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The Alex McFarland Show-86-God's Wonderful Creation with guest Mike Roberts

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2023 12:00 pm

The Alex McFarland Show-86-God's Wonderful Creation with guest Mike Roberts

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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November 30, 2023 12:00 pm

On today’s episode of the Alex McFarland Show, Alex is joined by Mike Roberts who is a self educated naturalist, nature photographer, and follower of Christ, who loves the outdoors and all of God’s creation. Mike passionately shares about how God created this wonderful planet and put us on it to take care of it and to be good stewards of it. 

Scriptures:  

Psalm 19:1

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The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show.

In Psalm 19, the Word of God says, the heavens and earth bear witness to the glory of God. Hi everybody, Alex McFarland here, and we have a very, very special show today. A lot going on in our world, and actually as we record this broadcast, it's the afternoon of Thanksgiving. And I'm here with a very special friend and colleague, Mike Roberts. Mike is a renowned nature photographer and columnist.

He writes for a lot of sporting magazines and outdoor magazines. And for one thing, Mike, I want to thank you for being with us on the program, and I know this will air after Thanksgiving. But you and I and our wives just had a really bountiful Thanksgiving meal, and we were around the table talking about the things of the Lord and creation, and I just thought it would make a really good conversation. So thanks for being with us, and happy late Thanksgiving, Mike. Thank you, Alex, and what an honor it's been to have both you and Angie up for Thanksgiving and a great meal and a great time of fellowship. Well, I want to talk about what you and I did this morning, but first of all, tell the listeners about yourself and the work you do. It's a combination of outdoorsmen and great creativity, but tell us about Mike Roberts' work.

Wow. Well, first of all, you have to understand, Alex, that I grew up in rural Bedford County, Virginia, and today the rural part is missing because our county is becoming smaller in terms of large farms and a rural setting. But I grew up in Virginia in the 50s and 60s, and the wildlife—I lived a long ways from school. I wasn't into the athletic programs, came home after farm chores, spent my time outdoors. So I guess I'm a self-professed, self-educated naturalist.

I love the outdoors, the fact that God created this fantastic environment. So my message of faith is basically to share with the next generations the fact that God created this wonderful planet. He put us in charge of it to care for it, not just put us here, but he gave us a stewardship responsibility.

And that's the message that goes out to the next generations of Americans today. You know, we do a lot of summer camps, and we're working hard on our 2024 camps already. I know you minister and speak at a Christian camp. You and I were talking about the fact that a lot of young people today, they don't know about nature and animals and appreciating it. I grew up on a farm as well. But God is using you, among other things, to teach young people about the outdoors. Tell us a little bit about how kids react when you teach them the things of God's creation.

Well, to fully understand this, I have to make sure everyone understands that God brought my life full circle. At age 13, I attended a camp at the peaks of Otter in Bedford County, Virginia. And it was sponsored by the Strawberry Baptist Association.

And that was in 1963. I was 13 years of age. First time I'd been away from home. And it was such a wonderful experience. I got to see my first elk because we had a herd of elk in Virginia, believe it or not, at the time. And they inspired me. So even today I spend so much time from Montana, Colorado, Wyoming photographing and, yes, hunting elk on occasion.

But it was basically an aspiration that led me across America to see what a fantastic country that we live in. But God brought my life full circle back to the peaks of Otter because that particular camp was gifted to Thomas Road Baptist Church ten years ago this year. You know, Angie and I are well acquainted with Thomas Road.

I went to Liberty University. And we sat under the preaching of Jerry Falwell at Thomas Road. And so, yes, we are much in love with these hillsides, as are you, brother.

Yes. And that camp is 500 acres. And it has an unbelievable program there of recreation. It's spiritual. It's recreation. And my responsibility is to help the campers that are coming in from all over the country, a lot of inner-city students, a lot of inner-city urban people that aren't familiar with their natural environment and even less familiar with the fact that God was the creator of this fantastic environment. So my responsibility is to share God's creation with these people. And I have a number of ways to do that.

