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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Are You Like The Tree Planted By Water?

Are You Like The Tree Planted By Water?

One of my favorite trees in the forest happens to be a small obscure tree called the ironwood, sometimes called the blue beech.  This tree lives out its life very close to streams and in areas where the soil stays moist continually.  The ironwood is known for its strength and when you touch its trunk it feels twisted like someone flexing their muscles.  This tree is a very real reminder of what the Psalmist is saying in the first Psalm.

Psalm 1:3 says, He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”  When we are walking in the righteousness of God we are in an environment that is nurturing to our soul and allows us to put down deep roots that are sustained by God.  We will bear fruit in the proper season and are able to reap the rewards of our faith because our God is faithful.  Are you like the tree planted by water?

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Are You LIke The Tree Planted By Water?

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Are You Like A Hollow Tree?

Are you like a hollow tree?

Every time I see a hollow tree while hiking through the woods I always knock on it in hopes of seeing some sleepy animal coming out to greet me.  There have been a few occasions where my habitual knocking have produced something wild, like the time I found a nest of baby raccoons and the time a swarm of angry bees erupted from the cavity.  It’s not always a good experience initially, but the mystery of the tree’s cavity always gets the best of me.

A rotting of the heartwood in the tree typically causes hollows in trees.  This can occur as a result of stress brought on by disease, lightening strikes, fungi, bacteria and a slew of other agitators.  The emptiness in these trees weakens them and can lead to their death if the cavity is great enough.  The integrity of the tree is compromised because the strength of the tree lies in its core.  The rotted heartwood negates its structural integrity making it susceptible to breaking during storms.  We can use this as an obvious parallel if we allow the stress of this world to cause emptiness in us.  When we are stressed out and we allow emptiness to consume us, any number of things can fill the void.

Proverbs 4:23 says, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  As believers in Christ, we are called to guard our hearts because that is where Jesus takes residence as we believe in Him.  Our heart is the wellspring of our lives and out of the excess of our heart we will speak as scripture says.  As believers we can fill our emptiness with the love of Christ because He is more than enough to satisfy our every need!  Are you like a hollow tree?

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You’ve Got To Loose Sight To Find Your Vision.

You’ve got to loose sight to find your vision.

 Can I be candid with you?  I’m in tears right now.  I’m emotionally overwhelmed and I’m not sure how this one seemingly menial interaction with a kid in a pet store has me in tears.  I mean I can’t stop crying.  The reality is, for quite some time now; I’ve been just going through the motions of Christian ministry.  I’ve been showing up more to do a job and less to minister.  I’ve been like a vagrant with no home traveling from town to town doing my form of transient ministry so long that I’ve lost sight of why I even do what I do.  Tonight it smacked me in the face.

I’ve been so caught up in trying desperately (and often failing) to provide for my wife and I that more and more ministry has been treated less like something out of the overflow of joy and more of something that I begrudgingly HAVE to do because there aren’t any other open doors for me.  It seems like in some ways I’ve lost sight of why I entered the ministry in the first place.  I remember being in Bible College and devouring scripture, praying feverishly, relying so heavily on my faith in Jesus that despite my circumstance I had a peace that surpassed my understanding.  I assumed that once I graduated I would somehow feel fulfilled and validated and would truly “arrive.”

Well it’s now two years post graduation and I’ve managed to start my own ministry and still feel lost.  When did following God get so hard?  What have I allowed to get in the way of my relationship with my Father in heaven that has made me bitter, spiteful, entitled, and angry?  I know the Christian formula of reading my Bible, praying, fasting and serving.  Yet when I add all of that together it seems more of a chore and less of something life giving.  Why has my heart been so heavy in all the wrong ways?

