What’s Your Excuse?

What’s Your Excuse?

butterfly I often wonder why it took me so long to come to faith in Jesus Christ when His creation speaks so loudly of His existence. If you have ever walked through the woods alone and were awestruck by the beauty therein or if you have ever seen a breathtaking sunset or ocean view, you must at least realize that these things didn’t happen by chance.

Romans 1 says “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.Often it seems we can find any and every excuse to discount God’s handiwork, even in our own lives, but the truth is that God is the Creator of our universe and even our own lives.spider

 

When we take the time to swallow our pride and give credit where credit is due we can humbly see that God does truly love us, even simply by just the things around us He created just for us to enjoy. Next time you are out in creation or even just stuck in traffic, give God thanks for all that He has made and be thankful you were on the list of His created things! What’s your excuse?

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Homing Pigeons Can Get Back Home, Can You

Homing Pigeons Can Get Back Home, Can You?

pigeonHave you ever heard of a bird called a homing pigeon? They are a type of pigeon descended from a rock pigeon that has an innate ability to find its way home. Some have been observed coming home after flying hundreds if not thousands of miles. The same is true for Christians that may lose their way. A homing pigeon is similar to the prodigal son in that once it has gone far away from home, it realizes it needs to return to the place that it’s from.

Luke 15:24 says For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Before we found and accepted Jesus we were all dead in our sins. Some of us even after we accept Jesus find ourselves far from home just as the prodigal son found himself. The sooner we come back to our senses and find our way back home to Jesus the better.

He is there ready and waiting to forgive us with open arms just as the father in the story of the prodigal son. Just like the homing pigeon knows exactly how to get home, we as believers know exactly how to get back to Jesus and that’s humbly through our prayers and petitions for forgiveness. Homing pigeons can get back home, can you?

 

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Do You Love Your Brother Like A Golden Eagle?

Do You Love Your Brother Like A Golden Eagle?

goldeneagle1When I was a kid I got a rather large book on eagles and other birds of prey from my grandmother one year for Christmas. I studied that book, drew pictures of the different birds, and daydreamed about one day seeing them in the wild. I was pretty shocked to learn that when a golden eagle (and numerous other eagle species) lay more than one egg in a nest, often the first one to hatch will kill the weaker second born. In terms of survival this is advantageous to the firstborn eaglet but horrific for the second. Although this deals with real aspects of life and death, how often do we do the exact same thing to our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Isn’t it easy to steal spiritual food from our Christian brothers and sisters in hopes of selfishly growing faster than those around us? We can unknowingly be causing fratricide in the body of Christ by not appropriately loving those around us that God has placed in the family of believers. 1 John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” In our pursuit of holiness we can often leave in our wake any number of people that we have held unforgiveness for or simply not given an adequate amount of genuine love. Christ, through the Apostle John, challenges us to truly love one another so that we can really love God. Do you love your brother like a golden eagle?

goldeneagle

 

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Do You Live Like A Feral Cat?

Do You Live Like A Feral Cat?

Have you ever driven behind a restaurant only to see massive quantities of feline scavengers? When a cat looses its desire to be captive and domesticated it will revert to a wild, or feral state. In many cases they retain some semblance of their former life in the first generation, but their offspring are often so wild they are untamable. This can lead to all sorts of trouble for both cats and people. Feral cats are a destructive, disease carrying menace that often preys on native wildlife and destroys the ecology of native species.

feralcatThe people of Israel began to act as if they were feral in the land promised to their forefathers after Joshua and the elders of his generation died out. They were the second generation so to speak and began to take on the wild tendencies of a feral animal. Judges 2:10-14 says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.”

The fate of feral cats often includes capture and detainment in shelters, euthanasia, disease, and harmful interactions with traffic. If they would stay close to the hand that feeds them they would enjoy the safety and provision of a loving home, but when they decide to go wild and do things their own way the outcome is much more destructive to them. The same is true of the people of God. When we are in relationship with the Lord we can enjoy the comforts of our loving Father, but if we are not in covenant as believers with Jesus then we can only expect destruction. Do you live like a feral cat?

 

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Do You Create A Suitable Environment For Others?

Do You Create A Suitable Environment For Others?

