Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jewel # 200 (Dec. 31, 2014)


“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,

Dugong, the Sea Cow

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

Most of us have never seen a dugong, because they live in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the waters around Australia.  They are a close relative of manatees, which are more familiar to us.  In many ways, the dugong’s habits are like porpoises’, but they are larger, often between 8 and 15 feet feet long and weighing up to 750 pounds.  They are air breathing mammals, but like the sea lions of the north, they have heavy bones which help them submerge quickly.  Their nostrils automatically close when underwater, where they can remain from 5 to 8 minutes before returning to the surface for air.

Like dolphins and whales, dugongs stay close by their mates, usually traveling as a family with their calf beside them.  If one is injured, the other stays close by, helping it rise to the surface for air.  The female, which usually has one calf each year, floats on her back when nursing it and cradles the little one in her flippers.  This permits the calf to breath while nursing.

Unlike dolphins and whales, dugongs do not eat fish or marine life.  Their diet is strictly seaweed and grasses that grow beneath the water’s surface.  This explains the nick-name “sea cow.”  God has equipped them especially for this kind of life.  Since they feed mostly in the twilight or darkness, He has given them large eyes that have a protective, transparent covering instead of eyelids.  Their ears are only openings on each side of their heads, yet they have excellent hearing.

Besides having efficient flippers, dugongs have forked tails similar to whales, which help them to maneuver swiftly.  Their upper lips are covered with long, tough, bristle-like hairs which help them select plant food.  Their teeth are designed to quickly cut through the tough stems of seaweed and other water plants.  An adult will eat almost 100 pounds of food each day.  Where large numbers group together, they use up the food supply and must move to another location.  Dugongs can stand on their tails in shallow water.

Dugongs have been around since the days of creation and were given all their abilities to survive when the Lord God created them.  All their needs were provided for when they were placed on the earth.

As the many wonders of God’s creation come to our attention, it is good to think about His counsel: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  We know He is the Creator of all things, but He is more than that to those who believe His Word: “He will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth . . . and to believe in the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

Besides being your Creator, is He also your Saviour?

Love you all,
Grandpa 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jewel # 199 (Dec. 24, 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,

An Incredible ’Thank You’

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Ephesians 5:20)

In late summer of this year, a report was received of a very strange, yet astounding and beautiful occurrence. The event took place in the ocean not far from San Francisco.

A fisherman had spent some time fishing in the area of a group of islands not far from San Francisco. While there he spotted a very large female humpback whale that appeared to be in trouble. Upon careful examination the fisherman realized that the huge creature had become entangled in a spider web maze of crab traps and lines. She was almost helplessly weighted down by hundreds of pounds of of traps.

The whale was struggling just to stay afloat, and it was obvious to the fisherman that if something were not done to help the creature, she would die. Adding to her very dangerous condition were the hundreds of yards of line rope which had wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, and even tugging in her mouth.

The fisherman who spotted her just a bit east of the Farralone islands (outside the Golden Gate Bridge) decided upon a plan to try and do something to help the trapped whale.

He radioed an environmental group explaining the whale’s plight, asking for help. Within a short time a rescue team arrived. They determined the whale was so badly entangled, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her by hand - a very dangerous act since just one slap of her tail could kill a rescuer.

The environmental group divers worked carefully with knives and after three or four hours, eventually freed the whale. Then something astounding and beautiful took place. The freed whale swam for awhile in joyous circles. Then to everyone’s surprise she came back to each and every diver. Nudging them one at a time, the huge whale gently pushed them in circles - as though she was thanking them for her freedom.

One of the divers who cut the rope out of her mouth says he saw her eye following him the whole time. He and other divers said that awesome experience was one they will never forget.

May we never forget what our Lord Jesus has freed each believer from through His death on the cross!

"If the Son . . . shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
(John 8:36)

Love you all,
Grandpa

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jewel # 198 (Dec. 16, 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 Sly Fox

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines:
for our vines have tender grapes.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15)

Not many people really like a wolf or a coyote, but most everyone likes a fox. It looks like an animal that would be nice to pet, but don’t try it . . . a fox has sharp teeth and claws.