Tonight in that pet store I was reminded like a punch in the face WHY I entered the ministry.  While my wife and I were talking and looking for a bird box for our pet squirrel a little boy with a big smile asked what kind of bird I had.  I honestly can’t tell you why that hit me so hard but it did.  I responded that I was looking for a house for my squirrel and asked him what kind of bird he was shopping for.  He gleefully said that he was getting a Quaker parrot and after a few more short concluding sentences, as I felt tears welling up, I walked down the aisle out of sight from my wife and the boy.  My eyes pooled with that warm saline some call tears, wow; it’s been a while. quaker parrot

There I was in the middle of a pet store on the reptile supply aisle crying like a baby and somehow pretending I could disguise it like I had allergies or some dust got in my eyes.  My voice was shaking, my eyes were watering and my heart was hurting.  I realized in that moment that I had lost sight of everything I wanted to be.  You see that boy, the one with the aspiration of getting the parrot, he reminded me that my heart for ministry, my sole reason for wanting to serve, is wrapped up in loving kids (of any age) that need to feel nurtured and loved.  Jesus calls us to love the least of these and real ministry is offering of your-self with no hope of reward in return.  I have missed this.  I could tell, in that way that you just know, that my new friend in the bird supply section came from a home that didn’t have much to offer in the way of finances.  Yet he was full of joy just at the anticipation of getting a new feathery friend.  He was preparing by getting his supplies and eager to tell me about it.  When was the last time I was truly excited about anything?  When was the last time I was truly content.  WOW.  God I’m sorry for my allowing my hurt and pain to get in the way of the vision you have given me.

Don’t get me wrong; I love doing what I do.  I love Catching Creation with my whole heart and know it’s what God has called me to do, but in this short moment tonight it seems that by loosing sight of it I found my vision.  Catching Creation isn’t Stan Lake traveling all over the country doing animal shows, although it’s a part of it.  Catching Creation isn’t just about my web show and DVD series or even my books, although they are pieces of the puzzle.  What God has called me to do is minister to kids, youth and families in an urban setting.  Loving those that may never get a chance to go to a zoo, or feel welcomed in a church.  My heart is to minister and love people that feel unworthy of being loved.  People that our society seems to scoff at but people that Jesus desperately wants us to love in His name.

I have no idea how, moving forward, I will be able to support my family with this ministry.  I put in an application at that pet store even though they aren’t hiring and who knows, maybe God will position me there as a light in the darkness to minister.  Maybe there’s some other job on the horizon that I haven’t even fathomed yet which will allow me to truly love people in the name of Jesus.  Catching Creation is who I am and what I was designed to do, but it’s so much bigger than what I’ve been doing lately.  My prayer is that God will open doors so that I can minister and do outreach again.  God continue to break me, continue to remind me of your love and Lord thank you for your grace.  Lord send me, allow me to seek first the kingdom because I know you will provide for my family as we serve you.  Lord please be with that little boy tonight and bless him, thank you for allowing him to minister to me and I pray we can be reminded of why we all serve you.

Red Salamander

I found a Red Salamander down in Blacksburg, SC. This is a clip from Catching Creation Volume 3 DVD from our episode about salamanders. 

The music was used with permission "Between The Now And Not Yet" by The Eager Seas ©2012 The Eager Seas http://theeagerseas.bandcamp.com/

 

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Snakes In The Church!!!!

If I had a dollar for every weird look, awkward pause on the phone and email that went unanswered regarding my particular brand of ministry I think I would at least be able to buy a new snake...  I absolutely love what I do.  Somehow God has allowed me to combine my two passions into a job that really doesn't seem like a job at all.  I get to do what I love, how many people can honestly say that?  God is growing this ministry exponentially all of the time and I get to experience more and more things that I otherwise wouldn't get to experience.  The draw back is that most people don't share my love for ALL of God's creation.  I get asked to leave on occasion due to my scaly ministry partners, people often gasp or run out of the building when I pull out Rosie the rather large red tailed boa constrictor.

  I see the faces of parents grimace when I talk about the hognose snake's toxic saliva and cane toad's poison glands (both of which are harmless to us!) but the best part of what I do involves the joy on the faces of children when fear is replaced with wonder.  And in the end even the most squeamish of spectators is at least intrigued.

You see I firmly believe that God created everything inherently good in the beginning.  Sometimes it may take a moment for us to realize the goodness of say venomous snakes (which I do NOT use in presentations!), but God is good and so is his creation.

