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