Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jewel # 160 (Dec 31, 2013)


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To all my dear grandchildren,

Grandpa and Johnny Rescue a Deer

Johnny lived half a mile from his grandparents' house.  On Saturday mornings, he sometimes would go over to their house to eat breakfast and maybe help a little with the chores.  They lived in the country, and often deer would roam through their yards.  

One Saturday morning in the spring, Johnny was sitting at the breakfast table eating a big stack of pancakes with Grandpa.  Looking out the window, he saw a deer nervously pacing back and forth in the front yard.

"Look, Grandpa, something must be wrong with that deer.  She keeps walking over the same spot," Johnny said.

Grandpa watched the deer.  Then he wiped his mouth with his napkin and said, "Johnny, let's get our coats on and go out and take a look."

In a few minutes they were out the door and walking towards the deer.  Usually deer are very nervous around people and quickly run off when they come near.  This deer ran only a few feet and then quickly turned around, almost like she was being tugged by a rope.  However, Johnny and Grandpa didn't see any wire or rope or anything the deer could be tangled up in.

A few days before, the utility company had dug a short, deep trench to check the wiring in the front yard.  The hole they dug was a couple of feet wide, a few feet long, and maybe four or five feet deep.  Grandpa got suspicious that something in the trench was troubling the deer.  He walked over to the hole and looked down.  Yes, he was right.  He understood that it was the mama deer's troubled heart-strings that held her to the spot so she didn't run away.

"Johnny, come look at this," Grandpa said.

Johnny peered over the edge of the hole and said, "Wow, it's a baby deer.  Grandpa!  Look at all those pretty white spots on its back.  But it doesn't walk very good.  Do you think it's hurt?"

"No," Grandpa said.  "The fawn is just scared.  it looks to be only a few weeks old."

"Can we help it, Grandpa?  Can we?" asked Johnny eagerly.

Grandpa scratched his chin and thought for a second.  "I think so.  This is what we'll do.  I will grab you by by the ankles and lower you head first into the hole.  You grab the little fawn and when you get a good hold on it, I will pull you both out of the hole and we'll return the little thing to its mama."

"It sounds like a good plan, Grandpa . . . I'll do it."

Have you ever considered that sin is like a hole that traps us once we fall into it?  The sides of the hole are so steep that we need help to get out of it.  The only one who can help sinners is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners.  He came to earth and went to the cross where He gave His life for us.  After His death, He was buried in a tomb and then God raised Him from the grave.  He is now alive in heaven.  He did all this because He loves us and wanted to make a way for you and me to be saved from our sins.      

Johnny really cared about that baby deer and was anxious to save it.  He lay down next to the hole, and his grandpa grabbed him by the ankles and slowly lowered him down into the hole.  The fawn tried to get away from Johnny, but in the hole he didn't have room to escape.  Grandpa never let go of Johnny's ankles, and Johnny grabbed the deer by the scruff of the neck.

"See if you can wrap your arms around its belly, Johnny," Grandpa advised.

In a second Johnny had his arms wrapped around the deer.  Its fur felt soft to him, and he could feel its little heart thumping.  Once the bay deer was in Johnny's arms, it hardly struggled at all.  Grandpa pulled them both up and out of the hole, and Johnny set the baby deer down on the ground.  Almost immediately the little fawn saw its mama and ran to her side.  The mama deer and her baby ran off into the woods.

"Good job, Johnny!"  Grandpa said. Both Johnny and his  grandpa were happy they could help the little fawn and that it was back with its mama.

When boys, girls and grown-ups believe that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for their sins, He lifts them out of the hole of sin and forgives all their sins and says, "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 8:12).  I am so glad that the Lord Jesus lifts sinners out of the deep hole of sin and forgives them.  He did it for me, and He can and wants to do it for you too.  Won't you believe that what He did on the cross was for you?  Then someday soon He will bring you to His happy home in heaven.  

"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay,
 and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." 
(Psalm 40:2)

Love you all,
Grandpa

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jewel # 159 (Dec 21, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren

The Tough Grizzly

"David said . . . there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of my father's flock:
and I went out . . . and . . .  slew both the lion and the bear."
(1 Samuel 17:34-36)

What a good shepherd David was to risk his life for a lamb!  This reminds us of the Lord Jesus who said, "I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).  David was not killed, but the Lord Jesus willingly gave His life for His sheep.

An 800-pound, 8-foot grizzly bear is a vicious animal.  It is found in the western United States and Canada and up into Alaska.  Its large body and head, 6 inch claws on strong legs, and sharp teeth all makes it a fearsome animal.  However, it does not start life that way.  Born while its mother is hibernating, it weighs less than a pound and is hairless and blind.  Two or three months later it will be the size of a raccoon.  By summer's end, it will be about as big as a collie dog. 

Did you know that a grizzly's heart only beats eight times a minute during hibernation?

Grizzly cubs are full of fun.  They wrestle with each other, slide on the snow and climb slender trees until they bend or break with their weight.  But it is not only cubs that like to play: Adult grizzlies will also slide down snow slopes, then climb back up and slide down again.  They will tumble and roll down grassy hillsides the same way.

