Test Yourself!

Whether it be for school, employment, or medical treatment, testing is a fact of life. But the Bible tells us of a more important test…

Psalm 26:2 “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;”

With such a wide variety of “flavors”, shorebirds like peeps and gulls can be a test of a birder’s identification skills. Sanderling and Ring-billed Gull; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. December, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

For months now we’ve heard about coronavirus testing, testing, testing. So when I came home from work last month and saw my 15-year-old daughter laid out on the couch with a runny nose, headache and sore throat, I knew what had to be done. And when her COVID-19 test came back positive, we knew what we had to do: re-enter that dismal bunker of self-isolation. (Thankfully all her symptoms were fairly minor and she had a quick recovery, other than loss of taste and smell.)

Two weeks of Quarantine. What now? While my older daughter lamented about the devastating impact upon her social life, I decided to test myself! No, I’m not speaking of a homemade COVID-19 test, but brushing up my skills on some of those hard to identify shorebirds. I found my old stack of 3 x 5 index cards that I made long before I had a smartphone, each with a bird photo taped to front, and began to test myself.

Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings on Port Royal Sound, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. May, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

But I wasn’t halfway through the first day of isolation when God began to challenge me. What about your prayer life? How is your Bible reading lately? Like Job’s inquisition from the Almighty, my only answer could be, “Touché, God!”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

Following God‘s cue, I continued to test myself. Where did I put that prayer list of friends, family, and coworkers? How long has it been since I’ve written a full-length sermon? How about getting the Greek New Testament off the shelf to read a chapter a day? Instead of binge-watching internet videos, I challenged myself to pray morning, noon, night (which proved harder than I thought!).

God tests us to prove us and bring us closer to Him; not to frustrate us, see us fail, or wallow in a puddle of self-condemnation. We may not always enjoy testing, but if we will self-test ourselves now, we will be spared that “Final Examination” coming to those that miss the Rapture!

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Revelation 3:10


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.

Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe Part II

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Old Bench for Backyard Birdwatching

Our gator adventure has been keeping me from using my bench, but we still have lots of birds to watch. Just from a safer distance. In Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe, I explained why I haven’t used my bench too much yet. The talk of the neighborhood, “our own gator,” brings visitors to the water. As I mentioned before, we don’t get to see it most of the time because of the embankment.

When he [or she] moves more to the middle of the water, then we get to see it. When we came home from church, Sunday (5-17), there he was. We both grabbed our cameras, which we now keep at the table by the door. Here is what I saw:

Dan taking a photo of the gator and me taking of photo of him.

Dan taking a photo of the gator and me taking of photo of him.

Then I zoomed in on what he was taking a photo of:

What Dan Was Photographying by Lee 5-17-20

What Dan Was Photographying by Lee 5-17-20

We still have that Variant House Finch stopping by. He feeds at the feeder up by the door. Much safer there. The sun was shining brightly, and it made him almost glow. Here a few I took a few days ago:

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Variant House Finch 5-14-20

Also recently, the three species I mentioned in the first post, we spotted though the door on May 16th. Here are a few more closeups:

Great Blue Heron close up

Great Blue Heron close up

“And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.” (Leviticus 11:19 KJV) – Don’t Eat List

Great Blue Heron with neck bent in S

Great Blue Heron with neck bent in S – Sandhill Crane in foreground

Great Egret 5-16-20

Great Egret 5-16-20

I know these are not the greatest photos, but I sure do enjoy seeing so many interesting birds to watch, and even the alligator. Stay tuned for a video I shot this morning.

Backyard Birdwatching – Maybe

Birds of the Bible – Herons

Birds of the Bible – Cranes

Wordless Birds

 

Satisfying Shallows and Delightful Depths

“He led me through water to the ankles…, he led me through water to the knees…, he led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass over.” Ezekiel 47:1-5

Bonaparte`s Gulls frolicking in ocean surf, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. March 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Birdwatching. Birding. Ornithology. In most minds, those three terms conjure differing depths of avian appreciation. Bird enthusiasm ranges from the simple enjoyment of backyard birds, to submerging in state lists and big years, and even deeper into the intellectual fathoms of anatomy and natural history. The books upon the shelf range from Your Backyard Feeder to Latin Terms for Taxonomists.

In the same manner, the Bible is book of unending fathomage. From inspiring daily devotionals, to word studies and commentaries, and into the depths of theology, the Sacred Writ can be enjoyed and experienced on so many different levels.

Stack of Antique New Testament Bibles. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

But is one level of devotee better than another? Is the ornithologist more serious or dedicated than a birder? Is the theologian more important than the lay congregant? Are we only dipping in our toes when we should be swimming deeper? Are we drowning in the depths and neglecting the satisfaction of the shallows?

In reality, one can be all things, or be what one desires! In his chapter of Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, David A. La Puma writes, “Find out what you love about birds and dive in; the pool of knowledge is deep and rich and full of others happy to help you along the way.” An ornithologist can still enjoy birdwatching just as a theologian should still delight in daily devotionals.

