Friday, February 16, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 65: Cardinal Praise




Key Verse

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV

Lesson

On a wintry cold December day not too long ago as my wife and I walked through the woods she said, “Listen to how quiet it is.” We both stopped and listed for a few moments, there was complete silence, not a bird or bug, or even the wind could be heard. This is normal during the winter months in most of the world, especially where it gets below freezing. Most birds fly south for the winter to warmer weather. The ones that stay behind and endure the cold rarely sing in order to save their energy. Not until early spring do they begin singing again.

The Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is different. Cardinals are fantastic and accomplished songbirds. They are also hardy and do not fly south for the winter and are able to endure the long cold winters as far north as southeastern Canada. They are undeterred by thick snow, long nights, or biting winds. Lack of food sources does not even drive this small red bird south. Despite all the difficulties faced in the long cold winter they can be heard singing. They are one of few birds that can be heard year-round, even in the dead of winter, offering songs to their Creator.1

What a wonderful example how we can continue to praise God even in the trials of life. God is our fortress in which we can take shelter and find hope in the darkest of times (Psalm 59:17). Because of this hope we can know that God has not deserted us. We can be sure that everything will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). For these reasons we can meet trials with joy as James encourages us to do (James 1:2).

Paul and Silas were missionaries for Jesus. They preached about him wherever they went. In many towns they were told not to talk about Jesus, yet they continued to do so because they knew others needed to learn about the salvation he offers. For this they found themselves in prison chained to the wall with their legs in stocks. Yet in this most difficult time and place, they were able to sing hymns to encourage each other and as praise to God. They, like the Cardinal, held a hope of the coming spring.

Questions

What are some benefits of praising God even when we are experiencing trials and may not feel like it?

Does praising God mean we cannot or should not feel sad?

What are other ways we can praise God besides singing?

Why does God allow us to go through these hard times?

Sources

1 John Bull and John Farrand Jr. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region. (1990): 578. Alfred A Knopf Publishing, New York. Print.



Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: David F. Garner

Outdoor Conservation Ethics Through Time



Mankind has been dependent on his surrounding environment since the beginning. He must be careful to use it sparingly for it it fails he likely will also. Various people through out history have managed their surrounding environment in many creative ways, some effective, others perhaps even more damaging. Each time man has failed to manage the surrounding environment upon which he depends, it has led to valuable lessons painfully learned. These lessons are often transmitted to others in wise proverbs, ethical codes, protective laws, memorable sayings, and even imaginative songs and poems. Perhaps the best known incarnation of conservation language today is the Leave No Trace Center's 7 Principles. Before these were canonized in the early 1990's various people and groups tried to educate others on conservation ethics. Here is a list of memorable and concise quotes and codes from various sources. Please enjoy and share these with others!


Beginning of Time

 

"God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (WEB) 

 

The above verse records the first command given to Adam and Eve after they were created. It describes their role as caretakers and stewards of God's creation with a duty to cultivate and multiply the natural world. The theme of God's followers as stewards runs throughout scripture and did not stop after the fall. Read more about it here.

1700 B.C. (Circa)

 

"Tear not up by the roots the Kakambira tree: destroy thou all malignity."


This quote comes from a verse (VI-48-17) of the ancient Hindu text the Rig Veda Samhita translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith 1896. Throughout this and several other sacred Hindu texts are commands and requests to protect grass, trees, animals, water, and the entire natural habitat from destruction and pollution. The natural world holds a high place in this ancient religion being itself divine. View here and read more quotes about the environment from Hindu texts here.

1400 B.C. (Circa)

 

"That each day I may walk unceasingly on the banks of my water, that my Soul may repose on the branches of the trees which I planted, that I may refresh myself under the shadow of my sycamore."

 

The above quote is part of an inscription on an ancient Egyptian tomb. The translator is unknown but the quote comes from Branches of the Tree of Life: The Collected Poems of Abiodun Oyewole 1969-2013 by Abiodun Oyeole published 2014 by 2Leaf Press pg. 13. View here.


630 A.D. (Circa)

 

"Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire,"

 

The above quote is by the Islamic Caliph Abu Bakr. Source: Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf; Zuhur, Sherifa (2004), Islamic Rulings on Warfare, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA, p. 22, ISBN 9781584871774

 

1852

 

"By felling the trees which cover the tops and sides of mountains, men in all climates seem to bring upon future generations two calamities at once; want of fuel and a scarcity of water."


