Invisible Forces, Hidden Issues

Rain and snow fall on the Little Belt Mountains in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, ninety miles east of Helena, sixty miles south of Great Falls. Streams and creeks flow past the towns of Neihart and Monarch, past Camp Rotary and the Logging Creek Campground, on their way to the Missouri River. But most of the water seeps deep into the soil, draining into the water table known as the Madison Aquifer, where it becomes invisible.

The Madison is a huge reservoir of fresh water, lying underneath five U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. This hidden water is moving. It’s flowing. It’s active. It provides water for thousands of wells, springs, and streams, and becomes the sustainer of life for countless people, animals, plants, and trees. Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir dominate the hillsides, providing shelter for black bear, elk, and white-tailed deer.

The aquifer’s underground consists of layered limestone, which allows some of the water to trickle through until it finds its way to Giant Springs, outside the city of Great Falls. Once the water gets there, hydraulic pressure forces it out at a rate of more than 150 million gallons per day. Some studies indicate that it takes 26 years for the water to travel the 60 miles from the mountains to Giant Springs. Other data suggest that it might be closer to a 50-year journey before it emerges and forms the Roe River.

However, some of the water is trapped in the underground, where it remains far longer than two-and-a-half decades. Scientists have determined that some of the water has been in the underground for two or three thousand years . . . maybe longer. Instead of flowing out, it stays in the aquifer century after century, millennium after millennium.

The water that travels from the mountains and bursts forth at Giant Springs has a year-round, constant temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit. This might seem cold to people in warmer regions of the world, but considering the harsh, bitter conditions of a Montana winter, 54 degrees is quite warm. When outside temperatures get down to 50, 60, and 70 below zero, the water from the springs is more than 100 degrees warmer than the air temperature. On the other hand, during the summer months, when the outside temperature reaches to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the cool waters from the springs are rather refreshing.

Most of the water stays underground and doesn’t make the journey to Giant Springs. Instead, it combines with streams from the Black Hills, the Big Horn Mountains, and the wider drainage area. Eventually, most of it surfaces in Canada. But some of the water never escapes. It’s still trapped, still hidden, still invisible.

This underground water system is an allegory about what happens in peoples lives. There’s a lot going on inside of us, perhaps a whole lot more than most of us are willing to admit to ourselves or allow others to know about. Because of past, painful experiences, we force our thoughts and emotions underground, and they become an internal, invisible force. It may be hidden, but it’s moving. It’s active. In fact, sometimes what’s going on inside takes on a life of its own, until one day, it gushes out in destructive words or actions, and everybody says things like, “Wow. I never saw that coming.” Others are trapped in pain, decade after decade, while life, happiness, and opportunities pass them by. Either by choice or by circumstance, their issues never surface and are never resolved.

The Holy Spirit is ready to help with this inner world of invisible forces and hidden issues. He wants to liberate you. You don’t have to remain trapped, hidden, or invisible any longer. Its time for a new beginning.

Unity in Marriage

IN 2019 I wrote a book on marriage called WisdomBuilt Biblical Principles of Marriage. The book presents twelve principles that when lived day by day can revolutionize any relationship.

A few months after the book came out, I was interviewed by Chris Johnson at Charisma Magazine HQ in Lake Mary, FL. If you’d like to hear the podcast of the conversation, click on Charisma Podcast. Then if you want to get the book, click on the picture of the book above. You are welcome to contact me through the Contact page.

80th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

December 7, 2021 is the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States into World War II. The Battle of Midway was the greatest naval battle ever fought. Three enemy aircraft carriers were bombed into blazing infernos in six minutes, burning and drowning 1,800 seamen. A fourth carrier sank with a loss of 700 men.

USS Yorktown, with a ship’s crew of just over 2,200 sailors and about 300 aviators, received three bomb hits and two torpedoes when Captain Elliott Buckmaster ordered, “Abandon ship.” 400 men were dead. 2,000 sailors went down the lines into the murky, oily waters of the Pacific.

