John T. Willis

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Kiwi are birds endemic to New Zealand. They cannot fly. They are about the size of a domestic chicken and are by far the smallest living ratites and lay the largest egg in relation to their body size. They are five accepted species of kiwi, one of which has four sub-species. The genus is apteryx.

The largest species is the Great Spotted Kiwi or Roroa, which is approximately 18 inches high and weighs a little over seven pounds. It has grey-brown plumage with lighter bands. The female lays only one egg, which both parents incubate. The population is approximately 20,000 distributed through the more mountainous parts of northwest Nelson, the northern West Coast, and the Southern Alps. The very small Little Spotten Kiwi is endangered by pigs, stoats, and cats. Approximately 1350 individuals remain on Kapiti Island, but experts are trying to repopulate these birds in "Little Spots" on each island. This bird is the size of a bantam. It is almost ten inches tall, and weighs almost three pounds. The female lays one egg, and the male incubates it. The Tokoeka is relatively common from south and west parts of the South Island, and is approximately the same size as the Great Spotted Kiwi. Other species and sub-species are less prevalent. The rarest sub-species is the Haast Tokoeka, which has only approximately 300 individuals. The most plentiful species is the North Island Brown Kiwi, which has approximately 35,000 individuals.

The kiwi are the closest relatives of the Emu and the cassowaries. Some experts suggest this was imported from Australia. Kiwi are shy and usually are nocturnal. Kiwi have a highly developed sense of smell, unusual in a bird, and are the only birds with nostrils at the end of their long beak. Kiwi eat small invertebrates, seeds, grubs, worms, fruit, small crayfish, eels and amphibians. With their nostrils at the end of their long beaks, they can locate insects and worms underground without seeing or feeling them because of their keen sense of smell.

Kiwi are monogamous. During the mating season, June to March, the pair call to each other at night, and meet in the nesting burrow every three days. These relationships may last for 20 years. They are unique among other birds because they have a functioning pair of ovaries. Kiwi eggs can weigh up to one quarter the weight of the female. The egg is six times the size of a domestic chicken egg. Eggs are smooth in texture, and are ivory or greenish white. The incubation period is 63-92 days. For the 30 days it takes to grow the fully developed egg, the female must eat three times her normal amount of food. 2 or 3 days before the egg is laid, there is little space left inside the female for her stomach and she is forced to fast.

Kiwi have no keel on the breastbone to anchor wing muscles, and barely any wings. The vestiges are so small that they are invisible under the kiwi's bristly, hair-like, two-branches feathers. While birds usually have hollow bones to minimize weight and flight practicable, kiwi have marrow, in the style of mammals. The bill is long, pliable, and sensitive to the touch, and their eyes have a reduced pecten. Their feathers lack barbules, and aftershafts, and they have large vibrissae around the gape. They have 13 flight feathers, no tail, just a small pygostyle. Their gizzard is weak and their caecum is long and narrow.

"Kiwi" is a Maori word, attempting to imitate the call of the bird. The kiwi is the national symbol of New Zealand. Hence, there is a fruit called Kiwi, and the people of New Zealand call themselves Kiwi.

I hope YOU appreciate Kiwi. This is another creation of God. Above all, I hope YOU appreciate and honor and worship the Creator of all life. Share YOUR experiences and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Equipping Christian Communities against False Teachings--Colossians 2:1-7

As Paul and Timothy work through the letter to the Christian community at Colossae, they now address false teachings at work in the city of Colossae. In order to equip the Christian communities at Colossae and nearby Laodicea, Paul and Timothy lay a spiritual foundation as a standard or norm against which false teachings emerge. This paragraph appears in Colossians 2:1-7. This blog is an attempt to address some of the major thoughts expressed in these verses.

