.  However, the cubs don’t lose any time finding their mother’s milk, just as kittens do.  They nurse until they are large enough to eat meat, which the mother teaches them to catch for themselves.  The male ignore them, so the mother cares for them for about two years, until they have learned how to be on their own.

Except for swimming, tigers will not mix with other tigers and will fight any that come too near.  When one has eaten its fill of a kill and there is some left over, it will not let other tigers have it.  Instead, it covers the carcass with rocks or branches to hide it for later.

We mentioned that the two largest tigers are the Bengal and the Siberian.  Although the Bengal is the strongest, the Siberian is the most beautiful.  Its golden-brown body fur with narrow, black stripes contrasts beautifully with the solid-white fur on its face.  It has black stripes down the inside of its lower jaw and throat, as well as its front legs.

There are some exceptions to the usual orange and black tiger colours.  The Bengals, for example, sometimes have white fur all over, ringed with the usual black stripes.  But they do not live separate from the others that have the orange and black colouring.

Although fierce hunters, tigers live peaceably with hippos, rhinos and elephants.  They seem to know that, in spite of sharp claws and strong teeth, they would be no match for those huge beasts.  They just ignore one another.  Tourists, wishing to get a picture of these beauties, ride on elephants—sometimes arranged in groups—and a native guide leads them.  Strangely, the tigers don’t seem to mind this and at times even seem to be posing to have their pictures taken.

Some might ask, “Why did the Creator make tigers so vicious?”  Actually, God made them tame and gentle, but when sin came into the world, a sad change came to many creatures.  They will remain that way until God will make them peaceful again.  When that time comes, all who now know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour will be in a far more beautiful and happy place—heaven itself.  Will you be there?

Love you all - Grandpa    

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Jewel # 293 (August 4, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith  the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren 

Fierce Tigers - Part 1

“God made the beast of the earth after his kind . . . and God saw that it was good.”
(Genesis1:25)

There are eight varieties of tigers.  Although all look much alike, there are differences in their strip markings.  The Bengal and heavily furred Siberian tigers (the two kinds most often seen in zoos) are the largest.  Some measure 10 feet or more from their noses to the tips of their tails and weigh as much as 550 pounds.  There are smaller tigers in India, Turkey, Iran, China, Japan, Java and Sumatra.

The coats of tigers, give them their beauty, with black and orange stripes circling their bodies and long white-tipped tails.  But a close-up look at their faces, with glaring eyes and open mouths with  sharp fangs, makes them rather scary, especially if a rasping snarl comes out!  They are not friendly with other tigers, unless it’s a member of their own family.

It is easy to see that they are related to the domestic cat you may have in your home.  Both of them have loose fur, small ears, long whiskers and sharp claws that are hidden when walking or resting but are extended as sharp weapons when fighting or capturing an animal.

Tigers are well camouflaged by the stripes on their coats when in a forest, swampy area or desert that has tall, dry grass. By instinct they take advantage of this when hunting.  For example, when a tiger is in an area where it is camouflaged and spots a zebra or other animal nearby, the tiger will immediately stop.  It may lie perfectly still for an hour or more, until, carefully and soundlessly, it creeps  closer.

If nothing betrays the tiger’s presence, it will continue its silent approach until close enough to attack.  Then suddenly, darting out of its hiding place, it leaps on the victim and, with a bite of its powerful jaws, quickly ends its victim’s life.  Then it might call its mate to join in the feast.  They may take two or three days to eat a large animal.  Their stomachs will then be so full that they won’t be interested in hunting for another three or four days.

Do you think the Lord God, the Creator, knows what these beasts are doing?  Yes, He surely does, and it seems He often directs them to a weak or sickly animal that would only suffer in continuing to live with its handicap.  Its sudden death is really a merciful way of ending its life, since tigers never torture their prey—they kill it quickly.  We will consider this more in the next issue. (Part 2).

Meanwhile, think about the Bible verse that tells us: “God looks to the ends of the earth and sees under the whole sky” (Job 28:24).  He looks on you with love and kindness.
(To be continued)

Love you all - grandpa

Friday, July 28, 2017

Jewel # 292 (July 26, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren

Some Unusual Frogs

“The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein."
(Psalm 111:2)

There are thousands of kinds of frogs.  The tiniest one, a tree-dweller, is less than half an inch long.  The largest frog in the world is the giant frog of Queensland, Australia, which is almost 12 inches long.  It is so huge that it can swallow a rat!  The largest frog in North America is the bull frog, which is more than 6 inches long.  It can stay underwater a long time by absorbing oxygen from the water through its skin.

