If you’ve always dreamed of taking an African safari – or reminisce fondly about a trip you’ve already taken – then you’ll love this opportunity to keep an eye on what the animals are up to in the absence of visitors. While many zoos and sanctuaries stream, nothing compares to seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. Join a South African ranger and catch up on the action as you tag along on a recorded game drive. Better still, have your own virtual safari with these wildlife webcams; time your visit for when the animals you most want to see are likely to be active.
Tembe Elephant Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Elephants traditionally migrated freely across the border between southern Mozambique and South Africa’s uMkhanyakude District in KwaZulu-Natal. But the Mozambique civil war took a heavy toll on the creatures and in response, the Tembe Elephant Park was established. Some of the largest tuskers in Africa call the place home. Before he died of natural causes in 2015, Isilo stood 3.2 metres tall and had tusks that measured 2.5 metres long, making him one of the biggest elephants ever recorded. Alongside the next generation of Tembe elephants, you might also spot lions, leopards, black and white rhinos and buffalo on this camera hidden beside a Tembe waterhole.
GRACE Gorilla Forest Corridor, DRC
Critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas live only in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s unlikely you’d ever have seen them in real life, as civil unrest and violence in the country place it off-limits to tourists. Not even the WWF know how many eastern lowland gorillas are left in the wild, but the threat from poachers mean that numbers now probably amount to the low thousands. Illegal mining for tin, gold and coltan (an alloy used in mobile phones) is also destroying precious habitats. It’s a privilege, then, to be able to access this important conservation project via webcam. Working closely with the Congolese, the work of GRACE Center helps to ensure the continued survival of around 300 gorillas living in the Tayna Nature Reserve.
The Ark, Aberdare National Park, Kenya
In the game-rich Aberdare National Park in Kenya, elephants rule the salt licks and waterholes, chasing off opportunist hyenas that encroach on what they consider to be their territory. The protected area sits in the Aberdare Mountain Range, east of the East African Rift Valley and just over 100 miles north of Nairobi. It boasts healthy populations of leopard, buffalo and rhino, as well as vervet monkeys, waterbuck, eland and bush duicker. You’ll have to wait until travel resumes before you can book your spot in the animal hide at Ark Lodge, but in the meantime, their webcam gives you a front row seat to monitor what the wildlife is doing.
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
The Tau Lodge webcam feed comes direct from the Madikwe Game Reserve, located in the north of South Africa not far from the Botswana border. It’s a private park created from farmland that had become degraded by overgrazing. Now, it has been restocked with wildlife that would originally have been native to the area, including wild dog, cheetah, lion, zebra, giraffe, elephant, buffalo and rhino. There’s a steady stream of animal visitors to this watering hole that conceals a dangerous predator – the Nile crocodile.
Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya
Describing itself as a “living laboratory for wildlife conservation”, this research centre was established in the central region of Kenya in 1994. Formal protection barely extends beyond Mpala in this part of the country, making its work even more vital to the survival of species in the area. Among the wildlife that you’ll find here are large populations of elephants, African wild dogs, Grevy’s zebras and reticulated giraffes. You’ll see from the camera trained on the Ewaso Ng’iro River that it’s also home to plenty of hippos, who hang out at the hippo pool and wait for their friends to visit.
We hope you enjoy many wildlife webcam encounters but have one request. Because of the very real threat of poaching, please don’t post any screen grab online which can be used to identify the location of animals that might be a target.
Looking outside from the kitchen table offers a view each morning of how our Lord presents each day as a precious gift. Here is a mini sonnet which witnesses a foretaste of the feast to come.
Photo by Dominic M Contreras on Pexels.com
Viewing the early morning
Welcoming each libation
Peering from kitchen’s window
Witnessing God’s creation
Growing greener, grass below
Blooming, flowers spelling love
Witnessing creative hands
Working each day from above
Taking in this peaceful scene
Witnessing each day’s foretaste
Blessing each feast, more to come
Tasting moments, without haste
Witnessing God’s daily Grace
Making life a happy place
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
From Lutheran Communion liturgy, Christ’s people sing: “Grace our table with Your presence, and give us a foretaste of the Feast to come.”