Have you ever had the opportunity to witness beavers creating their dams in a wetland habitat? It is quite an amazing phenomenon to experience. A beaver can create an entirely new habitat in a very short time. They are very hard working animals and by their diligence and boldness they are able to gnaw through trees and divert the flow of water in fresh water ecosystems. They have the ability to literally change the course of streams and creeks and to use their dams to create ponds and swamps. They change the entire topography and by doing so they create a new ecosystem that can support a variety of animals that previously couldn’t have lived in the area. In many cases their habitat transformation can be a blessing to other wildlife by providing new homes and places to forage for food.

beaver

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 says, “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” If we think about the parallel with beavers creating a habitat, we can see that pastors and church planters could fall into this category of hard workers that the Lord has placed over us. The desire of the Holy Spirit is for Christians to operate in unity with one another as the body of Christ. We are to be kind to one another and help each other in our areas of weakness. As believers in Christ our mission is to create suitable habitats in the spirit and to build one another up in our faith. We should be creating some new ecosystems of grace and encouragement for other believers. Do you create a suitable habitat for others?

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Can You Tame Your Tongue?

Can You Tame Your Tongue?

Have you ever had the experience of taming an animal? It could be as simple as training a puppy to do simple commands or habituating a reptile that you have caught in the wild to be accustomed to handling. As someone who works with animals on a regular basis I know that taming animals is all about consistency. You have to do the same things at the same times so that the animal gets used to you and understands that you don’t mean it any harm. It can often be a frustrating process and even be cause for the occasional bite or scratch but the end result is far more rewarding.

teguJames, the half brother of Jesus, talks about the taming of the tongue in the 3rd chapter of his epistle. James 3:7-8 says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” This doesn’t mean that we have free license to say anything we want but that in our own power we are incapable of taming our tongues. When we become believers in Christ we are made into a new creation and Jesus becomes Lord over our lives.

Jesus is able to tame even the vilest of tongues and use it for his glory. The unrepentant tongue can produce words that are like poison to the hearer. As believers we are called to bring life, not death. Scripture also says that we will be judged for every careless word we speak. We must remember that and be more cognizant of the words we speak. Let us speak life to those around us! Can you tame your tongue?

 

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Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

I have been fascinated with the allure of Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yeti, Skunk Ape, etc.) since I was a kid. I mean who hasn’t watched that iconic Patterson film from the 1960’s and wondered if it was in fact not a hoax but a potentially undiscovered large primate. I am the eternal skeptic though and often read stories about Bigfoot only to later see that they have been debunked as a fallacy or just someone’s attempt at their 15 minutes of fame. I do, however, commend the Bigfoot community in their efforts to authenticate their findings and their tireless searching and research on the subject matter.sasquatch

I wish I could say the same thing for the average Christian. Can you defend, or even explain your faith to an unbeliever? This is something Jude, the half-brother of Jesus felt very strongly about in the beginning of his epistle. Jude 1:3 says “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Jude addresses fellow believers and it seems almost mid-thought he changes course from encouraging them about their shared salvation and begins pleading with them to contend for their faith. The mental imagery he was painting about defending the faith was something very physical, something reminiscent of a Roman gladiator fighting for his life. We are called to preach the word of God and proclaim His truth so we must know the word in order to defend it. I encourage you to pick up your sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and start defending your faith. Can you defend your faith against a Sasquatch?

 

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Are You Putting Your Head In The Sand?

Are You Putting Your Head In The Sand?

There is a common misconception that ostriches hide their heads in the sand when threatened. This is simply a myth and it can be traced back as far as Pliny the Elder from the 1st century AD, around the same time that Jesus was on the Earth. In keeping with the mental image though, how many times does it appear that the Church seems to be merely putting her head in the sand and not truly engaging the threats or issues that arise? Do you feel that it’s easier to hide out in the Church rather than engaging culture in Jesus name? As a group of Christians are we known more for our love and compassion for our fellow man or are we possibly viewed in the same light as the ostrich with his head in the sand? How can we change that perception?

Ostrich,_mouth_openSince we as believers in Jesus are the physical representation on the Earth of our heavenly Father we could perhaps start following his teachings. In a true reflection of the glory of Christ we could begin with loving our neighbor as ourselves or treating others with love and compassion and gracefully sharing our faith. John 13:35 says By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We have to begin by loving one another in the body of Christ and from that love and unity share our love with the world. We’ve got some work to do but I believe in Jesus name we can accomplish it together. Are you putting your head in the sand?

 

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Are You Obedient Like A Dog?