Our Christian life and experience, just like birding, should enjoy the shallows, wade into the depths, dive the deep ocean trenches, and swim back again. Just as you would enjoy cardinals and chickadees at your backyard feeder, or decide to tackle identifying the gulls, sparrows and peeps, enjoy your yearly reading plan through the New Testament and Psalms, and simultaneously sound the depths of Biblical wisdom and application. Find out what you love about the Word of God in this season of life and dive in. The only wrong thing to do is to completely dry up!


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.

Why Red?

My backyard bird feeder is always alive with flashes of red. The Northern Cardinals are daily visitors for free helpings of sunflower seeds. As one catches my eye, I ponder, why red?

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Red Northern Cardinal Bird

Northern Cardinal; Clarke County, GA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Most animals blend into their surroundings. But not the Cardinal. He flashes about in a scarlet garment heralding his presence for all to see. Why would a small bird, an easy prey, want to wear such colors? As I meditate what creation would speak, red conjures two images: the stain of sin and the source of salvation.

THE STAIN OF SIN…

Red catches our attention, and normally for something of which we must take heed. We use it on our warning signs and labels; red hangs at every intersection to prevent disorderly collisions.

In Isaiah 1:18, red is used as a bold simile illustrating the blatant sins of the people. All that they do and say is stained with the crimson of sin. Although sin may blend in as the “norm of society”, it stands out to God’s eyes. Isaiah the preacher points out this scarlet warning sign, and begs the people to heed the warning and repent.

THE SOURCE OF SALVATION…

But another profound Biblical use of the color red is that of blood. From the blood of Abel, through the atoning sacrifices of the Israelites; of the thread in the window which saved Rahab and her entire family, to the saving Blood shed upon Calvary’s cross, the entire Bible is stained red with blood.

Though normally a gruesome sight for most, the red blood of the Bible is hope; it is cleansing. The sins of the people of Isaiah’s day stand out like red stained clothing. But it is the red colored blood of the new covenant which is able to remove that stain.

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”
Revelation 1:5

Though I may be pushing things by stretching the color of a bird into a mini-sermon, I’d rather have the red Northern Cardinal remind of the warning of sin and of the hope of salvation, than to stand for a red-robed religious official for whom it is said the Cardinal is named!


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “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.

Jesus and Birds – Introduction

Doves in Israel

Doves in Israel ©©

The Birds of the Bible was the original reason this blog came into being. That is what started this journey, to introduce you to the birds that are listed in the Bible. Many, if not most of those birds have been written about various times. We still continue to add to those articles.

While looking through my books, I came across “A Harmony of the Gospels For Students of the Life of Christ,” written by A. T. Robertson. Humm! A question hit me, How many times were there when Jesus and a bird or birds were mentioned at the time? Many of you can think of most of those occasions. Or can you? Do I remember all those times?

After doing a search, not exhaustive, there were at least 16 incidents where Jesus and a bird/birds were mentioned at the same event. Stay tuned and come along as I work these into post for us to learn more about the Creator of Our Avian Wonders. Yes, He was that Creator come to earth to pay the price of His Sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3 KJV)

Birds of the Bible

Birds and Jesus – Kids and younger reader version

 

Voices that Carry

Joshua 6:20 “…and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, and they took the city.”

It is political season in the United States. From now until November all the media outlets will be saturated with political ads as every advocate for every cause will be projecting their voices in an effort to be heard. Some days, I just have to pull away from all those voices and go for a birding walk. But as a Christian, should I pull away? Should I remain silent?

As I stepped outdoors to get away, my attention was immediately drawn to a noisy bird circling overhead; his loud voice was carrying on the wind. One of the Killdeer birds that is normally darting around in our parking lot was flying through the air and shouting its name: Kill-deah! Kill-deah!!! The voices of the other plovers are more pleasantly described as ‘a plaintive or musical whistle.’ But not the Killdeer, of which Peterson’s Field Guide gives a one-word description: “noisy”.

Killdeer plover bird flying

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

So, just like the political activists, the Killdeer too wanted his voice to be heard! And perhaps I should take a lesson from the Killdeer. As Christians, in the interest of peace and harmony, do we remain quiet as the special interest groups shout aloud in support of their own, often unrighteous, causes? Do we let their voices carry louder than ours? The last time that happened, the outcome wasn’t so good. “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed” (Luke 23:23).

This Killdeer was exemplifying his boisterous description, and simultaneously living up to his species name: Charadrius vociferous. Vociferous is from the Latin, meaning “to shout, yell.” If you break it down, vox means “voice”, and ferre, meaning “to carry”; therefore, vociferous describes ‘voices that carry’. Aptly describing my little plover flying overhead!

Killdeer plover bird

Killdeer; Walton County, Georgia. www.williamwisephoto.com

As the other voices carry along on the winds of social media, radio and television, our Christian voices in support of righteousness should also be heard! What if William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln had remained silent? Instead, they let their voices carry on the wind, like the vociferous Killdeer, and changed our society!

Joshua 6:20 “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.”


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “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.