There are at least two ways to please the devil when it comes to the pursuit of holiness. The first way, of course, is to run from holiness altogether — to flee, with the prodigal, to the far country of this world, away from the Father’s home (Luke 15:11–13). The second way, perhaps even more dangerous than the first, is to pursue holiness (or what we imagine holiness to be), and yet not be happy about it.
We may call this second way older-brother Christianity. Like the elder son in Jesus’s parable, such people follow the Father’s rules with a sigh (Luke 15:29). Their holiness is all pursed lips and sober glances. “Such is the cost of righteousness,” they remind themselves. “We must relinquish pleasure on the path to heaven, you know. Holiness, not happiness, is the true good.”
“What virtue!” some may exclaim. “What uprightness! What self-denial!”
What a sham. Older brothers, for all their outward purity, are still in the grip of the serpent’s ancient lie. They have been deceived, along with our first parents, to live in a world of the devil’s own making: a world where our Father wears a frown, where heaven has no laughter, and where holiness is ultimately a sacrifice. As long as we live in such a world, we will miss the feast that our Father has prepared (Luke 15:22–28).
If we want to rid ourselves of older-brother instincts, and pursue holiness in a way that shames the devil, we would do well to return to the garden and listen again to that first lie.
Song of the Morning Stars
When the serpent approached Adam and Eve in the garden, he knew that only a lie could put the forbidden fruit into their hands. Only a lie could somehow convince them that they were the slaves of a stingy God. Only a lie could do the trick because reality, as always, was not on Satan’s side.
For when God first breathed the oceans into being, and lit the stars like candles, and filled mountain fields with wildflowers, no sigh could be heard in all heaven and earth. Rather, all creation joined to praise their glorious Maker. From heaven’s lofty balconies, the morning stars raised their song, the sons of God shouted for joy, and Wisdom delighted in God’s handiwork (Job 38:7; Proverbs 8:30–31).
From “Let there be light” onward, the heavens have declared his glory (Psalm 19:1). And how shall we hear their declaration? As an apathetic exhale? As a monotonous lecture? As a distracted recitation? No, as the very pitch of delight: “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy” (Psalm 65:8).
Adam and Eve, upon hearing the melody of creation, could not help but join the song. As they gazed across God’s handiwork, they trusted the goodness of their Father. They admired the beauty of their Creator. They enjoyed the fellowship of their Friend. They obeyed the counsel of their King. They had no higher happiness.
Life in the Serpent’s World
No, the devil knew Adam and Eve would never eat the fruit as long as they worshiped the glorious God in his marvelous world. So what did he do?
He invited the couple to imagine a different world and a different god. He shuttered their eyes to sunsets and tulips, blocked their ears to the chirping of the robins, and calloused their skin to spring breezes. In short, he shrunk creation to the size of an apple, and gave them eyes for Eden’s only “No.” In the world of the serpent, the morning stars sing a dirge, the hosts of heaven murmur, and creation only groans beneath the dictatorship of the Almighty Ruler.
In such a world, Adam and Eve had only two options. They could, like the prodigal, disobey their God and run from their Father’s garden. Or they could, like the older brother, sacrifice their pleasure on the noble altar of obedience. “Either rebel and be happy — or obey and be miserable.” This was the serpent’s offer (Genesis 3:4–5).
Adam and Eve took the fruit and fled into the far country. Many today do the same. Many others, however, refuse the fruit — but only on the serpent’s terms. Like older brothers, we aim to keep our Father’s rules. We do so, however, not because his rules are satisfying, but only because they’re right; not because holiness is glorious, but only because it’s obedient; not because fellowship with God is happifying (as Jonathan Edwards used to say), but just because he says so.
Which brother we become matters little to the devil. As long as we live within his world — a world where the gifts are scarce and the God is stingy — he is happy whether we rebel or “obey.” As long as we cease to hear and sing creation’s song of praise, the serpent is pleased.
Deeper Than Self-Denial
If humanity’s first sin arose when we believed the serpent’s lie, then our repentance must go deeper than rule-keeping or self-denial. After all, some of this world’s most marvelous rule-keepers are still tenants in the serpent’s world. No, our repentance requires more: we must break free from his spell altogether, and return to the real God in the real world.
We must bend our ears upward once again to hear the heavens sing, “Glory!” We must feel again that heaven and earth, though fallen now, still pulse with God’s pleasure (Psalm 104:31). We must wade again in this delicious stream called creation, remembering that God himself is the fountain (James 1:17). In other words, we must step past the ancient lie and believe once again that God created us to be happy in him.
