Friday, November 16, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 78: One Special Utensil

Key Text

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)


Eating utensils are indispensable in modern Western society and nearly the world over. They have been used in many societies throughout history. The most ancient eating utensil is likely the knife as it is most important to cut food for consumption.

Utensils have taken many different shapes and been used for a variety of purposes. From the humble spoon that has changed shape very little since it’s creation to the highly specialized utensils of Victorian era Britain. During this period the British high class had a utensil for every conceivable food connoisseur’s need. Such as the tomato server which was for one purpose only, to transfer tomato slices from the tray onto your plate.

We still have a variety of utensils today that serve different purposes for food preparation and consumption. One example are the special utensils designed for use on outdoor adventures and camping trips. These utensils are uniquely designed to meet a number of demands. They must first be as light weight as possible while remaining strong. The must be compact for easy storage. They must be durable to withstand a lot of use.

Camping utensils are often made from unusual materials in order to meet all these demands. Materials include high-temperature resistant plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, silicone, and titanium. They are often designed to have multiple functions to save weight such as combining a spoon and fork into a spork or putting a fork on one end of the handle and a spoon at the other. Some camping utensils fold up to save room.

Because of their unique qualities camping utensils are not used every day. We use regular forks and knives on a daily basis and save the camping utensils for that special purpose. We rely on them to do an important job and keep us fed when we go camping and on outdoor adventures. They have a special purpose.

In the key text Paul compares God’s people to valuable utensils that are for special or ‘honorable’ use. God has important and special work that he wants us to do. This work involves sharing the important message of his grace and soon return! But he does not want any regular person for this job. The key text specifies God wants only those that are pure. The only way we can be a valuable utensil for God’s work is by accepting Jesus to cleans us and by living pure lives according to the Bible (see Romans 12:1-2). Only then will we be a special utensil for honorable use. Pray today that God will show you how to become one of his special utensils.


What is your favorite camping food?

If Jesus makes us pure does it matter how we live?

What does it mean to live a pure life according to the Bible?

If we fail to live according to the Bible's commands do we lose our purity?

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: MabelAmber  via

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Thanksgivings

We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him. 
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth. 
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on. 
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands. 
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth. 
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all. 
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter. 
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth. We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good. 
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines. 
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees. 
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon. 
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars. 
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests. 
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o. We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion. 
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith. 
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer

By Harriet Maxwell Converse

Friday, November 9, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 77: Fear Not Bats

Key Text

“He uncovers mysteries hidden in darkness; he brings light to the deepest gloom.”
‭‭Job‬ ‭12:22‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)


Some animals instantly give people the creeps. There is one that is especially scary. It only comes out at night, maneuvers unseen and unheard in the shadows, it is a swift and fearsome hunter. It has claws on its featherless wings and fangs in its jaw. It dwells deep underground where few other creatures can go. By now you may have figured out the animal is a bat!

These creatures are popular at Halloween and usually associated with scary movies and stories. Many people mistakenly fear them because of this. In fact, bats are impressive creatures and there is little reason to be afraid of them. Bats are unusual which may make them seem scary. They live in dark caves and hang upside down. Bats are really interesting creatures. They live on every continent except Antarctica. They grow up to almost 7 oz (190 g) and can have a wingspan of 40 inches (1 m) which is over three feet. The smallest bat is known as the bumblebee bat (Craseonycteridae thonglongyai) and only measures about 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) long and is basically a flying fur-ball. Seen in the daylight bats are not really scary at all. Their fuzzy faces can look quite cute.

Not all bats live in caves, some roost in trees similar to birds. They are able to “see” in the dark by making a high pitch noise and listening to how the sound waves are changed when bouncing off objects around them. This is called echolocation. Bats of course eat insects but this is not all they eat. Many species eat fruits, flower nectar and leaves.1 You may have heard of the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) which sucks blood. While there is a real vampire bat, our fear makes them seem more threatening than they are. Vampire bats primarily target large animals such as horses and cows and rarely target humans. Bats are small animals and it would be impossible for them to kill a large animal or even a human by sucking its blood as they only take a small amount. While these bats sound scary we don’t need to fear them any more than other wild animals.2

There are over 1,300 bat species in the world, many of which are helpful to humans. The brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), which is common in the USA, can eat 1000 small insects per hour. That’s a lot of mosquitoes one bat can eat in its 40 plus year life.1 Bats help keep mosquitoes at bay which means there are less to bother you and I. Bats may seem mysterious or scary, but when you learn about them, and get to seen them in the light they are not so scary after all. It is similar with many things in life. We often feel scared and afraid of things we don’t understand. It is ok to feel fear. But we don’t need to let it control us. Jesus already knows everything. We don’t even need to fear evil forces. As it says in the key text, God uncovers that which is covered in darkness and everything that seems scary no longer is. We do not need to fear anything because God is greater than all our fears. When we see things in the light of God’s peace, things are no longer so scary, and may even turn out to be cute and fuzzy, just like the bat. (See John 14:27)


What animals do you find scary?

