Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pison Ivy Vines

As I wrote the other day Poison ivy is like sin in a Christian's life. Some would say they will just do this sin for a little while then stop. Sin doesn't work that way. You may just set out to do it for a short time and be stuck doing it for 10 years.

This photo below shows the tendrils of the Poison ivy vine attaching itself to a tree. It will not be removed without a lot of effort.

Jesus can set us free from sin. Let us not turn back to a yoke of slavery, but instead use God's grace to serve Him in fullness.

Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Monday, August 29, 2016

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy climbing a tree.

An oil found in all parts of the plant causes a skin irritation. In some people this can be severe.

What is the solution to poison ivy? Stay away from it and cut it out of your yard when you find it.

It is the same with sin in our life. If we allow sin to remain it will hurt our life and destroy us. We should get rid of sin wherever we find it.

Romans 6:16 "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"

Father, I don't want to stray from your ways. I will seek You each day to guide me. Thank you for your help. Amen

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Garden contrasted with Wild Forest

I see the wild forest as raw talent. And I see the garden as talent directed towards a goal. Nature presents us with many plants to use for our benefit. We can make use of what God has created or we can ignore or abuse these gifts.

Our life can be like this nature lesson. We can use our life for the Lord Jesus, or we can use it for ourselves or we could squander our talents and not use them at all.

2 Timothy 2:15 " Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.."

Lord, I want to use my time for Your benefit. I look to Your Spirit to guide me in the right path.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Thistle Flower

Thistle flower close up.

Isaiah 35:1,2 "The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
2 It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God."

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Hiking through the woods I came across this turtle. He was waiting for me to pass but was not completely in his shell. The shell is plain with no markings.

Looking at the different turtles, this one seems to resemble the Three toed box turtle.

My world and his are far apart.

The speed with which I live is so fast I at times do not comprehend what is happening. The slow life of a turtle has some advantages it seems to me.

Let us not be so hurried that we forget our purpose. Listening to God and responding to His direction brings joy and fulfilment.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.”

Father, I wait for Your word to me. My vitality depends on Your direction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Possum or opossum, is the only mammal, in North America, that carries her young in a pouch. They are born just 13 days after conception, the size of a bumble bee.

After a month the young may start to take a peak of the world outside. They leave the mother after 3 months.

They will eat anything. Meat, carrion, vegetables. They climb well and use their hind feet the way humans use their hands. 

These animals have been trapped for fur but they aren't worth much. They are known for playing dead, (playing possum). But they really aren't playing but are responding to stress.

Do we become incapable of dealing with large problems? If so, we can turn to the Lord for strength. He is our rock and our redeemer. Let us not be anxious but build strength by trusting in God.

Psalm 56:11 "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Father, I look to you for strength and protection. Thanks.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Little Bluestem Grass

(Schizachyrium scoparium)

This grass is native to most of the US except California, Oregon and Nevada. And grows well in grassland areas.

It is a bunch grass that is perennial, meaning that it comes up year after year.

It can be grown in zones 3-10. It grows best in the sun in well drained soil.

Local grass will do better than grass brought into an area that it is not suited for. 

Psalm 146:5-7 "How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Canada Goose Gosling

This is an April photo of a gosling. Some geese like to eat on grass year round.  As soon as they hatch they are capable of swimming, walking and eating on their own. 

One reason they like grass is that they can see predators easily. At 10 weeks they are mostly full grown. Flying around 9 weeks.

The adults lose their flight ability during breeding and regain it about the time the young are able to fly.

The yellow plumage of this gosling will turn to gray soon.

Father, just as you provide growth and food for the these goslings, so You will provide for us. Thank you for all You do for us.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Savannah Woodland

Here is a natural Savannah, where the undergrowth does not grow up like woodland around it.

This bottom photo is less than 100 yards from the top photo. A much different woods.

What is causing the difference? In these 2 examples. The weather would be the same. the soil type would be the same. The difference is the top photo is on a hilltop and there may be less soil there, being more rocky.

Most Savannahs I see around Missouri are managed to look that way. This one is natural.

The openness presents an inviting atmosphere. The thick woods takes a little more aggressiveness to enter.

Christians need aggressiveness to enter into ministry. Where does this eagerness come from?  I think it comes from accessing the power of God.

