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Two-headed snakes and murder hornets: The power and privilege of faithful courage

Dr. Jim Denison is the CEO of Denison Forum.
His Daily Article and podcast globally reach over 160,000 subscribers. Dr. Denison guides readers to discern today’s news—biblically. He is the author of multiple books and has taught on the philosophy of religion and apologetics at several seminaries. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He holds a Ph.D and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jim and his wife, Janet, live in Dallas, Texas. They have two sons and four grandchildren.

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In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash.
In photo provided by the Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, an Asian Giant Hornet wearing a tracking device is shown Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 near Blaine, Wash. (Karla Salp/Washington Dept. of Agriculture via AP)

There’s good news in what seems like bad news in today’s news.

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, a two-headed snake was discovered in Florida. This after we learned that the first nest of murder hornets was found in the US. 

The Asian giant hornet nest was discovered in Blaine, Washington, last Friday. The insects are known for their sting, which has been described as feeling like a hot nail driven into flesh. They also spray venom from their stingers, which can cause serious eye injuries. 

One other headline from the world of science: “Naked mole rats kidnap each other’s babies, and turn them into slaves.” These rats produce massive colonies with as many as three hundred workers, the largest known colonies among mammals. Researchers have found rats that were kidnapped by a rival colony and made into enslaved workers. 

Now to the good news: The two-headed snake in Florida is not venomous. The murder hornets in Washington were tracked down and destroyed by entomologists. And only two naked mole rat pups are known to have been stolen, at least so far. 

How NASA will protect us from killer asteroids 

In more bad news that isn’t, noted astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson warned recently that an asteroid could strike Earth the day before the November 3 election. However, he said the refrigerator-sized space rock is not large enough to do any serious damage. And data from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies suggests there is zero chance that the asteroid will actually hit our planet. 

In related news, NASA is building a space probe designed to protect us from killer asteroids. It launches next year and will be smashed into an asteroid seven million miles from our planet to see whether it can change the asteroid’s orbit. This could be good to know in the event that scientists detect a killer asteroid on a collision course with our planet. 

Unfortunately, scientists have no such capacity with regard to hurricanes, wildfires, and pandemics. Hurricane Zeta is strengthening as it heads for the US Gulf Coast, with likely landfall this afternoon, as a winter storm surges in the southern Rockies and Southern Plains. California fires nearly doubled in size this week, with more than ninety thousand people under evacuation orders. 

And coronavirus deaths are rising again in the US, with average deaths across the country up 10 percent over the past two weeks. Pandemic fatigue is a major factor. The Wall Street Journal reports that “a tired public lets its guard down, triggering more infections and restrictions that in turn compound the fatigue.” 

Therein lies my point: The greater our challenges, the more necessary our courage. 

Three biblical reminders 

How can we find such courage for these difficult and divisive days? Consider three biblical reminders. 

First, seek intimacy with Jesus. 

Paul could do “all things,” facing persecution and opposition most of us will never experience, but only “through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Oswald Chambers noted that Moses, another man of enormous courage, “was not the man for the work until he had learned communion with God.” According to Chambers, this is because “our individual effort for God is an impertinence; our individuality is to be rendered incandescent by a personal relationship to God.” 

Second, find ways to serve others. 

Jesus promised his followers that they would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” but this power would be for a larger purpose: “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We will experience the courageous power of God to the degree that we are willing to serve God. 

A Cistercian monk named Edmund Waldstein eloquently describes his monastery’s highly structured life as a means to the end of serving God and others. He contrasts freedom from, as on the last day of school when we are freed from the restrictions of the classroom for the summer, with freedom for, as when we learn to ride a bike. The latter comes with its own rules and restrictions, but it can take us where we could not go before. 

Third, do what you can and trust the results to God. 

The Lord assured Joshua that he could be “strong and courageous” in the knowledge that “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Our Father will give us courage not only to serve him but also to trust him with the results of our service. 

Letitia Wright, who played Shuri (the sister of T’Challa) in Black Panther, has launched a film production company called Threesixteen (named after John 3:16). Its mission is to produce “meaningful content within the entertainment industry.” She will be planting trees of truth she will likely never sit under. 

John Baillie prayed: “Save me from worrying. Give me a strong heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all my burdens on you.” 

Let’s make his prayer our own today, to the glory of God.

NOTE: Our latest book, Our Christmas Stories: 26 Reflections to Enrich Your Christmas Season, is now available. As it’s designed to be read daily from Dec. 1 through 26, request your copy today to ensure that you receive it in time. You might also consider requesting additional copies for friends and family as early Christmas presents, as a devotional experience you can read through together. 

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