Friday, March 15, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 91: Our Tent Home



Key Text

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Corinthians 5:1 (BSB)

Lesson

Note: To illustrate this lesson it is ideal to have a tent set up or partially set up that can be quickly collapsed on que. 

I think Paul the Apostle would fit in well if he were alive today. He loved to travel and spent a lot of time living in a tent. He also wrote to his friends a lot about his travels, so he would probably enjoy using social media. Paul was very knowledgeable about tents because he was a tent maker. He knew how portable they could be. He also knew how many drawbacks they have as a permanent residence. Tents make a nice temporary home while traveling. But they are not ideal for living in long-term when compared to a permanent house. 

In the key text, Paul is comparing our life here on earth with our future life in heaven. The Bible assures us that this life we are now living is temporary. It does not have all the comforts of a house. There is hardship and troubles. Storms can wreak our lives and blow our tent over so to speak. Tents are simple and only provide the bear necessities. Much like this life we often only have the essentials to live. We do not have the assurance of tomorrow. This life may collapse around us, it may wear out. Sickness, pain, financial hardship, unkind people, and death have likely afflicted you in this life. 

Paul reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus. Even though our home, our body, this whole life may be dismantled, we know it is only temporary. God is building us a permanent home in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, where thieves cannot break in and steal (Matthew 6:20). He is preparing new bodies that are incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:52). He has prepared a place with the Tree of Life that will provide healing to the nations, and where every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 22:2, 21:4). 

God has already demonstrated the fulfillment of a promise like this before. The Children of Israel lived in tents for 40 years as they wondered the wilderness, hoping for the day when they would arrive in the promised land and build permanent houses. And one day, God fulfilled his promise to them. Even greater assurance is provided by the resurrection of Jesus. While in this temporary life, he did not even have a tent to live in! But God has already raised him to life in an incorruptible body and taken him to live in a permanent home in heaven! He has promised to do the same for you and me. 

Questions

Have you ever had a tent collapse on you before? How did that experience make you feel?

Have you ever felt as if your whole life has collapsed around you like a tent?

Does the hope of eternal life make difficulties in this life easier to cope with?

Do you ever feel like the promise of heaven is too far away or doesn’t seem to make your life easier to deal with? Why do you think that is?

What other promises in the Bible can you cling to when your life is falling apart?


Written by David F. Garner

Friday, March 8, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 90: The Value of Friends



Key Text

"Some friends don't help, but a true friend is closer han your own family." Proverbs 18:24 (CEV)


Lesson

There are times in our lives when we do things we shouldn’t, even though we know better. This story is about one of those times. Most guys are into big 4x4 trucks and off-roading at some point in their life, even if they never actually own an off-road capable vehicle. When I bought my first 4 wheel drive truck, I was ecstatic! I was the proud owner of a 2003 Nissan Frontier with a Supercharged V6. It wasn’t everyone’s dream off-roader, but it belonged to me, and I was excited! There was only one limitation, I was in college and didn’t have any money to outfit my new truck for going off the asphalt.

After a long period of saving and dreaming, I was able to stash enough money for some serious off-road tires. And with those on my truck, I was ready to tear up some dirt! I tested out my tires on a few day trips with some buddies and the truck handled spectacularly. Next, I decided it was time for a multi-day trip on an overland trail. I set my sights on the Kentucky Adventure Trail, a 900+ mile loop trail in Eastern Kentucky. This is not an official, maintained trail. It is a hodgepodge of forest service roads, old logging trails, and backcountry roads strung together by a GPS route. The route was mapped and is kept updated by volunteers from the region. No one maintains the trails themselves.  Before venturing onto the KAT as it has been dubbed, one needs to make sure they have the latest updated GPS route because the route can change drastically due to blocked or closed trails.

This was the adventure I chose as my first multi-day trip. And that is when I started down a dangerous path. I gleaned as much detail as possible from the limited information available about the route and chatted with people who had been on it. I learned all the hard portions of the trail were optional detours and that the main trail was easy enough. I set a date and invited some friends. The day for departure finally arrived after much preparation and anticipation. My wife and I would be riding in my truck. And my friends, well they couldn't attend due to last minute schedule conflicts.