Is it a sin to feel fear?

Jesus repeatedly encouraged his followers not to fear anything. What can we do when we feel fear?

What does it mean to fear God?


1. Alina Bradford. “Bats: Fuzzy Flying Mammals.” October 24, 2018. Live Science. Accessed November 9, 2018 from
2. “Common Vampire Bat.” 2015. National Geographic online. Accessed on November 9, 2018 from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit: ntrief via

Friday, October 19, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 76: Joy Not Fear

Key Text

“For God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (WEB)


Pumpkins are almost synonymous with fall and especially Halloween. Have you ever wondered why we carve pumpkins for Halloween? Some can be pretty scary. Halloween is an old holiday that was originally celebrated by pagan people in the British islands. Those people believed that on Halloween or Samhain (pronounced ‘sow wan’) as it was called in Irish, spirits of the dead and evil spirits came to wander the earth. 

Out of fear, some people carved scary, ugly faces into gords, turnips, and other pumpkin like food. They put hot coals or candles inside to make them glow to be seen at night. They believed these ugly carvings could scare away evil spirits and protect them on Halloween.1 This is where we get the term jack-o’-lantern.2

In modern times people still carve pumpkins at Halloween. Most people don’t do it to scare away evil spirits. They may carve ugly faces in pumpkins to scare other people. As children of God we no longer need to fear evil spirits. Not at Halloween or any other time of year. Jesus came and defeated Satan and his evil spirits long ago. When we pray and ask for him to protect us he will. We also don’t need to be scared of what other people do (Romans 8:38-39). They may try to scare us with carved pumpkins or other decorations at Halloween. They may try to do other things to scare us too. But Paul said in the Key Text that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love. No matter what we face we can trust God instead and give him our fear. 

God’s love comes from the light of joy that Jesus places inside us when we accept him into our hearts. It can turn our fear into joy. This Halloween, let other people see what it looks like when you have God’s light inside. Carve a pumpkin with a happy, smiling face or perhaps a cross or message of joy on it. Put a candle inside and set it outside to let everyone know that you have joy instead of fear on Halloween and every other night.


What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Is Halloween a holiday Christians should celebrate? Does how we celebrate it matter?

What do we do if we ask Jesus to take our fear but still feel scared?

Did Jesus ever feel scared? Why or why not?

Written by David F. Garner

Photo Credit:


1. “HISTORY OF PUMPKIN CARVING AND HALLOWEEN (SAMHAIN).” (10/28/2017). Stair na h√Čireann/History of Ireland online. Accessed October 19, 2018 from

2. “The History of 'Jack-O'-Lantern'.” (2018). Accessed October 19, 2018 from

Friday, October 12, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 75: A Camel's Burden

Key Text

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29 (WEB)


What has four legs, a long neck, and a hump? If you guessed a camel than you are correct. Camels are instantly recognizable for their unique shape and iconic hump. They are truly amazing animals with features that allow them to survive and thrive in harsh, barren deserts. Camels are best known for their legendary ability to survive a long time without needing to drink water. Camels routinely go several days or more without drinking any water. Even more surprising is that they can go for several months without any food! How do they do that?

Many people mistakenly think camels store water in their humps. Rather, fat is stored in their humps and provides energy when they go without food. Camels do not have a large empty space in their body to store extra water like some internal water battle. Instead their body (specifically their cardiovascular system, kidneys, and other organs) is extremely efficient at retaining and managing water. God gave camels special tools to enable them to go without water for many days. This ability makes camels very important animals for people who live in desert places.

Camels are mentioned numerous times throughout the Old Testament as a means of transportation. Jesus would have been very familiar with camels. He may have even ridden one. Camels are still an important means of transportation in Israel and the Middle East today. They carry heavy burdens for their owners. But if you have ever seen a picture of a camel, then you may remember they have very long legs! Most camels are 5-7 feet (1.6-2 meters) high and are taller than many horses.1 So how does an owner put a camels burden on and take it off each day?