By the end of summer, the grizzlies are fat and lazy, but not too lazy to prepare dens in rocky hillsides or under roots of big trees.  There they make beds of soft tree branches and some will line their dens with grass. All grizzlies in a given area enter their dens on the same day, and all dens face north.  These are God-given instincts.  He knows just when they should go into hibernation.  He also knows that before winter is actually over, there will be short warm spells, causing the snow on southern slopes to melt a little.  A bear waking and hearing this trickle of water would leave its den before food is available.  The short warm spells do not affect the cold northern slopes, and the bears remain undisturbed.  How wisely the Creator takes care of even grizzlies!

Waking after five months' sleep, thin and hungry, they immediately search for food.  This first meal might be a large animal that died during the winter its body preserved by the cold, or small rodents, fish, ants and berries.  Cow parsnips are a favorite, and hikers are warned to stay away from mountain slopes where these grow, because grizzlies do not like intruders!

The Lord Jesus, as Creator, never neglects any of His creatures.  But his special care over people includes this promise to those who love Him: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:28).

Love you all
Grandpa

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jewel # 158 (Dec 11, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,

The Strange Chameleon
(Note the pictures below)

"God that made the world and all things therein . . .
is Lord of heaven and earth."
(Acts 17:24)

There are more than 100 varieties of these lizards in the warm ocean water areas of the world.  They range in size from 3 inches to nearly two feet long.  All of them look fierce but are actually harmless, except to the insects and small creatures that become their food.

Some chameleons have long, stilt-like legs, raising their bodies quite high; most have short legs with strong claws, helping them to climb trees and rocks.  Their tails are as long as the rest of their bodies.  Their tongues can, in a split second, stretch out even farther than the length of their bodes to snatch an insect.  Their eyes are most unusual - each moves independently of the other, so that they may look ahead with one and behind with the other at the same time.  They can also see what's going on at both sides without turning their heads.

But the most amazing feature about chameleons is the beautiful blending of a wide variety of colours.  The Creator has given them the ability to change these colours in a few moments (in as little as 20 seconds) to match their surroundings, if they need to hide from an enemy. 

One of the most striking in colour is the female panther of Madagascar.  To attract a mate, she takes on a lovely blend of bright red with areas of deep yellow, green and white.  The base of her throat is decorated with white-tipped red spearheads, which are actually quite soft and harmless.

Another, the Yemenis of Saudi Arabia, will often change himself to an amazing combination of light and dark green, with areas of light yellow and deep orange.  To us this looks frightening, but to another yemenis it is very attractive.

One that looks really vicious is named Parson's and lives in the jungles of an island in the Indian Ocean.  It is commonly a mixture of pale green and bright blue on its lower parts, with the upper section tan, spotted with green, brown and white.  From the top of its back, coal-black stripes reach all the way around its body.  Its jaws, when closed, look very much like a corncob with two row of big kernels of yellow corn.

Another, named Jackson's, living in the highlands of Africa, is most unusual looking.  One strange feature is that each jaw has a pink carrot-shaped horn - one a little above the other - sticking straight out, with sharp points looking like vicious weapons, but which are only used to pick up food.

The above Bible verse assures us chameleons are one more interesting display of God's creation over which He shows loving care.   And His invitation to each of us is to "Cast all your care upon Him; for He careth for  you" (1 Peter 5:7).  Have you accepted that wonderful invitation?

Love you all,
Grandpa

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Jewel # 157 (Dec 7, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,
Solitary Wasps

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

You may have seen a wasps' nest made of paper, hanging in a protected place on the outside of your house.  These wasps are called social wasps, because they live in colonies and cooperate with one another.

There are other wasps that make nests for their young in an entirely different way.  They do not live in colonies and are called solitary wasps.  One is the black wasp caterpillar hunter.  The female makes a nest for her eggs and provides for her young by digging a hole several inches deep in well-packed sand.  At the bottom of this hole she deposits her eggs.  Then she hunts for a caterpillar that she paralyses with her stinger and drops it into the hole beside the eggs.  The caterpillar is still alive but cannot move, and when the eggs hatch, the caterpillar becomes a fresh food supply for them.

It is common for various species to build similar nests, some of them dropping insects, spiders or caterpillars beside the eggs as a food supply when the larvae hatch. Wasps do not need to be taught these things nor to experiment until it is done right, for these instincts are the Creator's design for them, passed on from generation to generation.

Another variety is known as the bembix wasp.  Several of them make holes side by side in the ground to form colonies, digging with front feet specially designed by the Creator.  After placing her eggs at the bottom of her nest, each female wasp drops paralyzed flies down the hole.  Something interesting about bembix wasps is that after the eggs have hatched into larvae and eaten the food left for them, they completely cover themselves with a hard coating of fine sand held close to their bodies with sticky saliva.  After being wrapped up that way through the winter months, they come out of this hard cocoon and crawl up into the outdoors as adult wasps.

Sand and wood wasps follow habits similar to those of the bembix, but they sometimes drill their holes in fence posts rather than in the ground.  These wasps use paralyzed spiders, and a few other insects for their food. 

Another species feeds on nothing but paralyzed bees, which are right there when the larvae come out of their long sleep and find this food beside them.

