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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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.

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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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?

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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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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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Spring Peepers Carry Their Cross, Do You?

Spring Peepers Carry Their Cross, Do You?

Every year around February I begin to get excited about the coming of spring.  The first indicator for me that winter is loosing its grip is when I begin to hear winter breeding frogs like chorus frogs and spring peepers.  The bird like call of spring peepers gets me the most excited because conditions have to be warmer for them to come out than their cousins the chorus frogs.  The spring peeper’s Latin name is Pseudacris crucifer.  They have a very prominent cross or X shape on their back, hence the species name “crucifer.”

They are a very visual representation of the crucifixion of Jesus and they even start their springtime reveling right before Easter.  I tend to think of them as a proclamation of good news that winter is over and spring is about to begin.  The death of winter is over and the new life of spring is just around the corner.  Their timing with the celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is icing on the cake.

We as believers in Jesus Christ need to be more like these frogs, visibly carrying our crosses but joyfully calling out and proclaiming the glory of God to a cold world.  Matthew 16:24 says, Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Even though spring peeper frogs are designed to withstand the cold of late winter and early spring, it still must be uncomfortable for them to emerge and dutifully announce the coming of spring.  We as believers in Jesus Christ need to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses, so that a dying world can see that just around the corner spring has sprung.  New life is on the way!  Spring peepers carry their crosses, do you?

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Has Someone Littered Your View Of God?

Has Someone Littered Your View Of God?

I will often go hiking deep into the woods with the hopes of finding some new spot untainted by the hand of man.  I am continually astonished to find that every new secret hard to find spot that I discover is littered with beer cans and old tires and any number of other forms of litter.  It amazes me the lengths people will go to discard washing machines and old vehicles or simply the spots people decide to throw away any conceivable thing imaginable.  If I took the popular view of most people regarding our God and compared bad experiences with the church to litter in the woods you could say it’s the wilderness’ fault that all the litter exists.  We know that would be the furthest thing from the truth.

It’s not God’s fault you have had a bad experience with church or even other believers in Christ.  The heart of the issue is simply bad decisions made by people.  Even though Christians are followers of Jesus and should subscribe to all of His teachings, we often miss the mark and can litter the views of unbelievers and believers alike.

In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians he illustrates this point in chapter 2:1-4 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.   Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If we can remember these words from the Apostle Paul we can help others see the true beauty of Christ’s church and truly reflect the nature of Jesus to a world that so desperately needs to see something genuine and uncontaminated.  Has someone littered your view of God?

 

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A Hognose Snake Plays Dead, Do You?

A Hognose Snake Plays Dead, Do You?

Have you ever had the opportunity to see a hognose snake?  They have quite the display when they are threatened.  When a hognose snake is startled it will hiss, spread its neck to appear larger and even venomous.  They will sway back and forth like a cobra and mock strike at their aggressor.  If all of that fails they simply play dead.  They roll over on their back, stick out their tongue and produce the foulest of musk.  They look dead, feel dead and even smell dead.  For most predators this display will convince them not to eat the hognose and move on their way.  Once the threat is gone the snake rights itself and crawls away.

How many times do we as Christians play dead in the sight of the predator of our souls, the devil?  We know the commands of Christ to love one another and make disciples but we sit idly by and play dead in the pews or in our homes knowing that there needs to be action with our faith. James 1:22 says, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  James goes on to say in chapter 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” 

Thankfully our salvation is a free gift and we don’t have to earn it to be assured a place in heaven, but there are so many out there that are in desperate need of this saving faith that we have.  Jesus wants us to have faith and to back our faith up with good deeds. We need to be truly living out his teaching and commands.  If we just hear the word but do not do it are we living out this Christian life to the fullest or are we just playing dead?  A hognose snake plays dead, do you?

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Are You On The Right Path?

 Are You On The Right Path?

 

Have you ever heard the statement “all paths lead to God?”  I was recently hiking at a place I had not previously hiked before and realized I didn’t know which path actually led to the place I wanted to go.  If I used the logic that all paths would lead me to the goal I set out to find, I can only imagine where I would end up.  The problem with that statement is that all paths eventually do lead to God, but all paths don’t allow you to stay in his presence.  We will all be judged for the actions and choices we make in this life and we will all eventually meet the creator of the universe, so in that regard I can agree that all paths lead to God.  The problem is, however, if we don’t accept Jesus and are cleansed of our sins by his blood, God’s justice requires that we will be eternally separated from His presence.  It's not God's wish that any of us spend eternity in Hell but we are already condemned if we don't accept the free gift of salvation He sent by way of his crucified son.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” God has given us a way out, a way to the right path, through His son Jesus Christ.  We have the opportunity in this life to be forgiven and placed back in right standing with God if we accept the sacrifice of His son.  If you’re seeking to find the right path and don’t want to just be lost in the woods, I encourage you to look to Jesus.  He is the way, the only way!  Are you on the right path?

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