The above quote was made by Baron Alexander von Humboldt in , Aimé Bonpland and  Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America: During the Years 1799-1804 pg. 9 published 1852, Vol. 2, 9. Translated from the original in French.View here.

 

1900

 

"THE EXERCISE OF CARE WITH SMALL FIRES IS THE BEST PREVENTIVE OF LARGE ONES. Therefore all persons are requested--

1. Not to drop matches or burning tobacco where there is inflammable material.

2. Not to build larger camp fires than are necessary.

3. Not to build fires in leaves, rotten wood, or other places where they are likely to spread.

4. In windy weather and in dangerous places, to dig holes or clear the ground to confine camp fires.

5. To extinguish all fires completely before leaving them, even for a short absence.

6. Not to build fires against large or hollow logs, where it is difficult to extinguish them.

7. Not to build fires to clear land without informing the nearest officer of the FOREST SERVICE, so that he may assist in controlling them.

This notice is posted for your benefit and the good of every resident of the region. You are requested to cooperate in preventing the removal or defacement, which acts are punishable by law.

JAMES WILSON, Secretary of Agriculture"

 

The above excerpt is perhaps one of the first lists of responsible campfire guidelines. It comes from one of a series of notices posted in forests by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, directing attention to U. S. laws against careless fire setting. It was originally quoted in
Boy Scouts Handbook The First Edition, 1911 pg 159 authored by The Boy Scouts of America. View here:

1911

 

"The scout should never kill an animal or other living creature needlessly. There is more sport in stalking animals to photograph them, and in coming to know their habits than in hunting to kill."


This quote comes from Handbook for Boys by The Boy Scouts of America 1911 pg 5 under the heading "What Scouting Means." View here
 

1919

 

"On breaking up camp leave two things behind you: 1. Nothing. 2. Your Thanks."


The above quote is attributed to Lord Baden-Powell the founder of The Boy Scouts of America. It is printed in many Scouting publications one of which you can view here, see page 3.

 

1947

 

"I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country - its soil and minerals, its forests, waters, and wildlife."


In 1946 Outdoor Life Magazine held a contest for a new concise conservation pledge. The contest was won by L. L. Foreman of New Mexico. It spread rapidly around the US and helped many to understand the definition and importance of conservation of the environment. Read about it here and here.

1954

 

"As an American, I will do my best to – Be clean in my outdoor manners. Be careful with fire. Be considerate in the outdoors. Be conservation minded."

 

President Eisenhower challenged the Boy Scouts to raise public awareness of caring for natural resources. In response The Boy Scouts of America published the Outdoor Code in Boy's Life Magazine which is still in use today. The full length includes subtext to each precept that further explains it. View here and here.

1987

 

"1) Make it hard for others to see you and 2) Leave no trace of your visit."


A joint venture between several Federal agencies produced a national campaign to educate the public on "No-Trace" camping techniques. One small publication titled Leave "No Trace" Land Ethics Produced Cooperatively by: USDA USDI offered the following principles along with several useful and detailed practices. View here.

1990

 

"Leave No Trace Principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Leave What You Find

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts 

  • Respect Wildlife

  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors"

     

The above principles were created by a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the National Outdoor Leadership School and this later led to the creation to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics which spearheads conservation education to this day. View more here



Written by David F. Garner
Photo Credit: sara-kangas via www.pixabay.com

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Hiker's Prayer


The Hikers Prayer


Adapted from the 23rd Psalm



The LORD is my guide,

I have all that I need,

He leads me to rest in green meadows,

He leads me along trickling streams,

He strengthens me,

He guides me down smooth trails,

Reminding me of His devotion,

As I hike through valleys shadowed by storms,

I fear no misfortune, for You are my guide,

Your well-worn staff shows Your experience,

And I take comfort,

You prepare a feast for me,

At the end of a long treacherous day,

You sooth me with a hot drink,

Surely Your goodness and care,

Will always be there,

And I will follow in Your footsteps,

Every day of my life.

- By David F. Garner

Friday, February 2, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 64: Polar Bears





Key Verse

“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 WEB

Lesson

There are many types of bears on our earth. One of the most iconic is the polar bear (ursus maritimus). It is one of few creatures that live in the Arctic. It is a large and powerful animal with many interesting characteristics. It is the largest bear yet lives in one of the most desolate climates on earth, the frozen Arctic. The average weight of a polar bear is about 1000 pounds (450 kg). When they are born, cubs weigh just 1 pound (0.5 kg). Polar bears have a keen sense of smell and are able to smell food up to 20 miles away. They are also excellent swimmers.