We have side-by-sides and we pack about 25 youngsters per trip around the camp. And I get to stop at different streams, forests, and just share a responsibility. And just the unbelievable natural history that's there that these students aren't learning in school. And it's an amazing opportunity for me. And, again, it was God brought my life full circle back to where it started in Bedford County with this program. Now you and I, Thanksgiving morning, you got up earlier than anybody because when the sun rose over the Virginia hillsides, you were already in a deer stand, weren't you? Anyway, you shot a deer and I want to say thanks because I wasn't there when you shot it, but you did give me the privilege of helping you retrieve this deer from down a very steep valley.

Well it was an honor, Alex, for you to be with me to help me. At age 73, it's not as easy as it once was, but just to have you along to share basically some of the details of the hunt. And actually help me photograph that deer because every deer is an individual animal and we have to have respect for the creatures that we hunt. And it's consumptive conservation. It's not just hunting. Basically it's part of our responsibility to control numbers of deer, but to enjoy the whole environment while we're out there hunting to see the birds and see the other wildlife. And it's just a fantastic opportunity to see the sun come up and be out in the wilds.

And just every day is an opportunity like that. Now your pictures all around your home are incredible works of photography. And I know Virginia Wildlife magazine. What are some of the magazines where your photographs and or articles have been published, Mike? Well I've photographed several magazines. My primary work is with our state agency, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

I have a regular column there and I do features quite often throughout the year. But it would be unfair for me to even talk about this without recognizing my mentor whose name was Leonard Lerue III. When I was a youngster living at home, my mother subscribed to Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines. And even at age 8, 9, and 10, I was learning photography from the master of photography, Leonard Lerue, who's the most published wildlife photographer in America. And it was my honor this past year upon his passing to write an article about him. And it was such a reward to do that. But Lenny had traveled the world and he inspired me not only through photography but as a naturalist. So having worked in the nuclear fuel industry for 30 years and retired, I set out on my own to create a program to teach youngsters.

And in 11 years, it was my honor to have educated over 450,000 students in school, public schools, private schools, Christian schools throughout Virginia and the state of Indiana. So his legacy, I continued Leonard Lerue's legacy and he was just a fantastic gentleman, a great friend. And upon his passing, Lenny had left me notes about things in life and even before he passed, he passed on a knife to me that he had carried over the seven continents throughout his lifetime of photography. And there are people in this world that would have loved to have had that Randall knife, but he gave it to me. And his deal was, he says, you don't put this in a curio cabinet and preserve it. He said, you put it on your hip and you wear it.

And ironically, that fall, I used that knife to field dress a giant mule deer in eastern Montana. And he was very proud of that. That's very powerful. Now folks, when we come back in our conversation with Mike Roberts, we're going to talk about some of the things that we believe prove God's creative power, God's brilliance and artistry in his creation. So stay tuned. We'll talk about some exciting things with Mike Roberts pointing to God, not only our creator, but our savior. Stay tuned. We're back after this. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland, a religion and culture expert.

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He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to the Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. Alex McFarland here.

We're talking with Mike Roberts, a photographer, a journalist, and a friend. We just came back on Thanksgiving morning from You Shot the Tiger. I did help you pull it up the hill, and it was heavy, but over the meal, you were talking about some things that I want you to share about the cherry tree, because when you talk to kids, you help kids understand some things about God's creation that they probably didn't know. You know, not to make fun of young people, because Mike, we're in front of thousands of teens every year, and I love them dearly, but I was talking to a group of young people, and I mentioned that I grew up on a farm, and we raised chickens and sold eggs and sold the chickens to Campbell Soup when they stopped laying, but I mentioned that we raised a lot of cucumbers that we sold to the pickle factory, and a girl raised her hand, she was entirely serious, she goes, wait, wait, pickles come from cucumbers?

Like cucumbers from a salad? I was like, uh, yeah, but everybody's got to learn. Kids don't always know what maybe you and I would have known at a young age, but it must be very gratifying to teach young people not only about wildlife and creation, but about the God who created it all.

