Friday, June 14, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 100: Worth of An Earthworm

Key Text

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?... But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.” Psalms‬ ‭22:1,6 (‬WEB‬‬)


Do you like earthworms? They seem kind of plain and ordinary. They are probably not the first animal you would choose to keep as a pet. They don’t play with you. They are not especially cute or cuddly. In fact, you might even think they are gross and slimy. To most people, worms are not very important. They are at the bottom of the food chain. Birds eat them for food and humans use them as fish bait. What does an earthworm eat? Just dirt.1 In the Bible, worms represent the lowest order. They are the most insignificant and least important.

We see this in the Key Text where King David says he feels like a worm. He feels insignificant and worthless. He feels like he does not matter. He feels depressed. Have you ever felt doubt or depression? You have probably been teased or felt bad about yourself like King David. You may have even thought you were worthless. Depression is a real concern. It can affect children as young as preschool age.2 Depression is more than just sadness. It is a constant feeling that you don’t matter and that you are less valuable than other people. It can even lead some people to harm themselves.

One of my youth group members named Sam once told me a story about a friend of his named James that experienced depression. Sam and James were both in middle school. James often said negative things about himself. Sam and their other friends sometimes teased James and made fun of him. One day they had been teasing him through most of recess. James kept dropping the basket ball during a game. Finally he was so mad at himself he went to the wall and started beating his head against it and calling himself stupid until his forehead was bleeding. The principal had to intervene. James was depressed and felt so worthless he felt like he needed to hurt and punish himself. Thankfully, he was able to get help from a counselor.

King David also felt depressed. He cried out to God and told him he didn’t even feel like a human anymore. He felt as worthless as a worm. But worms are actually not worthless. Earthworms are very important. As you may already know, earthworms help make soil good for growing plants. They are important in a garden because they turn compost into good fertilizer.1 They may be at the bottom of the food chain but they are still very important. King David took his feelings to God who answered his prayer. King David discovered that God loves us and values us more than anything. That’s why a few verses after the Key Text King David said, “ have answered me. I will declare your name to my brothers. Among the assembly, I will praise you.” Psalms‬ ‭22:21-22‬ ‭(WEB‬‬)

You may feel as low as a worm sometimes. But even worms are important. And God values you much more than any worm. After all he died for you. When you feel sadness, doubt, or depression, I encourage you to tell God. He understands. I also encourage you to tell a person. If you are not an adult yet tell a parent, teacher, or pastor. If you are grown, tell a close friend. Get help from a professional counselor no matter how old you are. Most importantly, talk to God about your feelings every day. He wants to hear so that he can answer your prayers. Then you can proclaim with David, “I will praise you.”


Have you ever felt like you don’t matter to God?

What types of things make you feel doubt about yourself?

Does feeling depressed just mean you have weak faith?

Is it ok to get help from a pastor or counselor when you feel doubt or depression? Is it ok to take medication for it? (The answer is yes, read this article for more info)

What are some strategies you can use to cope with feelings of doubt and depression?

1: National Geographic Society, “Common Earthworm,” National Geographic online, (2019), accessed June 2, 2019 from
2: Mary Elisabeth Dallas, “Depression can start as young as preschool, study finds,” CBS News online, (August 6, 2014) accessed June 2, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo source: Natfot via

Friday, June 7, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 99: Apples To Apples


"What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word, and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit, and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, some thirty." Matthew 13:23 (WEB)


Apples are an amazing fruit. They are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Part of the reason they are so popular is because there are so many varieties. Whether you prefer sweet or tart, soft or crisp, you are likely to find one you like. Many varieties that grow wild are not very tasty though. Wild apples tend to be very tart or bitter. Apple growers have a word to refer to these. They call them "spitters" because they taste so gross you want to spit them out. But there are also plenty of apples grown in orchards that taste wonderful.

An interesting fact about apples is that every new apple seed will produce a new variety. If you buy your favorite apple at the store, eat it, and then plant the seeds, the apples it grows will taste different. This effect is called extreme heterozygosity. The flowers of an apple tree must be pollinated by a different variety. This ensures that every apple tree will be a little bit different. It means that apple trees can adapt quickly and that is why they are able to grow all over the world in many different climates.1

Have you ever heard the expression, 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree'? This expression is used to describe how a child is very similar to their parents. An apple falls to the ground right below the tree it grew from. So if you want to know what kind of apple tree is growing you can pick up an apple underneath and figure it out. When someone says this about a person, it is often negative. For example, if a child is caught being naughty, or has a short temper, someone might say, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" meaning that child is just like their parents.

