Sunday, May 22, 2016

Jewel # 249 (May 20, 2016)

“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,

“Spiky Pig” the Porcupine

“Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and 
makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven?”
(Job 35:11)

A three-foot-long porcupine suddenly appears in a quiet wooded area, moving noisily through dry leaves and underbrush.  It apparently is unconcerned about the noise it is making, for it has little to worry about.  The 12 to 35 - pound porcupine is safer from attack than almost any other animal, even though it is slow.  It is even safe from attack by a bear.  Only pumas seem able to attack porcupines successfully.

The porcupine is in the rodent family and is the third-largest, behind the capybara and the beaver.  This rodent is covered on its back, sides and tail with hundreds of strong, stiff quills.  These sharp quills are two to three inches long and come out easily, sticking into an attacker’s flesh.  Sometimes the quills rattle as it walks, but it cannot shoot them at its attacker.

If a porcupine senses danger, it turns its back, flares its quills, and greets the attacker with a hard slap of its tail, leaving many barbed quills in the attacker’s face and body.  These quills can only be pulled out from dogs and cats by people.  When an animal tries to remove them with its paws, the quills go in deeper.  If the quills are in the face or mouth, they usually cause the animal’s death in the end, either from infection or starvation.

Porcupines live in hollow logs, stumps, trees and rock slides.  Their main food is green vegetation and tree bark, but they also eat roots, fruits and berries.  Always hungry for salt, they sometimes break into cabins and eat any salty food they can find.  They become troublesome by gnawing paddle and axe handles, leather or anything stained with salty perspiration.

The female porcupine gives birth to a single offspring in the spring.  The baby arrives with a full supply of quills, which are soft and flexible at birth but soon harden.  The mother raises her baby alone.  Interestingly, she can push or help the little one climb a tree without getting herself stuck by its quills.

These unusual animals are another example of how the Creator gives certain creatures a quiet and peaceful life, but with good means of protection against any who would harm them.  In many ways, this is an example of His love and care over us as well.  The Bible encourages us to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).  It is good to follow this instruction.  

But instead of wanting to “get even” with those who oppose us, as the porcupine does, we we should tell them of God’s love and let them know that God wants them to be saved from their sins by coming to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 If you try this, you may be happily rewarded.

Love you all,

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jewel # 248 (May 11, 2016)

Four of our boys (your uncles) diving with the sharks - December 2010 - Bahamas

�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,

Beware the Shark!

�Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, 
walks about, seeking whom he may devour.�
(1 Peter 5:8)

In this Bible verse, Satan is described as a lion prowling through the earth.  A similar example could be a vicious shark in the ocean.  About 350 varieties of sharks are found throughout the world.  The smallest is the 10-inch dwarf; the largest is the 40-foot whale shark, weighing 30,000 pounds or more.  In spite of their frightening looks, most sharks are harmless, living on fish, squid and shellfish.  Two huge species, the basking shark and the whale shark, have such small teeth that they can only eat tiny drifting sea life and small fish.

The hammerhead is the most unusual-looking shark with its head extending out two feet or more on each side of the body.  A large eye is on each end, and its mouth is underneath on the body.  The ugliest shark is the horn or pig shark, with its jaws and teeth at the front of its pig-like snout.

The blue shark is actually a beautiful creature, with its dark bluish tint on top and light blue underneath.  Its huge eyes and a small mouth give it a smiling appearance, and it shows only curiosity toward swimmers.  Thresher sharks, which often work in pairs, beat the water with their tails.  This causes small fish to group together, and then the threshers move in for the kill.

The most dangerous of all sharks is the great white shark with its huge jaws and dagger-like teeth.  It can be 21 to 26 feet long and weigh more that 7,000 pounds.  This one will sometimes attack swimmers.  The injuries from their bites are severe, often resulting in death.  The tiger shark is also vicious and sometimes will attack people.  It is 10 to 14 feet long and can weigh up to 1,400 pounds.  It has rows of long, sharp teeth.

In spite of the shark�s bad reputation, God has a place for them in His creation.  As scavengers, they help keep the ocean clean.  They are useful to man directly in that valuable medicines and vitamins are extracted from various parts of their bodies, and shark meat is an excellent food.

Although most sharks are harmless, few of us would trust these unpredictable creatures.  People can also be just as unpredictable.  How careful we should be in any relationship with people who are not God-fearing, for many of them are used by Satan to lead others to do evil deeds.  The Bible gives good advice:  

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established� 
(Proverbs 4:26).  
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man� 
(Psalm 118:8).  
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  
In all thy ways acknowledge  Him, and He shall direct thy paths� 
(Proverbs 3:5-6).  

This is excellent advice to follow.  

Love you all,


Friday, May 06, 2016

Jewel # 247 (May 2, 2016)


“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 Osprey and Its Prey

“Does the hawk fly by thy wisdom? . . . Does the eagle mount up
at Thy command, and make her nest on high?”
(Job 39:26-27)

The osprey, also called fish hawk, with a five - to six-foot wingspread, is a bird of prey in the hawk family.  It is shiny brown above, but parts of its head and neck have enough white to resembles the bald eagle.  The underparts of its body are plain white, including its heavily feathered legs.  It is very impressive with it erect head and sharply hooked beak.

These birds are found on all continents except Antarctica.  In North America they spend summers from Labrador to Florida and Alaska to California.  Most of them winter from the southern United States to northern Argentina and Paraguay.

Ospreys do not have songs; they have high-pitched whistles.  They feed only on fish, which is why they live near both fresh and salt water.

Their huge nests are a mass of sticks, usually lined with grass or seaweed.  They use the same nest year after year, always adding to it until it may reach three feet high and three feet wide.  Before so many forests were cut down, tops of trees were a favourite nesting place.  From high branches they could look down into the water and choose their fish targets.  But now many build their nests on telephone poles, posts in water, roofs of barns and ledges.  Helping to solve this problem, naturalists build platforms 30 feet or more above the water, and the ospreys find these good substitutes.

Other ospreys build nests on rocks as high as 300 feet.  It is quite a spectacle to watch one take off from this height, hovering over the water, then diving feet first, hitting the water with a great splash and often going completely under, to snatch a fish in its strong talons.  It carries the fish back home in its talons, perhaps eating a few mouthfuls on the way.

The male migrates north again in early spring, soon followed by his lifetime mate.  Returning to the same nest, they clean it and add to it.  Soon they have three or four young chicks to care for.  The mother stays with the young at all times, and the father provides all the food.  The little ones eat so much they become heavier than the parents but return to a smaller size before learning to fly.

The Bible tells us that on the fifth day of creation, “God created . . . every winged fowl after his kind” (Genesis 1:21).  And in Psalm 145:15 we are told, “The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their food in due season.”  Another Bible verse says, “His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He sees all his goings” (Job34:21).

Is that comforting to you?         Or does it trouble you?

Love you all,