Most of the first day of our trip was uneventful but beautiful. The back roads of Eastern Kentucky pass through miles of rural forest and rolling hills. Our path changed from pavement to gravel to dirt and back again. Towards the late afternoon, we found ourselves on an old logging road. It crossed a few streams and then began to climb, becoming ever-more narrow. It was muddy and my mud-terrain tires finally earned their keep. The trail became littered with large rocks that required slow crawling speed. At times one side of the road dropped dozens of feet and was barely wide enough to keep my tires from sliding over the edge. After this, we came to a tight corner that required an eleven point turn just to navigate followed by a decent so steep my tires were sliding even though I had the brake pressed to the floor. 

I grew concerned as you might expect that we had ventured into one of the challenging detours. Checking my GPS, the green route confirmed this was the main "easy" trail. I could see yellow and red sections nearby marking the more challenging detours. The trail had become so narrow by now that there was no place to turn my pickup truck around. The only option was to head down the worsening trail.

As we continued slowing along it began to grow dark. The GPS showed that we were miles from anything. We continued, mile after mile, praying we could get to a paved road. We did not plan to camp in this remote forest. We were in the midst of bear country. When darkness set in the trail became difficult to distinguish. My truck did not have a heavy duty bumper or brush guard so I went extra slow to avoid smashing my bumper on a tree or limb. Nor did it have floodlights as most well equipped off-road vehicles do to light up the trail at night.

So as a large log across the trail came into view, there was no way to be seen around it. I stopped to get out and inspect the log. Sure enough, it was low enough we could make it over the top. I just needed a little speed to get the front tires over the top. With my wife waiting outside to help guide me over, I accelerated toward the log and came to a sudden stop. I had definitely not gone over it. I looked to my left and saw the ground. Thankfully, I was not upside down. But there was no doubt in my mind, I was stuck. I had to crawl out my door's window because my door would not open. Walking around my truck I discovered that my left front tire was in a hole up to the axle. It had been completely camouflaged by tall grass. It was in just the right place to catch my front tire. My front plastic bumper was pinned against the log I was attempting to surmount. There was no doubt in my mind, things had just gotten serious.

Now I must admit my idiotic mistake. I ventured into a vast unknown forest to go off-roading alone and took no winch. Nor did I have a come-along, a kind of hand-powered winch. I did not even take so much as a rope. Why, for the same reason I didn't outfit my truck with any other off-roading extras, I didn't have the money. Or at least that is the excuse I made. In hindsight, it was a stupid choice. A decent chain and come-along would have cost me $200 or less. I may not have been able to afford other bells and whistles. But some method of extraction is crucial to off-roading. I had planned on my friends coming along. They could have easily pulled me out. But they were not there now.

Worse than that, no-one knew where we were, and it was dark. There was still Someone looking out for us. My wife and I prayed over the situation. Then I began trying to back out of the hole. I tried and tried to reverse out of the hole. The back right wheel was in the air and unable to help. The others just spun and slung sopping mud everywhere. My fancy tires were not much good now. Next, I grabbed my shovel and tried to dig the edge of the hole into a ramp in the hopes the front left tire could get out if it was less steep. Thankfully, I had the sense to pack a shovel. But after about 45 minutes of slinging mud in the dark with both a shovel and tires I was just as stuck as before.

Praying to God I considered my options. Looking at my GPS I realized we were only about two miles from a paved road. I decided to send a call for help over my CB radio. It was unlikely anyone would hear, but it was worth a shot. After 30 or so unsuccessful minutes calling for help over emergency channel 9, I knew no one could hear us. Having realized how close we were to the road, it dawned on me we might be able to walk to the road and try and flag down a car. But it was late at night and it didn't seem like there was much of a chance of a car passing by. Besides, if they did stop what could they do? It seemed like we were stuck there till morning. Then I glanced at my phone to check the time.