It is true that we share a lot of similarities with our parents. We inherit their physical characteristics and their thought patterns and emotional characteristics as well. We usually pick up some of their good and bad habits too. We know from the Bible that we also inherit a tendency to sin from our parents. We cannot avoid it. It is true that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

But inside every apple is a seed that will grow into something different. It will produce a completely different and unique variety of apple that has never been seen before. It could be a bitter tasting apple or it could turn out sweet. It depends on what is in the seed. Did you know that you can decided what type of apples you will produce in your life? You decide if you will let your parents influence who you become. You can choose to change who you become. It is never too late, even if you are an adult. You can choose to produce bitter or sweet fruit.

In the Key Text, Jesus compares the love of God to a seed that was planted in the ground. It grows and produces much more fruit than was planted. It produces good fruit, the fruit of the spirit which include love, joy, and peace. When God's seed is planted inside us, we become sweet and nice. We are no longer bitter. It does not matter who our parents were. God's power, when planted in our hearts, can overcome and change us into something good.


What would you change about yourself if you could?

What habits or characteristics have you inherited from your parents that you don't like?

What do you want to become?

Will you ask Jesus to help you become the best version of yourself that you can be?

1. Rebecca Rupp, "The History of the "Forbidden" Fruit," National Geographic online, (JULY 22, 2014), accessed May 28, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit:  Kookay via

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 98: Lava Crickets

Key Text

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)


You have probably read of a flame-breathing dragon and you may have seen a fire ant, but have you ever heard of a lava cricket? No, this is not a myth like the dragon. It is a real insect! Lava crickets (Caconemobius fori) are a type of cricket native to Hawaii. They get their name from the lava flows they live on. As cool as it might sound, the lava cricket does not live on fresh, red hot lava. It moves onto the lava after is has cooled and hardened for about 3 months. Although it has cooled some, the lava surface can still get hot and there are many steaming vents around.

The lava cricket is not well understood at the time of this writing. It has been studied by scientists a few times since it was first studied in the 1970’s but because of the extreme environment where it lives it is hard to study. Additionally, as other plants and animals begin to populate the cooling lava flows, the lava cricket disappears because it does not want to have to compete with other species for survival. Scientists do not know where it goes. It does not have wings with which to fly to a new lava flow. No one knows how it arrives to a new lava flow or how it leaves.

It lives in one of the harshest environments on the surface of the the earth. A new lava flow is more desolate and has less water than many deserts. Plus, it experiences major temperature fluctuations. During the day the surface of some lava flows in Hawaii where the lava cricket lives can get up to 140 degrees F (60° C) and at night can plummet to 50 degrees F (10° C).1 How does the cricket cope with daily temperature changes that can be as drastic as 90 degrees F (50° C)? Scientists don’t know. The lava cricket is one extreme animal!

God has given these crickets the information they need to survive in this extreme environment in their DNA. If we want to know how they accomplish this we must study them through science. As unbelievable as it seems to us, God has provided the lava cricket with everything it needs to survive one of the most severe habitats.1

Similarly, God has provided all the information we need to survive this harsh world in which we live. He has provided a message about how he is going to fix the problems in this world. That message is found in the Bible. We may not understand everything about it. But if we want to learn more we must study it. The Bible was written a long time ago by many different people. Each part contains the same core message which was inspired by God’s Spirit. That message is that God is love. Just as the lava cricket can trust the information God has given it to survive in a harsh climate, so we can trust the information God has given us in the Bible that will enable us to survive the harshest situations in this life. All we need to to is read it.


What is your favorite extreme animal whether real or mythical?

Why did God choose to share his message in the Bible rather than just sending an angel to tell us?

Does the Bible say that we will or won’t have difficulties and suffering in this life?

How do you study the Bible?

1. Francis G. Howarth, "NEOGEOAEOLIAN HABITATS ON NEW LAVA FLOWS ON HAWAII ISLAND: AN ECOSYSTEM SUPPORTED BY WINDBORNE DEBRIS," Pacific Insects 20, no. 2-3 (May 16, 1979): 133-144, accessed May 30, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner

SDA Belief Series #1

Friday, May 17, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 97: Worry Like A Flower

Key Text

"Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these." Matthew 6:28-29 (WEB)


What is your favorite color of flower? You can find nearly every color of the rainbow. Some colors are more rare like green or even black. Others are abundant like yellow. What is your favorite type of flower? There are over 400,000 flowering plants in the world, so your bound to find one to like.1 Some are big and intricate. Others are small and plain. Some have wonderful scents, others have a horrid stench and some have almost no scent at all. 

