Hope Kindled by God’s Creation

“The land is as the garden of Eden before them,  and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.”  Joel 2:3

As we look about, it can seem all is being laid waste in our society. A virus cancelling church services, political rivalries, racial unrest, lawlessness… all so troubling. But while paddling through the swamp during the coronavirus quarantine, suddenly the Holy Spirit caused hope to spring up in my heart as I watched an Anhinga perched upon a young cypress tree. God’s creation – and God’s Word – restored hope in my heart!

Anhinga bird perched atop a cypress tree with Spanish Moss; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

The naturalists of old write of towering cypress – some as high as 120 feet – standing guard for centuries in the Okefenokee Swamp. But all that changed in the early 20th century. All were laid low. It began in 1909: the pristine Okefenokee began to bustle with cacophony of industry as logging skidders, sawmills and railroad tracks invaded the Swamp. The trees – and the birds! – were gone.

C.T. Trowell wrote, “Systematically, the Hebards extended their logging operations across the Okefenokee. Extending south from Hopkins to Cravens Island in 1912, they reached Pine Island and Mixons Hammock by 1915. Within a year they were cutting the timber between Mixons Hammock and Minnies Island and the railroad was extended across Jones Island to Billys Island. Between 1922 and 1926, they logged the cypress around Floyds Island.”

A young Cypress Tree reaches toward the sky in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

Would the Okefenokee ever recover? Cypress trees grow very slowly. At a reported growth rate of only about a foot per year in their early stages, it could take 300 to 500 years for the Cypresses of the Okefenokee to once again tower over the habitat as they did prior to 1909. But with the establishment of the Okefenokee as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937, the healing has begun.Today, there are already some scenic waterways through the Okefenokee – tall cypresses mirrored in the tanin-darkened waters – that hint at these former days.

“But fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm.”  Joel 2:21-25

The birds have returned! Swallow-tailed Kite; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

So if there is hope of restoration kindled in the heart upon looking at a young Cypress tree, how much more for our society upon looking at God’s Word! There is a hope that things laid bare can one day live again and be renewed to their former glory. If not in this lifetime, certainly in the next.

As Christians, we cease not to pray for our nations, nor forget the restoration that awaits in the New Earth for those who trust and hope in Jesus Christ!


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Serpents and Doves

Author’s note: if you’re terrified of snakes, don’t scroll past the first four paragraphs!

Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Mourning Dove. Walton County, Georgia. March 24, 2017. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

Jesus threw an interesting paradox before us when he preached, “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The outcome of combining these two critters can be quite perilous… primarily for the dove! Snakes are often found raiding birds’ nests, seeking to devour eggs and chicks. So why this conflicting counsel from our Lord?

A.B. Bruce writes, “The serpent is the emblem of cunning, the dove of simplicity. No creatures can be more unlike; yet Jesus requires of His disciples to be at once serpents in cautiousness, and doves in simplicity of aim and purity of heart. These qualities are not easy to combine; yet the combination is not impossible.”

Christians must have serpent-like wisdom and shrewdness in order to make a stand for righteousness in the arena of worldly politics and social unrest; yet have dove-like care and compassion to peacefully present the gospel and welcome the sin-suffering into the flock of God.

The apostle Paul was wise-as-a-serpent when utilizing his status as a Roman citizen to escape being mauled by a crowd and unlawfully flogged by the local police. Yet, his dove nature remained on top as he stood for Christ while on trial, even though it may not have been advantageous to his personal outcome. And it may have been a prudent idea for Peter to distance himself from a leader that was arrested for insurrection, but the serpent devoured the dove as he publicly declared thrice, “I know not the man.”

Eastern Ratsnake coiled in a kitchen sink. Pantherophis alleghaniensis is a common snake found in the eastern United States. Walton County, Georgia. June 30, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

Losing the Balance…

I was a bit saddened this past week to watch events unfold in our small town. Citizens from our city, as well as agitators from out-of-town, gathered to condemn our public safety officers and demand the defunding of the police department. But that is not what saddened me, for peaceful protests are the American way.