This book tells the story in light of faith, prayer, and the God who was personally involved in the men’s lives. The author conducted Bible studies in the ship. In answer to the prayers of those men and their loved ones, many of the sailors accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. There were miraculous rescues from bomb bursts and fragmented steel, as Navy destroyers pulled blue jackets from the sea. Barefoot men clad only in their underwear knelt on the deck of a destroyer and offered thanks to Almighty God for his mercy and salvation. A true life story of God’s presence in a battle at sea.

Dead in the Water is the story about a man who was faithful to God during the toughest days of his life, and the God who was faithful to that man. It provides a glimpse of divine intervention in the lives of men who were far from home, providing hope and comfort in an otherwise bleak situation. At the same time, it tells of some fantastic answers to prayer, as well as some devastating tragedy.

Stan “Deacon” Linzey was a ship’s telephone operator aboard the USS Yorktown when it engaged in the battles of Coral Sea and Midway. He was also a clarinetist in the Navy Band. When the order came to abandon ship, he scooted to the edge of the deck, lowered himself into the ocean hoping there were no sharks nearby, and treaded water until a U.S. ship came to the rescue.

After the war, Linzey went to college and seminary, and then returned to the Navy as a chaplain, serving another twenty years. He wrote this book, and several others, after retiring from the Navy in 1974.

Linzey’s first son, Stanford Eugene Linzey III, goes by the name of Eugene, and is an award-winning journalist and an author of several books. After his father died, Eugene became the chaplain of the Yorktown Reunion Club, a role Stan had filled until his death at age eighty-nine.

Paul Linzey is the third son. He is a retired Army chaplain, and at the time of this writing, is serving as the Protestant pastor at the United States Naval Academy. He is an award-winning author of several books, and is a regular contributor of devotional articles for CBN.org.

One of the reviews:

“USS Yorktown at Midway is a remarkably intriguing and compelling account of the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway as seen through the Christian eyes of the Lord’s servant, Captain Stanford E. Linzey, CHC, USN (Ret.). Dr. Linzey allows the reader to easily understand and visualize not only the tragedies of combat, but also the human and spiritual elements of surviving the harrowing and horrifying disasters of naval warfare.”

This is a reprint of a book originally published with the title, “God Was at Midway.” It has a new introduction by S. Eugene Linzey III and a new afterword by Paul E. Linzey. The book can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.

Snatched by Goodness

On October 31, I preached in the Naval Academy chapel. The scripture of the day was Hebrews 9:11-14, where Jesus is introduced as “High Priest of the Good Things.” The sermon title was “Snatched by Goodness,” and I told a couple of stories of my life being spared by someone who literally snatched me by the collar. Then I asked one of the men of the chapel to tell of a personal experience he had as a Naval Aviator. Ed Grunwald’s story is a powerful testimony of the goodness of God in answer to prayer in a desperate situation.

Ed called me yesterday to tell me another story. He graduated from the Naval Academy with the class of 1950, and has been a member of the USNA protestant congregation since retiring from the Navy. For the past twenty-five years, he has been praying for an opportunity to tell his story to the congregation.

I had no idea all that was going on when I felt the leading of the Lord to have him share his story. I had met him when I visited him in his home a few weeks earlier, and as I was preparing the sermon, I just had an inclination to ask him.

God is good. Jesus is the “High Priest of the Good Things.” And it’s wonderful to hear about how people’s lives have been touched by goodness.

If you click on the YouTube link, you can view and listen to the whole service. My message begins at 29:45. Ed’s story starts at 35:15 and runs about eleven minutes.

Looking Through the Rearview Mirror

I was flipping through the topic cards of a new trivia game when an idea splashed into my mind: what if my brothers and sisters and I were to use these as writing prompts for a family memoir? That could be a lot of fun and elicit some great memories. Our parents, a sister, and a brother had already passed away, and the remaining siblings lived in various places around the country. Maybe doing a project like this could bring a sense of togetherness and closeness. The concept was to send out one writing prompt per week via email, and then the siblings would write their memories and send them to me.