There are flowers that grow in all types of places. Some grow in extreme areas where few plants or animals live. The Velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) grows in the desert in the southwestern United States. It can with stand the hot desert temperatures that can reach 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) and in the winter temps can drop below freezing! To find water in the parched ground it sends its roots up to 164 feet (50 meters) deep!2

Other flowering plants can grow in extreme cold and at very high elevations. One flower, Christolea himalayensis, grows on high mountains in the Himalayas. It has been recorded growing over 20,000 feet (6300 m) and freezes and thaws again each day.3 There are even flowers that grow underwater. A species of seagrass, Thalassia testudinum, has flowers that grow completely underwater. It even depends on small water animals to help pollinate the flowers.4 

God made so many different beautiful flowers. Did you know that Jesus talked about flowers? In the Key Text Jesus was speaking to his listeners about worrying too much. He reminded them to depend on God who has the power to provide all our needs. Jesus reminded his listeners how beautiful God makes flowers. Yet they don't worry about getting clothes, making money, or finding food. They depend fully on God for everything they need. Humans live much longer than flowers do as you know if you have ever picked any flowers. Yet, we often worry about whether we will have everything we need. Jesus reminded his listeners in the same sermon, that God already knows our needs even before we ask him. We don't need to worry. If we trust God, and ask him for what we need, he will provide. 


Do you or your family like to keep flowers in your house or lawn?

Does the Key Text mean that God will give us anything we ask for?

What if we do not get what we ask for in prayer, does that mean God has broken his promise?

How can we learn to trust that God will give us what he knows is best?

1. ProFlowers, “151 Types of Flowers Common in the U.S.,” (March, 19, 2019), accessed May 31, 2019 from
2. Jill Richardson, "Desert plants: The ultimate survivors," Science News for Students online, (January 30, 2015) accessed March 31, 2019 from
3. lucy, "Surviving in mountains: the highest places in the world where plants flower," Wild World online, (June 10, 2011) accessed March 31, 2019 from
4. Matt, "Underwater Pollinators," In Defense of Plants online, (October 31, 2016) accessed March 31, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: DeltaWorks via 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 96: Transparent Honesty


Key Text

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16


Thing of something that is transparent or see-through. What did you think of? The first thing to come to most people’s mind is glass. The most beneficial thing about glass is that we can see through it, yet it provides a barrier. Now, can you think of something living that is transparent? This is a bit harder. There are living organisms that have transparent parts. For example, the common house fly (Musca domestica) has transparent wings. How about a plant, have you ever seen a plant with see-through parts?

The flowering plant known as honesty (Lunaria annua or Lunaria rediviva) has large flat seed pods that grow to be about the size of a U.S. quarter ($0.25) or larger. This plant produces beautiful purple or white flowers. It is native to Europe but grows in the United States well especially in warmer areas.1 As it grows, it produces its large thin seed pods that start off green. As the seed pods dry and prepare to disperse their seeds, the paper-thin fleshy sides turn translucent and you can see the seeds inside. This see-through characteristic gave rise to the plants name—honesty.

When we are honest, we are transparent, or see-through about the truth. We are upfront about our intentions. We do not cloud or distort the truth or make it hard for people to ‘see’. Being transparent or see-through has long been a metaphor representing honesty. "Perfect sincerity and transparency make a great part of beauty, as in dewdrops, lakes, and diamonds." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Paul discusses the benefit of being open and transparent about actions and intentions (2 Corinthians 1:12–23). God considers honesty and telling the truth so important he included it in the Ten Commandments. Honesty is at the heart of our Key Text which is the ninth commandment. The thing about lying is that no matter how good you are at it, the truth is always transparent to God. Just like you can see the seeds inside the seedpod of the honesty plant, God can see your true thoughts and intentions. The Bible says man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus promised that those who are honest and pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8). Honesty is the best policy.


Why is it hard to tell the truth sometimes?

How will your belief about God impact your commitment to honesty?

Why do humans lie and twist the truth so often?

Do you think it is ok to lie sometimes? Why or why not?