Absolutely. And what an opportunity at one of the camps that I am affiliated with, Thomas Road Outpost, every week during the summer there are like 100, 125 youngsters that are coming out of urban areas, coming out of inner cities, and these youngsters are not connected to the natural environment. In fact, I daresay some don't even know there is a natural environment. I call it the great outdoors because it's not just a great place, it's a great place to visit, it's a fun place to visit, it's a beautiful place to visit, but it's also important to understand that it was created.

And again, we were put in this environment not just to admire it and use it, but to basically take care of it, and again we call that our stewardship responsibilities. The one thing that I do, and sometimes I get questions, you know, why do you believe that our natural environment was created? And I said, well, I have one particular piece of natural history that to me really proves that this didn't all happen through a Big Bang Theory. Now I sort of believe in the Big Bang Theory, and that's in six days God said bang, and he created this wonderful environment, then he rested a day. Darrell Bock Amen. I agree. I tell people, people say, Do you believe in the Big Bang? And I'll say, Yes, I just know who the banger was.

Gary Barnes Yes, absolutely. But I think this example is the epitome of my belief. As we travel around the camp in side-by-sides, we stop at one particular tree, and it's a black cherry tree. Now as a youngster I call them wild cherry trees, and it gave me a responsibility because during the summer, living on a farm, one of my responsibilities was if a black cherry tree had fallen over in a windstorm or a branch had broken off into the pasture, the job responsibility was to go out and to clean those up, because if you did not, and a cow or a horse happened to buy and ingested the leaves of that particular tree, they didn't live very long.

And the reason is, is because – and unless you're a chemist, you're probably not familiar with prussic acid, but again, from a colloquial standpoint, if we say hydrogen cyanide, we know if we ingest hydrogen cyanide, we don't live very long. So same thing with cattle and horses. So I point out that this particular tree is a very important element in a healthy forest. They're not everywhere, but there are particular trees scattered through the forest. It's important to some of the lepidopteran species, the butterflies and moths, caterpillars that feed on the leaves. Then you have the blossoms in the spring. The pollinators are dependent upon. Then the fruit, the cherries themselves, birds from cedar wax wings to the gross beaks, you name it. It's a fantastic food source.

And even black bears, raccoons. So that tree is important. But it's important to another bird as well. And this is what's so cool. And this is not something that's made up.

You can research this, go online, find it. We have a specie of hawk in eastern North America called a red-shouldered hawk. It's a buteo. It's basically a broad-winged hawk specie. And beautiful bird, typically they're residential birds. They live in the same area throughout the year, spring, summer, autumn and winter. But in the spring, they go about their breeding responsibilities by first building a nest. They pair up, they build a nest, and it's a conglomeration of sticks placed in the fork of a tree. And near the end of the construction of the nest, the adult birds will fly out through the forest and select a branch of wild cherry or black cherry. And the reason is, is because that particular nest, when the female lays her eggs, incubates them, they hatch, then the adult pair have to feed the babies, cottontails, squirrels. They love snakes.

They're snake hunters. They bring them back to the nest. And as she rips off meat and feeds the babies, some of the meat falls down into the sticks. And it's just not a very sanitary living condition for the baby birds. But through God's amazing foresight, these birds fly out, prune a branch, bring it back, and that particular plant has prussic acid in it, the hydrogen cyanide, and that's what controls the bacteria in the nest that basically makes it a healthier environment for the babies.

No big bang theory could do that. You know, Mike, that is so powerful, and that's one of only millions of examples. And no doubt there are countless examples of God's care for his creation that we don't even know about yet. You know, there's a verse in the Bible, the psalmist says, oh, that men would give glory to God. You and I were talking this morning about the Grand Canyon and the western states that I love so well.

I've spent a lot of my adult life in Colorado and been all over those rocky mountains. And from sunsets in the west to giraffes, bunny rabbits, monarch butterflies, and mallard ducks, don't you think, why can't the world acknowledge the artistry of God and give him the glory? Do you ever feel that way?

I do. And today, sadly, future generations are, again, they're not disconnected. They just have never been connected because science, the natural environment is basically something that's forced on them to learn a passing grade.