Are You Obedient Like A Dog?

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.16.05 PMIf you have ever spent time with a well-trained and good-natured dog you can understand the joy they bring to us in their obedience. The situation seems to be quite the opposite when you encounter a dog that is lacking in proper training. The same is true for human beings. When we make a profession of faith but lack obedience to Christ it creates an atmosphere similar to the wild dog. People tend to remember the crazy behavior and abrasive experience and it takes quite a while to repair the damage of disobedience.

2 John 1:6 says, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” When we walk in obedience to Christ and follow His commands we are truly showing the love that He demands of us. When we truly understand the teachings of Jesus and are obedient to them, we can genuinely walk in truth with the love of Christ. Are you obedient like a dog?

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Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?

Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?

Are You Watering Grass That’s Just Going To Wither?Have you ever thought about how much time you spend on trivial things like making sure the lawn is perfectly manicured or the flower garden is adequately planted with the prettiest blooms? Isn’t it easy to get carried away in the pursuit of perfection or attainment of “yard of the month” and neglect the things that truly need our attention? 1 Peter 1:24-25 says For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you.”

This scripture is comparing out lives to withering grass and falling flowers. The good news is that God’s word stands the test of time and we can rest assured that the time we spend studying the word of God is time well spent. The word that is preached to us, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is timeless, everlasting and has the utmost importance and staying power. Our mortality is just as real as that of a flower fading and grass withering in the context of eternity. When we root ourselves in God’s word we will not wither and we will not fade because the result is an eternity with Jesus where there is no more death. That’s an amazing thought! Are you watering grass that’s just going to wither?

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Breaking Through

Breaking Through

Check out my wife singing "Breaking Through" Originally by Jeremy Riddle and Performed By Jessica Lake and the WSFirst Worship team.  She is amazing and I'm always blown away at how talented and heartfelt she is both as a worshipper and as a believer.  I aspire to one day have the faith my wife has.

Written by Jeremy Riddle © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP).

Have You Been Restored?

Have You Been Restored?

For the last few months I have been helping a friend remodel his 1890's era farmhouse to get it ready for sale.  It's been an exhausting and rewarding process restoring the house and updating things as we go to make it more attractive for potential home buyers. The process has reminded me of the work of discipleship in our lives.  Christ uses this process to refine us, discipline us, and make us more attractive to the father.  Sometimes old things have to be ripped out so the newer, better, updated versions can be installed.  Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."  
Have You Been Restored
What are some areas in your life that may need remodeling?  Are there areas in our live's that can be surrendered to the master carpenter, Jesus?  Although it's not a comfortable prayer, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal any areas in your life that may need some rough edges sanded off of and then allow Jesus to refine you so that you can produce that harvest of righteousness.  I know that's been my prayer lately, Jesus refine me, restore me, renew my heart and allow me to serve you better than ever before.  Our world is changing and we need to be as prepared as possible to meet it with the love of Christ!  

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Would You Like To Help Catching Creation?

As the chill of winter begins to loosen it's grip I am getting more and more excited about this coming season of filming with Catching Creation.  God has some big things in store and I want to invite YOU to participate with Catching Creation.  As many of you know I operate as a traveling minister and get to preach God's word all over the Southeast with my animal buddies.  I love my "job" and am truly excited about seeing the lights come on in people's heads when I give a Gospel presentation in a way they may have never heard it.  I rely on the kindness of love offerings and honorariums to keep this ministry going.  I am in need of your prayers in this season of our ministry.  I believe Catching Creation is called to do BIG things and I am excited to announce that the Lord is beginning to build a really solid team of volunteers to help me film my new DVD this year.  As many of you know my DVDs encompass aspects of evangelism, ministry, wildlife conservation and all around fun for the whole family.  The DVDs (and Youtube show) are a way for me to minister long after I leave a community as well as a way to weekly teach those subscribers and other viewers on my site. I believe this is a valid form of ministry and lives are truly being changed through Catching Creation.  I have had people tell me that the Catching Creation videos helped restore their relationship with Jesus and others have said it has brought their family closer together.  That's exactly my heart for this ministry, to promote family and deeper relationships with Jesus.  There are several things we still need going into this new season of filming.  Catching Creation really needs a legitimate primary camera to film with.  If you feel inclined to help support Catching Creation in that regard I have attached a link to an Amazon wish list with a few items that we will need for this upcoming filming season.  There will also be opportunities to help us along the journey this season as well.  We would like to film in new locations that require us to travel outside of NC.  Our first scheduled film shoot is in the Blacksburg, SC area and we will be talking about salamanders and being good stewards of God's creation.  We also are praying and planning to visit South Florida to film invasive and exotic wildlife, there are  also opportunities to work with missionaries in Costa Rica, Cambodia, and the Philippines this year.  So with all of that said we need your prayers and support!  Thank you for being on this journey with us and I pray that people are brought into a real relationship with Jesus through this ministry.