As we think of how wonderfully the ways of the Lord God, the Creator of all things, are displayed, we can easily understand the psalmist who declared, after expressing verse 24 quoted above, "I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. . . .  I will be glad in the Lord" (Psalm 104:33-34).  Are you among those who happily join in that kind of singing?    

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jewel # 156 (Nov 26, 2013)


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To my dear grandchildren,

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 3)

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).

Not only insects benefit by disguises.  The horned lizard has been given a rough, gray skin that blends with the desert ground, concealing it from the enemies.  Certain toads, sitting still when danger threatens, also look like the lumps of dirt around them.  The gray tree frog can change the colour of its skin to match almost anything on which it rests.

The top fin of the deep-ocean-pink decoy fish looks like a helpless little fish, while the rest of it looks like part of the ocean floor.  When a fish comes to grab the "little fish," it becomes a meal instead.  Flounders also change colour to match the various ocean floors on which they lie.

The white polar bear blends perfectly  with the snow and ice where it lives, and the same is true of arctic hares and foxes.  The Creator provides them with white, warm coats in winter.

Spots on a leopard, stripes on a zebra, (did you know that no two zebras have the same pattern of strips), patterns on the skin of a sidewinder rattlesnake, the fur of a mouse and the shell of a tortoise are a few examples of the Creator's special provision for concealing them from enemies or enabling them to capture needed food.

An outstanding underwater disguise is that of the sea dragon, a spectacular resident of Australian waters.  Its orange-coloured, strung-out body is covered from mouth to tail's end with big stringers that look like seaweed of that area, sprouting what appears to be yellow and green leaves from every part of its body.  When a large fish threatens it, a quick dash through the seaweed provides a good hiding place.

Another underwater example is the anglerfish, which hides in the rocks with only its head showing.  Opening its mouth, it wiggles its pink tongue to look like a minnow.  When an unsuspecting fish comes to get this tempting meal, the angler snaps its mouth shut and enjoys another treat.

These three articles only skim the surface of all the provisions the Creator has given some of the world's creatures.  They cannot help but impress us with the wonders of all that He has brought into the world and has always cared for.

But, more importantly, He counts every person of more value  than any other living thing.  For us there is a promise of a home in heaven after life here on earth is over, although we cannot go there in our sins.  But He graciously tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

When we do this and turn to the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, God forgives our sins and accepts us as His own children, promising us a home in heaven.  Have you admitted to Him that you are a sinner?

Love you all,
Grandpa     

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jewel # 155 (Nov 16, 2013)

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Glass Winged butterfly                           Drone Flies

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Robber Fly                                     Oxybellis                        

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Oriental Praying Mantis                                      Crab Spiders























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Arizona Fly

"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,

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 2)

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed;
For the Lord thy God is with thee."
(Joshua 1:9)

In the last issue, examples of some insects' abilities to hide from enemies by their camouflage were described.  We could never include all of them, but here are a few more.

Many large moths have "painted" eyes on their back wings that frighten birds away, while others look just like the bark of the trees on which on which they rest.  A butterfly, known as the glass-winged butterfly, is so transparent that a predator sees only the flower or leaf that this butterfly is resting on.

Drone flies buzz and look so much like bees they even fool the members of a beehive, while the robber fly, also looking like a bumblebee, is avoided by the birds.

In South America, a four-foot snake with a thick body, the oxybellis, is coloured like the vines around which it climbs.  If frightened, it "freezes" even if part of it hangs away from the vine.  If a breeze stirs the vine, the snake sways its entire body to match the vine's movements.

Instead of spinning a web to catch insects, the crab-spider catches them on the petals of flowers where it is overlooked because its colour matches the flower's - white, black, red or pink.  The Oriental praying mantis does something similar.  With colorful legs held upright while sitting in a bush, it fools and traps insects that think it is a flower petal.

A fly in Arizona has transparent wings, except for three heavy black stripes across each side.  At rest with wings partly open, the stripes, seen from the back, look like the legs of a huge spider.  Also on the back of its orange body are spots that look like huge black eyes.  Predators that would go after a fly, seeing what looks like a fierce spider, leave it alone.

Most of us have noticed that caterpillars and small worms on flowers or plants turn the same colour as what they are eating, making it very difficult to spot them even up close.  Some caterpillars eat 27,000 times their body weight before becoming an adult.

Many poisonous or distasteful insects are coloured bright red and black.  These don't need camouflage because birds learn to leave them alone.  Many harmless insects have similar colouring, and birds avoid them as well.

All this is a reminder of the wonders of God's creation.  None of these creatures is aware that it has these markings, but God-given instincts enable them to use them as they do.  Mankind does not need such devices, as God has given us intelligence to avoid our enemies.  The knowledge of His love and care should cause us to give Him our thanks, as expressed in the Bible verse: "Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for His mercy endureth forever" (Jeremiah 33:11).  

In the NEXT issue we will review some creatures besides insects that benefit by God-given disguises.

