The numbers worldwide continue to rise: 181,377 cases, 7119 deaths, 78,085 recoveries. Worldwide reactions are dramatic: airline flights cancelled, large numbers of quarantined populations, countries with closed borders, bans on gatherings over 250 people, schools closed, colleges reverting to online classes, sports leagues cancelled, plummeting stock markets etc. Behold a pandemic! The cause of this chaos is a virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is called “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Did you know that eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lake Maracaibo in northwestern Venezuela have the most lightning in the world? Did you know that in the United States26 people died from lightning strikes in 2015 and that Florida by far is the state most often hit? Incredibly in July and August (the most active months), Colorado averages 5,350 and 4,811 flashes per day with most of them occurring in the Colorado Springs-Denver area. Why you wonder is this important?
Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum wrote stimulating stories to complement their verse by verse analysis of Psalm 91 in their book Psalm 91 God’s Shield of Protection. They also compiled a stirring collection of stories from people who experienced, first-hand God’s protection as a result of claiming passages in Psalm 91—by faith.
Flattop (3,510 feet) is Alaska’s most frequently climbed mountain. Located just 13 miles from downtown Anchorage in Chugach State Park, the views from its summit are stunning. I was in Anchorage to meet with participants in an emergency exercise timed to coincide with the 50thyear anniversary of the 9.2 earthquake that hit Anchorage. After our meetings I left with the two officers who accompanied me to take pictures at a park site near the airport. While there we met Kendra, a local resident, who told us Flattop was the place to go to get the best views of the area. We assumed we were going to arrive at a place where we could take photos from our car so you can imagine our surprise when she led us from the parking lot to Glen Alps trailhead to walk 1.5 miles and climb 1280 feet! This would have been okay except that the trail was mostly mud and snow and near the top very icy and steep.
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Severely wounded, Luttrell somehow managed through great courage to evade an enemy zealous to kill him. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Sabray tribe found him and whisked him into their village. Despite incredible danger, the tribal chief protected him, fending off Taliban attacks until word reached nearby American forces who then came and rescued him.
Grok is a little used verb that means: “to understand thoroughly and intuitively”; or “to communicate sympathetically.” The word was invented by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land written in 1961.
The author of Psalm 91 groked God’s protective nature towards His children.
Romans 13:14—But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
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.
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!
Jeremiah 36:26—Then the king commanded Jerahmeel the king's son, Seraiah son of Azriel, and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD had hidden them.
There is a very challenging obstacle at Fort Lewis that ROTC cadets are required to negotiate during their summer training. One at a time each student climbs up a metal staircase, stands up on a narrow beam about 6 inches in width and then walks up and down a step continuing to the other side. Next, the student must grab a rope, swing the legs over the rope and slide out to the center, hang and wait for a command to drop about 20 feet down to the lake below. It is amazing how hard it is to walk up and over that step so high above the water without falling or succumbing to fear.
Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of Army officers and noncommissioned officers. I asked the question, “How many of you grew up with a mom and a dad?” Almost all of them raised their hands. I then asked, “How many of your cadets (college students) come from homes with a mom and a dad?” The crowd guesstimated that about 50% came from two-parent homes. They underscored a point I hoped to make which is that today there is a huge need for mentors. Too many of those exiting high schools across our land have had insufficient parenting and manifest a great craving for meaningful relationships.
On several occasions, I have read or heard amazing testimonies of people who experienced God’s deliverance via angels from an enemy intent on their destruction. God’s Word extensively teaches us about angels with over a 105 references to them in the Old Testament and more than 170 times in the New Testament. The Bible teaches that angels:
National holidays can provide a natural period for introspection. As we approach yet another celebration of our nation's independence, I think this year of the word insecurity. In the 1770’s when our forefathers fought for the freedom we celebrate today, they lived in a time of great tumult. Consider this: they faced an opponent far superior in wealth and military might; they knew starvation, harsh weather and disease; they lacked basic supplies in armament, clothing and supplies; and they did not always know who was truly for or against them. But in the midst of uncertainty, doubt and despair the trumpet call for liberty persisted. Men and women strove mightily to worship, speak, live and work upon the foundation of freedom. For that self-determination, insecure lives bled nobly; though pained, pilgrims refused to give up; trepidation clung to truth and the right to dispel tyranny.
Last Saturday I bartered for a Sheltie puppy (5 cases of dehydrated food [MREs], two music stands and an old amplifier)! I brought the 10-week-old, tri-color pup home from Silverton, Oregon and he and Hero, our Lab puppy, are fast becoming best friends. Hero is about 55 pounds larger, but that does not seem to intimidate our newest addition—Saber. It is hilarious watching them joust and wrestle and playfully bite.
Greg is an avid kayaker. Along with his two sons, they decided to make a trip on the Tennessee River. Together they had a great day paddling until they hit a section where five-foot swells continually pounded them. His boys were in larger kayaks and had little difficulty cutting through the waves. Soon they were far away from Greg. But their dad hit a portion in the middle of the river where he could no longer cut through the waves and he began to take on water. With only a water bottle to bail he continued to sink. Calmly recognizing that his life was in serious danger, he prayed, “God, I need Your help, there is nothing I can do.”
Jude 24,25—Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen.