Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Exploring Local Adventures



Its all the rage these days to travel to far-off exotic places. People feel accomplished if they have visited a foreign country or a national point of interest.  There is noting wrong with those kinds of adventures. But they can leave other people feeling unsuccessful at life. Some never get the chance to travel to foreign or far away places. There is also the environmental impact to consider. The more people travel long distances just to see or 'experience' a place, the bigger impact it has on that place and on the wider world. Places can become overrun with too many visitors. Travel causes a lot of carbon emissions and other forms of pollution. Most importantly, you are actually missing out.

How well do we know our own city? How many of the parks have you visited within an hour of your home? When was the last time you explored your local city park, your own back yard? In many ways it seems a lot of us have traded far away, expensive adventures for those close to home. Many today decry the fact that kids play outside less and less. People move from one city or state to another so rapidly they barely get to know the areas where they live. You may be missing out on the wilderness right in your backyard. There are awesome adventures waiting in green spaces just around the corner.

After graduating college I moved to a new, unfamiliar city for my wife's new job. We moved from a city with many trails and mountains to one surrounded by flat-lands and urban sprawl. I felt down about our move because I didn't think there would be much opportunity for fun adventures. I started making plans for a big trip out West where we could see some grand national parks. In the mean-time I consoled myself with weekend rides along the Natchez Trace, a popular local destination for bicyclists. As my wife and I explored this local road, we learned that it was designated a National Scenic Trail and over 400 miles long.

It is highly protected so that nothing can be built along it. It runs from Tennessee to Mississippi and there is not a single man-made object along its entire length. No buildings, gas stations, power-lines or advertisement signs can be seen from the road. Just trees, fields, and several historic locations. One day as we were bicycling along, we came upon a historic location of the burial place of Meriwether Lewis, the famed explorer of the Lewis and Clark expedition to the west coast. One of the most famous adventurers in American history was buried within an hours drive of my home city! I came to realize there were fantastic adventures to be had right in my own backyard!


If I had been absorbed solely with traveling to popular destinations in faraway places, I never would have discovered these amazing sites close to home. Perhaps you are looking for ideas for your next adventure on your own or with friends. Maybe you need an idea to get your kids excited about going outside. Here are several ideas to try:

For All Ages:

Maps - Scour a map of your local area. Look for green sections or areas designated as parks or forests. Printed maps are nice as they display all information at once. If you do not have one or prefer digital maps, try an online map service like Google Maps, Bing Maps, or OpenStreetMaps. For the more tech savvy try a digital topographic online map service like Caltopo or Gaia Maps.

Popular Destinations - Prefer to get recommendations before adventuring to a new location? Try an online search for local parks or historic points of interest. Reviews at sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps provide a lot of info. Other places to check out are your State Park website, and lists of parks on your local county or municipal websites. If you prefer talking to a human, try calling your local chamber of commerce for info or talking to a neighbor or co-worker.

DIY - Sometimes the best adventures are had when you don't make any plans. Ditch the maps, the online recommendations, and ignore where everyone else says you 'have' to go. Just get on your bike, in your car, or use your own two feet and see where you end up! Have you ever walked around your own block? Why not check out that field or forest down the street?

Join a Group - Find a local adventure group to join or a guided tour. An Internet search or word of mouth is the best way to find these. Meetup is a website that hosts thousands of local groups around the world. Alternatively, call a local outdoor shop or guiding company to see what they can recommend. Be sure to check your local State or city parks for guided trips and other group activities.

Go Highpointing -  Visiting the highest points in every State or even every continent is a popular goal among adventurers. How about visiting local high points in your State or county? Here again a little Internet research will pay off. I found out that the highest point in my county is only a 15 minute drive from my house! How far away is the highest point in your county?

Get Historical - Who were the people that started the town where you live? What is the oldest building in your city? Check out Wikipedia for a bit of local history. Then head out and visit some of the historical sites around town. Ever seen those big metal signs that mark significant historical sites? There are online databases for every one of those signs in the United States. This app will show you ones closest to where you live! So get outside and learn.

For Kids:

Local Outlets - There are more and more organized events for getting kids outside. There is bound to be one near you. Checkout you local zoo, science center, and State, national, and local parks for kid oriented programs. Look for nature centers or outdoor centers. Many of these have regularly scheduled programs for kids often involving science. Check your kid's school for after-school programs that get them outside. Sometimes, local churches and community centers run similar programs so see what is available around you.

Let Them Lead - Kids love to explore. Sometimes we adults get in the way and try to manufacture or direct their exploration. Let your children or students lead the adventure for a change. You as the adult will tag along as administrative support making sure everyone stays safe. Put a map or guidebook in their hands and see where they take you. If they want to wander off the main path, follow them! Unless this is illegal or forbidden of course. Alternatively, try establishing a destination and letting the kids figure out how to get there.

Set A Goal: Give the kids, and adults too, an objective. A scavenger hunt is a great option. Provide a bag for objects or a camera for pictures.  Play a game to see who can find the most fascinating animal or plant. Have a contest to see who can pick up the most pieces of trash. Who can make the biggest fort, sand castle, or mud pie?

Run A Bioblitz: This is a great option for your own backyard. The goal is to learn what types of flora and fauna live where you do. You will help the kids explore their local biodiversity. Arm kids with a magnifying glass, a camera, a note pad, and a bag. Give them a task to collect a certain number or type of items. Alternatively, just let them explore and see what they find. After everything is collected, have them describe their finds orally and make notes in their notebook. Next you can help them identify what they found. Guidebooks are extremely helpful for this. There are apps that can help too such as Leafsnap and iNaturalist. This is exactly how naturalists discover new species! Perhaps your kids will too.

So what are you waiting for? There is a whole world to be discovered right outside your door. It's in your backyard and down the street. It is in your local neighborhood and park. You do not need to go across the country or half way around the world. Unique adventures await in your hometown, adventures you can have nowhere else in the world!

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=find+adventure+at+home

Written by David F. Garner

Photo credit: top - Skitterphoto via www.pixabay.com
middle - brainyquote.com

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Value Of True Education



Experience is the difference between maturity and immaturity, adulthood and childhood. Education is the process by which we get from one to the other. What is the value of education? It is the value of experience. It is what gives us the tools to live autonomously, independently. Education is what provides us with the mechanisms by which we are able to rely more on ourselves and less on others. Experiences can be negative or positive. Education is the cumulative result of those positive and negative experiences. Education is what provides us the knowledge by which we can avoid negative experiences and seek out positive experiences in the future.

True education is the development of the character. It is the training and molding of a person into one of moral firmness. It facilitates a commitment to ethics. It trains a person to stand for what is right and what is good. It teaches them to make choices that are for the good of others not solely for self. True education teaches teamwork and self-sacrifice. It teaches patience, kindness, goodness and self control. It teaches the person to have faith in God, hope for the future, and love for other people and animals.

"True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come." (Ellen White, Education, 13.1)

Formal education is the attempt to manipulate the process of learning. It's goal is to guide the experiences of a person on their journey from childhood to adulthood. At times it has fallen short of this goal. In some cases it has become primarily focused on transmitting knowledge, for this it does well. Sometimes it has forgotten true education. But knowledge is not useful if a person does not know how to properly apply it. Only experience can teach this. This is sometimes called wisdom. Judgement, discernment, and insight about how best to apply knowledge in each unique circumstance is crucial to maturity and therefore to adulthood.

Sometimes formal education is missing the purpose of true education. Development of character is vital along with the dissemination of knowledge. Character without knowledge will enable a person to go and acquire knowledge on their own. Knowledge without character is dangerous. There is a single word that aptly describes these kind of person -- arrogant.

It is important that those in the business of educating grasp the importance of true education. It needs to be central to every lesson they teach. To whom does this apply? Teachers, parents, mentors, pastors, and role-models. It applies to everyone who does not live alone on an island.

How is true education conducted? By providing experience. By allowing students of all ages to have many kinds of experiences in various circumstances. These experiences then provide the opportunity to teach wisdom and discernment. They afford the chance to convey knowledge and instruct on ethics. Real-life experiences are key. This is what develops strong character. Providing opportunities for students of all ages to bear responsibility is at the root of real-life experiences. Allowing students to work in teams provides invaluable opportunities for social interaction and development of interpersonal skills. Students need a combination of structured and unstructured learning. Play is the most important means of learning for students under the age of 12. It remains important throughout adolescence but gradually shifts from the primary means of learning to a means of leisure.

Jean Piaget broke childhood development into 4 stages. There are four main types of play based on these stages. Exploratory play is the primary method children 0-2 explore and learn about the world. Through exploring sensation and movement the develop a body scheme and learn about the world around them. They learn by concrete action and reaction. In this stage play is primarily with caregiver. From 2-4 they learn through symbolic play. They learn that objects are permanent even when not seen. They learn to associate ideas and feelings with objects. They begin to use and understand symbols such as language. They begin to participate in parallel play meaning they play alongside other children but their play is not primarily interactive.