Psalm 110:3 "Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; ..."

Father, let me understand the power You have made available to us. Thank you. In Jesus name let it be.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leaning Northern Red Oak

Measured the circumference of this Northern Red oak in 2006 of 128.5" The circumference this August is 137.5" an increase of 7% in 10 years. That is a 2% increase in the volume of wood. But it is a big tree, so 2% is a lot of wood.

Above is the picture of the leaning tree. This photo shows the tree on the left. It doesn't look like it is leaning that much. In the winter it is a lot more noticeable.

What we do for Christ might not seem like much. If we keep at it, the amount starts to add up.

1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

Father, let me serve you with joy and eagerness.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Dew happens when the temperature drops in the night lower than the air is able to hold water. The warmer it is the more water the air can hold. As the temperature drops in the night the water content will stay the same but the air loses its ability to hold that much water.  The result is dew. 

In the morning the sun will come out and the dew will evaporate back into the air.

Sheep sometimes will get enough water from eating grass that has an abundance of dew. Dew can be a type of gift from God that is accessed in the morning before the hustle and bustle of life makes it harder to hear from God. As we sit in God's presence reading the Bible we gain insight from the Holy Spirit who teaches us the Bible.

Deut 32:2 "Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb."

Psalm 5:3 "In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


One of the identifying characteristics of a Northern Catalpa tree is a round leaf scar. The above photo shows this. Few trees have this characteristic. 

Another way Catalpa trees are recognized is the cigar like seed pods the tree produces.

The end of twigs usually have buds on them but Catalpa's don't.

Below is the bark of an old tree.

Catalpa wood is light with straight grain. This makes it easy to split and I use the wood for kindling.

Kindle afresh the gift of God that is within you. We should not let what we used to do for the Lord go to waste. Instead, kindle it so that it will grow . Just as a fire is kindled to give you more fire and heat. Kindle your giftings with Bible reading and prayer to allow you to serve the Lord with more zeal and enthusiasm.

2 Timothy 1:6 "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

Lord, revive me according to Your word.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Large Catalpa Tree

Looking for trees in urban parks we found this large N. Catalpa tree.  It was in a local cemetery and provided shade with benches under it.

We measured it to record its size and to watch for growth in the years to come.

Height 72'
Circumference 139"
Canopy measured 2 different ways 65' each way.
This gives the tree 227 points.

This will be the baseline of other Catalpa trees. This is the first one I have measured.

The leaf size is also unique and easily identifies this tree from a distance.

As trees age they provide shade for us to rest under. Let us also give grace and rest to others.

Isaiah 4:6 "There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain."

Father, thank you for the protection from the worries of life You give.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Went downtown to the farmers market to buy some produce. On the way there I noticed this Ginkgo tree planted by the street. These trees are good trees for street planting because they will survive a lack of water and smog does not bother them like it would other trees.

This is a tough tree species and survives down through history when other trees like it have become extinct.

The herbal use of this tree is interesting. Crushing the leaves gives a herbal benefit of better concentration and improves short term memory.

Habakkuk 3:17,18 "Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

The resilience of the Ginkgo points to us the way keep on with Christ. Part of this resilience is knowing the Bible and trusting God when all else is failing around us.

Lord, I look to You to sustain me and give me the resilience to trust You in life. Thanks.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hedge Apples

Hedge apples are produced by Osage orange trees. They are about the size of grapefruit. Squirrels will eat them, but not if there are better things to eat. I have used them in our basement to repel bugs.

Psalm 144:9 "I will sing a new song to You, O God; Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,"

Father, lead me today to do Your will and be aware of Your Spirit in my life. Thanks

Friday, August 12, 2016

Osage Orange Bark

The bark of this tree has an orange tint to it making it stand out from other trees.

Bark is the skin of the tree and protects the tree from bugs and disease. The protection for Christians is faith in Jesus. God is faithful and will protect us as we trust in Him.

Psalm 91:1-3
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.

Lord, you are my protection and in You I take refuge.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Osage Orange Leaf and Thorns

The Osage orange tree has leaves like an Orange tree. The tree, of course, does not live in the same climate as an Orange tree. It was mainly in Texas where the range was. It has been planted on many farms to form a hedge. row.