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jewel # 154 (Nov 13, 2013)


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Katydide    Leafhopper

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Walking Stick Bug  Sphinx Moth Caterpillar


To my dear grandchildren

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 1)

"I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God . . .
Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 17:6,8)

Boys and girls always find the game of "hide-and-seek" fun to play, but for many creatures in nature, it is a very important way of staying alive!  For many little insects, the threat of being eaten by hungry, prowling enemies is greatly reduced by the God-given skills to look like something else. This is called camouflage.  Let's look at some examples.

Katydids (grasshopper-like insects) of Central and South America are among the most amazing.  Some have shapes and colouring exactly like the leaves on which they feed.  The wings of others look like big bites have been taken out of them, exactly like some leaves around them.  So even though fully exposed, they are actually hidden.  Some are coloured green, others brown, tan or mixed colours, each matching the plant or tree leaves on which it feeds.  And so they are protected from birds, monkeys and larger insects that would eat them.  A katydid's ears are on its front legs.

Leafhoppers, which are found in many countries, have backs shaped exactly like the thorns on plants around them.  They are completely safe from their enemies until they move.

In India, the Indian leaf bug, which is the same shade of green as the leaves on which it feeds, rocks back and forth like a leaf when the wind blows.  This helps to fool its enemies.

Then there is the caterpillar of the sphinx moth, which frightens an attacker by suddenly blowing up the end of its short body to look like the dark-blue head of a pit-viper snake and swaying it back and forth.  The snake-like look is so realistic, with two imitation, big, black, gleaming "eyes" above a pointed snout and mouth, that the attacker changes its mind and "escapes" as quickly as possible.

Another odd-looking creature is know as the walking stick, which eats tiny bugs on smooth branches of a tree or bush.  When it holds perfectly still, it looks just like a twig.  A bird might perch right next to it and never guess it is passing up a meal.  These insects do not move until it is dark.  This is when they start feeding.  Most are brown or green, and some can change their colour to match what they are resting on.  They have no wings.

How did these unusual insects (and many more) learn these protective camouflages?  Did they get together and decide what would work?  Of course not; insects can't do that.  Only their Creator could give them the ability of camouflage through all their generations.   This shows us another example of His care over all His creatures.

We will look at more examples of God-given camouflages to protect His creatures in our next letter. 

Love you all,
Grandpa  

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Jewel # 153 (Nov 6, 2013)




To my dear grandchildren

Scars

"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
(Ephesians 4:32)

Many years ago, a farmer had a son he dearly loved.  But that young boy had developed quite a bad temper.  Scoldings, warnings, even punishments did not seem to have success in changing the boy's temper outbursts.  One day, after much prayer, the boy's father gave him a bag of nails.  Every time the boy lost his temper, his father told him, he would have to hammer one of the nails into the wooden fence at the back of of their yard.  The first day of this punishment the boy had to hammer 14 nails into into that fence.

But slowly, day by day, the boy found that he hammered less nails into the fence.  He had discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence's hard wood.  The nailing continued for some time, but the day finally came when the little boy didn't lose his temper at all.  He excitedly told his father that evening.  Dad wisely told him that now, each day he held his temper he could pull out one nail from the fence.

The days passed and the little boy worked very hard and was careful about his temper.  Eventually the time came when he ran excitedly to his dad telling him that there were no longer any nails in the fence.  
That particular day, he had removed the last one.  Smiling, Dad took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

When they reached the fence he looked lovingly at his son and said to him; "You've really done well and I'm very happy for you.  But I want you to look carefully at something in the fence".

The boy stared intently at the fence where he had nailed so many nail.  His Dad said, "Look at the holes in the fence.  It will never be the same because the nail holes will always mark its surface.  Remember son, when you lose your temper and say things in anger, they leave scars just like these nails did.  You can apologize for your angry words and actions, but never forget; it won't matter how many times you say "I'm sorry", the scar will still be there".  

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, 
be put away from you, with all malice."
(Ephesians 4:31

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jewel # 152 (Oct 29, 2013)


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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,
Never Tease a Moose

"Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring" (Joel 2:22). 
One of the largest animals of North America is the moose.  It is found mainly in Alaska and in many areas of Canada and the northern parts of the United States and also in Scandinavia and Russia.  It is a solitary animal and does not form herds.  The moose prefers areas with lakes, rivers and pastures with ample food, as the Creator has promised in the Bible verse above.  

It finds some food in chest-deep water, dunking its head under to pull plants out by the roots.  Moose don't have any upper front teeth.

The bull moose of Alaska is the largest and boldest, weighing almost 2000 pounds and having shoulders as high as 8 feet.  Its huge size, plus big antlers, make an impressive sight, and it is very bold.  It will not hesitate to charge a truck or slow-moving train that annoys it - sometimes knocking the annoyance off the highway or railroad track.  

It is easy to see why a moose is seldom attacked, although a calf or a sick or old one might become the victim of a bear or a wolf pack.  However, if an enemy makes the mistake of attacking an adult moose, it may pay for the mistake with its life.  One kick from a moose's sharp hooves can crush a skull or break or cripple a leg.  The big antlers are equally dangerous.

The dark -brown moose is not a pretty animal.  It has a hump on its back, and a baggy muzzle with another loose fold of skin at its throat, called a dewlap, marks its long face.  Add its massive crown of antlers, and it presents a mighty awesome appearance.