It's not something to appreciate. And until you develop an appreciation, then you can never respect it. And it has to come through an introduction of the very natural environment.

So that's why I think it's so important to have these sessions with youngsters outdoors that aren't exposed to it. And there, again, there are hundreds of examples from wildflowers to our water. It's an amazing world that we live in. And just to share that, what an opportunity today to do that. Amen. We've got to take a break. We're talking with Mike Roberts.

No doubt you have seen his photographs in nature magazines, and it's beautiful. We're going to talk more about Mike and what he's doing. But most of all, about God the Creator, and who is also God the Savior, who we often say this, he's as close by as a prayer. If you need him today, he's there for you.

Call out to him. Stay tuned. We're back after this.

Don't go away. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages, about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity, and how to know Jesus personally.

Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real-life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world.

My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask, you can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. We will resume our conversation with Mike Roberts just in a minute, but I want to remind everybody please check out the updated alexmcfarland.com website. Among other things, we've got questions and answers, and you know, our second book of 100 Bible Questions and Answers just came out in October of 2023, and I want to say for one thing, thanks to all the radio listeners who provide the questions. Somebody asked if we're going to do a volume three, and maybe because we have over 700 questions from listeners, followers that we have answered, and many of those we're posting every month on alexmcfarland.com.

So your toughest Bible question, we may have put the answer up on the website, so check it out. We always say if you ever wanted to raise your hand during a sermon, well now's your chance, and you can reach us at alexmcfarland.com, alexmcfarland.com. I do want to encourage people to pray for our upcoming summer youth camps. The website for the camps, and these are for middle school and high schoolers, and we tell kids about God and country, obviously the gospel, the Christian worldview, but we talk about America.

And folks, let me just be very candid with you. We need to woke-proof our youth, and that's what we're doing. We have seven youth camps this summer.

You can go to the website equipretreat.org, equipretreat.org, and I tell parents, invest a week that will count for a lifetime. The other thing, grown-ups, you're not left out of the mix either. July 12th through 14th, Angie and I will be at the COVE, the Billy Graham Training Center in western North Carolina, July 12th through 14th, and that's for adults, and I'll be teaching 1st John, the believer's identity in Christ, and the food is great, the scenery is great. I don't say this lightly, folks, you truly will feel the presence of God. Billy Graham and his wife, they prayer-walked over those hillsides of western North Carolina, and we would love to have you experience the COVE with us July 12th through 14th, 2024. You truly will remember it for the rest of your life, and the website, t-h-e-c-o-v-e, theCOVE.org, and just Google my name in the space bar, and you'll find the upcoming seminar July 12th through 14th.

Mike, you're a very inspiring speaker, and I've learned a lot today just listening to you. The amazing things you talk about, and you mentioned the symbiotic nature of the forest, the leaves of the trees, and the actions of the animals, and just, you know, we've all heard the term ecosystem, but I'm with you. I see the hand of God, the creator.

There are no accidents in any patch of woods or a vast forest. There's nothing there by happenstance or accident, is it? No, and I think it's important to understand that the natural environment from a lay standpoint is basically like a puzzle, and every insect, every tree, every specie of bird plays a role, and if you take one of those pieces of the puzzle out, it's an incomplete puzzle. So we have, again, we have a responsibility. It's a God-given responsibility to make sure that our environment sustains life as we know it, and basically it's a fun process. It's a learning process. There are just unbelievable pieces of information out there that are just waiting to be uncovered, unturned, down on the ground, get your hands dirty, play in the creek, whatever. I think this is what God would have us to do to learn about the environment rather than a book.

It's okay. You know, we learn online. We learn through printed material, but nothing takes the place like experiencing it firsthand by being out in God's great outdoors. Well, and you know what amazes me, Mike, is the world around is so beautiful, from the mountains to the ocean to the Midwest and the plains and then all around the world, but yet this is a fallen world under the curse of sin, and God says, Behold, I make all things new. You know, one of the reasons I encourage people to become a believer and put their faith in Christ, as great as this world is, and it is magnificent, but just imagine the restored world, heaven, that's going to be immeasurably better and more beautiful. The Bible says the lion will lay down with the lamb. The predatory nature of wildlife, which is a reality now, but scholars of old used to call it the peaceable kingdom. That too is going to be pretty amazing, isn't it?

