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).

Complacency Kills

I remember riding with my upper torso exposed in my gun turret and reading the conveniently placed “Complacency Kills” signs all over the FOB (Forward Operating Base) that my convoy had stopped at for the day.  The image and location of these signs have been seared into my brain as a constant reminder of the need for hyper vigilance.  If we drop our guard in a moment of complacency we would be opened for attack. In the Army we trained for weeks and even months at a time prior to my deployment to hammer in the basics so when the time of testing occurred we wouldn’t think, we would react.  You learned and relearned things to the point of absurdity so that it became muscle memory.  Drills and scenarios in harsh conditions that pushed my body and mind to their limits helped me to know that I had what it took if the need would arise.  In a very short time I went from being a weekend warrior in the Army National Guard to a full time soldier in a combat zone.  Playtime was over.

The same has been true in my spiritual life.  Although I think I had a long reluctant courtship with Jesus prior to my full submission to His will, it seemed that in a very short period of time I went from being an interested observer to full time combatant in the Lord’s army equipped with the full armor of God.  The same principle was also true in regards to training.  I immersed myself immediately into intense study, prayer, learning the basics of my faith and was tried by fire by jumping headlong into ministry in every capacity available to me.  The lesson I learned while deployed in Iraq still rings true now, maybe truer.  Complacency kills.

How many times do you feel like giving up, or worst yet, how many times do you feel apathetic to the whole process of faith?  I’ll admit that I’ve been there and constantly have to remind myself to not let my guard down but more often than not in moments of weakness or laziness I drop my shield of faith and BOOM.  That’s when it happens.  When my defenses are low those spiritual roadside bombs seem to catch me when I least expect them.  We know what to do, we know God’s word is true, but in our pride we sometimes put our perceived needs in front of the mission God has called us to.  Like spoiled children we whine and cry if we don’t get our way or if God’s will doesn’t line up with what we thought it should be and instead of obedience we fall into rebellion.  Are we honoring Jesus with our lips but denying him with our hearts by our actions?  Titus addresses this in chapter 1 verse 16 of his epistle when he says They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” 

When we allow ourselves to become apathetic to the will of God we are “unfit for doing anything good.”  We have dropped our guard, become complacent and are completely unguarded from the coming attack.  I love how in Ephesians 6 Paul warns us to be prepared for battle and assures us that it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when the flaming arrows will fly in our direction.

If we are charging forward, fully trained and outfitted for the coming spiritual battle we may take fire from all directions but we are assured in our victory by the spiritual armor we have been given by the father.  If, however, we have become complacent and apathetic, we will most likely be taken down by the coming attack and ill prepared to defend ourselves when the moment of violence occurs.  Will you take up your sword of the spirit and shield of faith and fight the good fight?  Remember, complacency kills!

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Adventure Is Calling! Will You Answer?

From the inception of my Catching Creation blog I’ve had the tagline of “Adventures In All Things Created.”  I guess I’ve never really needed to clarify what exactly that meant before now but the more I think about what it means to be on adventure the more I feel this little phrase of mine will need clarity.  It has always seemed to me that to be completely alive one must always be in the middle of, or in search of, an adventure.  I’ve been thinking about that philosophy for quite some time now.  Lately the adventure seems to be one pitted in the very center of my faith.  Adventures aren’t always easy and certainly in the moment they can often be uncomfortable, but an adventure is only as good as the bruises and scrapes you get along the way.  The hardship and bad weather seem to frame up the best adventures and overcoming some obstacle or adversity makes the stories worth telling. I think when we start looking at our faith journey as an adventure it helps to make those bumps in the road seem all the more worthwhile.  When things don’t work out and we’re left scratching our heads and asking God, sometimes even yelling, “which way do I go” or “what have I done wrong?”  We fail to realize the importance of the adventure at hand.  These are the moments that build faith, or so they tell me.  These are the times that we can look back and say that we were truly refined by hardship and we persevered.  We survived!  We lived to tell the story and wow, what a story it will be someday.  James, the half brother of Jesus, assures us that our trials will sharpen and polish us in his first epistle and if you’re feeling lost in the woods on this great adventure just let the words of James comfort you.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Our adventures can lead us to mountain highs and valley lows but beauty is always in the faithful and sometimes fearful walking with God in the dark nights of our souls.  In the stories of how God came through or how we learned that our compass may have been upside down and we got off course a bit.  Through His grace, God is there, listening to our complaints, laughing at our child like tantrums and all the while loving us through the process.  Where is your adventure leading you?  Have you gotten off course?  Trust Jesus, dust yourself off, and lean into the wind.  You’ve got an amazing journey ahead and one heck of a story to tell!

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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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Jesus Can't Be My Friend

Anxiety has been hitting me like waves.  Moments of overwhelming emotion keep crashing on the shores of my thought life.  Lately my faith has been tested and my worth as a man tried over and over again.  I know Christ overcame the world and my irrelevant fear of the unknown shouldn't sway me, but it does. Jesus can't be my friend.  Simply put, if Jesus is merely a fair weather pal then this crushing and often-oppressive anxiety will destroy me.  Jesus can't be my friend.  He has to be my anchor in the storm.  He has to be my sovereign Lord who is the author and FINISHER of my faith.  Jesus can't be my friend.  He has to be my savior if he is to be anything at all. waves

My relationship with Christ can't simply be one that relies on good times and warm feelings.  It has to be a real relationship that requires active participation on my part even when I don't "feel like it."  In order to walk out my faith in obedience I have to have the right view of Christ.  He is to be revered as the Son of God, honored as Lord of Lords, respected as a loving father, and served, worshipped and adored for His loving sacrifice on my behalf.  Jesus says in John 15:14 that we can be His friends but ONLY if we are following His commands.