While it may seem cumbersome to us, the moose is one of God's creatures:  "Every beast of the forest is Mine. . . . And the wild beasts of the field are Mine" (Psalm 50:10-11).  It is the divine Creator who has given it such strength and ability to survive in harsh, cold winters and who also provided it with large split hooves and broad feet for easy walking on marshy ground and through snowdrifts.  He knew what their needs would be when He created them and included four-foot-long legs and strong muscles, so they can run at a speed of 35 miles an hour.  The Creator  has also given them colouring that blends with their surroundings, making them usually well hidden from enemies.  Of course, no animal is aware of the One who created and preserves it, but how about us humans?  There is a real difference, for we have the ability to know the Lord God and all He has done and is still doing for us.

The psalmist wrote, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:8).  Have you ever thanked or praised Him?          

Love you all,
Grandpa

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jewel # 151 (Oct 24, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren

The Unlovely Crow

"God giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry" (Psalm 147:9).

The Bible does not mention crows by name, but it mentions "every raven after his kind" (Leviticus 11:15).  Both ravens and crows are in the same bird family - they are like cousins.  So our opening verse assures us that the Creator cares for crows and even hears the cries of their young.

When fully grown, these glossy, black birds are big.  They weigh about 3 pounds and are 18 or 19 inches long.  Always hungry, they eat just about anything they can swallow, including mice, grubs, eggs, even small birds and small dead animals.  Farmers dislike them because they pull up sprouting corn and other grains and eat them.

It is no secret to those living near crows that they do not hesitate to announce their presence with loud, annoying "caws," especially just after sunrise.  In spite of this unpleasant habit, they are very intelligent birds and can easily be tamed as pets.  Captive crows quickly learn tricks and can even be taught to talk as clearly as parrots do.  Crows are the only birds that can use tools.  They are clever in imitating other bird sounds too.

Spotting a lone owl trying to hide in a tree, a group of crows will come together with loud raucous cawing and gang up to chase the owl out of the area.  However, they know better than to get close to its sharp beak and talons.  Crows have another annoying trick, which is to snatch a hooked fish off the end of a fisherman's line  before he can reel it in.

Crows' nests are easy to see, as they are large, bulky nests high in treetops.  The female lays four to six blue-green eggs with blotches of brown or gray.

No bird is disliked more than the crow.  Yet in spite of efforts to reduce their numbers, they continually increase.  They are now protected by law in many places, because of the tremendous quantity of harmful insects and small rodents they eat.     

It is understandable that crows may not appeal to many people, but they are part of God's creation.  He has provided their unusual instincts and cleverness so they can perform their part of HIs purposes in the bird world.

The Bible tells us that every living creature is in the hands of the Lord.  It is good to learn of His care over all things, even crows, but it is especially important to know that He sees and cares for every boy and girl and every grown-up:  "His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He sees all his goings" (Job 34:21).  He tells us that He also thinks kindly about us: "I know the thoughts that I think toward you . . . thoughts of peace, and not of evil" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Do you know this kind and loving Saviour personally?

Love you all
Grandpa

Friday, October 18, 2013

Jewel # 150 (Oct 18, 2013)

           
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To my dear grandchildren, 
The Hardy Musk-Ox

"I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power."
(Jeremiah 27:5)

The 4- to 5-foot high, 900-pound musk-ox is not really an ox.  It looks more like a water buffalo or a big ram.  The Eskimos have their own name for it "oomingmak," which means "the bearded one."

Not many creatures could survive in the musk-oxen's harsh North American Arctic homeland, but when it pleased the Creator to place them there He gave them special features to survive.  One feature is their long, shaggy dark-brown coat that covers their entire bodies, right down to their  hooves.  During winter months an additional covering of soft, downy wool grows under the heavy outer coat, but when warmer weather returns, this drops off, leaving just the coarse outer covering to keep them comfortable.

An important feature to protect them from wolves and polar bears is a pair of massive horns that curve down the side of their heads and then turn upward with sharp points.  As they follow their God-given instinct to stay together in herds of a dozen or more, they can make a united resistance when attacked.  They do this by forming a circle, faces turned outward and horns lowered in warning.  It would be a foolish enemy that would tackle such a determined group.

The Creator also gave them sharp, curved hooves with soft pads for traveling across the tundra and over rocky mountain slopes.  With these hooves and the help of their strong horns, they dig in the tundra for hidden plants and in winter paw and toss the snow away to expose this food.  Musk-oxen swallow their food without chewing.

Many of the herds prefer to spend the winter among the high peaks of the cold Arctic area (where temperatures often reach more than 50 degrees below zero), because the strong winds of the mountains expose the lichens and moss they eat.  In warmer weather they return to lower areas where grass, willows, flowers and water are again plentiful.

Incidentally, calves stand on their feet immediately after birth and can keep up with the herd just a few hours later.  They grow quickly and reach full size in five or six years.

As we notice the special features the musk-ox has been given, we remember the Bible verse that says, "God that made the world and all things therein . . . giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:24-25).  May each of us respond to the care and love our Creator shows us in even greater measure than He does to animals and trust in Him as the prophet Isaiah did when he wrote, "O Lord, Thou art  my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things" (Isaiah 25:1)  The Lord God loves to hear the praise and thanks of those who trust Him.  Do you thank Him daily?  