Next is creative play from 4-7. It is characterized by engagement in social play and involves higher levels of cognitive processing. It develops sensory, motor, coordination and others skills that are important for school and work. Children play in peer groups. The last stage from 7-12 is dominated by game play. Social interaction is in full bloom and kids are able to play games with rules. Children show interest in competition and friends become important validators for play items and performance.

True education will seek to develop character in the appropriate manner at each stage. It begins with very concrete lessons and methods and gradually progresses along with the child's development. By age 12 students are ready for more abstract thinking. This is where they can begin to take on responsibility. They can understand the value of caring for others. True education will help them to leave selfish interests in childhood. It will point them towards God as the ultimate source of wisdom and morality. The instructor of true education will help the student realize that no matter their beliefs they will not gain perfection in this life but that they should never cease striving for it. He or she will teach them that their true value is not in their accomplishments nor in their character, but in their simple existence.

True education must happen in every sphere of a child's life. It must happen at home, in the classroom, and in the extracurricular program. Most importantly it must happen in the church. No setting is inappropriate for true education to take place. Certainly the most appropriate setting is outside. The great outdoors is no respecter of persons. Therefore it treats all equally. This is the best place for the development of character and of fortitude. It is here that the Maker provided ready lessons for true education. It is here that the instructor can draw upon these ready made lessons to teach wisdom, to mold the character. Jesus demonstrated this repeatedly in his object lessons. He used every day objects to illustrate principles of ethics and morals. He drew upon the things of nature to illustrate what good character looks like. It is a time tested method for practicing true education.

The lessons of nature are true and genuine experience. They are not contrived. In the formal classroom lessons can seem forced or phony. This is why the formal classroom requires supplemental real world experience. The classroom is often devoid of real-world responsibility or pressures. And thus it is best coupled with more realistic experiences. If more teachers would become instructors in true education, they would seek opportunities to add real-world experiences to their curriculum. Even more than are now common. No value can be placed on the teaching of true education. Every teacher, parent, mentor, pastor and role-model must seek to implement this into their educational practices whether formal or informal.

Written by David F. Garner

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christian Songs About Nature For Kids and Adults



Songs that discuss and praise God's creation are always popular. They are useful in nearly every spiritual meeting. But it can be hard to find a good one. Below I have put together a list of my favorite nature songs. I have included links to the lyrics, music (when possible), and a location where you can buy a copy of the song. I have included some especially for kids as these can be very hard to find. If you think of a song I should include please share in the comments below.

Kids Songs (birth to 12+)

Can You Be a Sunbeam?

This song is great for the little kids. It is very repetitive and includes motions to get out the wiggles. It is perfect for Sunday/Sabbath school classes, VBS, and kid specific events. But watch-out, it might get suck in your head!
Lyrics and sheet music along with music audio: Here



Down By The Creekbank

This is a classic song loved by generations of kids. It captures all the things kids love to see in nature from tadpoles to spiders. It has an easy tune that can be learned quickly. It is perfect for making up your own hand motions to represent all the animals. A wagging finger for an earthworm is always fun!
Lyrics: Here
Music audio: Here



God Made Me and All of You

This little ditty is sung to the tune of London Bridges Falling Down and should be familiar to most everyone. It is perfect for the very young kids in cradle roll because it is short. It is easy even if you are not musically inclined. 
Lyrics: Here
Music audio: Here

God Made Me

This song is also short and sweet. It is easy and perfect for the little ones and older kids too. It talks about how God made everything and ends with a thank you to God for making the animals and us. It is also easy to pick up whether you are musically inclined or not. 
Lyrics: Here
Music audio: Here

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

This song has a special place in my heart because I remember singing it when I was little. When I grew up I sang it when helping my mom with kids programs too. It is a bit more complex and better for kids that are in grade school. It has a fantastic message that people any age can be reminded of. Plus it has fantastic hand motions!
Lyrics and sheet music: Here
Music audio: Here
Buy song: Here

Jesus Made Me Just Like Him

This song is fun and easy. It is put to the tune of Jesus loves me. So everyone can sing along even without music. You can also simply add the first verse of this song to the song Jesus loves me along with it's many other verses. You can add motions by touching each part of the body as you sing it. Check it out.
Lyrics: Here
Music audio: Here

Seven Days of Creation Song

This is a great song for any Creation themed programs such as VBS. It progresses through creation week touching on all the things made each day. So it has several short verses. It is sung to the tune of “Are You Sleeping Brother John” which means it is an echo song. It is longer than the previous songs but is still easy to learn because it moves at a mellow pace.
Lyrics: Here
Music audio: Here

Our Wonderful World

This is a song you have likely never heard before. It was written by a friend of mine and her friend. I especially like this song because not only does it celebrate God's Creation but also encourages us to take care of that Creation. My friend is a kindergarten teacher and sings this with her class every day just before they go back inside.

                Lyrics
God made our wonderful world.
God made our wonderful world.
He made all the trees the grass and the flowers,
the animals, the fish, and the turtles.

We'll take care of our wonderful world.
We'll take care of our wonderful world.
We'll explore and discover and try to uncover
the wonderful gifts God has given.

Words By Eudora Stevens

All Ages (especially 8+)



As The Deer

This is another all-time favorite. It seems to get better with every passing year. The lyrics are basically plucked right out of a Psalm so it is timeless. It describes our longing for God as a deer thirsts for the cool mountain stream. It makes a great song at home, in church, or around the campfire.
Lyrics: Here
Sheet music: Here
Music audio: Here

God Of Wonders

This great worship song is powerful for conveying the depths of God's creation. It brings us to wonder how he made everything we can see. It is fun and upbeat and perfect for worship in church, summer camp, or anywhere.
Lyrics: Here
Music video: Here
Music chords: Here
Buy song: Here

All Things New

Another great worship song that seems timeless. It conveys a message of renewal as God makes all things new in Creation, including us. It is catchy and popular. It is a great closing song for any worship event.
Lyrics: Here
Music chords: Here
Buy: Here

All Creatures Of Our God And King

This is a great hymn found in hymnals the world over. It has been loved by generations of praising Christians. It is a resounding chorus that asks all nature to praise God along with his people. It is a moving song that speaks to the majesty of our Creator God.
Lyrics: Here
Sheet music: Here
Buy: Here

Spring Has Now Unwrapped The Flowers

Here is a little known song that nevertheless has a deep message. It describes in detail the creative power of our God. It ends with praises lifted to the maker of all we see. It is a wonderful hymn to sing in church or even home.
Lyrics and sheet music: Here
Music chords: Here
Music audio: Here

There are of course numerous other songs that could be included in this list. Both music and nature are great ways through which we can appreciate His marvelous works and praise him. Here is a list of over 100 other hymns and songs that praise God through nature: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/top/nature.htm


Written by David F. Garner

Monday, December 24, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 88: Self-Control, Man's Best Friend




Key Verse

“Don’t be deceived! “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.”” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (WEB)

Lesson

Dogs are man’s best friend. It has been this way for thousands of years. There is something mysterious yet undeniable about it. Dogs are able to bond with their masters unlike most other animals. There is no other animal as popular for a pet as a dog. One of the key reasons for this is their faithfulness. Dogs can be faithful to their masters even to the point of laying down their life for their owner. Another reason is their usefulness. Dogs are capable of being trained to do numerous tasks. Dogs are incredibly smart and able to learn a wide variety of complex commands. Also, there are numerous dog breads with a wide variety of looks and temperaments. According to the American Kennel Club there are over 340 dog breads around the world. This variety means owners have many options to choose which size, color, temperament or other features suit their needs or desires.

Humans and dogs have a lot in common. Like humans, dogs can read facial expressions, display empathy, jealousy, anger and joy. They can show favoritism to one person over another. They can cooperate with us and with other dogs to accomplish a common task. Dogs are incredibly good at living with humans because they are social animals. In the wild, dogs are pack animals, and this makes forming a social bond with humans natural. Perhaps the biggest reason the two species get along so well is because we have more in common than different. Like humans, dogs have personal preferences and unique personalities. Dogs have been compared to human children in their intelligence and emotional expression. We understand each other well. It also helps that dogs are so loyal. They love us no matter what.

A recent study looking at humans and dogs found another interesting comparison. Both dogs and humans can exercise high levels of self-control. We are both able to control and resist impulses to do things that are not beneficial. This is an important skill for survival. It is key for forming and maintaining social bonds. The most surprising finding that resulted from the study was that after exerting self-control for a period of time, both humans and dogs had a diminishing ability to control their impulses. After resisting their impulses for an extended period in one area humans and dogs were more likely to give into their impulses in another area, to act more aggressively, and to have increased difficulty with problem solving. Basically, the longer they had to engage self-control, the harder it was to resist temptation.1

There is a spiritual lesson here for us humans to learn. The Bible informs us that we will face temptation in this life to do evil. Satan is constantly working to trick us into doing things we know are wrong. Paul tells us that we are in a war against our own impulses to do evil. It is something that we must fight every day. The Bible also warns us not to put ourselves into a place where we know we will be tempted. In the key verse we are warned that hanging out with the wrong crowd will make it hard for us to stick to good morals. If your friends are doing things you know are wrong, things that you are tempted to do, than staying around them is going to make it even harder for you to exercise self-control. The lesson here is that we should avoid putting our self in to tempting situations. As the study demonstrated, the longer we have to exert self-control, the more likely we will give in. We should avoid putting ourselves near temptation when possible. When it is not, God will give us power to resist. This quote states it well, “Those who operate through the Holy Spirit are more equipped to resist temptation.” – Monica Johnson

Questions

What is your favorite kind of dog?

Is it wrong to struggle with temptation?

What methods does the Bible provide for resisting temptation?

When will temptation go away?



Sources

1. Stanley Coren, “Self-Control in Dogs Is a Limited Resource,” Psychology Today online, last updated July 16, 2014, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201407/self-control-in-dogs-is-limited-resource.



Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Pexels via www.pixabay.com

Monday, December 17, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 87: Reindeer Gospel





Key Text

"For so has the Lord commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you as a light for the Gentiles, that you should bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.’” Acts 13:47 (WEB)

Lesson

Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer. We all know the story. A young reindeer who is shunned and teased because he looks different with his bright red nose. But his seeming handicap turns out to be just what Santa needs and so Rudolf finds his purpose in the world. Reindeer are unique and almost magical creatures to most of the world because of Christmas myths and where they live. Reindeer make their home so far north few people will ever see them more than once or perhaps not at all.

Reindeer are also called caribou in North America and are rather interesting creatures. Both male and female grow impressive antlers. They are able to survive in subzero temperatures and blinding blizzard weather. Some species have knees that make a clicking noise that helps the herds stay together when it’s hard to see. They also have hooves that expand in the summertime when the ground is soft and shrink in winter when it’s hard. Reindeer are known to migrate as much as 3000 miles (4800 km) per year in search of food which is a record among land animals. Reindeer have specially designed noses that warm the frigid air before it enters their lungs.1

Their nose is able to do this thanks to an enormous blood supply that circulated through their nose. This blood flow actually turns the tip of their nose red at times. Robert May, the creator of the Rudolf story, might have been inspired after seeing a reindeer with a red nose in real life. The distinctive red hue is not bright enough to guide a sleigh, but it is a marvelous tool for regulating body temperature. Scientists have discovered that in addition to warming air, a reindeer's nose acts to release body heat in their head. This helps to keep their brain at a proper temperature. Reindeer are truly amazing creatures.




We like Rudolf all have a blemish. There is definitely something wrong about us. We have all felt the sting of other people making fun of us and this can bring our faults to the surface. I am not talking about external blemishes or even problems inside the body, I am talking about defects in our hearts and our personalities. We have a selfishness problem. While it is no fun to be made fun of or shunned like Rudolf, we have also acted like the other reindeer at times and made fun of or shunned others. There is good news. When we give ourselves to Jesus, he will show us how to live for others. The gospel of Rudolf's story is that there is one Person who can take our defects and make them into something that gives light to the world.

Questions

How do you feel when others make fun of you?
Do you think Santa let the other reindeer make fun of Rudolf?
What does the Bible teach about having the qualifications to be used by God?
What is one way to can use your defects to spread the Gospel of Jesus?

Sources

1. Joseph Stromberg, "The Scientific Reason Why Reindeer Have Red Noses," Smithsonian online, last modified December 18, 2012, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-scientific-reason-why-reindeer-have-red-noses-166263479/.


Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Natalia_Kollegova via www.pixabay.com

Monday, December 10, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 86: Red and Green



Key Text

"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also." John 14:3 (WEB)

Lesson

What is red and green all over? It probably did not take you long to guess Christmas. These two colors are often considered the official colors of the holiday. But other colors are popular too. Blue, gold, silver, and white can be seen adorning nearly every home and shop at Christmas. Red and green still seem to dominate all others. It hasn’t always been that way. Until the early 20th century many colors were used in decorations as much as any other. But red and green slowly came to prominence with time.