Only, the time was not the first thing that caught my attention. The two bars of cell reception did instead! Cellphone service, out here in the boonies? "Praise God" I said allowed! I was able to call the local sheriff's office and tell them about my predicament. They were able to mobilize the local County rescue squad. When they arrived, they had a long chain and come-along. They rigged to a nearby tree and me unstuck in about five minutes! We were so thankful we were near tears. My wife and I were able to safely make it back to the road and we were praising God the entire way.

God used this experience to teach me some valuable lessons. Principle among them is the value of friends. I learned that day how dangerous it is to attempt the unknown, alone. Some people think they are better off alone in this life. They think they do not need others, they don't need the church or fellowship with other Christians. But this could not be more wrong. God gave us friends to pull us out when we get stuck. They are there to support us and keep us on the correct path. Sometimes God brings previously unknown 'friends' into our life to help us just when we need them like the rescuers who saved me that day. Even if all of our human friends abandon us, we know that we have a Friend in heaven who is always with us!

Written by David F. Garner
Photo Credit: kaboompics via www.pixabay.com

Friday, March 1, 2019

Outdoor Object Lesson 89: Serving Your Pastor




Key Text

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,” Ephesians‬ ‭4:11‬ (‭NIV‬‬)

Lesson

The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) is a fascinating bird that at first glance, could be mistaken for an owl. The shape of it’s concave face looks uncannily like an owl’s. However, it is most certainly an eagle. It is native to the jungles of South and Central America. It is a very large eagle with an unusually short wingspan so it can easily fly between the dense trees. It builds its nest 90 or more feet (27 m) high in a tree. It can have claws as big as those of a bear! It is a fantastic hunter and a king of the jungle. It lives on large mammals, mostly sloths, monkeys, and opossums.

It’s an apex predator.1 Apex predators have a unique place in the food chain. They are at the top (apex) and therefore have no natural enemies. However, if the health of the ecosystem where they live declines or is threatened, so is the apex predator. As a result, scientists are able to determine when ecosystems are in poor health by looking at the health and numbers of the apex predator. They provide a good metric to determine when their habitat is threatened.

We can draw a parallel with the church. Pastors are usually in charge of a church. In some cases it may be a head elder. Either way, this person is at the top of the local church management. Pastors (and elders) are endowed by God with authority to lead His flock. This is because they have training and spiritual gifts to lead evangelism and facilitate other’s spiritual growth. Pastors (and other church leaders) are not better or closer to God than us. Only Jesus is the Head of the Church. But their leadership is important to direct the local church.

Like the harpy eagle, who’s health indicates the health of the jungle where they live, so the pastor’s, or elder’s, spiritual health is a good indicator of the spiritual health of their church. Where you find a thriving congregation, full of the love of Jesus, you will find a pastor who has a strong relationship with God. Wherever you find a pastor who is overworked, or preoccupied with this world, you are likely to find a church congregation that is unhealthy and dwindling.

How does this impact you? As church members we often take our pastor, and elders, for granted. It is easy to forget they are human too. We tend to forget that they are not there to do all the work in the church, to conduct all the evangelism and bible studies. When Paul compared the church to a body, he meant we all have a part to play. The pastor cannot do it all. So if you want to ensure that your pastor, and elders, maintain a healthy relationship with God. If you want to be sure that he or she is able to do their best work for your church, do what you can to help him or her. Pray for them, daily. Go to them and tell them you want to help. Ask what you can do to help the church and make their job easier. Seek ways to serve your pastor and help him or her keep a healthy relationship with Jesus.

Questions

What do you think a pastors most important job is?

What are some other ways you can assist your pastor and church elders?

What should you do if you feel your pastor is not doing a good job?

What steps can you take to make sure your work for God does not get in the way of your relationship with with God?


Sources

1: “Jungle Eagle: Harpy Eagle Fact Sheet.” Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) online. Retrieved on February 27, 2019 from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/jungle-eagle-harpy-eagle-fact-sheet/7263/.


Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: Bruno Gomes via www.pexels.com

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