The tree has stiff branches that don't forgive when you try to cross through them. They will tear your clothes and skin. The branches in this picture are pliable, but after that they become stiff and guard whatever is beyond them.

It is because of the thorns that the tree has been planted and used for hedge rows.

Isaiah 5:5-6
"So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. "I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briars and thorns will come up I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it."

Lord, I don't want to be stiff and unworkable. Let me be pliable and useful to You.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Grassland is located in places where there is not enough water to support tree growth. Grassland also occupies land that has poorer soil. Grassland occupies areas that are flooded often. And man can cut out trees to create a pasture for livestock. Livestock can live off of grass but not trees.

Grassland is not as interesting as forests to me. Why? I like to see the different species and how they are growing. I can't identify grass. Our knowledge increases our interest.

It is the same with Christ. When we come to know Jesus as our savior a new birth happens and an interest starts to grow to know Him more. 

Psalm 104:14
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,

Lord, let us not forget to cultivate our interest in you to grow and be fed. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Tall Bellflower

Also known as American Bellflower.

Psalm 37:4-9 "Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land."

Don't look at the success of others, instead look to Jesus. Make your delight the Lord and the cares of this world will fall away.

Father, I make you my delight. I seek You, when I'm in need.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Eastern White Pine

An attractive tree in our hardscrabble area for coniferous trees. I don't see many escaping from cultivation. This cone was right at eye level so I was able to get a good close up.

A German study of this tree found that a stand of 90 year old trees produced 65 pounds of seed per acre. While a stand of 60 year old trees only produced 13 pounds of seeds per acre.

This shows that maturity will bring more fruit in our Christian work as well. Don't be discouraged by small beginnings. Know your labor will bring fruit for God. 1 Cor. 15:58

Psalm 1:3  "He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers."

Father, guide me as this Psalm states to live for you and bear fruit for your kingdom. In Jesus name  Thank you for doing it.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin Durazz)

Beautiful flowering tree with small double compound leaves. The tree is an exotic from Asia and is adapted to grow in open ground that is dug up. But it does not do well in extreme freezing weather so the lack of hardiness will keep the tree further south in Missouri.

It is a legume and has seed pods that look similar to the Eastern Red Bud tree.

Native wildlife have no use for the tree. But a friend in our area just reported that Humming birds flock to this tree.

God's beauty abounds all around us. Some of it is natural and some comes from distant lands. We should enjoy everything. Let us remember God each day as we see His creative work.

May God's grace abound towards you each day. And may You see His goodness to you.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Crooked Black Locust

I have been putting a lot of shots of Black locust on my blog lately. Almost all trees I have seen have had straight tree bowls. This tree is growing crooked. Trees around it have been pushed back. But why would they save this tree? In any event it has survived and will continue growing for years to come.

The tree grew crooked as it fought for sunlight amongst the forest foliage. People don't have pristine lives. They make mistakes and falter. God forgives a repentant heart. One that turns to Him for help in humbleness. God forgives our past and cares for us and helps us live for Him today. As we live for Him our way will become secure. Not that we won't have problems but we will be at peace with Him and know He cares for us.

Luke 18:11-14  "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 
12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get."
13"But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!"
14"I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Let us return to the Lord in humbleness.

Father, help me be an encouragement to others.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Signs of Death

Hiking in the woods you can't always tell how a tree is doing because the canopy is out of sight because of the foliage below. This Black locust tree is easily identified by the bark. And the conk that is growing on the bowl of the tree is a sure sign there is no life in the tree.

Looking through the leaves I found a clear spot to shoot what I thought would be the dead branches. But they had all fallen off. The tree will probably fall down in some storm soon.

A tree lives its life and is overcome by disease or pests and dies. The Christian life can be typed like trees at times. When we come to faith in Christ there is vitality and excitement. If our life is not nourished and exercised fatigued and sickness results. People give up trying to live for the Lord and drop out of the Christian life. Their hearts then become hard and decisions are made against the Lord. I can't point when death occurs but it does happen and I have seen it with people.

With Christ there is always hope. Why not return to Christ and regain the life God has for you.

Ezekiel 18:23 "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

Father, help me bring the good news of Your forgiveness to the hurting and lost. Thank you, in Jesus name so be it.