Taking and Making Opportunities

2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season…”

Bright yellow female American Goldfinch perched on pine sapling. Spinus tristis is a North American songbird. Photographed June 17, 2020 in Walton County, Georgia USA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

People have asked me, “How are you able to photograph so many different animals?” A big part of the equation is taking and making opportunities. This success principle holds true in many areas: financial investors watch the markets to take advantage of opportune seasons to invest, while ingenious entrepreneurs create a market where none existed before. Taking an opportunity, or making one, can bring success.

There are times that wildlife photography opportunities present themselves; say, a Red-tailed Hawk swooping down on a roadside squirrel, or a Gray Fox cutting through your backyard. You have to be always ready to take those opportunities when presented. But most of the time, birds don’t swoop in and pose when we set up a tripod and camera. We must make opportunities by travelling to areas that maximize our chances of wildlife viewing, such as birding hotspots, parks and wildlife refuges.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul passes along this same strategy for success to the young pastor Timothy. William Barclay’s translation of 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Urge it upon people whether you can take an opportunity or have to make an opportunity.” Paul isn’t speaking about wildlife photography or financial investments, but about eternal investments: souls! There are times that opportunities to witness present themselves, such as in a long line at Walmart. Other strategies include making evangelistic opportunities such as outdoor concerts and testimony services, or mini neighborhood healing crusades.

So, a greater question than “how do I photograph more birds?”, is “how do I win more souls?”!  Hobbies and recreation are fine – and I’d say they are even essential to mental health – but do I spend as much time seeking to bring people for Christ as I do on photography? Or do I squander my evangelistic opportunities on other pursuits?

Just some food for thought. As for me, I will pursue and enjoy both!


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.

The King’s Fisher

Have you ever observed the superb skills of a Kingfisher making a headlong dive from an overhanging branch into a pond? The true origin of the Kingfisher’s name isn’t certain. But if you have seen him come up with a large fish, you must agree he is aptly named the king fisher!

Belted Kingfisher; Walton County Georgia

However, since many other birds are also quite good at catching fish, he may not have obtained that name by simply being the best at fishing. Another theory is that some monarch – a king with an affinity for the bird – gave him the name: thus, the King’s Fisher. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary states the name was originally written as The King’s Fisher (“kyngys fischare” in Middle English). I can’t help but think of King Solomon’s “three thousand proverbs which spoke of trees, beasts, birds, creeping things, and fishes.”

The King of Kingfishers

During his earthly ministry of discipling young fishermen to become apostles, Jesus stated, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  The Lord’s desire is for His people to be the best fishermen they can be; to “launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch” of lost souls (Luke 5:4). If it is truly our Lord’s desire for us to be such fishers of men, we should strive to be the best fishermen possible! We can learn a few fishing tips from the Kingfisher.

Be Vocal!

Kingfishers are quite vocal and their loud, rattling call is often heard long before they are seen. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states, “Male and female Belted Kingfishers give strident, mechanical rattles in response to the slightest disturbance.” I can always hear a Kingfisher from my office if there is one on the retention pond. As Christians hoping to win souls for our King, we should be just as vocal about the saving grace of Jesus everywhere we go. Our presence and evangelistic desire should never be hidden.  As Paul said, “If our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

Dive In!

The Kingfisher’s mode of catching fish is also an inspiration. They plunge headfirst directly from a perch, or, by hovering over the water bill downward, dive in after a fish they’ve spotted. Oh how many more souls we might win if we were to dive headfirst into every situation declaring the Gospel! A “pool” of souls on a city bus?  Dive in head first and preach! A “school” of fish? Take a plunge and declare the word of God no matter what the teachers might say!

So take an evangelistic tip from the Kingfisher: dive in and be vocal! After all, we are the King of Kings’ Fishers!


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 the earth overflow with Your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.

 

Green-tailed Sunbird – Wordless Bird

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

The green-tailed sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) or Nepal yellow-backed sunbird is a species of bird in the family Nectariniidae.

It is found in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, stretching eastwards into parts of Southeast Asia.

Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. In southeast Szechwan and Yunnan, it lives in open mountain woods with moss-covered trees, from 1825 to 3350 meters elevation.

When viewing this bird, the Wordless Book/Wordless Birds came to mind. Let’s see if we can find all the colors need.

There is definitely Gold/yellow on this beautifully created Sunbird from our Creator.

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) ©WikiC male

“This GOLD bird reminds us of Heaven. The Bible tells us Heaven has a street of gold! But the best part about Heaven is that God, who created you and me, lives there. The Bible, God’s Word, says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” — John 3:16 Jesus, God the Son, is in Heaven preparing a place for all who put their trust in Him. (John 14:2-3) God is holy and perfect. He cannot allow anything in Heaven that is less than perfect, so there’s one thing that can never be in Heaven. Can you think of what that might be?”

Black/Dark is the next color in the Wordless Book/Birds

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) ©WikiC male

It is sin! That is what this DARK bird reminds us of. Sin is anything you think, say, or do that does not please God, like lying, cheating, being selfish, or hurting others. The Bible says: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23 That means everyone, big or little, young or old! No matter where you live or who you are, you have sinned. Everyone is born with a “want to” to do wrong. God says that sin must be punished (Romans 6:23), and the punishment for sin is to be separated from God forever in a place of suffering….a place called Hell. But God has a wonderful plan so that you will not have to be punished for your sin!

Red is next which stands for Sin

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

God sent Jesus Christ, His perfect Son, to be born as a little baby. Jesus lived a perfect life….He never sinned. When He was grown, wicked men nailed Him to a cross. This bird is RED reminding us of Jesus’ blood. The Bible says that without the giving of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). So Jesus Christ willingly died to take your sin punishment. “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.“— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Now, because of what Jesus has done for you, you can have your sins forgiven. Read on to see how!

White is a little harder to find on the Green-backed Sunbird, but this Lovely Sunbird has plenty of white. It is in the same family.

Lovely Sunbird (Aethopyga shelleyi) ©WikiC

The Bible says: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name.” — John 1:12 The WHITE bird reminds us of a CLEAN heart. How can you have a clean heart? A = Admit to God you are a sinner and want to turn away from those sins. B = Believe in Jesus Christ, that He is God’s perfect Son who died for your sin, was buried, and rose again. C = Call on Him to save you from your sin. Would you like to do that right now? He has promised to hear, and once you are His child, He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5). Take a moment and talk to God right now. It will change your life forever. Only one more color! What can it mean?

Green is for Growth after you accept the Lord as your personal Savior.

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

The GREEN bird stands for things that grow. When you ask God to forgive you and save you, you become His child. God wants you to get to know Him better and to grow to become more like Him. These four things will help you grow:

1. PRAY (talk to God every day)
2. READ & OBEY THE BIBLE (to know what He says, then do it)
3. TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS
4. GO TO A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH (where you can learn more about pleasing Him)

As a child of God, if you should sin again, stop and tell Him about it. He promises in His Word… “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:9 Ask God to help you live a life to please Him! Share the Good News of this story with someone else.


The Wordless Book has been used for many years by CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship). These words are from CEF.

See more Wordless Birds