We started learning about one another and seeing each other in a whole new light, and the conversations that occurred every week became highly therapeutic for us. We accepted one another, and in the process, learned to love each other more deeply than any of us had ever experienced in our family.

Each week, we selected a new writing prompt. Everyone had a week to write up a memory or a personal experience that related in some way to the topic. And then we sent the stories to everyone. My original intent was not to share the stories with everyone until the end of the year. But the group decision to share with everyone right from the start is what made this endeavor the overwhelming success that it turned into. We bonded. We laughed. We cried. We identified with one another. We encouraged each other. We felt each other’s pain, sorrow, stress, and heartbreak. And we celebrated each other’s successes and victories. In essence, we created a safe environment and showed each other the beauty and wholeness of being vulnerable and trusting in an accepting relationship.

The results of this endeavor were fantastic. For the first time in our lives, we’re not divided into the upper half and the lower half. There’s no superiority or inferiority. We all have equal standing in this loving family. And it feels good. We created a priceless collection of family history that our grandkids and great grandkids might otherwise have never known. More importantly, we have grown and deepened as individuals and as a family.

Whether you are a family member, a distant relative, a neighbor, friend, or even a complete stranger, we invite you to join us on this journey as we share our lives with you. We hope you enjoy the stories. Welcome to the family.

The book may be purchased at https://paullinzey.com/books/

or from Amazon.

The Risk of Faith

Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den because he prayed three times a day to his God. But the Lord protected him, and the ferocious beasts lay down and purred.

Not far from there, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into a blazing fire because they refused to bow down and worship a golden statue. Instead, they declared,

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV)

Their faith didn’t depend on whether they escaped. They were fully prepared to risk everything, which meant they didn’t serve the Lord only during the good times. They didn’t trust God only to get their way. There was nothing selfish about their prayer, their life, or their religion. Their faith in God was genuine, even when it resulted in persecution. Even when it meant risking their lives. Death was certain, and they knew it—unless God did a miracle. Either way, they were determined to be faithful.

The fire was so hot that the soldiers escorting them to the flames died on the spot. But for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, not a hair on their head or their arms was singed, and not a thread of their clothing burned. They never even felt the heat. It was like they were taking a walk in the park on a cool, breezy day.

When the smoke cleared, King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, and to his amazement, there was a fourth man in the flames with them. The king couldn’t believe his eyes. Daniel 3:25 reports Nebuchadnezzar’s amazement.

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25 NIV)

Daniel understood the dangers of breaking the law and praying to his God. Hungry lions can easily tear a man apart. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew the risks when they decided not to bow to the king’s statue.

However, God intervened, and Daniel survived to tell the King once more about the goodness and reality of the true God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, encountered the Lord right there in the middle of the blazing heat.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that not everyone who takes the risk of faith will escape pain or death. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter, but verses 32–38 show how the situations turned out for some of God’s people. And verse 39 adds,

“These were all commended for their faith.” (Hebrews 11:39 NIV)

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ always involves risk. Some will face ridicule. Others might lose their jobs. Some are abandoned by their family. Others experience physical torture. Some will survive. Others may die. What is God asking you to risk?

The bottom line is that your faith will cost you something. God is calling you to accept the challenge, count the cost, and take the risk.

Christians in many places around the world are experiencing persecution at this moment. In the same way, it might cost you something to follow Jesus. But like those men in the book of Daniel, you can be faithful regardless of the outcome, because the fourth man in the fire is going to be there with you.

This article was featured on CBN.org as the daily devotional reading on October 13, 2021. The link to the article is https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/the-risk-of-faith.

Museum of the Bible

We had heard about the Museum of the Bible, and definitely wanted to experience it. The first section we visited was bout the Bible’s impact on America’s early history, culture, and development as a nation. Oh my goodness! The information was well researched, fascinating, and powerful.

