As the shadows were swallowing up the last rays of this evening’s sun, a muley buck trotted across our place with a mission in mind. The rut is in full swing here, and he only has a limited number of days to find receptive does. Avoiding the hunter’s aim is paramount to his success and survival.
So what is the “joyful sound?” I believe it refers to the gospel message of salvation, which is indeed a message of joy, peace and comfort to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Walking in the light of His countenance requires obedience to Biblical principles and the commands of Christ. This sets the stage for Him to allow us to yield fruit (see my previous post) through what we do, say and participate in…as a result of our faith and salvation, not as a condition thereof!
We have had a couple hatches of Mountain Bluebirds this summer, and the new crop has been learning to forage on their own this week. I try to keep a ground-level pan of water filled for drinking and bathing, and the youngsters readily use it. They tend to be pretty skittish, but this evening they seemed to want a bath more than they wanted to distance themselves from me and my camera! One would think that a bird as beautiful as the Mountain Bluebird would have an incredible song and vocals, but that isn’t really the case. It is not that their song is bad, it just isn’t very musical. Typically they are most vocal in the morning, but on a cool evening they will break out in song…as it were.
Sing unto him a new song: play skilfully with a loud noise. Psalm 33:3
From J. Vernon MeGee’s Thru the Bible: We are to sing a new song unto the Lord. What is that new song? Several psalms speak of a new song that will be sung in the future. I think when the time comes to sing that new song there will be new singers also. I am going to have a new body, and I think I will be able to sing. I hope the Lord will let me sing in heaven. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” The psalmist exhorts us to sing a song of praise to God because He is our Creator, but the new song we will sing in heaven will be because the Lord Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” A new song will be sung in the future.
Civilla Martin, who wrote the lyrics to the hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” said this about her inspiration to write the song:
Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s reply was simple: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” was the outcome of that experience.
The image of this Chipping Sparrow was a capture I made on our old 20-Acre Wood on June 23, 2012, only a couple days before wildfire would consume our woodland sanctuary in the Bull Mountains.
From a warmer day in 2010, on the Wyoming side of Beartooth Pass, this Red-tailed Hawk maintains a heightened state of awareness.
Happy New Year! As the end of December approaches, we frequently offer that wish to the people we meet. Very likely the phrase is so overused that few take it seriously. On the surface it looks and sounds like a nice wish, but how do we qualify a happy year from a non-happy year? Are there things we can do to increase the odds of having a happy year, or is it simply a matter of luck? Many folks would probably suggest that something like luck, fate, karma, destiny, or serendipity are the key players in creating a happy year. More technical thinkers might add political elections, the world economy, or perhaps even the weather as critical for setting up a happy year. People in my demographic who are young at heart but getting long in the tooth will likely include general health and wellness as critical to set the stage for a happy year. I suppose that an individual’s worldview would impact how each of us would answer these questions – and how we define a “happy” year.
Economic prosperity, good health, happy memories with friends and family, a promotion at work, graduations, losing weight and quitting smoking are just a handful of many things we might consider important when we judge whether or not a year has been happy. Without doubt, these are all important things that can drive the quality of our day-to-day existence. To some degree we can do things to help assure successful results in these areas, but we really can’t control most of them. And even if lady luck, karma, fate showed up to help us out year-after-year, eventually the string of happy years will end. Over time we will lose all these things we treasure, and eventually we lose our lives. Then what?
Then what??? How you answer that will depend upon your worldview. From my Biblical worldview, every year that I have been counted among those of Jesus Christ, is a happy year. Happy in the sense that I am one year further in my Christian walk. One more year of growth in my faith and trust in Him. One more year of experiencing how He answers prayer. One more year being the recipient of His amazing grace and mercy. So what happens after I use up all my “happy” years benefiting from these riches? Then the best of all awaits – spending eternity worshipping my Savior in His heavenly kingdom! And each year I become one year closer to obtaining that ultimate gift which He has prepared.
So for me, my string of happy years began when I accepted Christ. At that point, I became a new creation. That doesn’t mean that I suddenly stopped sinning, or don’t miss my dear friends and family who have passed away, nor have I reached some kind of perfect status from an earthly standpoint. And while I still sin too much, stray from His leading all too often and lose my patience too frequently, each year for the rest of my life will be a happy year! If you want to make a New Year’s resolution that will last forever and can’t ever be lost, make this and every year hereafter a happy year by inviting Christ to take your sins away and be the Lord of your life.
The New Year
by Martha Snell Nicholson
Dear Lord, as this new year is born
I give it to Thy hand,
Content to walk by faith what paths
I cannot understand.
Whatever coming days may bring
Of bitter loss, or gain,
Or every crown of happiness;
Should sorrow come, or pain,
Or, Lord, if all unknown to me
Thine angel hovers near
To bear me to that farther shore
Before another year,
It matters not—my hand in Thine,
Thy light upon my face,
Thy boundless strength when I am week,
Thy love and saving grace!
I only ask, loose not my hand,
Grip fast my soul, and be
My guiding light upon the path
Till, blind no more, I see!
A Cat-Face Spider (Araneus gemmoides) mends her web, preparing for her next unsuspecting meal.
In early July, the Red-shouldered Ctenucha Moths (Ctenucha rubroscapus) were very active along the coastal grasses at Fort Stevens, Oregon. At first I thought the moths were solid black, but upon closer inspection of the landed specimens, the red (actually orange) head and shoulders were quite apparent. The larvae of this moth feed on grasses and sedges, while the adults tend to take nectar from Goldenrod and Tansy Ragwort. The range of this moth is limited to the southern coast of Washington, down to the Sierra Nevadas and central California.
Biblical references to moths uniformly assign very destructive powers to them. Job uses an analogy that moths can cause the destruction of a dwelling from the foundation. Isaiah likens enemies of God’s righteousness to garments that moths will consume. And Matthew warns us to lay up our treasure in heaven, because worldly possessions will be destroyed by things like rust and moths. We tend to be drawn to things that are pretty or unique, and might even wish to collect such things. A cursory look at such things yields no warnings or red flags, but as in the case of the moth, there may be some hidden destructive device. The moth himself is not destructive, but his larval form can create havoc. Similarly, many things we may covet are innocent enough on the surface, but perhaps the quest to own them requires a sinful path. Or simply the act of possessing them results in a slow, insidious increase of boastfulness, pride or arrogance.