Tree frogs have suction cups on their toes which are moistened with a sticky substance.  One kind of tree frog in the tropics is so well camouflaged that it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the leaves.  It lives in the tops of tall trees and never comes to the ground.  These frogs are clever builders!  They cement leaves together to collect pools of rainwater in which they lay their eggs.

The four-inch, green Bornean flying frog has skin between its toes that stretches out, enabling it to make long, parachute-like leaps.

Most frogs dig with their front feet, but the European spadefoot digs with specially designed back feet.  If in danger, it will quickly disappear backwards into a hole it has dug.

The female pouched tree frog has pouches on her back.  She lays about a dozen eggs at a time.  The male picks up these eggs with his hind feet and places them in these pouches, where they remain until they hatch as tadpoles.

In another species, the male takes on the responsibility of hatching the eggs.  As the eggs are laid by the female, he swallows them.  The eggs pass into a special pouch in his throat.  They incubate there until they hatch and swim out of the father’s mouth.

The male midwife frog takes care of eggs in another way.  He takes the eggs from the female, wraps them around his hind legs, then scoops a hole in the mud where he waits while they incubate.  After a few weeks, he jumps into the water with the eggs still wrapped around his legs.  The force of the water breaks open the eggs, and the tadpoles swim out.

The Lord was pleased to create such an interesting variety of frogs, and we know He takes care of them day by day.  But for men, women, boys and girls who know Him as their Saviour, His care is even greater.  It was shown in the great love that led Him to die on Calvary to save them from their sins.  He tells them, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).

Have you put your trust in Him? and do you now ask Him
to be your guide through life?

Love you all -Grandpa    

Friday, July 21, 2017

Jewel # 291 (July 18, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

Robins are Popular

“Ask now . . . the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee about God’s creation.”
(Job 12:7)

To nearly everyone in North America the robin is a favourite bird.  It has become well - known for its cheery songs, one of which seems to say “cheer up, cheer up.”  And most of us have watched a robin, with its grayish-black head, back and tail, and its brick-red breast, hopping across a lawn.  It will stop frequently, cock its head sideways as if listening, and then quickly tug a nice fat worm out of the ground and swallow it.  

During summer months robins are found from Alaska and the Canadian Rockies, all the way across lower Canada and the United states, and down to the Gulf of Mexico.  In winter many migrate to the southern United States, and then in early spring they return to the exact spots they temporarily left behind—often to the very same nests.  The same male and female are usually paired together from year to year.

Building a nest requires lots of mud.  The female does most of the work, but her mate helps gather some of the material.  She starts by mixing mud and grass.  As the sides get higher and before the mud hardens, she squats down and squirms around to make a bowl-shaped bottom.  Then, after building the sides higher and before it fully hardens, she lines it with soft grasses, leaves and a few feathers.  Sometimes it takes two weeks to build a nest.  Then she lays from three to six pretty blue eggs.  

The eggs take about two weeks to hatch.  The chicks, naked and blind at birth, open their eyes in five days and feathers begin to show.  In only a few weeks, they are ready to fly.  Robins may have two or three broods during the spring and summer.  

Although most people admire these lively birds, they are at time a problem to fruit and berry growers.  Robins love to eat cherries and berries, along with their worm and insect diet.  But over all they are a great benefit to farmers and to all of us in eating a tremendous amount of harmful insects every day.  

These pretty birds were first called robins in colonial days.  People from England found their colours similar to the British robin.  Both are part of the thrush family.  

In looking at all kinds of birds, we are reminded that they are an important part of God’s creation.  We cannot help but marvel at the wide variety He placed on the earth, from the cold Arctic and Antarctic areas to the heat of the equator.  The Bible tells us He had real pleasure in creating them.

It is important to remember that the Bible also tells us, “Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou has made . . . the earth, and all things that are therein . . . and Thou preservest them all” (Nehemiah 9:6).  All creation belongs to Him.