The curse of sin obviously changed the nature of everything that God created BUT the hope is that we can still see the good in everything and give God the glory for it.  My job is one part evangelist and one part conservationist. God has entrusted us with some pretty awesome natural resources and I think he takes pleasure in our responsible stewardship of said resources.  At a very basic level if I can illustrate the unconditional love of our heavenly Father and explain the effects of sin, separation caused by the curse and redemption in Jesus Christ and that snakes (and other creepy creations) aren't evil; then I have done my job.  My heart is to teach you, your child and anyone else that God not only loves you but he has a plan for your life and wants you to be made into a new creation.

 Jesus desires a relationship with you and it all started in that garden both before and after the temptation that came in the serpentine form.  After saying all of that I sincerely hope you will consider having me at your church, public or private school, vbs, summer camp, youth group, family service or really anywhere that has a captive audience and wouldn't mind my animal ambassadors.  Thanks for your prayers and support from the bottom of my heart!

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Are You Royal Like A Ball Python?

Are You Royal Like The Ball Python?

          If you have spent any time in your local pet store or flipped through a book about snakes, you have probably seen pictures of the Royal Ball Python; more commonly just called the Ball Python.  Did you know that the Latin name for this snake is Python regius?  The scientific names of animals often will give us a more descriptive name of the animal and it also eliminates the confusion with common names.  In the case of the Royal Ball Python, aka Python regius, we know that the genus name Python refers to a class of constricting snakes and the species name, regius, actually means “of the king or belonging to the king.”So let me ask you again, are you royal like the ball python?  If you are a believer in

          Jesus Christ the answer is YES!  Let me break it down for you.  John 1:12-13 says “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  Galatians 3:26-27 says “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and if you are among those called children of God you too are heirs to royalty.  Romans 8:17 says Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” 

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Dancing Like A Bird

The Catching Creation team took a trip to Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge the other day to test out our new Canon XF100 and we filmed this Killdeer bird guarding her nest.  We also decided to do a little dance at the end...check it out.

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It's A Jungle In Here!

It's A Jungle In Here!  Well ok, maybe not a real jungle, but it's a pretty neat greenhouse.  Today I visited the Reynolda Greenhouse in Winston near Wake Forest University.  This place is so beautiful, you should definitely check it out.

Colossians 2:6-7 -- So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Ephesians 3:16-19 --I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

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Are You Patient Like An Alligator?

Are You Patient Like An Alligator?

Have you ever watched an alligator move ever so slowly while stalking its prey?  They seem to have a large measure of patience while gradually inching closer and closer to their target.  Some will even lay on the bottom of the swamp with their mouth open and patiently wait for an easy meal like a fish to swim into their toothy trap.  Then just at the right time SNAP!  Their jaws will lock down on the meal they have been waiting all day for.  The end result of their wait is the reward they were hoping for, a meal.

Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  As believers we are waiting patiently in expectation of the return of Jesus.  We believe He is who He says he is and live our lives accordingly.  The reward for our faith and patience is an eternity in Heaven with our creator.  Just like the alligator waits in anticipation of his next meal, we as believers wait in expectation for the Lord.  Are you patient like an alligator?

Alligator

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Prairie Dog Preacher

Prairie dogs often remind me of how we are supposed to function as a church.  The church isn't just a building, it's a community of believers working together for the common good and to glorify Christ. Acts 2:42-47 says  42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

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An Elephant Never Forgets, Do You?

An Elephant Never Forgets, Do You?

 Have you ever heard the phrase “an elephant never forgets?”  Are we to believe that and elephant literally never forgets?  Heavens no!  The phrase seems to coincide with the fact that elephants will follow the same pathways and ancestral routes to watering holes and even elephant burial sites.  It seems as if they are hard wired to remember and will stop at nothing to follow the path they have always followed, even if that means trampling a newly constructed village that just happens to be in their way.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  When we accept Jesus he makes us into a new thing completely and even though we can’t completely forget our past we can certainly choose to not dwell on it.