Another group of citizens – many from the local churches – also gathered to show support for our people in uniform. Here was the perfect Christian balance: the “dove nature” desired peace and unity in our community; and the “wise-as-serpents nature” was making a stand for righteousness in the political arena. But as passions rose, the serpent began to swallow the dove…

One gentleman who identified himself as local Christian minister, had his microphone snatched away by a protester. In frustration, the minister shoved the protester to the ground. Of course, the media was there to photograph the incident and title it, “Preacher Assaults Protester.” Sadly, the serpent had swallowed the dove when the Christian man lost his temper.

SORRY FOR THE GRAPHIC CONTENT, BUT IT EXEMPLIFIES THE DAMAGE DONE WHEN THE SERPENT OUTWITS THE DOVE IN OUR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. Eastern Ratsnake devouring a Mockingbird; Walton County, Georgia. August 13, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

Let us at least be doves…

A.B. Bruce continues, “Happy are they who can be both serpent and dove; but if we cannot, let us at least be doves. The dove must come before the serpent in our esteem, and in the development of our character. If we invert the order, the dove will be devoured by the serpent: the cause of truth and righteousness will be betrayed out of a base regard to self-preservation and worldly advantage.”

The recent social and political issues are causing a rise among many. Passions are brewing and blood is even boiling. Yet as Christians, we must remember to balance our serpent-like shrewdness while engaged in this arena, with our dove-like nature to win the lost to Christ. For what does it profit if we win the worldly battles, but lose many souls? If we can’t balance the serpent/dove natures, let us at least be doves.


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Joy in the Sharing

Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation

Female Northern Cardinal; Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March, 2020 ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

“What kind of a bird is that?” a friend at church asked excitedly while pointing toward a nearby tree. It was just a typical female Northern Cardinal, yet I experienced a spark of joy as I provided the answer! Not because a cardinal is an overly exciting bird, but simply because someone asked me about a bird!

Over time, things can become stale. When migration ends and we’re left with the usual summertime residents, birding can become boring. As our bird lists get longer, lifers are harder to come by and our joy wanes.

In much the same way, our Christianity can also become lukewarm over time. The joy fades with the same Bible reading plan year after year; the same pastor standing in the pulpit Sunday after Sunday; the same few members doing all the work. Church activities become just another check box on the daily to-do list. Is that you?

In the book Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, bird guide Carlos A. Bethancourt gives us a clue how to break that boredom and restore joy: “When I see the joy and delight on the faces of the birders – some first-timers to the neotropics – I often think back to my first sighting of that species, and it’s nearly as exhilarating for me as if it were my lifer as well. My excitement is in the sharing.

The Lord Jesus commissioned us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” This command wasn’t solely for the growth of the church, but for our own sakes! Jesus knows the exciting rejuvenation and joy that we’d experience in sharing the gospel. There is nothing better than stepping out in faith and sharing your testimony with a stranger to exhilarate your Christian walk. Has your Christianity become lukewarm, stale, or boring? The joy is in the sharing!

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

By Design: Woodpeckers

“I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall.” Obviously, that’s an expression we use to describe a pointless pursuit that accomplishes nothing but pain. However, it is an action that a woodpecker does on purpose… and apparently by design!

“God’s plan for the world stands up, all his designs are made to last.” Psalm 33:12, The Message

Silhouette of a Pileated Woodpecker at dawn. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. May 4, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

I always marvel as I watch woodpeckers hammer away… chunks of bark and wood flying everywhere. I could only imagine how much my brain would be rattled if I were to try it myself. With all the concerns about concussions in high school and college athletes, it is clearly something humans weren’t designed to do.

But that is not true of the woodpeckers. The ability to hammer on hard objects with the front of their face is undoubtedly designed by a Creator. In Unlocking the Mysteries of Creation, Dennis Peterson writes, “The woodpecker is totally different from other birds. Every part of his body is especially fitted for drilling into wood.”

Red-headed Woodpecker; Greene County, Georgia birding, June 13, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

The woodpecker’s beak alone is designed for the job. It is harder than that of other birds, and the base of the bill is fitted with a shock-absorbing tissue not found in some other species. To go along with a beak designed for drilling, the woodpecker has a specialized tongue. Fashioned to fit into those freshly drilled holes, the woodpecker’s tongue is four times longer than the beak and wraps around the back of the bird’s skull! The tail, legs and claws are also specialized designs to help the woodpecker hold in place during his jack-hammer feeding sessions. And a keen sense of smell helps the woodpecker determine the precise drilling point to maximize the chance of excavating an insect.