As soon as we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8), and that he himself is our “exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4), everything about our pursuit of holiness will change. We will still deny ourselves, practice obedience, and kill our sin, to be sure. But we will not dare for a moment to think that we are exchanging happiness for holiness.
We will trade away our sin because we have seen the treasure to be found (Matthew 13:44). We will forsake the lusts of our flesh because, as Jesus promised, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). And even when we must sacrifice something precious to follow Christ, we trust that we will “receive a hundredfold now in this time . . . and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:30).
The Holy Spirit teaches us not only to obey God, but to enjoy him — indeed, to obey him by enjoying him. He teaches us not only to withstand the devil’s temptations, but as Martin Luther put it, to laugh our adversary to scorn. He teaches us not only to wonder at the mercy of Christ, but to breathe a grand sigh of relief, amazed that joy has been so near at hand all this time. Discipline does not defeat the devil — happiness does.
Join the Father’s Feast
From where we stand now, of course, we can look to more than creation to see the happiness of God, and to nurture our happiness in him. We now have seen wonders that the morning stars could never have imagined.
We have seen a God so happy that he could bear up under a world of sorrows without breaking (Isaiah 53:3). A God who recognized the joy set before him so luminously that he could endure the darkest shame (Hebrews 12:2). A God who runs to meet his prodigal children, too delighted to be dignified (Luke 15:20). A God who even now holds out his own joy to every older brother who will come out from the cold and join the celebration (Luke 15:31–32).
Come now, older brother, put up your ear to the door. Can you hear the saints’ laughter? Can you hear the angels’ praise? Can you hear the Father singing over his children who’ve returned?
Whatever we must forsake to walk inside this door, there is always more ahead of us than what we leave behind. So go ahead: Turn again to that serpent in the darkness, and laugh his bruised head to scorn. And then open up the door, and join your Father’s feast.
By Joan Walker Hahn
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
During the time of the corona virus, I was reminded of other times in my life when I felt stuck. Have you ever had times in your life before when you felt stuck? Maybe feeling like there was no way out of the circumstances you found yourself in? I would dare say that most everyone, at some time or other in their lives, have felt this way, even before we were told to stay home because of a pandemic.
In Jeremiah, Chapter 29, God is speaking to a remnant of His people who had been exiled into Babylon. They had been warned over and over that God would scatter them and send them into captivity if they would not repent of their sins. The people refused to heed the warning and continued living in sin until God made good on His promise.
God spoke to Jeremiah and told him to take the people a message. God told the people that even though they were being held as captives, they were to build houses, plant crops, allow their children to marry and have families. They were even told to pray for their captors and to live peaceably among them, and to help the city to prosper. I would think that this message wasn’t exactly what they wanted to hear. The people would be longing to return to their homes, their own land. But God told them it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.
I can think of a couple present day sayings that someone could have said to them, like, “Bloom where you’re planted,” or, “You got yourself into this situation, now just make the best of it.” Not exactly the encouraging or supportive things you want to hear when the place you’re in is unfamiliar and binding.
But God didn’t say those things. In Jeremiah 29:10, God tells the people that at the end of 70 years He would bring them out of exile and back into their homeland. That was a long time, but at least they knew there would be an end of their exile. They had a hope, an assurance that things would be better. In fact, not only would things be better at the end of their period of exile, but God told them in verse 7, that if they did what He told them to do, to settle down and to seek the prosperity of Babylon, then they would also prosper as the city prospered. So even in the middle of their situation, God was still planning to bless them.
Sometimes we do find ourselves in hard situations. It could be because we are reaping the consequences of sin like the Israelites. At other times, those hard places are not because of sin in our lives, but because God is allowing those things to happen in order to teach us something. Whatever the case may be, if we will look to God, strive to be faithful to Him and do the things He has asked us to do in spite of our time of trouble, then He will bring us through that situation.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love! Thank You for the forgiveness You offer when we come to You in repentance. I praise You for promising that even when things are hard, You are still with us and desire to bless us. May we always seek after You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
For more encouragement, visit Joan at joanwalkerhahn.com.
© 2020 by Joan Walker Hahn. All rights reserved.
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