Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
When Animals Attack...
I have a new vice. No it is not wicked or immoral. But it definitely distracts and sucks up way too much of my time. Here is how it started… At some point, several weeks ago, I took the bait and clicked on a nature video, “Angry Hippo Attacks.” I couldn’t help it. My curiosity was peaked. It was only a two-minute video. Allow me to set the scene... Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. A pack of wild dogs chases a poor, defenseless, young antelope. The savage dogs are biting, trying to tear it apart. Suddenly a huge hippo comes to the rescue of the young antelope and chases the horrid dog pack away. Good riddance to those ruthless scavengers. But then, the hippo turns his gaze to the antelope now stuck in its mud. The territorial giant glares and then charges at it, swiping at it several times with its ginormous head and eventually crushing it in its massive mouth, killing it and leaving it for the same dogs to come in and devour. The ugly side of nature on full display. The footage gives a gruesome glimpse into the realities of animal life in the wild. Ever since I first viewed that video, my social media and homepages are regularly enticing me with more animal videos. “Buck Swims for its Life from Crocodile,” “Lions Attack Elderly Leopard,” “Hyenas Eat Baby Buffalo Alive,” “Cheetah Waiting for Baby Zebra.” Each one is as captivating as the next. Heart-breaking and hard to stomach. I should just close the page or put down my phone. But I continue to fall victim to the clickbait. I watch and cringe, and then watch another. From these videos, I’ve since learned many things. Here are just a few of them— Hyenas are nasty creatures. Komodo dragons have a huge mouth. Never, ever mess with a hippo. And most profoundly, thanks be to God that we humans are atop of the food chain!
Nature is quite literally a dog-eat-dog world. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. Always watch your back. Always be on your guard. You can never be too paranoid. As humans we are indeed blessed to be on top of the food chain. Our God did us a major, underrated solid when He created us in His image and gave humans dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26) But though we sit comfortably as apex predators in this world, it does not mean we can let our guard down. Why? Not because there is a pride of lions lurking in our backyard or a polar bear camouflaged in a nearby pile of snow. Because, as the apostle Peter reminds us, that “… Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Using the unsettling, yet incredibly effective, image of nature, Peter stresses our need to be aware (be watchful) of the viciousness by which the devil tries to tear us away from our God. The devil is our enemy; he is our predator. There is a spiritual battle underway; and we are in the crosshairs. During our own moments of suffering and hardship in this broken world, the devil is trying to get us to abandon our faith. He sees the followers of Jesus—at times, weak, vulnerable, and alone—and he pounces with an entire array of weapons. He attacks with the intent to destroy, to smother our faith and suffocate our trust in the Lord.
So, how do we resist? How do we stand firm? How do we fight back? How do we withstand the attacks of the crouching, demonic lion? Peter gives counsel in this too. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) Apart from God, we are easy targets for the devil. But like a mother antelope, fervently protecting her young, our God steps in to valiantly and triumphantly fight our battles for us. The Lord cares for you. He fights for you. He protects you. He saves you. When we come to the Lord in prayer and devotion, in worship and in scripture, He continues to follow-through on His promise to uphold His people. He will not let us be destroyed. In John 10:28, Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” We are safe in the arms of Jesus—no matter how wily or relentless the devil is. Safe in the arms of Jesus, we will never become the prey of Satan. He will not pluck us out. He cannot win the day!
Ope! Facebook just alerted me to a new video... “Buck Fighting Wild Dogs & Hippos Gets Caught by Crocodile.” Sounds like a good one. Glad I haven’t eaten my lunch yet.
Did I mention it’s good to be atop of the food chain? 😉
Time to Get SAS-y!
This past week, I spent three days in St. Louis. Why? Not to avoid the snow, although the timing was wonderfully convenient. While most in our area were shoveling out and enjoying a snow day, I was in 60-degree temps with sunny skies. Plus, if I’m going to flee the snow, it will not be to the middle of the country where there is no beach in sight! It also was not, primarily, for the delicious St. Louis BBQ, fresh Anheuser-Busch brew, or local Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The actual reason that I was in St. Louis was for the Set Apart to Serve (SAS) initiative that you’ve seen mentioned several times over the past many months in our weekly blasts and church bulletins. Our church body, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, has its headquarters located in St. Louis and they hosted all members that are part of this pilot group for an onboarding conference.
So what is Set Apart to Serve? Again, it is a synod-wide, intentional commitment, and meticulous approach to raising up, educating, and sending new church workers. There is an incredible shortage of full-time church workers. For example, we currently have about 6,000 active pastors in our synod. If nothing is done, due to retirement and low enrollment at our...
Pastor Steve Vera
King of Kings Lutheran Church
145 Route 46
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046
In-person, 9:00 a.m.
Sunday Worship Service
Broadcasted at 9:00 am via Facebook Live
and on our YouTube channel