In the morning, the camel must kneel down so that its owner can load the days burden onto its back. A good owner knows just how much the camel can carry for the days journey. After being loaded the camel gets up again to carry his burden for the day. The camel then simply follows his owner who has the greater burden of leading the way safely through the desert. At the end of the day, the camel kneels down again so his owner can remove the burden and the camel can rest. This is exactly how it is when we follow Jesus. When Jesus is our owner he promises to bear our burdens (Psalm 68:19). In turn he asks us to bear his burdens. He will take responsibility for leading us through the desert of life. He says in the key text that when we take his burden that he will place them on us gently. He also promises to give us rest from our burdens, all we must do is simple kneel each night and let him remove them.


Have you ever seen a camel in real life? If so what did you think about it?

How do we kneel down and let Jesus remove our burdens?

What did Jesus mean in the key text (Matthew 11:29) when he said take my yoke upon you?

Do you think it is easier to bear the burden Jesus gives us?


1: “Camel,” San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants online, accessed October 7, 2018.

Written by David F. Garner

Photo credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969 via

Friday, September 7, 2018

Camping Courtesy Rules

For Kids and All New Campers

For someone who has never gone camping before it is a new and exciting experience. Just as with any other new experience, it is important to learn how to be considerate of others. When camping outdoors there are many differences from normal life. It can be easy to accidentally do things that others might find impolite. There are many points that could be mentioned, but here are 10 Rules that everyone agrees on. Teach these to your kids or anyone else who is new to camping. Some veterans of camping might benefit from a refresher also.

Some of these rules may seem extreme. But to someone who has spent many nights sleeping outdoors they are vital if you want to be a happy camper. Others may seem obvious, but people tend to forget their manners outdoors. So memorize the 10 Rules of Camping Courtesy and teach them to others so that everyone can have a fun and happy time.

10 Rules of Camping Courtesy

1. Say excuse me.

2. Do not complain.

3. Keep everything as clean as possible.

4. Remember to do your share.

5. Never step over the food or cookware.

6. Be quiet after quiet time.

7. Stay with the group or tell someone where you’re going.

8. Cut only downed trees.

9. Leave things nicer than you found them.

10. If it doesn’t grow there, it doesn’t go there.

If you didn’t catch on already, these rules were modeled after the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament. When teaching these to campers, it offers a great opportunity to talk about how the 10 Commandments in scripture are a set of simple straight forward rules that help us remember how to follow God and treat our fellow humans with respect. You can share why the 10 Commandments are still important today, how Jesus summarized them in Matthew 22:35–40 and Mark 12:28–34, and how the 10 Commandments are a foundation of other laws and commands in the bible and in our society.

For more info on preparing new campers for their first trip read this article. For great info on camping hygiene check out this article. Check out this article to learn more about outdoor ethics.

Written by David F. Garner

Friday, August 31, 2018

Outdoor Object Lesson 74: A Home Fit For A Frog

Key Text

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1 (KJV)


Frogs are odd creatures if you stop to think about them. They have big bulging eyes. They croak loudly to communicate. They are nocturnal. They get around by hopping. They have extremely long tongues. Frogs are amphibians born like fish in the water but live as adults out of the water. Tree frogs are especially unique creatures who can live while on land, under water, or all the way up in a tree.

They are able to live underwater by “breathing” through their skin (in actuality they absorb oxygen through their skin). They can also live on land or in trees. Have you ever wondered how they are able to climb trees with those big toes? They have a special toe shaped like a hook that allows them to climb up the tree bark without sliding. This toe is called a terminal phalanx. Tree frogs are also generally small compared to other frog species which enables them to sit on small leaves and branches.

This is one of the only animals that is at home in all three environments, trees, land, and water. The ability to live in various environments has helped them to spread all around the world. Over 800 different species can be found on every continent except Antarctica.1

Like tree frogs, humans are good at living in many different environments. We can live where it’s cold and icy or in the hot tropical jungle. Through technology, we have designed ways to stay alive under water and even in outer space. We may find ourselves in places that are foreign or even scary to us. God is able to care for the tree frog whether in the lofty tree, or below the murky water. God promises that no mater where we are he his able to take care of us and provide for our needs so that we lack nothing.

Do you think frogs are cute?
What does the key text mean when it says "I shall not want?"
What can you do when you feel God has left you hanging?
What is a Bible promise that gives you hope?

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit 12019 via