Unlike the elephants we can choose to divert our pathways and not go down the same old roads of sin that we have gone down for generations.  Doesn’t joy spring up in you when you think about the wasteland that your heart used to be but because of Christ, streams of living water now flow from within you?  When I think about it in that context it’s easy for me to forget about my former life and be glad in the person Christ is making me.  I don’t have to wander down those old paths!  An elephant never forgets, do you?

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Spotted Salamanders and the Church

Check out this clip from our first Catching Creation shoot of the year down in Blacksburg SC.  We shot video with what we had and the cameras ranged from Iphones, Gopros and even a Sony DSLR, we strongly believe in using what you have and know that God honors our faithfulness in the little things and is preparing us for the better equipment to come.  I'm really excited about this new DVD coming up and the team God has given me to help shoot new episodes of Catching Creation.  We are 1/2 way funded for our new Canon XF100 pro camcorder package that we've been saving and raising money for!

 

Check out a recent devotional about Salamanders HERE

Are You Planted By The River?

As I walked by this HUGE sycamore tree next to the Yadkin River I was reminded of Psalm 1. 

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Would You Drink From A Birdbath?

Would You Drink From A Birdbath?

Have you ever watched a bird joyfully roll around in a birdbath after a summer rain?  It is quite the experience.  The bird seems to not have a care in the world and almost seems to enjoy its soak.  Birds will use anything from a shallow puddle to a store-bought birdbath from your local hardware store.  As long as it has water in it they will utilize it.  A birdbath will be filled every time it rains or an attentive birdwatcher fills the bath.  The water just sits there in the reservoir, constantly being refilled but never flowing out.  This leads to stagnation and some of the nastiest water one can imagine.

Jesus says in John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  How many times as believers in Jesus do we just want to be like the birdbath and constantly just filled, filled, filled to boost up our own spirit?  The nature of being a true believer is more like the stream.  The spirit lives in us and flows through us.  A stream is constant, both being filled and being poured out, unlike the birdbath.  To a world dying for something fresh and life giving to drink, we as believers should be offering water from streams of living water and not being so self-centered that we only care about filling our personal birdbath.  Would you drink form a birdbath?

Crimson Rosella

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Attack Of The Honey Bees!

The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.  A few days ago I got an email from someone about Catching Creation saying they read one of the newspaper articles that I recently had published.  They encouraged me so much in their email and invited me over to come check out their honey bees and that was an offer I just couldn't refuse.  Through a few email exchanges we set up a time for me to come meet them and check out their bees.  It never ceases to amaze me at how awesome our God is about connecting people for the sake of ministry.  Larry and Diane Martin were two of the nicest people I think I have ever met and we talked about Jesus and creation for at least two hours with the culmination being with me getting to check out their honey bees.  As you will see in the video I learned a valuable lesson about bees.  Apparently if you wear black, like bears and skunks, then perhaps the bees will see you as a threat and react as such.  All in all I think I got stung 3 times and my Iphone sustained 3-4 stings, but we're both ok.  God is so good!

Click HERE to read my Honey Bee Devotional "Are You The Honey Or The Sting"

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Do Conditions Have To Be Perfect For You To Come Out?

Do Conditions Have To Be Perfect For You To Come Out?

Several years ago I had the amazing opportunity to see spotted salamanders breeding.  I know what you’re thinking, but I promise it’s not gross. The salamanders look as if they are all dancing underwater and you see flashes of bluish black with speckles of yellow and white spots glimmering in the moonlight. The conditions required to get spotted salamanders out en mass to breed need to be almost perfect.  The vernal (or temporary) pools that they lay their eggs in have to be the correct depth and PH, the humidity and temperature have to be just right and it typically follows a heavy rain.  Once their annual “dance” is complete they go back to their subterranean burrows and are rarely seen again until the next breeding season.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  The writer of Hebrews is encouraging us to not only love one another and do good works but to also not forget the purpose for meeting.  We don’t just go to church to keep up appearances, at least I hope not!

The real reason we assemble together is to mutually encourage one another so that we can do the work of the ministry that we ALL are called to do.  The Lord has given us all specific gifts in which we are to use to help edify the body and grow the kingdom of God.  We meet together so as to help one another from falling by the wayside or getting discouraged and giving up.  Do conditions have to be perfect for you to come out?

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