Let's be honest, most of the time our feeble fist shaking at heaven has more to do with our own pride and less to do with anything that God has allowed to happen to us.  Even the most grim of circumstances can be endured by simply remembering who Jesus actually is and allowing our faith to restore the hope that’s been lost.  When we allow our situations to dictate our response we negate what Christ did on the cross.  When our circumstances seem insurmountable do we lessen the power of the almighty?  Has your pain, fear, sadness or etc become an idol that’s been placed above the Lordship of Christ?

If we view Jesus as merely a friend for when times are good, or a bail bondsmen when times are bad have we made him a liar?  If you are struggling to have faith and your pride seems to block your access to the father in heaven I encourage you to remember exactly who Jesus is.  Meditate on what he did for you and then ask yourself is Jesus my friend or my savior (hopefully both).  If he is your savior then He's bigger than your current turmoil and he's here to offer peace that you don't deserve and cant understand.  If Jesus is your friend are you holding up your end of the relationship?

 

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.

Butterfly Metamorphosis In Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica at the Peace Waterfalls we decided to visit a butterfly enclosure and talk about being made into a new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Music Used with Permission "Travel Light And Worry Free" by The Eager Seas ©2013 The Eager Seas http://theeagerseas.bandcamp.com/

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Like A Loaded Gun On The Playground

I love the macho bravado in the air this time of year.  We have on one hand every armchair quarterback giving his or her reviews of the most recent game—what season is it anyway?  We have school pride in the air, hunting season on the way, and of course, with the cooler temperatures coming we have the last big movement of snakes.  I often get tagged in posts on social media sites showing some mangled snake asking for my post mortem identification of the slithering offender.  99 percent of the time the alleged venomous snake is merely a misidentified harmless snake that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That rare moment when someone actually kills a rightly identified venomous snake is usually met with heroic praise by the online peanut gallery.  Such comments as “the only good snake is a dead snake” and “you’ve got to kill them ‘cause it’s like leaving a loaded gun on a playground” are simply absurd and rooted deeply in ignorance and fear. I realize that some snakes carry venom that is potentially harmful and even life threatening to humans but let’s be honest, when was the last time you heard of someone being bitten by a viper that didn’t first harass the snake.  I know of one occasion where a dear friend of mine was moving logs on a woodpile and got tagged on the leg by a copperhead. That seems to be a more unusual occurrence and not the norm.  Statistically most snakebite victims are males in their early 20’s and alcohol is typically involved.  I imagine that most of those incidences probably start out with the phrase “hey buddy hold my beer and watch this.”  You can avoid envenomation by simply letting the snake slink off to hits much-preferred hiding spot.

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After doing a quick internet search I saw that only around 12 people per year die from snake related injuries but almost 3 times that number die yearly in the US from dog attacks.  Can we use that same logic to villianize dogs?  I mean the only good one is a dead one in my opinion—only not really.  So why are snakes different than dogs in the public eye?

Why do we fear snakes so much?  Is it so deeply rooted in our interpretation of the Genesis account that we ultimately hate snakes because of their satanic representation? I get that Genesis 3:15 says God will put enmity between humanity and the serpent but weighing Scripture against scripture we see where God says in Genesis 1:31 that all of his creation was “very good.”  So at least the original design was for snakes to be good and for humans to live harmoniously with them.  Of course the curse changed EVERYTHING but we can see in Numbers 21 where Moses held up a bronze staff with a serpent on top of it and by faith the people who looked on it were healed.  Subsequently they were healed of their snakebites but lets just look past that.  Medically we are finding benefits from snakes all of the time.  Copperheads are used in cancer research, rattlesnakes in heart and stroke medication, so on and so forth.  The initial design was for good and post-curse we just have to dig a bit deeper to see it.

What is the purpose of this rant?  My heart is to show that we need not fear any animal.  Even from a Biblical perspective God has given us dominion and charge over creation.  He calls us to steward the resources He created for us.  God didn’t create anything that was bad, so despite your best well placed hatred for snakes, God created them and they’re something to be valued.  I pray you can find the value in things created all around you and then give the glory right back to God, the one who created it all!

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Chance Is Going To Be A Missionary!!

One of my good friends and member of the Catching Creation team is going to Costa Rica as a missionary as a result of God putting a burden on his heart during our most recent missions trip. Please consider supporting Chance Feimster and his efforts down in Costa Rica and pray with us as we believe for new souls added to the Kingdom of God! 

You can support him here: http://chancefeimster.wordpress.com/support/

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Marbled Salamander

In this clip from the Salamander Episode on Catching Creation Vol 3 DVD we talk about the parental care of Marbled Salamanderswww.facebook.com/catchingcreation

Music used with permission http://theeagerseas.bandcamp.com/ "Like Nothing I've Ever Seen" by The Eager Seas ©2013 The Eager Seas

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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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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Holy Turtle

I found a turtle with a hole in it's face, sad reminder of our own mortality and how simple things can lead to our demise but there is hope with Jesus Christ!

 

 

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