In colder climates in Europe and North America, the dark green holly plant with its bright red berries are a familiar and welcome sight. They are one of few plants that grow in the cold months and stick out against the snow. Holly is able to grow even in winter because it is an evergreen. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees F (-6 degrees C).1 Holly has long been a symbol of hope of coming spring. So the holly branch has been associated with the Christmas season for centuries. The holly branch helped to make red and green the most popular Christmas colors.

This hope is mirrored in the hope of the Christmas story in which the birth of Jesus symbolized the coming hope of his mission. The birth of Jesus did not in itself bring salvation. Jesus still had to grow up. He had to complete his ministry and train disciples to carry his message to the world. Then he had to choose to go to the cross and die for our sins. But the birth of the Messiah brought hope. It was a sign that God was in the process of carrying out his promise. It was a symbol of hope.

God is now in the process of carrying out another promise. He is working to prepare a place for you and me so that he can come again and take us to live with him for eternity. As Jesus promised in the key text, he will come again and take us back to heaven with him. Christmas is the celebration of the first advent of Jesus and a reminder that Jesus fulfilled God's promise of a redeemer to save the world. When you look at the red and green decorations this Christmas season, let them remind you that like the holly is a promise of the coming spring, so Christmas is a promise of a savior that is coming a second time.

Questions

What is your favorite Christmas color?
What else does Christmas give us hope for?
Why has Jesus not returned yet?
How long will it be to Jesus comes back?

Sources
1. "AMERICAN HOLLY," University of Kentucky, Department of Horticulture online, last updated December 7, 2018, from http://www.uky.edu/hort/American-Holly.


Written by David F. Garner

Friday, December 7, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 85: Better Than Metal Bones





Key Text

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Lesson

Have you ever wished that you were made of metal? That your bones were as strong as steel and could never be broken, or perhaps that you had your own metal armor? This is a dream shared by many boys but probably few girls. It is an interesting thought and one contemplated by biologists. Not long ago biologists discovered one creature that does have a metal skeleton. It is called the scaly-foot gastropod (Crysomallon squamiferum). This odd creature is a snail-like animal that lives deep in the ocean near hydrothermal vents where it is warm. They live at depths of 1.5-1.7 miles (2.4-2.8 km). Scaly-foot gastropods grow their own shell which they use as a defense from predators.

Their shell is made of a trilayered composite structure that resembles modern armor. It is made of a highly calcified inner layer, an organic middle layer, and coated with an iron-sulfide outer layer. This deep-sea snail has iron armor! It is currently the only known animal to achieve this. This metal armored shell also acts as an exoskeleton for the snail. It serves to protect it from the harsh corrosive water it lives in as well as to stop predators from eating it. This unique creature is providing researchers with new insights that may lead to better designs for materials to use in armor and all sorts of applications.1

Researchers have studied metal and other materials as possible substitutes for bone in humans. Metals and other composite materials are used to replace bones in some surgeries such as hip replacements. These materials are in many ways stronger and more resilient than bone. One critical barrier remains to replacing our bones with other materials—self healing. Our bodies are designed to heal injuries using the materials and molecules we had at birth. Our bodies are simply not designed to heal metal bones.

Humans may devise a way to replace their bones with stronger materials one day. It may seem better to never have to worry about having a broken bone. But metal bones or armor will not stop all pain or harm. It cannot prevent death. God has given us something better than metal armor. He has provided a shield for us. As it says in the key text, those who trust in God will have him as their protector, as their rock. When we submit to God and trust him to provide our protection then we can have peace. God has outlined his armor for us in Ephesians 6:10-18: righteousness, faith, truth, and salvation. With these tools we have the protection of the Almighty King, much better than any metal. The scaly-foot gastropod can go about its business, without worry of danger, confident in the armor God has provided for it. How much more can we live free from worry, confident in the protection God provides us? Are we not more valuable than a sea snail? Jesus died to redeem us, our salvation is assured. We may suffer broken bones here on this earth, but that is nothing compared to the hope we have in Jesus!

Questions

If you have had a broken bone, how did it happen?

Would you choose between metal bones or metal armor? Why?

What do we do when we trust God’s protection but still worry?

Sources

1. Yao, Haimin, Ming Dao, Timothy Imholt, Jamie Huang, Kevin Wheeler, Alejandro Bonilla, Subra Suresh, and Christine Ortiz. “Protection Mechanisms of the Iron-Plated Armor of a Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Gastropod.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, no. 3 (January 19, 2010): 987 LP-992. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0912988107.



Written by David F. Garner

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