Tuesday 24 July 2018

Creativity of the Creator ~ Nature

In the Everyday Journals ~ Living your word of the year group on Facebook, the theme for July is Creativity of the Creator ~ Nature.   My contribution to the theme is a study I wrote for another group entitled Eagles in the Bible.

The Golden Eagle
There are many species of Eagles throughout the world, however in my research I found that four species have been found in the biblical region of Palestine - (1) the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos); (2) the spotted eagle (Aquila naevia); (3) the common species, the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca); and (4) the Circaetos gallicus, which preys on reptiles. I decided that for our purposes I would concentrate on the Golden Eagle.

Here are some online links
Life History
How eagles fly (video)
Eagle in flight

Introduction from Mary Brack
"The Eagle is often used in the Bible as a picture of strength, vitality and long life as seen in Psalm 103 and Isaiah 40. We are given encouragement throughout the Bible to look to the Eagle as a symbol of strength in the Lord. Time and time again we can look to God; we can look to His promises; we can rejoice in the benefits He bestows on us, and find renewal for our mind, soul and spirit.

Look at His benefits in Psalm 103: forgiveness, healing, redemption, love and compassion, and satisfaction. Paul spoke of a similar perspective in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

The Bible uses birds as metaphors and symbols to paint for us a picture of what it looks like to trust in God, to find our refuge, shelter, care and protection in Him, and to follow Him and find renewed life in abundance through the gift of His Son."

What can we learn?
Let’s look at the eagle from an ornithological point of view and what can we learn from the eagle’s characteristics that helps us see why God uses the eagle image so many times in the Bible? Obviously we don’t hunt for prey or fly in the sky (without an aeroplane) but there are other characteristics that we can see apply to us. From reading or watching the videos in the above links you can find these characteristics of the Golden Eagle.

Characteristics of an eagle and The eagle analogy

Eagles mate for life
Eagles find partners with whom they stay for life. If one of the pair dies, only then will an eagle seek another mate. The adult birds occupy an area of land for nesting and hunting known as a ‘home range’ where they live all year. God wants us to be faithful. First and foremost he wants us to be faithful to him. But faithfulness to our partners, family, friends and church is also important. Matthew 25:21, 1 Cor. 4:1-2

Eagles soar on thermals
If you watch the video above you will see that eagles do not flap their wings in order to fly. It may beat its wings once or twice but only to regain the thermal or wind currents that it is using to soar in the sky. They spread out their big and heavy wings in order to conserve energy. The Holy Spirit is our equivalent of the thermals that eagles use. God wants us to learn how to be led by his Holy Spirit and flow in his power in our daily lives. We may stray from the path that God has set out for us but just as the eagle beat their wings to return to the thermal we only have to turn to God and soar again. Eagles depend on thermals to climb just as we depend on the Holy Spirit Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:11-17

Eagles fly alone
Although the eagles mate for life you are more likely to see them flying and hunting alone. Whilst we are members of the body of Christ and so not alone, God has a plan for each of us to follow. This is the calling he has placed on our lives. Sometimes this may feel to be a solitary place – think of David facing Goliath. Ephesians 4:1

Eagles are patient
The eagle will sit and wait patiently for the right wind conditions before spreading its wings and soaring into the sky to hunt for food. God calls us to be patient – sometimes to wait expectantly. In James 1:2-8 we are told that trials and testing will produce perseverance. How often through those times have you learned to be patient?

Eagles have keen eyesight
An eagle’s eyesight is at least five times sharper than that of a human. It is thought that an eagle can spot a rabbit 2 miles away. An eagle's vision is exceptionally sharp because each eye has two foveae - areas of acute vision - as compared with the human eye which only has one. The cones in the eagle's fovea are very small and tightly grouped, allowing the eagle to see small details from extreme distances. The eyes of the eagle are placed forward on the eagle's head, giving him accurate depth perception. This is important for an eagle when he is pursuing prey. The placement of the eyes also enables the eagle to see each side. The eagle can see even with his eyelids shut. In addition to his normal pair of eyelids, the eagle has a set of clear eyelids called nictitating membranes. These eyelids can be closed for protection without affecting the eagle's vision

We need to see both with our physical eyes and our spiritual eyes. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit. We need to seek revelation of the scriptures. We need to listen to what we are being asked to do. In our relationship with God we need to see how he sees us. To see how he sees the world. To see from his perspective. Psalm 119:18, James 1:22-25

Eagles are majestic
Due to the natural characteristics of the eagle people think of them as being majestic. The eagle is the most used national emblem throughout the world. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are part of a royal priesthood. But in addition we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings, adopted into h is family and therefore of royal blood.

Eagles live on higher ground
Golden Eagles live in open country, primarily in mountainous areas and areas with cliffs and steep escarpments. These open moorlands offer them good hunting grounds often with rivers running through them. They build their nests on the cliff edges. Jesus tells us that we are in the world but not of the world. John 15:19. We are heavenly citizens Ephesians 2:6 – “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”. As born-again Christians we live on higher ground as a result of our position with Jesus.

Eagles are bold, courageous and powerful
Eagles hunt mostly for small to medium-sized mammals but are not averse to hunting for much larger prey. They also catch fish. To catch their prey they use their powerful talons. They have immense speed and can dive from a great height to catch their prey. They are also capable of flying through storms which most birds do not. So are we! God is raising us up to be bold and courageous. We are to be powerful in his strength not in our own. We can be bold because God tells us that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
(C) Shonna Bucaroff

In the Bible we find metaphors, poetry, word pictures and prophetic pictures. The image of the eagle is used in a variety of ways.