Love you all - Grandpa      

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Jewel # 290 (June 29, 2017)


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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Plump Wombat

“Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth
Himself to behold the things . . . in the earth!” 
(Psalm 113:5-6)

The wombat, sometimes called the Australian badger, is another of the interesting animals found in Australia.  It is a marsupial, which means the mother carries her baby in a pouch until the baby is able to fend for itself.  With most marsupials, this pouch is on the front of the mother’s body, like the kangaroo’s, but the wombat’s pouch is on her back.  It would seem the Creator did this so that in digging her burrows she does not throw dirt into the pouch or on the little one inside.

Wombats are chubby and waddle when they walk, resembling bear cubs in many ways.  Adults are 2 to 3 feet long and may weigh 80 pounds.  Their long coarse fur is most often brown, but some have fur that is gray, yellowish or black.  They have broad heads with snouts like pigs, very small tails and strong legs and claws used for digging their burrows.   They also have sharp teeth for gathering roots, leaves and bark for food, which is done at night.  They curl up and sleep in their burrows during the day.  These animals can be affectionate pets.

Babies are as tiny as mice at birth and immediately crawl into the mother’s pouch, where they nurse and develop for about six months.  When the mother walks about, her baby may be seen poking its head out, watching where they are going.

One species, which lives in the southern forests and grasslands of Australia and nearby islands, has the name hairy-nosed and likes living together in large colonies.  Their hair is silky, and with their long ears and furry muzzles the are rather cute.

A more common wombat has the name naked-nose.  This one is larger and has much coarser hair, short ears and a leathery nose free of fur.   These prefer living in smaller groups.

All wombats, like badgers are powerful and tough for their size.  They live in burrows, many of which interlock with several openings.  They will frequently move from one burrow to another, perhaps doing this to keep their enemies from knowing exactly here they nest.

Wombats are a good example of an interesting animal which God created and still cares for.  The pouches of marsupials are an excellent illustration of how all animals have been created for their individual way of live.  This way of life has continued “after their kind” ever since ‘God said “Let the earth bring forth the . . . beast of the earth after his kind” (Genesis 1:24).  This includes the fact that a dirt-digging  marsupial like the wombats was always to have its pouch on its back, in contrast to the others having theirs on the front.  The wise Creator has made them this way.

Love you all - Grandpa

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jewel # 289 (June 20, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day whenI
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grand children

The Melodious Frog

“He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven.”
(Job 28:24)

Most people who live in the city have never had the pleasure of listening to frogs sing.  During warm spring and sumer nights, their chorus is delightful to hear.

Most frogs spend their lives in or near water, but some are land residents.  These must seek out damp places to live, because their skin requires constant moisture.  They have special glands which help keep their skin moist by supplying a coating which slows moisture evaporation.  This makes their skin seem cold and wet to the touch.

Frogs have no ears, and their protruding eyes are only attracted to moving objects.  However they have sensitive organs that transmit sound, and they also have a good sense of smell.  All frogs are excellent swimmers.

In parts of Africa, frogs disappear when their ponds dry up; they bury themselves in the bottom of the pond.  They can exist like this for months.  Then when torrential rains come and the ponds fill again, they come out of hiding.  Seeing frogs after a rainstorm, superstitious people mistakenly think they have come from the sky.

The females lay thousands of eggs in the spring, floating them in water in large jelly-like masses.  Warmed by the sun, the eggs soon hatch into tadpoles.  The fish-like tadpoles do not look like frogs.  Their fat, little bodies have long tails but no legs.  Nor do they have eyelids or lungs.  They remain this way for many weeks, breathing like fish through  their four pairs of gills.  Eventually hind legs grow—just little “buds” in front of the tail at first, but soon the front legs grow in the same way.

Then eyelids and jaws develop, and the tail gets shorter and shorter as it is absorbed into the body.  Finally, when the four legs have developed, the tail is absorbed completely.  The gills also disappear and lungs develop, changing it into an air-breathing frog.  It announces the change by croaking, a habit it continues for the rest of its life.

Now think about this:  Where frogs live in moist vegetation and cannot get to water, the eggs are laid in damp leaves or rotten wood.  These do not hatch out as tadpoles but as tiny frogs, with the frog parts fully formed!  It is easy to see that the Lord God, the Creator, made this special provision for these particular frogs.

As the opening verse says, the Lord God sees each part of His creation at all times and supplies even frogs and tadpoles with everything they need.  King Solomon knew that God is watching over people as well and wrote, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3).