One of the polar bears defining traits is their white appearance. This allows them to blend in with the ice and snow. Although they appear to be white, their fur is transparent. When one hair is held under a microscope, you can see right through it, just like glass. Due to the shape of the bear’s hair, when light travels through it, the light is scattered. This is what makes it appear white. The skin under their fur is black.1

As Christians we often try to appear Christian to those around us. We have a tendency to try and make ourselves look virtuous to others. We want them to see that our faith is genuine or that we are better than they are. In fact, you may even be doing so right now. Jesus’ own disciples were guilty of trying to show-off their goodness. This is not how Christ desires us to live.

As Christ’s followers, we live to please him alone. We are called to share our faith with others, but we must do this by living transparent lives focused on pleasing Christ alone. We must live honestly, not trying to appear better than those around us because we are not. We are just as undeserving of eternal life as non-Christians. It is only through Christ’s forgiveness that our sin is removed. When we live wholly focused on Christ, then we become transparent and others will see Christ’s light in us rather then our own.

Questions

Have you ever tried to look like you were a good person? Are you willing to share?

What are some ways that we can focus on Christ in our life rather than on the approval of others?

What can we learn from the example of Peter walking on water? (Matthew 14:22-33)

Sources

1 Tanya Lewis. “5 Weird Facts About Polar Bears.” (February 27, 2014). Livescience.com. Accessed December 28, 2017 from https://www.livescience.com/43673-weird-facts-about-polar-bears.html.



Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: skeeze via www.pixabay.com

Friday, January 26, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 63: An Arrow of God






Key Verse

“…he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.” Isaiah 49:2 NIV

Lesson

In ancient times a straight arrow was a prized possession. Arrows were difficult to make and were retrieved whenever possible. A trusty arrow would always be kept close and ready. But how was a straight and trusty arrow made? The process required much skill, time, and patients to make. The process holds many parallels to the development of our spiritual growth.

An appropriate branch or stem is selected. Pruning is the first step in the process. All the obvious imperfections are cut away from the dead branch. This must be done carefully so that too much is not cut away. Once part is removed it cannot be put back. This mirrors the process of sanctification where God begins to prune away the major defects in our life and character.

Following pruning comes sanding. It slowly removes bumps and curves in the shaft of the arrow. It begins with a rough sand paper and progresses to finer until the shaft is smooth. Then the arrow is polished until every imbalance is eliminated. This step requires the most time and detail in making the arrow. It is the most important. The straighter the shaft the more accurate the arrow flies. Likewise, God sands and polishes the finer and hidden defects in our character so that we can fly straight and hit the mark of his will. This is why God refers to his people as a polished arrow.

After the shaft is polished an arrowhead is attached. Then comes the fetching which attaches the feathers. Three feathers are delicately attached to the rear of the shaft to balance the arrow and stabilize it in flight.1 We must remain stable in our commitment to God, never wavering. The Holy Spirit is given to guide us and assist us in this. The final step in making an arrow is to apply the cresting, a unique marking that identifies who the arrow belongs to. Similarly, God promises to mark us as his own (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). As his trusty arrows he keeps us close and ready in his quiver to use at a moments notice. We will be like a polished arrow that does not return empty-handed (Jeremiah 50:9).

Questions

In what ways does God remove the defects in our character?

What role do we have in God’s work to sand and refine our character and heart?

What could the arrowhead represent in the process of our spiritual growth?

What marking identifies us as God’s special people?

Sources

1 “Bow and Arrow” Howmade.com. Accessed December 27, 2017 from http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Bow-and-Arrow.html. Originally published in How Products Are Made (1999) Vol. 5 by Jacqueline L. Longe. Gale Publishing.

Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: David F. Garner






Friday, January 19, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 62: Arctic Tern



Key Verse

“…it is required of stewards, that they be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 WEB

Lesson

In the Arctic few animals can live. There is one hearty bird that braves the cold conditions called the Arctic tern. The Arctic tern is a medium sized bird that looks rather normal. Yet it is an exceptional bird and not only for its ability to handle the cold climate. The Arctic tern holds the record for the farthest flying bird. As the Arctic summer wanes this tern wings its way south along the coasts of the world’s continents all the way to the oceans of Antarctica.