All these wonderfully engineered traits could only come about by design. Partially evolved traits in a primitive ancestor would only result in broken beaks and a lot of headaches! These features are obviously designed to the woodpecker’s advantage and keep it from pointlessly beating his head against the wall!


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

Desert Oasis – The Church

“He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.” ​​Psalm 107:35

Gambel's Quail, Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson Arizona

Gambel’s Quail; Sweetwater Wetlands Park; Tucson, Arizona USA. June 10, 2018. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

In the midst of dry, heat-baked Tucson, Arizona there is a lush, green, water-filled oasis. This birding and wildlife hotspot is called Sweetwater Wetlands. Over 300 species of birds have been listed in this riparian paradise. Having visited three times, I was amazed at the number of birds and other critters that can be spotted in under an hour. It is a place of refuge and provision, even as the Arizona heat soars above 100 degrees.

Sweetwater Wetlands is a man-made wetland created from reclaimed waste water that is pumped into a series of pools and streams. Willows and Cottonwoods provide shade and perches; a thick green, organic covering lies over the water’s surface; gravel paths circumnavigate the cattail, bulrush and willow lined ponds. Based upon the number of bird species, and the number of birders that visit the park, it is a welcoming habitat for all.

American Coot Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Tucson Arizona

American Coot; Sweetwater Wetlands birding; Tucson, Arizona USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. June 10, 2018.

Even we humans need a welcoming refuge! History has always had its ups and downs; from times of prosperity to periods of drought and devastation. The United States alone, in its relatively brief history of existence, has fought in over 120 wars! And on the personal level, our lives can be filled with the vacillations of economic hardships, medical issues, and relationship dramas. It is for this reason that Jesus spoke the words, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

But just like the man-made desert oasis provided by Sweetwater Wetlands, there is a God-made oasis in the parched desert of this world: that oasis is the church! Through all the riot and uproar of the centuries, the church has always stood as a beacon and refuge for ailing humanity. Like the reclaimed wastewater of Sweetwater, the church is filled with men and women whose once wasted lives have been redeemed, repurposed, and renewed by the blood of the Lamb!

Neotropic Cormorant; Sweetwater Wetlands Park; Tucson, Arizona, USA. June 14, 2018. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

As the nations rage and people plot in vain (Psalms 2), the church cannot be silent. We must stand together, as the church as has always stood, and welcome the weary into the refuge of the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can quench the thirst of hurting man in this world, and in the world to come.

Isaiah 35:5-7 “Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, Lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song. Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain. Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.”


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

On Bird Kinds, the Bible, and Racism

“And God created every winged fowl after his kind:” – Genesis 1:21

The dove represents peace and the Holy Spirit… two things we should be seeking in this day-and-age. White-winged Dove; Hays County, TX. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

“What kind of bird is that?” my young daughter asked, pointing up into the tree. “It’s a White-winged Dove.” After giving a short species account, I went on to explain, “For many, the dove represents peace. And in the Bible it often represents the Holy Spirit.” When she asked what kind it was, I understood that she was asking what species of bird sat perched before us. But her use of the word “kind” brought another thought to my mind.

The Bible reveals that on Day Five, God created all the winged creatures after their kind. While Baraminologists (scientists that study created kinds) aren’t sure of the specific groupings, perhaps the bird kinds are similar to what you find the index of your favorite Field Guide: long-legged waders, ducks, seabirds and gulls, raptors, passerines, etc. Modern day science labels them by genus and species. The Bible says each were created after their kinds.

But when it comes to the creation account of man, the language of the Bible makes a change. We do not read the phrase “And God created man after his kind”. Instead, we read, “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). From the very beginning, we can see the truth that humans are not broken down into different kinds, but all mankind is one kind!

Grouping people into kinds, or “races” as we call them today, is purely a human invention. And racism is most certainly a human invention! The Bible is quite clear that all humans are related; all are of one blood. “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

In God’s system, all men and women are of the same kind; all are of the same standing and worth, no matter the differences in appearance. In fact, the value of something is based upon the price someone is willing to pay for it. Jesus Christ paid the price of His life and blood equally for all human beings.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).

Race is purely a discriminatory classification system concocted by humans themselves. In God’s order, there is no such thing as race, and therefore absolutely no grounds for racism! “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).

(Read the full text of this article at www.williamwisephoto.com)


Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation.  — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.