Love you all - Grandpa  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Jewel # 287 (June 14, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Water Strider

“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, 
that bringeth out their host by number.”
(Isaiah 40:26)

Springtime has come: the snow and ice over the pond have melted and their are new signs of life. An amazing variety of creatures rise to the surface, having come from the muddy bottom or from stems of plants, as well as from under rocks, roots and water-soaked logs.  Along with frogs, snails and salamanders, there are a number of small insects such as sow bugs, beetles and nymphs stirring about on the bottom.

Included in this awakening in freshwater lakes and ponds of Canada and the United States are numbers of water striders, also known as water skippers or skaters, which live on the surface of the pond.  If placed on your open palm, a full-grown strider with its thin, wire-like legs extended would just about cover it.

These are interesting insects to watch as they “skate” on the surface of the pond.  And they are beneficial insects because they eat other insects, including mosquito larvae.  They also eat spiders.

They are usually found in large groups, quickly scattering in all directions when threatened and coming together again when the danger is past.  When one of these is seen skimming over the water, it appears to be mostly legs, since each leg is about twice as long as its body.

But it is these long, thin, spindly legs that enable it to “skate” over the quiet surface of a pond with its body lifted slightly above the water, never resting on it.  Both the front and back pairs of legs extend from the center of the strider’s body—the back legs do the steering, as well as some of the pushing, while the front legs provide most of the power that gives it such speedy movements.

Actually striders do not swim; they glide smoothly and quickly over the surface. Taking advantage of the surface tension on water, they can stay on the surface without breaking through and can skate along with remarkable speed.  No splashing takes place—the legs just touch the surface lightly and leave little dimples behind them.

Water striders feed on dead insects as well as tiny live ones they are able to capture as they skate and sometimes hop about in their search for food.  It is plain to see the Creator designed them only for swampy areas, for they cannot travel on dry ground.

You might think these little creatures, skimming about in such a lively manner, are hardly worth a person’s attention.  But they do serve a purpose in God’s creation and are one more example of His wisdom and pleasure in making them an important part of the area of the world where they live.

How often do you take time to “stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14)? 

Love you all - Grandpa

Monday, June 05, 2017

Jewel # 286 (June 4, 2017)

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“And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I 
make up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear Grandchildren

The Pretty Ocelot

“The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies
are over all His works.”
(Psalm 145:9)

Ocelots, which are about twice the size of house cats, are considered by many to be the most beautiful of the four-footed animals.  They have pretty cat faces with long, white whiskers and small, upright ears pointing forward.  Most are whitish or a tawny yellow, but the fur may also be reddish or smoky gray.

Whatever their colour, they are always spotted with beautiful black dots, varying in size, on their legs and feet and larger shell-shaped spots on the rest of their bodies.  No two ocelots are ever marked the same way.  If caught when young, an ocelot can be tamed and makes an excellent pet.

These are tropical animals and are at home in the marshy areas or riverbeds of the humid jungles of Central America and south to Paraguay in South America.  They can also be found in the thick brush of southeastern Arizona and southern Texas.

Ocelots spend most of their lives on the ground but are excellent climbers.  Active at night, they prowl about the underbrush, hunting for food.  To avoid bright sun light, most ocelots curl up inside a hollow tree, in dark caves or in the shade of heavy thickets during daylight hours.  Wherever possible, they make their homes in trees and walk silently along the branches surrounding them.

In some jungle areas, their favourite food is monkey meat.  They will sometimes playa dead to attract a monkey, then suddenly pounce on it.  If monkeys are not available, they annoy farmers by going after lambs, young pigs or rabbits, but their diet also includes rats, mice, birds, snakes and lizards.  Rather than chase their victims, they will drop on them from a tree branch or silently stalk them through the woods or brush.

In past years, the beautiful furs of these animals have been their downfall, as hunters have trapped and killed them in great numbers.  This is now against the law, although there are poachers who disregard this fact and kill them anyway.

The spotted coats of ocelots are an indication of the Creator’s care over them, providing effective camouflage in the light and shadows of their home areas.  They, of course, know nothing of the Creator’s care, but as the Bible verse at the beginning of this article indicates, there is no creature, no matter how small or how large, how beautiful or how plain, that is not an object of His mercies and kindness.

But there is another Bible verse that every boy and girl, as well as every grown-up, may claim: “How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17).  Have you thanked Him for those precious thoughts?

Love you all - Grandpa