Equipment Wish ListDONATENEWSLETTER

Catching Creation Presentation: Dominion Church Fayetteville NC

Here is the full version of my Catching Creation Presentation from Dominion Church in Fayetteville NC Feb 17.2013

 

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Frogs & Faith

I went looking for Chorus Frogs again and found myself in the middle of a patch of thorns and then I had this thought...

 Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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scripture frog
scripture frog

Catching Creation @ Fort Caswell

I got the opportunity to speak at Southport Christian Academy, Shoreline Baptist Church and Southport Baptist Church in the Oak Island/Southport NC area on the coast. It was an awesome trip and lots of fun! Great school and churches! We got to visit Fort Caswell and several beaches, not a bad way to spend the weekend!

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Cold Weather Camping @ Hanging Rock State Park

I decided to take a trip up to Hanging Rock State Park with some friends and camp and hike this past weekend. I did not plan on getting extremely sick halfway through the trip and coming home early.  It was quite the adventure.  Check it out.SUBSCRIBE @ youtube.com/Catchingcreation

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Can You Adapt When Times Get Tough?

Can you adapt when times get tough?

 

          With the onset of the gloom and cold of winter I often find myself marveling at the adaptations some animals go through just to survive the tough times of the season.   Amphibians are exothermic, or cold blooded, and that means that when the temperatures drop so does their metabolism and activity.  If a frog is so tempted to stay above ground during this time of year it often signifies their certain demise.  There is one species of frog that seems to be the exception to this rule.  The Wood Frog, Rana sylvatica, has the ability to completely freeze and once temperatures are optimal again it can essentially thaw out and resume life as normal.  This is due to the production of glucose in the frog’s body that acts as biological antifreeze.

          We can make a scriptural parallel when we think about how our God has given us the tools we need to survive the harshest of times like it talks about in Ephesians 6:10-20 with the full armor of God as well as in other verses like 1 Corinthians 10:13.  If we look at the latter verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13, we see that God will not allow temptation to overtake us without a way of escape.  In the case of the frog the harshness of winter’s chill will not kill the frog because it can endure the frigid temperatures because God designed it with a biological way out, just like when we are faced with temptations God has given us a spiritual way out through prayer and the reading of His word.  Can you adapt when times get tough like the Wood Frog?

woodfrog

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Are You Being Led By A Leash?

Are you being led by a leash? When I walk my dog I have to put him on a leash.  It is not something I do to punish him but it’s actually to protect him from himself and other outside forces like cars and people.  If it were a perfect scenario, I would prefer him to walk beside me untethered and on occasion he is able to do so when there is sufficient room to roam and no urban hazards.   The same is true with God’s law.

God’s law isn’t here to punish us; in fact it’s quite the opposite.  God’s law gives us an awareness of our sinfulness (Romans 7) as well as the standard to which we are to strive to live up to (Romans 3).  God’s law operates like the leash I put on my dog.  Seeing that we are commanded not to murder, covet and etc we know that these things are wrong and they give us parameters to live up to.

We can’t use the law, however, to earn our salvation because our own righteousness is like filthy rags as said by the prophet Isaiah.  We are to wear the righteousness of Christ because he is the fulfillment of the law.  He is our righteousness and the freedom that we have and through his perfection. His sinlessness puts us in right standing with God as we accept him and humble ourselves to his lordship.

So just like when I use my authority to lead my dog by his leash I am doing so out of love for his wellbeing and safety because I see the dangers that he is oblivious to.  The same is true for our heavenly father.  He sees throughout history the things that cause humanity to stumble into sin and he lovingly gives us his holy law for us to abide by so that we can avoid those pitfalls.  The question is, can you trust God to lovingly lead you, even if he pulls your “leash” and steers you somewhere you in your shortsightedness don’t want to go?  Are you being led by a leash?

 

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