Pure As The Driven Snow

The past few days have been a chilly reminder of winter’s very firm grip on my home state of North Carolina.  An “arctic blast” of cold air has swept across much of the country sending temperatures down well below freezing.  I honestly can’t remember a colder winter and yesterday it snowed. I watched the developing storm on the local news channel for days, hoping its trajectory would amble just a little further east so that we would get snow where I lived.  I mean if it's going to be cold it might as well snow right?  It seems that my prayers for frozen precipitation were answered and by lunchtime there was a thin dusting of snow covering the ground. Tiny bitter cold snowflakes fell for the next 12 hours or so as the temperature plunged lower and lower.  We ended up only getting around 1-2 inches of snow but it was enough to blanket my backyard in a sheet of white.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning as the sun was rising over the trees in my backyard I had the thought that Jesus covers our sins like this snow covered my yard.  It’s not an original thought, I’ve heard that analogy for years and it's even in the scriptures, but today it struck me more than normal.  Just like a winter storm, conditions have to be perfect for us to accept and receive our salvation from Jesus.  We have to admit we are sinners, realize the need for salvation, and confess that Jesus is our Lord.  Without these elements all working together as a well timed storm we can’t receive our free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, let us settle the matter”, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  When we accept Jesus, our sins are covered, just like my backyard with the pure white snow.  Everything that was a blight, the holes, the dead grass and dog poop are all covered by a white covering.  To the eyes of the Father our sins look like Jesus' blood and in his righteousness and perfection we are now viewed by a loving father thanks to Jesus’ covering.  No matter what is underneath the snow, the new focal point is the purity and not the filth that lies beneath.  I’m thankful that God sees me through the lens of what Jesus did for me and not what my life looks like without Jesus.  How about you?  Are you pure as the driven snow?

backyard

I'm Not Sweating, I'm Thermoregulating!

Me and the CC team decided to go hiking on this first week of Autumn to see what we could find. We learned that snakes thermoregulate by basking, dogs by panting and me by sweating...a lot. 

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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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redsal
redsal

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.” 

royalballpython

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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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IMG_0867

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?

elephant

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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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Camp Grace Snake Bite!

I got to visit Camp Grace this week to do a few presentations, take kids out to listen to frogs at night and teach about creation and the creator.  While there we caught several awesome reptiles and amphibians.  Here's a video of me getting bit by a red bellied water snake.  Enjoy! 

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camp grace swamp
camp grace swamp
basilisk
basilisk
slimy
slimy
red belly
red belly

This Is Why I Do What I Do!

Check out this awesome promo and testimony video from Channing Guest down in Macon Ga.  I will be speaking at his church, Christ Chapel in Macon, GA on May 19 and at Pine Forest Baptist that evening.  Invite your friends and come experience the wonder of God's creation!  It's such an encouragement to see that this ministry is impacting lives both young and old for the sake of the kingdom.  Isn't God great!  I am humbled and honored that he took the time to make this video and blessed that the Lord set it all up.  It's hard not to have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes when I think about what this ministry can accomplish for the sake of the Gospel.  YOU are special and YOU are loved and I want you to know that in Jesus name! 

Seeing lives changed for Jesus and being a positive influence in a world littered with filth is why I do what I Do.  My prayer is that the Lord will continue to use me as an effective minister of his Gospel.  I'm so thankful that of all people the Lord chose me, transformed me and can use me for his glory!

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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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Are You The Venom Or The Cure?

Are You The Venom Or The Cure?

One of the groups of animals I am most fascinated with are pit vipers and other venomous snakes.  They are perceived as something inherently evil and of no value to humankind but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I genuinely believe that if God created it then it’s good and sometimes we just have to dig and find its goodness.  In the case of pit vipers and other not so favorable venomous snakes there is the potential for benefit to humans through the very thing people are afraid of, the venom.  Did you know that scientists are using snake venom to help find cures and treatments to things such as cancer, strokes, heart problems and etc?  Venom is all a matter of context.  To those on the receiving end of an angry bite venom produces death, but to those in the operating room being treated with a serum derived of snake venom, it brings life.

 The same thing is true with the words we speak as Christians to an unbelieving world.  Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this verse references the tongue and eating fruit.  If we rewind scripture a few chapters back we are reminded of an event that took place in Genesis chapter 3 where a snake deceived Adam and Eve and they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Once they tasted of that tree they were no longer allowed to eat from the tree of life.

When we use our tongue to bash fellow Christians or say things to offend those in the world then we are not eating from the tree of life.  We are speaking death and even though the words we may be saying may have the essence of life to them, the context in which they are received relegates them to death.  We must choose our words carefully and truly try to speak the truths of God in love so that they are received in the proper context.  Are you the venom or the cure?

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