The seasons of the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those of the Northern. So, during the Arctic winter Antarctica experiences summer. This is why the tern makes a trip of such great length. It continually seeks the mild summer weather no matter how far it must go. The Arctic tern will literally go to the ends of the earth to stay close to the mild warmth. In this pursuit the Arctic tern flies more than the circumference of the earth each year, totaling 24,901 miles (40,075 km).1 Most terns live about 15 to 30 years. Over the course of their life an Arctic tern can fly as many as 1,000,000 miles (1,609,344 km)!

The Arctic tern offers an insightful example of faithfulness. As followers of God we are called to live according to His standard. Sadly, modern Christians often act more on their feelings than on faithfulness. Many examples throughout the Bible illustrate that it is possible to live a life faithful to the precepts of God such as Abraham, Job, Joseph, and others. Jesus called his followers to obedience to the will of God, no exceptions. When Jesus forgave a person’s sins, he told them to go and sin no more.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes faithfulness as: firm adherence to promises or observance of duty.2 Faithfulness is different from working hard. One can work hard without believing in what they are doing, especially if paid for it. But it is quite difficult to stay faithful to something you do not believe in. We cannot gain God’s favor no matter how hard we work. But the Bible tells us that God rewards faithfulness (1 Samuel 26:23a). Biblical faithfulness means continuing to believe in God’s promises even when we have doubt. It means spreading the gospel no matter what challenges are faced. And it means living righteously and without sin.

How do we remain faithful while still struggling against temptation? The Bible provides the answer. Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins.” We must not sin deliberately if we wish to remain faithful. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful. He can’t deny himself.” When we are low on faith in the power of Jesus, we can pray and receive the power He offers, He can’t wait to help us. The only way to be faithful is to depend on the power of Jesus’ sacrifice every day! Finally, if we are faithful, we are promised the reward of eternal life. Revelation 2:10b “Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Questions

Can you describe what it means to be a faithful Christian?

If we stumble in sin does this mean we have been unfaithful?

What is the only way we can be truly faithful to God?

How far would you be willing to go to remain faithful to God?

Sources

1 Allan and Helen Cruickshank, 1001 Questions Answered About Birds. (1958). Grosset & Dunlap Publishers. New York. Print.

2 "Faithful." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed December 26, 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faithful.

Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit: adriankirby via www.pixabay.com

All verses were taken from the World English Bible (WEB) published 2000 in the public domain.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Christian Outdoor Object Lesson 61: White As Snow



Key Verse

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says Yahweh: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 WEB

Lesson

There is an old hymn by James L. Nicholson that goes, “Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow, Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” It is curious to wonder what it is that makes snow white. Snow is water, which is clear. Ice is clear and so is water vapor that flows above a boiling pot. Why is snow any different? Snow is white no matter how you look at it. Look over a snow-covered field or mountain, it is white. Pick up a handful of snow, it is white. Pinch a bit of snow between your fingers, it is white.

Visible light appears as different colors. Each color of the rainbow consists of light waves vibrating at unique frequencies. Red light waves vibrate slowly. Blue light waves vibrate more quickly. When light hits an object, it may reflect some light waves, and absorb others. A blue object absorbs all light waves accept those that are blue. The blue light waves reflect and that is what we see making the object appear blue. It is the same for a yellow object and each color of the rainbow. A black object is slightly different, it absorbs all colors of light and so appears black.

A white object is exactly the opposite, it reflects all colors of light. A snow flake is a minute crystal with several surfaces. When the light hits these surfaces, it bounces in all directions. All colors of light reflect in every direction. When all the colors blend together the object appears white.

In the Bible sin is often described as a dark stain on our heart making it dirty. Thankfully Jesus came and sacrificed himself so that we can be forgiven of our sin. We are then pure and spotless again. Think of a clear sunny morning after a fresh snowfall and the blinding brilliant white that is so bright you can scarcely look at it. That is how pure Jesus promises to make your heart. In fact, when we receive the cleansing forgiveness of Jesus we become purer than snow. And then we can sing with Mr. Nicholson, “The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.”


Questions

What is your favorite snow related activity?

Why do you think purity is represented with the color white in the Bible?

What does it mean to have a pure and clean heart?

As a mostly good person, do you really need Jesus’ forgiveness?

Written by David F. Garner
 Photo Credit: Nick Mealey via www.flickr.com under a CC 2.0 license minor changes made.