Lessons from the Flock: Joy

I could hardly believe my eyes!

Normally when I walk out the back door of the house, the four hens come running to me. They think I’ll have a treat for them, and they are usually correct. So, they run to me, stand as tall as they can, and sometimes jump as they try to get goodies out of my hands. One time I put my open hand down to their level. When they saw the wheat kernels in the palm of my hand, they rushed forward. As they began eating it, I found out what it feels like to be hen-pecked. (No, it didn’t hurt at all.) By the way, chickens have a 300-degree field of vision without turning their heads.

But today as I walked out the back door, I was quieter than usual; and the birds, who were out of sight, didn’t hear me. I stood there for a minute with no visible activity in the yard. I then began to hum a song. No words; I just softly hummed.

Pandemonium erupted in the back yard!

I don’t know how to accurately spell what I heard, so I won’t try. But these birds exploded from behind the 10 x 12 barn! They came half-running and half-flying as fast as I have ever seen a chicken move. With wings spread straight out like a hawk on the attack, the little head making more noise than seemingly possible, the four birds came racing to see what their benefactor had for them.

It amazes me to see the joy the birds express when they know I am near. When they either see or hear me, they stop everything they might be doing and come running. If they even see me through the kitchen window they come running. (In addition to seeing all the colors that humans do, chickens also see ultraviolet – but that’s another story.)

Stop and think about it: theses chickens joyfully interact with me, their loving benefactor. How many Christians do you know who joyfully interact with our loving Benefactor – Almighty God?

Okay, you might say that we cannot see God. Well, most the time our chickens cannot see me either because I am out of sight. But they LOOK for me. Are we “looking” for God?

The birds love me because of what I do for them. On a much higher level, do we love God for what He does for us? We don’t have to look far to see His blessings. In fact, if we don’t see them, we are blind because God’s blessings are so abundant and prevalent.

Sadly, some Christians are oblivious to what God has done for them. But on the other hand, many Christians do see the blessings – but still are not joyful. Why not? Let’s look at two definitions.

One definition of Joyfulness is: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. (Actually, that is the definition of happiness which deals with circumstances; but the modern world , including Christians, confuses joy with happiness.)

A definition and application that is more appropriate is: the spontaneous enthusiasm I experience when I am in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11). If God never did anything else for me, I would be satisfied because 1) my relationship with Him is intact, 2) my eternal future is secure, and 3) I have everything I need to fulfill God’s will for my life.

So, let’s look back at the chickens. Are they joyful or happy? They are a little of both: they get their treats, but they also walk with me as I traipse around the yard. The birds really enjoy being with me.

Dear reader, are you enjoying your relationship with God, your Supreme Benefactor, or are you worried, mired in the “mud” of everyday life? Do you invest time observing and enjoying the blessings God has heaped upon you, or are you immersed in some level of self-pity because things don’t go your way?

If we are purposely doing something – thought, word, or deed – that is contrary to Biblical principles, we will not have the Joy of the Lord. Could that apply to you?

So “Run to the Lord” with your whole heart. Be satisfied with what He gives you. Even while experiencing financial or material loss, God still blesses us. First Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

So, look for God; He is watching you.

Total Solar Eclipse at Glendo

I enjoy reading articles about solar eclipses from others, but today I’ll tell a portion of our own story.

Carol and I were on our 51st wedding anniversary trip and decided to visit our daughter (Darlene) and her family in Colorado, then visit the Rocky Mountain National Park just outside Estes Park, Colorado. But we timed our visit to coincide with the total solar eclipse.

We had seen partial solar eclipses and several total lunar eclipses; but never a total solar eclipse, so we didn’t know what to expect.

Darlene and her son went with us as we drove three and a half hours north of Denver. Arriving at Glendo, Wyoming around 4:30 on Monday morning, we easily found a place to park in an open grassy area, and took a nap in the car. Darlene and I awoke a couple of hours later and walked to the lake in time to take some great sunrise pictures over the water.

It was a warm day with planes flying overhead and hot-air balloons lazily hovering nearby. The count-down for the total eclipse began around 10:22 a.m., and our anticipation grew.

Thousands of people, including professional photographers, had their telescopes and cameras ready. Many were set up on tripods, but most of us simply held cameras in our hands.

I took several pictures with the camera pointing directly at the full sun with no filter, but shot most of the pictures with the solar-viewing lens covering the camera lens. I took a picture every 10 minutes until the eclipse was near 90%, then changed battery and began taking quite a few.

It was light enough to read with only 10% sunlight, but it got dark quickly after that. Then, as someone said: “BAM! Darkness!” And with the sudden darkness, the temperature suddenly dropped, making the hot-air balloons rise.

As noon-day brightness turned to night, hundreds of people shouted, cheered, and cried. I didn’t expect the sudden emotion that swept over me. All I could do and say was, “Oooooooooh Wow! God, you are amazing to arrange this kind of phenomena.” I took turns looking at the corona and taking pictures: taking 15 shots of the corona during blackout.

Then, again, “BAM!” The light came back on – but differently.

As the eclipse was increasing, the sunlight was dull-yellow; but the instant the sunlight reappeared, it was a bright, diamond, crystal color! What a surprise! I’ll never forget it. Again, very emotional. Cheering, yelling, crying spontaneously erupted from the crowd.