I. Paul wants the Christian communities at Colossae and Laodicea how deeply involved and concerned he is personally, even though he has never been at Colossae or Laodicea in person. Verses 1-3.
a. Paul also wrote Christians at Rome in spite of the fact that he had never been there when he wrote the book of Romans--see Romans 1:13. Spiritually, Paul "struggled" with his fellow-Christians at Colossae and Laodicea. Verse 1.
Paul tells his audiences to read his letters to these places to one another. Colossians 4:16.
b. Paul's purpose is to encourage Christian communities and to unite them in love. Love is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:4; Ephesians 4:16. The solidarity of the whole community is founded, maintained, and strengthened by love. In this way, they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God's mystery--hidden in times past, but now revealed. Colossians 1:26-27 says this mystery is "Christ in you [plural]," and here Colossians 2:2 says this mystery is "Christ himself." Verse 2.
c. In Christ, the now revealed mystery of God, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. "Wisdom and knowledge" are not mental superior thinking, but spiritual divinely given growth and maturity--see Romans 11:33; Ephesians 1:15-19. Verse 3.

II. Paul explains that he has been saying this so that other speakers may "deceive" Christian communities with "plausible arguments." Colossians 2:4-5.
a. Charming and persuasive speech often leads God's people astray. The Bible often cautions Christians against this type of danger. See 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8;
1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 John 2:18-28. Verse 4.
b. Thus, Paul overtly declares his "joy" that Christians at Colossae and Laodicea have morale and firmness of their faith in Christ. The term "firmness" may imply a military concept, indicating positions or posts which soldier occupy and the bulward or fortification of faith. The faith of the community is oriented toward Jesus Christ--see Philemon 5, and thus their faith is persevere, strong, and steadfast--see Acts 16:5; 1 Peter 5:9. This norm or standard equips Christians against false teachings. Verse 5.

III. Using the transitional term "therefore," Paul now encourges God's people to continue in their faith, and thus not be deterred by false teachings. Colossians
a. Just as these communities of faith "received Christ the Lord" (see
1 Corinthians 15:1-5), Paul encourages them to remain faithful in what they received--to continue to live their lives in Christ. See Philippians 4:9. Verse 6.
b. Paul specifically mentions for solid foundations of their previous commitment to God through Jesus Christ. They were "rooted" in Christ (Ephesians 3:17), "built up" in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9), "established" in the faith (see Colossians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 1:8), "taught" in the Lord through missionaries like Epaphras (see Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12). As a result of this, they enjoy "abounding in thanksgiving"--gratitude to God through Jesus Christ for all he has done for them. Verse 7.

What an encouraging message!!! I hope this will also encourage YOU. Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The dragonfly is an insect of the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or the infraorder Anisoptera. This unique insect has large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elogated body. The wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Even thought dragonflies have six legs like any other insect, they are not capable of walking.

Dragonflies are very valuable predators to eat mosquitoes, flies, bees, ants, and butterflies. They usually lives around lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, called "nymphs," are aquatic. The word "Anisoptera" comes from the Greek terms "an" meaning "not," "iso" meaning "equal," and "ptera" meaning "wings." Their hind wings are broader than their forewings.

Female dragonflies lay eggs in or near water, often on floating or emergent plants. When layings eggs, some species submerge themselves completely in order to lay their eggs on a good surface. Then eggs hatch into nymphs. Most of a dragonfly's life is spend in the nymph form, beneath the water's surface, using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates or vertebrates such a tadpoles and fish. They breathed through gills in their rectum, and can rapidly propel themselves by suddently expelling water through the anus. Some nymphs hunt on land. The larval stage of large dragonflies may last as long as five years. In smaller species, this stage may last between two months and three years. When the larve is ready to metamorphose into an adult, it climbs up a reed or other emergent plant. Exposure to air causes the larva to begin breathing. The skin splits at a weak spot behind the head and the adult dragonfly crawls out of its old larval sking, pumps up its wings, anf flies off to feed on midges and flies. In flight, the adult dragonfly can propel itself in six direction--upward, downward, forward, back, and side to side. The adult stage of larger species of dragonfly can last as long as five or six months. Throughout the world, there are numerous varieties of dragonflies.