Did you know that the first Bible published in North America was printed in 1663 at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But it wasn’t in English because the British had a law that any book in English had to be printed in England. The first Bible was written in the Algonquin language. Many of the founding fathers had Bibles and often quoted from them. In fact, the Bible helped shape our laws, policies, values, and culture.

The next section focused on the impact of the Bible throughout the world. There was an extensive display that demonstrated the influence of the Bible in just about every sphere of life: science, education, medicine, prison, politics, humanitarianism, the arts, civil rights, and more.

On one of the levels, we discovered several Tiffany stained glass windows: beautiful works of art that portrayed religious scenes or people of the New Testament. There was also the famous painting of George Washington, kneeling in the snow next to his horse, eyes closed, hands folded, and praying.

Moving to one of the higher floors, we enjoyed the Old Testament immersive experience with displays and films showing key moments and experiences of the people of God. Then we got to walk through the village of Nazareth, built to demonstrate what life was like in the first century.

The top deck provides a view of several prominent buildings in Washington DC, especially the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, The National Cathedral, The Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress.

The restaurant on the 6th floor wasn’t open yet, but the cafe on the 2nd floor was really good. There were several exhibits and movies we didn’t see during our first visit, so we plan to return a few more times so we can take it all in.

Should I Give This to a Friend?

I got this email through my website yesterday:

Hi,  Paul. A friend loaned me a copy of your book and I read it. I enjoyed it, so I bought a couple of copies. My pastors wants to read it. Here’s my question: I have a friend who served in Iraq some time ago, maybe 15 years ago or more. He did lose some friends and saw action that had casualties. Do you think this book would be appropriate to offer for him to read? Would it bring some perspective or healing? Or take him back to relive the horrors of war? I would appreciate your input.

And here’s what I wrote back to him:

Hello, friend. Great to get your email. Thank you. I think the book would be a good thing for your friend to read. While it mentions some of the painful stuff and the danger, it also shows how some of us processed the PTSD and got better. The Lord is a huge part of that, and I think it could be helpful for your friend. I’ve had a chance to talk with other veterans who went through some pretty horrible experiences, and they told me it was helpful. So go ahead and share it with him, and tell him he’s welcome to give me a call or an email if he wants to talk about his experiences over there.

The man’s pastor wants to read the book, which leads me to say this: Anyone looking for a book to use for a book group, a Bible study, or a home group discussion might consider using Safest Place in Iraq. There are discussion questions in the back. Plus, there’s a separate study guide. Consider using it in your group or at your church.

Walking Annapolis

Our weekly excursion in the Washington DC area was a bit closer to home this week. We decided to spend the day downtown Annapolis, exploring the sites, stores, and restaurants. It’s definitely worth coming back, because there’s way too much to see and do in one day.

We have done a few walking tours in England, and got to see places and hear stories we’d never experience otherwise, and we wanted a similar experience in Annapolis. Fortunately, we had met Mr. William Ridgley of Colonial Tours Annapolis, and spent a delightful couple of hours with him, traipsing through the town, learning a ton of history, asking questions, and receiving in-depth knowledge in reply. The man is brilliant, and definitely worth the tour.

Right next to the downtown dock is a bronze of Alex Haley telling a group of children the story of his Roots. Apparently, Haley’s ancestor arrived from Africa and disembarked in Annapolis, providing a historic side to the city we hadn’t imagined existed. Of course, Francis Scott Key was a graduate of St. John’s College here in Annapolis, which adds to the texture and complexity of the city’s history.

Downtown Annapolis is full of boutiques, cafés, pubs, gift shops, general stores, and specialty shops. The Galway Bay Irish Restaurant and Pub is a local favorite, as is Chick and Ruth’s Delly. We particularly enjoyed the Café Normandie, and of course Kilwin’s Chocolate & Ice Cream is definitely worth stopping in.