Two of the key verses we tend to quote or refer to regularly are Isaiah 40:30-31 and Deuteronomy 32:10-12

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Here’s what Matthew Henry has to say about these verses:
He gives strength and power to his people, and helps them by enabling them to help themselves. He that is the strong God is the strength of Israel. (1.) He can help the weak, Isa. 40:29. Many a time he gives power to the faint, to those that are ready to faint away; and to those that have no might he not only gives, but increases strength, as there is more and more occasion for it. Many out of bodily weakness are wonderfully recovered, and made strong, by the providence of God: and many that are feeble in spirit, timorous and faint-hearted, unfit for services and sufferings, are yet strengthened by the grace of God with all might in the inward man. To those who are sensible of their weakness, and ready to acknowledge they have no might, God does in a special manner increase strength; for, when we are weak in ourselves, then are we strong in the Lord. (2.) He will help the willing, will help those who, in a humble dependence upon him, help themselves, and will do well for those who do their best, Isa. 40:30, 31. Those who trust to their own sufficiency, and are so confident of it that they neither exert themselves to the utmost nor seek unto God for his grace, are the youth and the young men, who are strong, but are apt to think themselves stronger than they are. And they shall faint and be weary, yea, they shall utterly fail in their services, in their conflicts, and under their burdens; they shall soon be made to see the folly of trusting to themselves. But those that wait on the Lord, who make conscience of their duty to him, and by faith rely upon him and commit themselves to his guidance, shall find that God will not fail them. [1.] They shall have grace sufficient for them: They shall renew their strength as their work is renewed, as there is new occasion; they shall be anointed, and their lamps supplied, with fresh oil. God will be their arm every morning, Isa. 33:2. If at any time they have been foiled and weakened they shall recover themselves, and so renew their strength. Heb. They shall change their strength, as their work is changed—doing work, suffering work; they shall have strength to labour, strength to wrestle, strength to resist, strength to bear. As the day so shall the strength be. [2.] They shall use this grace for the best purposes. Being strengthened, First, They shall soar upward, upward towards God: They shall mount up with wings like eagles, so strongly, so swiftly, so high and heaven-ward. In the strength of divine grace, their souls shall ascend above the world, and even enter into the holiest. Pious and devout affections are the eagles’ wings on which gracious souls mount up, Ps. 25:1. Secondly, They shall press forward, forward towards heaven. They shall walk, they shall run, the way of God’s commandments, cheerfully and with alacrity (they shall not be weary), constantly and with perseverance (they shall not faint); and therefore in due season they shall reap. Let Jacob and Israel therefore, in their greatest distresses, continue waiting upon God, and not despair of timely and effectual relief and succour from him.

Deuteronomy 32:10-12
In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them aloft.
12 The LORD alone led him;
no foreign god was with him.

Eagles look after and teach their young
The nests or eyries are built high up usually on cliff ledges. Usually two eggs are laid and the female sits on the eggs until the eaglets hatch. The mother continues to look after the eaglets whilst the father brings food for them all. The first born eaglet is usually the dominant one and is frequently the only one to survive. After 2 weeks the female eagle joins with her mate in hunting for food.

When it is time for the eaglet to fledge the mother eagle stands at the edge of the nest encouraging the eaglet to spread its wings. She will demonstrate how to fly encouraging the baby to try it.
(C) Shonna Bucaroff

Commentators see these verses as referring to Moses or to the people of Israel. Sermons have been preached on the verses but I can find no ornithological information to back up the often quoted details that the eagle removes the nest from beneath the eaglet to encourage it to fly or that she will catch the eaglet on her back if it falls. This is a picture given to us in Deuteronomy 32:10-12 but I think that it is a picture of how God cares for his people. He likes us to spread our wings, to get out of the nest – our comfort zone – and soar with him.

On Eagles Wings

"I Will Rise" Chris Tomlin

Eagles Wings Hillsong

I hope you have found this study useful.

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Missing inaction

Spot what I did there!  In the blog title!  The phrase should be 'missing in action'.  I have been missing from my blog but no action!  In fact, lots of inaction.  On June 8th I fell flat on my face and broke two fingers on my right hand.  I have spent the time since having various hospital and dental appointments and my hand has been trussed up like this:

It meant that I had to cancel virtually all of the workshops I was intending to be at including a three day class with Cas Holmes.   I have spent four weeks sitting resting and being waited on.  Thank goodness for Kindle Unlimited.

I decided that I would attend a planned two day workshop on colour organised by Textile Explorations.   Even if I only sat and listened!

Please bear in mind that I took the photos with my left hand!

Julia Triston was teaching the workshop.  We started by talking about colour and then naming as many colours of green that we could think of.   Then we had to paint 6 of the colours from memory.

Julia laid out all our squares and it was fascinating to see how we each perceive colour and also the difference different media makes.

Then we moved on to making true primaries with whatever media we had brought with us.

We talked about warm and cool colours and made collages from torn magazine papers.

There were more exercises to do from these collages but I didn't manage to get them done.  And I was pretty exhausted having got this far.

Next day we looked at the proportion of colours in an image of our choosing.  Then Julia suggested we did a thread wrapping of those proportions but I did mine with paint chips instead.  Fortunately Julia helped me with the cutting and sticking.

Then we made a collage in the exact proportions of the original image.

At this point I should have continued with an exercise in fabric but stopped.  I was pleased that I managed as much as I did.

I hope to finish the exercises once I have the use of my right hand.  And I will return to regular blog posts.  Typing with my left hand only is tiring and laborious.

Thanks for joining me today.