All of God's creatures have special uses in creation. Each creature is unique with its own set of size, color, food, flight, and function. Every Octover millions of dragonflies--mostly the widespread species known as the globe skimmer--begin to arrive in the Maldives, more than 300 miles southwest of India. By year's end the insects have gone, only to reappear in May. These dragonflies may a round trip of approximate 11,000 miles from India to East Africa via the Maldives. This is the longest trip of any insect on earth, putting dragonflies in the company of other great travelers of the animal world.

I hope YOU appreciate dragonflies. But much more important than this, I hope YOU appreciate and be thankful for and worship the CREATOR of the dragonfly and all of God's creatures.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paul's Intentional Sacrificial Living--Colossians 1:24-29

"Now" in Colossians 1:24 indicates a transition in Paul's thoughts. In verses 24-29, he openly shares his voluntary, intentional commitment under God through Jesus Christ to "serve" the church throughout the world. This blog highlights some great truths in Colossians 1:24-29.

I. Paul declares that he is suffering as God's follower, but he "rejoices" because God is using him to carry out God's purposes. In his flesh, Paul is "completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of Christ's body=the church." Verse 24. Certainly this does not mean that Paul or some other human being supplement what Christ has already done. NO!!! Christ has already removed all human sins on the cross (see Colossians 2:13-14). Every Christian, including Paul, shares in Christ's suffering as he or she participates in Christian living daily. In so doing, each Christian behaves vicariously for others--see 2 Corinthians 1:6. For Paul, as a minister or servant of Christ, daily he completes what is lacking of Christ's afflictions--Acts 9:16; Ephesians 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:8, 16-17; 2:9.

II. God "gave" Paul a servant of the church for the church to make the word of God fully proclaimed. Verse 25. In a special way, God commissioned Paul to go to the Gentiles to preach Jesus Christ there to the whole world. 1 Corinthians 4:1; Romans 15:19.

III. Paul explains that his message to the Gentiles was "hidden" in past generations, but is now "revealed" through Jesus Christ. In this sense, it is a "mystery" revealed. Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. Later in Colossians and Ephesians, Paul delineates the meaning of this "mystery." Verse 26.

IV. First, Paul declares that this "mystery" is "Christ in you, the hope of glory"--verse 27. "Riches and glory" are terms which occur often in the Bible--see 1 Kings
3:13; 1 Chronicles 29:28; Psalm 111:3; Proverbs 3:16; 8:18; 22:4. "You" in the expression "Christ is you" is plural. The thought is that the "mystery" hidden in past generations but now revealed is "Christ in you" true believers in God through Jesus Christ, both Jew and Gentile. Specifically in this text, "you" is the church at Colossae, but by implication refers to all Christians everywhere. Jesus Christ dwells constantly in his church; in each community where the church lives and works; in each individual who serves God in Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 3:17a: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;" 1 Corinthians 3:16: "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwell in you?" ["you" here is plural--the whole church].

V. Paul and his associates [note "we" is plural in this verse; see Colossians 1:7-8] proclaims "Christ in you" [plural--all true believers of God in Jesus Christ] in order to present everyone "mature" in Christ. Verse 28. The word "mature" often appears in English translations as "perfect." See Colossians 4:12; Matthew 5:48; Romans 12:2; James 1:4, 25; 3:2. The desire is that "everyone" grow spiritually so as to become "perfect" or "mature" as God forms into Christ's image. Paul does this by "admonishing" God's people like parents admonish their children (1 Corinthians 4:14) and by "teaching" God's people as an instructor teaches his or her pupils
(1 Timothy 3:14; 2 Timothy 1:11).

VI. By God's power alone (1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 2:13; 4:13), Paul receives the "energy" to rise above the "toils" and "struggles" that he endures daily in the service of Jesus Christ. Verse 29.

Paul's perspective toward life is a great inspiration to all believers. How do YOU respond to this text? Share YOUR insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis