My son Bryan was invited to share his story at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He was one of two featured speakers on a night when almost every participant in the room shared some kind of disability. Disabilities included Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), asthma, depression, cancer, arthritis, etc. Each person was asked to write a poem about their challenges and to highlight what was bad as well as what was good. Then, throughout the evening, volunteers could come to the front of the room and share what they wrote.
Part of the retirement process when leaving the military is to make sure that one’s physical maladies or challenges are all reviewed by the Veterans Administration to determine if the veteran may be owed compensation. I had to undergo a battery of tests to see if past injuries or problems with my Achilles tendon, ankles, knees, hips, lower back, shoulder, hearing, sinuses, hair loss and sleep deprivation were service-related. I was asked all kinds of personal questions by the sleep psych0logist I met with to see if anxiety, depression, any kind of drug or chemical addiction etc. were preventing me from falling asleep. I mentioned multiple times that my problem getting to sleep is lifelong and has to do with an overactive brain that does not shut off easily. I assured her that even though it is a battle for me to rest, I am mostly full of joy and did not blame the military for my condition. I don’t think she was expecting that answer.
Zephaniah 3:15,16--The Lord has removed your punishment; He has turned back your enemy. The King of Israel, Yahweh, is among you; you need no longer fear harm. On that day it will be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, do not let your hands grow weak.
Joshua 1:5—No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.
What is your motivation for reading the Bible? Some people enjoy the stories. Others find that the instruction and advice is valuable. Personally, when I study Scripture I am looking for ways to apply it to my life. One year as I read through the Word I put a “P” beside every verse where God gave a promise. I used a green marker so that now whenever I am reading I can quickly spot promises throughout Genesis to Revelation.
Psalm 121—I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber . . . The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side . . . The LORD will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever.
As hurricane Irene approached the eastern coast of the U.S., the media were concerned the category 3 storm would inflict catastrophic damage from North Carolina to New England. My quiet time passage for August 26, the day before the hurricane was to hit, was Psalm 107. Verse 29 reads, “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed” (ESV). Reminded of God’s awesome power, I prayed, Lord, You have many people who love You in that region, please calm the storm and hush the waves, spare our country the enormous damage that large hurricane might inflict.
People change. They are fickle like the weather and predictably unpredictable. Two people pledge to be faithful to each other until death yet divorce. Companies promise employees pensions but if they go out of business the hope of a secure future is dashed. Governments make pledges to their citizens yet renege when circumstances turn unfavorable, newly elected officials reverse policies, or whole administrations are overthrown. My assertion that people change is believable because you change and you’ve seen others change.
Have you ever sat on a plane and gone in circles? San Francisco airport is fogged in and so we fly around the city in a holding pattern waiting for permission to land. The airplane is sufficiently equipped for the pilot to take us to the runway we can’t see but he does not have permission. Despite the security of a Captain’s confident promise that he can fly us down when needed, fear etches the faces of folks who probably have not flown here before. Eventually we land in fog so thick even the wing is obscured!
Step after step in unison they marched, accenting the weight of each boot upon the carpet so that everyone in that banquet room could hear. Not an eye wandered, each man in his dress uniform staring straight ahead as they slowly moved across the assembled guests. Near a small round table, the squad leader halted them and faced them to the center. Then he moved to the second man and slowly saluted him, before taking from his outstretched hands the folded flag. In return, the one no longer carrying his nation’s colors, saluted. Next, the sergeant marched in silence to the empty table and placed the folded flag upon it. Returning, he aligned himself in front of the next man in line. From this one’s hands, he took another folded flag. Instead of saluting as before, he turned to his right and waited while the last man in formation moved to join him. Slowly the two unfolded the mostly black flag. Then, with reverence and precision, the younger soldier snapped the flag in place on a thin pole, beside the empty table set for one. Across the bottom of that flag were printed the words, “You are not forgotten.”
The Honorable Sid Jones, former Assistant Secretary of Treasury gave his “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” lecture to over 55 senior leaders from industry, the military and the government. His address punctuated the bleakness of the current U.S. economy, future dangers and possible remedies. He foresees an economic collapse for America given the great number of aging adults and the demands they place on social security. In describing U.S. assets and priorities one of his statements grabbed my attention. “We spend as much on security as the rest of the world combined.” Those words reminded me of Psalm 61:5.
The nation of Israel pretty much did everything possible to anger and alienate God. They exceeded the sins of the evil nations He commanded them to destroy. Repeatedly they quit following Him. They broke His heart and deserved annihilation which really makes His statement below more than amazing.
Joshua 1:3—I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses.
There are times when I am reading my Bible and a verse stops me in my tracks. The verse above qualifies—what an incredibly powerful 18 words. Let’s consider the context. Moses just died. To appreciate his loss, think of losing your parents as a child or your nation’s best leader right before a major war. The Israelites were poised to move into Canaan, a land full of bigger, stronger nations and now the man who spoke with God was buried somewhere in a Moab valley (see Deu. 34:6).
Psalm 121--I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night.The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever.
In Chimpembelle Village, Zambia, Onedy Kalimina’s uncle died. When the Head Man dies, one of his relatives on the mother’s side is chosen to replace him. As it happened, the 22 year-old Kalimina was chosen. He was taken to the village witch doctor who prepared a charm called Chitumya. Then he was asked to kneel down and pray “Chitumya come into me and I come into you.” After praying this, Kalimina took a ceremonial bath and put on an arm band for protection that no one else was ever to see. This occurred in 1990.
Imagine living in a village as a fisherman and trusting the sea as your friend and provider. One beautiful day without warning it destroys your home and boat and drowns your family with one horrifying wave. Suddenly life no longer offers any hope or meaning. Welcome to the world many find themselves along the coasts of the three nations hardest hit by the recent tsunami—Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. Tomorrow we will travel to an Indian coastal town and give money and medical supplies to a church ministering directly to people whose lives are ruined. Yet the greatest thing we have to give is not money or rebuilding broken infrastructures rather it is the message of hope about the God we worship.Our God is a covenant maker and a promise keeper.
Recently, I met with a man whose marriage is tottering towards collapse. He feels alone and unwanted in his own household. His wife seems more devoted to his children than to him. He seemingly cannot do enough to please her and he is ready to give up. When I asked Him how his relationship with God was doing, he shared that it is anemic. He grew up without a loving father which has effected how he views, relates to and trusts his Heavenly Father. Therein lays the core issue.
Zerah the Cushite marched out against Judah with a humongous army. King Asa deployed 580,000 troops but they were still vastly outnumbered. Thirty years earlier, facing similar overwhelming odds, King Rehoboam capitulated before King Shishak of Egypt and his Libyan, Sukkite and Cushite hordes. Fortunately, Asa was not like Rehoboam. Instead of surrendering, this king in faith prayed to the Lord asking for His help. His heavenly Protector responded by leading them to victory. It was after this battle that the prophet Azariah came and spoke the following words.
God promised Abram that He would make him into a great nation, bless him, make his name (Abraham) great and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2,3). The promise implied that he and Sarai would have offspring. Years later when God spoke to him in a vision, he despairingly shared his childless situation and the reality that all he owned would go to his servant Eliezer. But God said Elizer would not be his heir and that his descendants would one day be like the stars—too many to count. Again, Abram believed God (15:1-6).
Once upon a time two young boys Apotheo and Popinjay lived in a small village near the foot of giant mountain. One day while the ten-year olds fished by a blue stream, a large carriage came down the road and stopped near them. A man climbed out and walked down to them.
“Have you any caught anything,” he asked.
“No,” Popinjay answered.
“Would you like to fish?” Apotheo asked him.
“Why certainly!” So the small boy offered him his pole.
John 6:37,44--Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out . . . No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.