We didn’t wait for the eclipse to unwind. At about 20%, we packed up and began heading out … but another surprise popped up.

It took only 3.5 hours to drive from Denver and park on the grass at Glendo Park; but it took 4 hours to drive the 3 miles from the grassy spot to I-25. Then it took another 2 hours to drive 26 miles south. That is where we escaped the unending line of red break-lights and headed east for Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. After a snack in Scotts Bluff, we headed south, getting back to Aurora just after midnight; but it was much better than the projected 6:00 a.m. if we stayed on I-25.

As I write this Reflection, I am reviewing the pictures I took. Someone told me that taking a picture directly at the sun without a filter would hurt the camera. I am not bragging, but it didn’t affect my Nikon 9900. My wife also shot the sun directly with her Nikon 9400, and they both continue to work wonderfully.

We are now looking forward to watching the next total solar eclipse in Little Rock in 2024.

God didn’t have to put the moon in such an orbit that we would have lunar and solar eclipses. But He must have thought ahead and said, “I’ll make life interesting for my special creation – man. Not only will I give him animals to make life interesting, I’ll also show my creativity in the heavens for him to enjoy.”

Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”

God is an awesome God. He loves you and desires to have a living relationship with you through Jesus Christ. Read about Him in the Bible. God would like you to spend eternity with Him.

Man Evolved From What?

I always enjoy discussions with my friends who are scientists and/or who believe in one of the various concepts of physical evolution. Here is an over-simplified summary of those beliefs. I may displease folk on both sides of the issue, but please read to the end.

There was nothing in space – there was no space, either. Then a magical thing called a Big Bang occurred over 15 billion years ago: stuff was created out of nothing – out of nowhere. Stuff can be called energy, gas, dust, atoms, electrons, muons, or anything you choose to call it. But it is the stuff from which the entire cosmos congealed. Oh yes, space also appeared simultaneously in which to house all the stuff.

After several billion years of gas and energy swirling around in space, gravity appeared so that the energetic gas and dust could coagulate and form huge rocks. We refer to these rocks as planets. But most of these gas balls didn’t form rocks; instead, they remained gas and dust and continued to attract more gas and dust. Eventually some of them became so large, pressure and friction caused them to ignite and become burning gas balls. We call these huge fire balls stars. And these stars, which were formed from gas and dust, began spewing transformed gas and dust back into space. This transformed material might be referred to as various forms of radiation. A small portion of that radiation is called light.

After 10 billion years, a rock we call “earth” began forming. It was hot. The hot rock began releasing hydrogen and oxygen, and those gases combined to form a liquid. We call it water.

Oh yes: all this was developing without any design, designer, or choreographer.

The water that resulted from the rocks began dissolving those rocks and created a mineral-rich liquid. And after a while, carbon joined the soup.  So now we have a thick viscous liquid made of mineral-rich water – all made from dissolved rock – which congealed from gas and dust – which came from the Big Bang – which produced itself out of absolutely nothing. Very intriguing.

Then, approximately 3.8 billion years ago, the viscous liquid was struck by some form of a life-generating jolt to create a life-form: vegetation. It wasn’t lightning, because that kind of jolt kills life. So there you have it: life evolved from dissolved rocks. Then this mineral-rich water continued to spawn other forms of vegetation.

And even more fascinating, after several billion years, some forms of vegetation decided to think for itself, and became air-breathing, self-locomotive life-forms. But they needed RNA and DNA. They say RNA (ribonucleic acid) was created before DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) appeared. Fascinating, because RNA needs DNA to exist, while DNA needs RNA to exist. But some people tell us that RNA happened all by itself. Hmmmmmmm.

During the next six million years, animals evolved, and some became a type of human. Even more interesting, some of these semi-human-type animals developed the concept of a god, and began creating things to worship. Some bowed down to rocks, some bowed to trees, and some bowed to the lights in the sky. However – amazingly – some demanded that others bow to them. (How in the world did ego or pride evolve?)

So here it is: gas, dust, and space created itself out of nothing; gravity developed so that the gas and dust could congeal in space; some balls of gas and dust formed rocks; some balls formed stars; stars spewed gas back into space; rocks created water; water dissolved rocks to form a viscous liquid; this liquid formed vegetation; some vegetation turned into animals; some animals became humanoid; and humanoids decided to worship stuff, worship lights in the sky, and worship each other.

Modern man calls that science; some call it evolution; and I call it improbable, humanistic science-fiction, which is actually void of true science.

Why? Because both Biblically and scientifically, it is an impossible, non-scientific belief which is religious in nature. Modern man doesn’t believe in miracles, yet the “evolutionary steps” are impossibilities equivalent to a series of miracles.

I am neither questioning the age of the universe, nor questioning evolution within individual species; but life cannot evolve from rocks no matter how many billions or trillions of years we add to the cosmic calendar. That is speculation originally developed by people who were trying to figure out how everything got here, but could not accept the simple statement: “And God said….”

But to remain scientifically-oriented, we must include God doing the creating because accepting the impossible without a cause is absolutely anti-scientific. However He did it, God created inorganic matter, and He created life – two different concepts.

The Bible says: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Someday we’ll will learn how He did it.