This intelligent, wild animal belongs to the dog family. The average size is about 30 inches long with a 15 inch, bushy tail. It has a pointed muzzle and large, furry, triangular ears.

Foxes are found on every continent except Antarctica. They can be seen frequently throughout Canada and the United States, mostly in the western parts. There are many varieties, including the red, gray, silver gray, blue and black. The most common and widespread species is the red fox, named for its thick, long-haired coat, which is a rich shade of rusty-red with patches of white on its throat, lower jaw and the tip of its tail.

Foxes do not hibernate in the winter, but most do dig dens in the ground. Some live in caves or hollow logs. Their dens usually have two or three entrances. One is the main entrance, and the others are used only to escape in an emergency. The main entrance will often be among tree roots or under large rocks.

A female fox is called a vixen, and the young are called pups. In the spring, four to nine pups are born to the vixen in the den. They are completely helpless at birth and depend on the mother for food and protection for about six months. When the pups are about a month old, she takes them outside on trips to play and to practice hunting. The frisky pups make the most of this, chasing each other, tossing sticks in the air and playfully wrestling. But the mother sees to it that they learn to hunt and to be alert for enemies.

Dogs are the enemy that they fear most. When being chased by a pack of dogs, foxes use many sly tricks to throw the dogs off the trail. Usually they can outrun the dogs in a chase. Did you know that foxes can climb trees?

Foxes are most active at dusk. They live mainly on mice, ground squirrels, insects and fruits, but most will eat anything they can catch. They hunt by stalking and then quickly pounce on their prey. They have been know to catch chickens and lambs, but generally, with the quantity of rodents they catch, they do far more good than harm.

As our opening verse says, they also eat grapes, sometimes spoiling the vines. The “little foxes” here tell us that many things that look innocent can actually be harmful in our lives. To avoid these, the Bible instructs:

“Enter not into the path of the wicked . . . avoid it, pass not by it” (Proverbs 4:14-15).

This is good advice for everyone.

Love you all,
Grandpa

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jewel # 197 (Dec. 10, 2014)

"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,

Elephants at School

“Every kind of beasts, and . . . things in the sea . . . hath been tamed of mankind:
but the tongue can no man tame.”
(James 3:7-8)

Elephants are included in the above Bible verse and have been useful to mankind over many years. Long ago they were often used in wars to carry soldiers and move heavy equipment. People from royal families still ride on elephants’ decorated backs in parades in some countries, and elephants are useful in other ways too.

In Asian countries they help in forestry work. They will uproot trees, pull them out for cutting, and then carry the logs with their trunks or tusks to storage areas where they cleverly stack them or load them on trucks.

What kind of school do elephants attend? When natives need a worker elephant, they search wild areas for a suitable one. Then several men and two or more big, strong, tamed elephants go after it - an exciting and dangerous experience! First they must isolate it from others, then it is “tranquilized” with a dart from a special gun, and it soon lies sleeping on the ground. Strong ropes are tied around each leg above the foot, and the ends are tied to nearby trees. Another rope, passed around its neck, is tied to the “teacher” elephants standing on either side.

Awakening, the elephant rises and tugs and pulls on the ropes until it learns this is useless. Then the two teacher elephants move in, pressing against it and gently but firmly directing it. Soon the three of them move slowly around, the captive resisting, but gradually learning that neither its teachers nor the men are going to harm it. Soon the teachers take it slowly between them to a stockade where it is released.

With kind but firm treatment and continued teaching, the elephant gradually loses its wildness and understands commands it must obey. Finally the day comes when with the two teachers, the men take it to the forest where they are working. After many trips with the patience and skill of men and teacher elephants, the new member learns how to help with the work and does it willingly. Its school term is over; it has graduated.

It is only too true that we can tame the wildest creature, as the opening verse says, but we are unable to control our own tongues. How unkind the the tongue can be, and how sorry we often are for what we have said, but it can never be taken back.

What can be done about it? By admitting to the Lord Jesus how helpless we are, we can ask His help to control our tongues. He has promised to do just that if we ask Him. Here is His promise:

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:
I will guide thee with Mine eye” (Psalm 32:8).
Will you trust His promise?

Love you all,
Grandpa