Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jewel # 189 (Sept 28, 2014)

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“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,

Crazy as a Loon

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

Walking along a mountain trail in the Cascade Mountains near Seattle, Washington, we were startled by a loud, laugh-like cry nearby.  Puzzled, we we went on walking and soon heard it again.  To investigate, we left the trail and soon came to a small lake.  There swimming around we saw two large birds with black heads, white breasts and beautifully speckled black-and-white wings.  Our wondering about the strange calls we had heard was soon answered when one of the birds opened its long, sharp beak, raised its head and gave out the loud laugh-like cry.  And so we were introduced to the common loon.  

The bird spotted us and took off, kicking the water vigorously with their webbed feet until they rose above the surface.  With necks outstretched and wings flapping rapidly, they were quickly airborne and soon out of sight.  This beautiful display made us decide to learn more about them.  

We learned that great numbers live on small, isolated lakes in Canada and the northern United States and some seacoast areas.  When on land they seem awkward, for the Creator designed them for the water where they are excellent swimmers, both on the surface and underwater.  They swim faster than most fish, which form their main food supply.  They have wonderful vision, and before diving submerge their heads, turning them from side to side to locate prey.  Then with a quick dive and underwater swim, they make their catch.

Loons are from two to three feet long, with a wingspan of about five feet, and weigh from ten to fourteen pounds.  Their life span is about thirty years.  In April a pair incubate two eggs for about a month.  The new born hatchlings are cute, with coal-black soft down.  Soon they are swimming with the parents, sometimes riding piggyback.  The parents feed them and care for them for about three months.

Groups of adult loons often join in choruses of hoots, cries and yodelling.  The strange-sounding result is what produced the expressions “crazy as a loon” and “looney.”  Actually, they are among the world’s outstanding birds.  Canada, which has a high population of loons, has a one-dollar coin with an image of a loon on one side.  This coin is commonly called a “loonie.”

Loons are another example of the wonders of God’s creation and are included in His words, “I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine” (Psalm 50:11).  Another Psalm tells us, “The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9).  This is specifically true of every boy and girl, man and woman on earth.  

Have you thanked Him for His love and care for you? 

I love you all,
Grandpa

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jewel # 188 (Sept. 18, 2014)

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"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 Anteater

“The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the 
rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.”
(Psalm 50:1)

The anteater, a very unusual animal, lives in the damp, tropical forests of Mexico and Central and South America.  There are a number of species, ranging in size from just seven inches long to the giant anteater which can grow to six feet long.  You  might be frightened if you happened on one of these in the wild, with its tube-shaped head, coarse, gray hair striped with white and long bushy tail.  Actually, they do no harm unless they are attacked.  Anteaters live in burrows, in hollow logs or sometimes in trees.  They are mostly active at night or at dusk.  Some live for 25 to 30 years.  

This animal has been designed by the Lord God to serve a very special purpose.  God has given it features that look unusual to us, but they are exactly right for what He designed it to do.  As its name indicates, the anteater searches for and eats large numbers of ants and termites, serving a useful purpose by controlling the populations of these insects.  They sometimes also eat spiders.

The anteater’s head, with its tiny ears and long, tapered snout, are its most outstanding features.  Anteaters walk on their knuckles to keep their claws from getting dull.  It has no teeth, but that long snout holds a foot-long, sticky tongue that whips out with lightning speed and reaches deep into the winding tunnels of ant nests for its dinner.  It also uses its tongue to lick up any ants on the surface of the ground.  It has dense, long fur that protects it from ant or termite bites.  Since some anteaters live in trees, they also have prehensile tails, much like a monkey’s that can wrap around a branch.

Equipped with strong legs and sharp claws, the anteater defends itself well, and most animals know better than to attack it.  However, the strong front claws are used primarily for ripping open ant and termite nests, where it soon wipes out the colony.  Strong leg muscles also help it to roll over rocks where ants hide.

The anteater is not aware of it, but it depends upon God to direct it to its food.  “The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou gives them their meat in due season” (Psalm 145:15).  Are you aware that this is also true of you?  “In God’s hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). 

How important it is to remember our dependence upon God.  He not only has provided the way of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, but He also prepares the hearts and souls of those who will trust in Him.  Can you say, “We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20)?

Love you all
Grandpa      

Friday, September 12, 2014

Jewel # 187 (Sept. 12, 2014)

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“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,

Gratitude

Some 40 years ago, it was a familiar sight on Friday evenings, to see an elderly man slowly walking along a Florida beach with a large bucket of shrimp.  The sea gulls would fly, flocking to him, and he would feed them until his bucket was empty.

Many years before, in October 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was part of an aircrew flying a mission on a B-17 aircraft.  Somewhere over the South Pacific it lost radio contact and direction in the trackless ocean.  The aircraft finally ran out of fuel and the pilot had to ditch the plane in the ocean.  For many days, the crew floated helplessly in safety rafts.  They daily faced the blazing sun, bad weather, and huge sharks - the worst enemy being starvation.

After 8 days their rations had been used up.  To keep their courage and sprits up, the young aircrew prayed, sang hymns and quoted Bible verses daily.

On the ninth day, after they had prayed for deliverance and sung together, the men began to doze off in the oppressive heat.  Captain Rickenbacker had pulled his hat down over his face to protect it from the sun as he dozed.  But he was awakened out of his stupor by the distinct sensation that something had landed on his head.

He seemed to know it was a sea gull.  Oddly, the other men had awakened too.   They were silently staring at him and the sea gull on his head, none  daring to make a movement or utter a sound.  With a silent prayer for help, Captain Rickenbacker desperately grabbed for and caught the sea gull! 

That sea gull was the means by which the men were saved - saved by a sea gull, uncharacteristically flying hundreds of miles from landfall.  Its flesh served both as food for the men, and as bait which enabled the crew to catch fish.  Though they spent another 3 or 4 weeks in the ocean, that lone sea gull had provided them the means of their survival until, ultimately, they were found and rescued.

Captain Rickenbacker never forgot that sea gull.  So it was that, even as an old man, every Friday evening he would feed the sea gulls, remembering that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without a struggle, to save his life and the lives of all the aircrew.

“. . . I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)

Love you all,
Grandpa