Near the state capitol, we chanced upon The Annapolis Pottery and met the owner/potter. Of course, we added to our collection of teapots and locally-made wares. Then we walked up King George Street along the outer wall of the Naval Academy.

The famous, beautiful dome of the chapel is being renovated, and had scaffolding all around it, but the cupola at the very top stood out against the clouded, blue sky. We plan to go back when the rest of the dome is completed, showing off its new copper skin.

At the Hammond-Harwood House, we learned a lot about early American architecture, furnishings, and lifestyle. But we also gleaned some interesting tidbits about the values and culture. Our guide was pretty knowledgeable.

We want to experience more of Annapolis, such as the Colonial Players’ Theater in the Round, when it opens. And many more attractions that we just didn’t have time to see yet.

The picture at the top of this article is an image on the wall of the Naval Academy near the main entrance. There’s much to see inside the Academy itself, but that’ll take another whole day.

Gettysburg

Since I was a little boy growing up in Southern California, Gettysburg has been a point of fascination and awe for me. It was a turning point in the Civil War. That’s where President Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches. Anybody with an interest in American history wants to visit the site. And now, for the first time in my life, I got to spend a day there. Gettysburg is only 79 miles from home.

The Visitor’s Center houses a Museum, Theater, Cyclorama, Café, and super-important for us . . . the Bookstore.

First on the to-do list was an introductory film, which was brief, but well done.

The museum itself was fascinating. It started with the events leading up to the election of 1860 and the secession of the Confederate States, then transitioned to the battle itself. I must admit that some of the quotations, images, and artifacts were quite disturbing. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why people justified slavery and the horrendous mistreatment of human beings.

Cycloramas used to be a popular way for people to experience art “from the inside.” Originally created by an Irish painter in 1787, they became popular in the 1800’s. The intent is to allow viewers to be surrounded by the images as if they were standing in the middle of the actual location. The Gettysburg Cyclorama accomplishes this so well.

After the museum and the Cyclorama, we got a drink and a snack from the Battlefield Café, and then spent some time exploring the bookstore. We love books and we love learning, so this was special for us. The store also has clothing and souvenirs.

And then on to the battlefield tour itself. We like going at our own pace, which is almost always slower than if we were in a guided tour. The reason we are slower is not because we are slowpokes. Oh no. We can keep up with anybody. The reason we prefer to go at our own pace is because we want to learn more and see more. OK, let’s be totally honest here . . . LINDA is the one who wants to learn more, read more, see more, do more. The woman can’t get enough information, knowledge, and detail.

So, we did the self-guided audio tour, using the Gettysburg National Military Park app on her phone. It’s the exact same information and videos available on the park’s website. The park ranger featured in the videos is Ranger Christopher Gwinn, Chief of Interpretation and Education, and he was fantastic.

The last stop on the driving tour was the Gettysburg National Cemetery, and is definitely worth visiting. This is where President Lincoln gave “a few appropriate remarks.” Interestingly, he wasn’t the main speaker that day. The primary orator was Edward Everett, a nationally known speaker who spoke for over two hours. Later on, he wrote a letter to President Lincoln, saying that he wished he could have accomplished in two hours what Lincoln had done in two minutes.

When the tour was over, we got to choose from among several interesting restaurants. We selected the Dobbin House, and enjoyed a delightful candlelight dinner, the highlight being the Date Nut Bread. Yes, we brought a loaf home.

During our meal, my wife asked her typical question: What was one of the most meaningful experiences of your day? I’ve been on her famous study abroad trips to England, so I know she asks her students that very question at the end of every day. My answer on this particular day in Gettysburg was twofold. First, the absolutely horrible attitude that slaveholders had about their African American “property.” Second, being on the battlefield and seeing the terrain and the distances.

We plan to return to Gettysburg in September to continue to experience and learn a little more. Or maybe a lot more. One day merely whetted the appetite.

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