Love you all, 
Grandpa  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jewel # 149 (Oct 10, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,

The Swift Cheetah

"Every beast of the forest is Mine . . . and 
the wild beasts of the field are Mine."
(Psalm 50:10-11)

The cheetah, a member of the cat family, lives on the plains of Africa and Asia and is the fastest animal known for running short distances.  When hunting, it takes advantage of all available cover and crawls on the ground to get as close as possible to its prey.  Then, with tail twitching, it suddenly springs up and runs with lighting speed, 70 to 75 miles per hour (112 to 120 km/h, scarcely touching the ground between its 10-foot leaps.  It can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in three seconds, enabling it to catch its prey almost immediately.

The Creator has provided the cheetah with large nostrils and lungs to draw in great quantities of air while running so fast.  However, it cannot run at top speed for very long, and if it fails to capture its prey promptly, it must give up and rest.  Even if it succeeds, it needs to rest for a while, breathing deeply before eating.

This beautiful animal has a small head with large, yellow-green eyes and dark tear markings running from the inner corners of its eyes.  Its fur is yellowish with black spots over all its body except the throat.  Its long, lean body measures about 3 feet high at the shoulders and about 5 feet long.  Its long, striped tail adds another 2 1/2 feet.  Did you know that cheetah's use their tails to steer while running

The cheetah's natural home is in open grasslands.  Given excellent eyesight, it spots antelopes, elands and other animals from a tree branch, bare hilltops or even a termite mound.  Another special, God-given feature enables the cheetah to go several days without water.

Female cheetahs may have three or more cubs a year.  The little ones are playful, stalking and pawing each other.  In the hot sun they huddle close to their mother for protection from the heat and for safety from enemies.  They are nursed for several months and then trained to hunt.   Cubs leave their mother when they are between 13 and 20 months old.  A cheetah's life span is up to 12 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.

Again we are reminded, as in our opening Bible verse, that the One who can rightfully claim every beast of the forest and field as His does not neglect these creatures.  Through their whole lifetime they are under His watchful care, and He can see them just as He can see each of us even on the darkest night.

Sin that came into the world is responsible for animals such as the cheetah killing others.  But the time is coming when there will be peace again among all the beasts.  At that time those who accept the Lord Jesus Christ now as their Saviour will be with Him in heaven, looking down on that peaceful scene.  Will you be there?

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jewel # 148 (Sept 25, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren.,

The Mischievous Frigate Bird

"Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are Thy ways."
(Revelation 15:3)

The frigate bird is a relative of the pelican and has body about 40 inches long.  It has amazing flying skills that few birds can match - eating, drinking and even sleeping while airborne.  It can fly 1000 miles without stopping and has no problem flying as high as 4000 feet.  The Creator has provided the ability for such flights by giving it extremely lightweight bones, an amazing seven-to eight-foot wingspread and a strong, forked tail to act as a rudder and brake.

Because of its mischievous habits, the frigate bird is also called man-of-war.  Sharing islands with great colonies of other birds, it will steal their food whenever there is opportunity.  If a frigate sees a booby flying with a fish in its beak, it will chase the booby, sometimes even grabbing its tail and shaking it until it drops the fish, which the frigate then claims for itself.  Sometimes one will land on a pelican's head and eat fish right out of its pouch!

This behaviour seems unnecessary, because a frigate is quite capable of catching its own food.  Spotting a fish while flying over water, it dives straight down as though headed for a crash landing.  Just before hitting the water, its tail and wings fan out to break its speed, and it snatches up the fish without getting more than its long bill wet.  Frigate birds can't swim, even though their food comes from the ocean.

Frigates nest in tropical seaside areas, including southern California, Mexico, the Gulf states and tropical islands. 

The female is a brown colour, but the male has a jet-black body and bluish-green head.  Young birds have white heads.  In nesting season, the male grows a bright scarlet  pouch under his bill, which he can blow up like a balloon nearly as large as himself.  He does this to attract a mate while standing on his perch, throwing his head back and forth with loud whoops.  Eventually a female responds to this attraction.

A rough nest is constructed in low trees or on the ground on remote islands.  Once the male picks a spot for their nest, the female takes over building it with sticks that he brings to her.  Soon they settle down to raise just one chick, which has their careful attention for about a year.

These interesting birds remind us of the great variety to be found in God's creation, and aren't varieties fascinating?  We wouldn't want every bird, every animal, or even every human to look alike.  And so it is with each of us.  Our ways of life are different from each other, but the important similarity should be to let the Lord Jesus rule our lives.  A Bible verse instructs, "Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.  Remember His marvelous works that He hath done" (1 Chronicles 16:11-12).  

Is the Lord Jesus your guide through life?

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jewel # 147 (Sept 17, 2013)


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To my dear grandchildren,

The Pack Rat

"Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou hast made . . . the earth, and all
things therein . . . and Thou preservest them."
(Nehemiah 9:6)

Pack rats are not like their cousins, the filthy, mean city rats.  Pack rats are curious and have cleaner habits.  They do not live in sewers and garbage dumps but live mostly in the mountains or on the deserts of western North America and Central America.  Though they look much like the the ordinary city rat, there are differences other than their habits - their fur is softer and they have hairy tails.  They are sometimes called "wood rats" or "trade rats."