Yes, it is. And I think it's also important to understand that just by experiencing this great outdoors is basically, again, it's proof of a living God that again put us here. He created the environment. He created everything in its place to sustain our lives.

So I just think it's vital to future generations that we as adults take time to make sure that these youngsters do understand this. I've got to ask you, do you have a favorite animal to photograph? Gosh, I guess if I had to pick one, it would be a bighorn sheep. You know, I love the Rocky Mountain range. I've traveled it extensively through the years. It was Leonard Rood's favorite species as well, but to photograph that animal in its splendor, you don't drive up to that animal.

You have to hike. You have to hike into the mountains, into the wilds, and they're such majestic sheep, the bighorn sheep. I think that would be my favorite.

I love them all. You know, whether it's insects, wildflowers, trees, it really doesn't matter, but the one particular animal would be that bighorn sheep. Do you have a favorite part of North America to hunt, hike, and photograph? Yes, and I consider photography to be hunting.

I'm hunting with a camera and basically to capture images. My favorite, all-time favorite place in North America, and I've photographed Africa. I've photographed quite a few places, but Yellowstone National Park. You can go there 10 times a year and you'll never see the same thing. It's because of weather. It's because of certain situations with the wildlife, whether it's migration or hibernation or what have you, but the seasons are just unbelievable.

So yes, Yellowstone would be my favorite place in all of the world. Let me just encourage everybody, see America as an evangelist, Mike. It's been my privilege to travel all over the USA, and I was telling you about when I was in Northern California, and a gentleman was driving me back to the airport on a Sunday afternoon, and we went up to this high vista where we could see the Pacific Ocean, and suddenly three dozen whales surfaced, and the man was just beside himself. He said, oh my goodness, I've lived here my whole life.

I've never seen this. We're snapping pictures. He looked at me and said, the Lord must really love you because you've seen something people that live here all their life never see. And we were talking about South Dakota and the Grand Canyon and the Paladura Canyon down in Texas, and I really do believe seeing the beauty of this world not only can give you an appreciation for the Lord, but it can give you an appreciation for the United States, what we have here.

Well, it was just like this morning I went out for a Thanksgiving Day whitetail deer hunt, and even though I'm concentrating on the deer, there are so many other species that are there, but it was that sunrise that came up over the horizon that makes you pause and thank God for the day and for the opportunity to be in his great outdoors. How can people find you online or see your images you've photographed or I know they're for sale and you speak and you travel? How can people reach you, Mike? You can reach me at returntonatureataol.com, and that's return with the number two in the word nature at AOL. Email me. Talk to me.

I'll be happy to share anything that you need to know about this wonderful natural environment. We've got to get you out to some of our camps to speak to the youth, but folks, think about this. We opened up with Psalm 19 verse 1, the heavens and earth declare the glory of God. But this very same God Creator is also God the Savior and He loves you. And you, dear listener, are part of His creation. The very same God that fashioned whales and sequoia redwoods and mountains, He made you and He wants to be a part of your life. And if you need help in understanding what it means to have a relationship with the Lord, go to my website, alexmcfarland.com. There's a tab, what does God say? And the larger title is what does God say about my relationship with Him? If we can help you come to the Lord or come back to the Lord, that's what we're here to do. I want to thank you for listening. Give God the glory. Stay strong.

Stay bold. And thank you for listening. We'll see you again very soon on the program. In the meantime, you can follow all that we're doing at alexmcfarland.com. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you.

For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for His truth. Learn more and donate securely online at alexmcfarland.com. You may also reach us at alexmcfarland P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-Yes-God-1.

That's 1-877-Y-E-S-G-O-D-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of the Alex McFarland Show. Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics, or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, alexmcfarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online. It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith, and the Bible, so visit the website alexmcfarland.com and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-05 00:19:05 / 2023-12-05 00:31:17 / 12

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