Monday, May 26, 2014

Jewel # 176 (May 26, 2014)


“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 Spectacular Humpback Whale (Part 2)

“Behold [God] spreadeth His light upon [the world],
and covereth the bottom of the sea.”
(Job 36:30)

On both the Atlantic and Pacific seacoasts, great numbers of people gather each year to watch the migrations of the humpback whales.  They sometimes see whole schools breaching (leaping into the air and and landing with a great splash), as if competing with one another.  At other times they are seen lob-tailing (standing on their heads with the rest of their bodies in the air), waving their big flukes (the lobes on their large tails) and making huge splashes when they drop back to the surface.  Frequently they lift their tails above the water and smack them down making tremendous waves.  No wonder people gather by the thousands to see these performances!

Playful by nature, like porpoises, some of these giants will play tag with a large boat for an hour or so, coming up on one side, swimming underneath and popping up on the other, to the amusement of all on board.

The 6000 mile migrations end in warm, shallow bays where the calves are born underwater.  Some of these new calves are as long as 13 feet.  Usually a female “nurse” is on hand and helps the mother push the newborn up to the surface for its first breath of fresh air.  Isn’t it amazing that the little one has been given an instinct by the Creator so that it doesn’t inhale water right after birth and drown?  After breathing in fresh air for the first time, it drops back under its mother, and, again, a God-given instinct tells it to nurse her warm, rich milk.  While nursing, it must return to the surface for air, over and over again, but each time continues its nursing util its hunger is satisfied.

The bull whales have a large number of cows and calves for which they are responsible, but when danger comes, they usually swim away, leaving the cows to take care of themselves and their calves.  That’s not very brave of them, is it?

As in the past, humpbacks are still a target for the whaling industry.  However, in 1966 a legal suspension of hunting activity was made to protect them.  Their numbers have recovered to approximately 80,000 worldwide now.

It is interesting that in the Bible where the ocean is spoken of, it says, “There is that leviathan [whale], whom Thou hast made to play therein” (Psalm104:26).  So we see that the Lord God, the Creator, intended whales to enjoy their playfulness, just as boys and girls do.  And He is pleased for children to be happy and playful, as long as they are also obedient, kind and thoughtful of others.  True happiness is one of His great gifts and comes from faith in Him and His Word which tells us, “Whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).  Is this true of you?

Love you all,
Grandpa    

Friday, May 23, 2014

Jewel # 175 (May 23, 2014)

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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,

“God created great whales, and every living creature . . . which the 
waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind.”
(Genesis 1:21)

Some humpback whales are 39-52 feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons.   They may be identified by their characteristic hump-like roll of fat on their backs.  These whales are extremely strong, with large flippers 12-13 feet long, and huge, flat tails controlling their motions.  They can swim 25 miles per hour and at times dive nearly a mile below the surface.  They are also considered playful animals, as they are known for breaching (leaping into the air and landing with a great splash) and slapping the water with their tails and flippers.  

Although they seem gentle and playful, they can be dangerous too.  Anyone closing on a mother with her calf will find her quite ready to smash their small boat with a slap of her tail.

Looking down on one of these whales from above, its black back is not easy to distinguish from the dark water, and looking up from underneath, its white underparts blend with the sky.  These safeguards are provisions of the Creator, helping to protect them from their enemies - mainly whale hunters from above and sharks and killer whales from below.

Of all mammals, whales are most completely at home in water, although they have to come up to the surface for air from time to time.  Rising to the surface, they blow out stale air from their lungs through “blowholes” on their backs.  These look like water spouts, shooting up 12 feet into the air.  Actually, it is their hot moist breath condensing as it hits the colder air above the water.

Humpbacks are in all oceans, but the greatest numbers are in the Pacific Ocean.  Many of these spend winters in the cold waters of Alaska and the Bering Sea where food is plentiful.  Their thick coat of blubber keeps them warm in these cold waters.  In spring they migrate, some to Mexico and some to Hawaii (distances of about 6000 miles).  Both places provide tropical waters where the females give birth to their calves, and shortly thereafter all return north.  In the Atlantic Ocean, similar migrations are made from northern Canadian waters to warm southern areas.  These migrations can be seen by people along those shores, just as they can be seen along the West Coast shores.

We may wonder how these large creatures know when it is time to leave for the southern waters and how they find their way over such great distances.  Like all creatures that migrate, they follow God-given instincts that guide and instruct them.

How much more important it is for us to know the way to heaven, for we can never get there by our own efforts.  The only way is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  

Are you trusting in Him?

(To be continued in the next issue)

Love you all,
Grandpa         

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jewel # 174 (May 13, 2014)

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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 Mink

“God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature
after his kind . . . and it was so . . .  and
God saw that it was good.”
(Genesis 1:24-25)

The mink is a pretty little animal with thick, glossy, dark-brown fur, but with a white patch on its chin, which often extends over its throat and chest.  It is only about 25-35 inches long, including its bushy tail, and weighs less than four pounds.  Beady black eyes, a long slender neck and small ears all add to its beauty and give it an alert appearance.  Its legs are short and its paws are equipped with razor-sharp claws.  Mink fur is waterproof.

Like its relative the weasel, its food is mostly fish, frogs, mice and other small animals, birds, eggs, muskrats and rabbits.   The Creator has equipped the mink with partially webbed hind feet to help in swimming and moving about underwater, as it searches for much of its food.

An excellent swimmer, a mink is equally at home on land or in water.  It prefers to make its home close to a stream or pond, sometimes in an abandoned animal burrow, inside a hollow log or under the roots of a tree.  If necessary, it will make its own burrow, about ten feet long and usually with two entrances.  One entrance may be underwater, but both open to a large den where four to ten kits are raised in the spring.

The mother mink nurses the kits for about five weeks and then adds some solid food for two more weeks, before taking them outside where she teaches them to find their own food.  She also teaches them how to protect themselves from owls, fox, lynx  and bobcats.  The kits playfully chase each other around, have mock battles and slide down banks into streams of water.  At other times they curl up like a ball and float down a stream just for fun.

An adult mink is a tough fighter, lightning-fast on its feet and using its needle-sharp teeth and claws affectively.  It also will spray an enemy with a strong unpleasant-smelling musk, which discourages the most vicious bobcat, fox or lynx foolish enough to attack.

During the winter, a mink continues hunting, its webbed feet helping in snow and and its sharp ears detecting the noise of mice below the surface.  It digs rapidly through the snow to capture the rodents that are otherwise quite safe.

Wild animals have no knowledge of their Creator and His constant care of them.  The Bible says, “O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.  How excellent is Thy loving-kindness” (Psalm 36:6-7).  How important for us to notice that this includes mankind, just as the Bible tells us in many other places of His love and care for us.

Have you ever thanked Him for His loving-kindness?

Love you all,
Grandpa  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Jewel # 173 (May 4, 2014)

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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 Lovely Manakins

“By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible 
and invisible. . . . All things were created by Him, and for Him.”
(Colossians 1:16)

In the forests of Central and South America, from Mexico to Brazil and on nearby islands, there are over fifty species of the interesting manakins.  These birds are not much larger than swallows but are much more active.  The Creator has given them small, strong beaks that are slightly hooked on the ends.  They use them to pluck fruit from trees, as well as insects from the air while flying.  These items form their main food supply.

The more common manakins include those named long-tailed, swallow-tailed, white-bearded, golden-headed and blue-backed.   Their names describe each one’s general appearance.  They are also called jewel birds, perhaps because of the brilliant colouring of the males. The females, however, are mostly plain olive-green - a kind provision of the Creator so that they blend in with their surroundings while sitting on their nests or taking care of their young.

Female manakins have an unusual way of choosing mates.  Not all follow the same pattern, but many - particularly the white-bearded, golden-headed and blue-backed - put on a remarkable show.

A group of males selects an open area and removes twigs, leaves, grass and pebbles, exposing the bare ground in a large circle.  Females are drawn to the area by the loud calls of the males and look on from nearby branches.  The leading male first jumps hight in the air, hovering there with fluttering wings in from of a female and sometimes flying back and forth near her before dropping back to the ground.  Manakins’ movements are so fast they are invisible to human eyes. 

Then, one by one, the others jump into the air and perform the same way while making noises that sound like cats meowing.  In some groups, each male will make one hundred jumps or more moving faster and each time.  The females, in their excitement, hop up and down from perch to perch and then fly to the ground, selecting the males of their choice.  

Pairs soon fly off to build cup-shaped nests in trees or bushes where two eggs are laid in each nest and incubated for about three weeks.  After hatching, the young are cared for by only the mothers for another three or four weeks, until they are able to be on their own.

The Lord God found great pleasure in creating all living things, and we can be sure of His tender thoughts toward these lovely birds as He watches over them.  His eyes are lovingly on you too, inviting you to admit your need of having your sins forgiven and accepting Him as your Saviour.

Have you done this? 

Love you all,
Grandpa