They have earned the name "pack rat" because of their habit of picking up and hiding or carrying home bright or shiny objects that are small.  As a result, their nests become full of unusual things - pieces of glass, aluminum foil, bottle caps, shotgun shells, nails or even brightly coloured stones.  Getting into everything from attics to car engines, they steal their treasures, damaging electrical wiring and other things so that they become a nuisance.  Sometimes they will drop or leave behind something they are carrying in favour of something more attractive.  While prowling in a house, they have been known to chew a bright buckle off a shoe or a shiny pin from a dress, taking them and leaving something else behind.  This is how the name "trade rat" was earned.

Pack rats build strong nests with two or three rooms in a deserted barn or cabin or in trees where they raise one or two litters a season.  These nests are added to each year and may become five or six feet wide and just as high.  If available, cactus prickers are woven into these nests as a defense against coyotes, foxes, dogs and other enemies.  Additional safety is insured by building underground tunnels between rocks or tree roots for quick escapes if threatened while they are out and about. 

Perhaps some of our readers are a little like the pack rat, always trying something new in exchange for something they have become tired of.  The Lord invites us just to rest in Him and not to keep searching for satisfaction and happiness in the attractive things of this world.  In the Book of Job, chapter 28, we are reminded about that searching: "Where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?" (vs. 12).  "The exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold"  (vs. 17).  "God understands the way thereof, and He knows the place thereof" (vs. 23).  "And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (vs. 28).  How wise it is to follow His way and to "be content with such things as ye have" (Hebrews 13:5). 

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jewel # 146 (Sept 10, 2013)



         
To my dear grandchildren    

The Long-Nosed Narwhal

"The Lord is a great God. . . . The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker."
(Psalm 95:3-6)

Only a few hundred Inuit people live in the snow-and ice-covered regions of Greenland.  They patiently wait through the cold winter for the return of the short June-through-August summer when they can fish and hunt again.  They catch many fish, seals and an occasional polar bear, but what they really look forward to each summer is the return of the gray and white narwhals.

Narwhals can weigh up to 4000 pounds and may measure 18 feet long, not including their tusks.  Some live for 50 years.  They are hunted, not only for their delicious vitamin-rich meat, but for the valuable oil in their bodies.  Of greatest value are the long, ivory tusks of the males.  These may measure 8 feet long and are spiraled all the way to the pointed tips.

A tusk is really the narwhal's only tooth.  It can weigh as much as 20 pounds and can be sold for a high price.  If it is in good condition, such a prize will sell for $1000 or more.  This means a great deal to the Inuit people, who, except for the fish they sell and a few furs, have little opportunity to earn money.

In the short summer there is a very rapid growth of aquatic life in the salt water on which many kinds of fish thrive.  In ways that only He could devise, the Lord God, the Creator, lets the narwhals know when this will take place.  They gather in pods of 10 to 100 at the edges of ice-bound bays and fjords, waiting for the ice to break up so they can get to this food.  At such times, the Inuit people make the most of their harpoon hunting skills in thrilling, dangerous hunts for the narwhals.

Like porpoises, narwhals are peaceful, lively and playful and are not know to harm anything with their pointed tusks.  However, they are also wary and swift and easily escape when alarmed.  As a result, absolute silence is needed when hunting them in kayaks - no outboard motors are allowed and no talking above a whisper.  But even so, most narwhals escape being caught by the hunters.

Did you know?  The noise a narwhal makes can make humans go deaf.

If these Inuit people read the Bible, they will find in its very first chapter that fish and narwhals are all part of God's creation.  If they read further, they will find that people are more important to Him than anything else.  In the New Testament they will come to this wonderful verse.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). 

We hope that many of the Inuits have accepted this loving invitation.  What about you?

Love you all,
Grandpa

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jewel # 145 (Aug 29, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,

The Capybara

"All things were made by Him: and without Him was not anything made that was made."
(John 1:3)

You may never have heard of the capybara since it lives in Central and South America, east of the Andes Mountains.  It is the largest rodent in the world and looks like a small pig or an overgrown guinea pig.  It may weigh 75 to 150 pounds.  Its thick body is covered in dark, coarse hair, and its hind legs are longer than its front legs.  Webbed toes help make it an excellent swimmer.  It is a sociable animal, usually living in a group of twenty or more on the shore of a river, swamp or lake, adjoining a grassy plain.  Its happiest occupation seems to be standing up to its stomach in muddy swamp water, busily eating the plants growing there.

It does not have many enemies, but if a capybara is in danger, its best means of escape is to plunge into the nearest water, leaving only its eyes, ears and nostrils exposed until the enemy goes away.  However, it is not so easy for them to get away from an angry farmer when they raid a melon patch or field of corn.  Perhaps it was first discovered that capybaras are good for food when one was shot and taken home.