1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Honesty,” Encyclopedia Britannica online, last modified May 12, 2015, accessed May 3, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: MabelAmber via

Friday, April 26, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 95: Elephant Training

Key Text

"not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 (WEB)


One of the biggest animals in the world is an elephant. You have probably seen pictures or video of them and maybe you even gasped at how massive they can be. If you have ever seen one in person, than you know that pictures or video do not really give you a good idea of just how large they are. The first time I saw a live elephant in a zoo I was stunned speechless, even though I had seen numerous pictures. His trunk was like a fire-hose and his legs the size of pillars. Everything about the elephant is so big, except one part. As he turned I couldn't help but laugh at the comically small, wispy tail.

Many animals, including reptiles and others abandon their young to survive on their own. This is not so for African elephants. It would be easy to assume that newborn elephants could easily survive on their own because they are huge. Newborn elephants weigh about 200 pounds (91 kg)! But they need a lot of help. Adult elephants work together to raise their young. Mothers work together to help newborns find their footing, they also teach them how to nurse. The entire herd slows their pace when walking so the young can keep up. The older elephants teach the young which plants are safe to eat, how to eat them, and which ones to avoid. Raising the young is an effort that requires the whole herd.

It is similar for Christians. We must show other Christians how to live in Christ and we do this through our changed life. This is part of the fruit we bear. This is not a passive activity only. We must actively be involved in helping show others how to live like Jesus. One of the best ways to do this is by studying the Bible together. Christians meet together regularly to study the Bible, pray, and spend time together. This is not simply for fun. It is so that we can learn from each other how to be more like Jesus.

If you are not meeting together with other Christians how can you expect to learn and grow? Just like the young elephants, we must learn how to grow from those that are more mature, or our faith will die. As you grow in Jesus, it is important that you show others how to get to know Jesus and how to be more like him. This not only helps them, it also helps you by keeping your focus on your own relationship with Jesus. If you do not disciple others as you mature in Christ, then you are not truly living as a Christian. We need each other, we need to be a part of a Christian family. That is the way Jesus intended it.

What person in your life helped you learn how to follow Jesus?

Are there any benefits to us if we show others how to be disciples? If so, what?

Who are you discipling?

Who are you pouring your life into?

1 National Geographic Society, "African Elephant," National Geographic online, (2019), accessed May 21, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: garyskirrow via

Friday, April 12, 2019

Outdoor Object Lessons 94: No Food No Worries

Key Text

“Here is the perseverance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”” Revelation‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭(WEB‬‬)


Have you ever seen a giant moth? One of the biggest moths in the world is called the Atlas moth (Attacus atlas). Its wingspan is between 9-12 inches (25-30 cm)! The atlas moth is primarily orange and has beautiful geometric patterns of white and black across its wings. As with other moths, the Atlas begins its life as a caterpillar. It eats and grows until it is ready to turn into a winged moth. Then it wraps itself in a cocoon and the pupa slowing transforms into an adult moth. Once it has transformed, the Atlas moth can no longer eat. It has no functional mouthparts. In fact, many moth species are unable to eat once they transform from the larva state. The Luna, Polyphemus, Promethea, and other species of adult moths do not have mouthparts.

Because it has no mouth, the Atlas moth must survive off the energy it consumed as a caterpillar. It spends most of its short adult life being still in order to conserve energy. It’s one purpose as an adult is to reproduce. It does not waste time looking for food sources to perpetuate its own life. God gave the adult moth one job. And it has everything it needs to do it.

Likewise, as Christians living in these last days, God has given us one job. We may fret that we don’t have certain talents, good looks, money or other things. God has given or will give what we need to do the job he has given us. In the next life we will have everything we want, long life, good looks, money, even the streets will be paved with gold. But in this short life on earth, God has left us one job— to tell people of his soon return.

We are to live with this as our primary priority. We are the Remnant people. We do not have time to be preoccupied with chasing after worldly things. We have an urgent message for the world. Jesus instructed us not to worry about anything, not even what we will eat (Matt. 6:31). We need to be focused on telling people to get ready for Jesus’ soon return, encouraging them to repent and prepare for his coming judgment. We need the perseverance to stay focused on our one task, which is to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.


Is it wrong if we do have good looks or lots of money? Do you think God gives these gifts to some people for a reason?

How do we share God with others when they don’t seem to want to hear it?

Does God expect us to trust him even if we have lost everything?

Is it wrong to feel worried about things?

How do you stay focused on God even when you feel worried?

1. Kasey, "Atlas moth," Remain Gardens: Iowa State University, July 2017, accessed March 13, 2019 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Crazygoat

SDA Belief Series 13/28