A female raises four or five two-pound babies each year.  They are born with a fairly good coat of hair and immediately are able to open their eyes.  Their front teeth begin growing at birth and never stop.  If it were not for constantly biting and chewing plants and other foods, this could become a real problem, but the Creator has arranged that their eating habits and growth of teeth are in balance.

Strangely, young capybaras have no interest in venturing into water until the parents coax them in.  Then, like some children who are slow to take their parents' advice, they find that it s very pleasant.  From then on they spend more of their waking hours in water than out of it.

Having discovered how tasty the meat of the capybara is, many South American ranchers now raise them in fenced areas.  Possibly this animal once scarcely known even in its homeland, may become a well-known food supply even in faraway places.

These unusual animals have followed their pattern of life ever since the day they were created and God declared, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind" (Genesis 1:24).  It is good to remember that the Bible, God's Word, is always true, and and God's way is always perfect.  Believing in the Bible's account of creation is the truth and the only safe ground on which to stand.

"Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.  
Remember His marvelous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth."
(1 Chronicles 16:11-12) 

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jewel # 144 (July 31, 2013)

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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 Mockingbird

Have you ever heard a mockingbird sing?  This bird got its name because of its ability to "mock" or imitate the sounds of other birds it hears.  The mockingbird often changes from one song to another as it imitates different birds.  One was reported to have imitated as many as 32 different songs in ten minutes!  It seems there is almost no limit to the number of songs a mockingbird can imitate.  Many are able to learn at least 180 songs in a few months - some learn many more.  There are "mockers" who have been heard singing for an hour without repeating songs.  God has given His creatures amazing abilities!

The meaning of the word imitate is to copy something or someone.  Sometimes we are able to learn kind and helpful things by copying the good examples of others - imitating what they do.  But sadly, sometimes we copy things that aren't good.  The mockingbird is so good at copying sounds that it can imitate the not-so-pleasant sounds of scolding squirrels, croaking frogs, insects and even screeching, rusty gates.  And like the mockingbird, sometimes we copy things that are unpleasant.  Have you ever done something mean or hurtful because you saw somebody else doing it?  Maybe you have said a naughty word after you heard one of your friends say the word.  Those are not good things to copy.

It is always right to imitate good manners that we hear and see others using.  How pleasant it is to hear "please" and "thank you" being used and to see those who show care and kindness to their own family members, as well as to others.

If you love the Lord Jesus and have accepted Him as your very own Saviour, who do you imitate?  And do you try to be a good example for other boys and girls who might imitate you?  The Lord Jesus is the perfect example to copy - He never sinned, never spoke a wrong or unkind word and never fought back.  God's Word tells us how we can be good examples even when we are young:  "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12)

The Lord Jesus gives us examples to copy in other Christians.  We are to follow those who are living a life pleasing to Him in all ways.  The Apostle Paul wrote, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).  But the very best example to imitate is the Lord Jesus Himself.  "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:1-2).    

Love you all,
Grandpa

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jewel # 143 (July 18, 2013)

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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 Scarce Snow Leopard

"Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou has made . . .
the earth, and all things that are therein."
(Nehemiah 9:6)

The snow leopard is a member of the leopard family and is one of the world's most beautiful animals.  When fully grown, this animal will be 30 inches tall at shoulder height and 6 to 6 1/2 and feet long, including its two-foot-long tail.  Its weight will be from 100 to 150 pounds.  

Since it often lives two miles or more high on the cold mountain ranges of central Asia, the Creator has given it a coat much heavier than that of the leopards of warmer climates.  Snow leopards' tails are furry, long and flexible.  This helps them to maintain their balance, which is very important in the rocky terrain where they live.

Its white fur is overlaid with pale gray and leopard like brown spots over most of its body, but the fur remains plain white on the chin, chest and  belly.  Each of its yellow eyes is circled with a ribbon of dark brown fur.  With its small ears and a face like that of a house cat, it is a very beautiful creature.  Just like when your pet cat is calm and relaxed, the snow leopard's sharp claws are not visible, but when its paw reaches out to strike, the claws become fierce weapons, ready for action.  

Snow leopards cannot roar, but they can make hisses, chuffing, mews, growls, and wailing sounds.

Since the snow leopard blends in so well with its surroundings, mountain climbers might pass near one sitting on its haunches and quietly watching them, and be entirely unaware of its presence.  This leopard's food is made up of antelope, deer, mountain goats, smaller animals, pheasants and other birds.  When these are not available, the snow leopard may raid a farmyard for sheep and calves, but it has never been known to attack people.

A mother trains her kittens to catch prey by lying on the ground and gently switching her tail from side to side.  The kittens try to pounce on it, but just as they pounce she gives it a quick flick and they are left empty-handed.  Eventually their reflexes become sharper, and they are able to use this needed skill when hunting for food. 

These lovely animals instinctively hide among the rocks and snow where the colouring of their fur conceals them so well.  But they are not hidden from their Creator; He is well aware of them at all times, as the Bible verse tells us: "He looks to the end of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven" (Job 28:24).  In other parts of the Bible, we also read that He is the provider and protector of all His creatures.

Perhaps you are familiar with another verse that tells us, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).  What do His eyes see in you?   

Love you all,
Grandpa