Friday, August 31, 2007

Ministry of Presence

He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach (Mark 3:14)

One of the great things about being a chaplain is that you enjoy the privilege of going to work with your congregation. Sometimes the work environment is less than desirable (dirty, smelly, far away places where you can be shot at) but being with the troops is always pleasure. I really think that’s the kind of ministry Jesus modeled for us. You should note that He didn’t just hang out in His office waiting for folks to come to Him. He went to the people. In fact He chose 12 guys to hang out with Him so He could give them more intense training. The focus of ministry is not buildings, institutions, or programs. The focus of ministry is people. Meet them on their turf.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dead Sacrifices

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

‘But I’m making sacrifices for my country. At least I signed up. I’m doing my part…’ This was the ‘patriot’ card being played by one of my privates as I was counseling him on his poor performance. I had to remind him that the true sacrifice was in performing his duties not in sponging off American’s tax dollars and wearing BDUs. Sometimes we play the ‘patriot’ card with Jesus. ‘But I go to church, give when the offering plate comes by, I pray before meals.’ Jesus is looking for our true allegiance in two areas; Do we really love Him and do we love people. The answer is not in our lifeless traditions; it’s in our sincere day to day relationship with Him and others.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Passing it On

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

For the last 27 years, I've been mentoring men. I know a lot of you do too. Just one guy at a time, one day at a time. I’ve shared the tips of the trade both professionally and spiritually. From time to time I link-up with my friends and I hear how well they're doing. Of course, I've only had a small part in their success but I’m a part nonetheless. God has allowed me to make an impact their lives. But notice what kind of men the Apostle Paul directs Timothy toward. “Faithful men who are willing to invest in others.” When we look for men to mentor, we should pick men who are willing pass it on. To me there is no greater reward this side of heaven then to see men growing in their faith and investing in others.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

RUN AMUCK

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. (Judges 21:25)

I’ve been in units where the leadership at one level or another was conspicuously absent. Very little direction, guidance, or instructions. I happen to like environments with very little supervision (I don’t like being told how to suck the egg) but I am equally apposed to leadership through the willy nilly. People need a compass and a map. They need vision. When it’s not given they simply do what they see fit (and sometimes its not so fit). Be the leader that points the way but takes on the risk of allowing people to figure out how to get there. Guide, Encourage, and Coach. God has placed you in your unique role for this place at this time. Seize the Moment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

BASIC NEEDS

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. (1 Samuel 12:23)

One of the first things you learn as a Platoon Sergeant is that if you don’t coordinated for food and water for your troops, no one else will. It’s one of those levels of leadership that you find out ‘that’s my responsibility.’ It’s a very painful experience when you’ve been so mission focused that you forget to requests the essential items that soldiers need to keep going. And let me tell you, a hungry or thirsty soldier in not a happy soldier. You only make that mistake once. The same goes for leaders praying for their people. Whether you’re an Officer, NCO, Mom, Dad, Sunday School Teacher, etc… it’s an daily essential. Don’t let ‘em down. Pray ‘em up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LOOKING BACK

But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. (1 Samuel 12:24)

I invested over 29 years of service to my country. As I reflect on the years, I realize I am a very blessed man. My career had been filled with more grace than one person deserves. Jesus has watched over me and given me the desires of my heart. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and to great boys. Yes, God has done great things for me and I want to take this opportunity to thank Him publicly. Thank you Lord, for taking a young high school drop out to a position of usefulness in Your kingdom.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eyes Wide Open

And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)

We were walking through the woods in our tactical formation and suddenly a bush started talking to me. Scared me so bad I almost came out of my skin. I had walked right up on a turkey hunter with incredible camouflage. I think the ol' country boy got a kick out of foolin' the army guys. We can often fail to see spiritual things right in front of our face as well. Sometimes the camouflage of this physical world can cover up the spiritual. We need to have our eyes wide open, always looking for the spiritual developments around us. Pray that God will open your spiritual eyes and ears to the things He's doing all around you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

ENDEX

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

I always loved when we would call ENDEX (end of exercise), especially when we knew we would fly back to the rear in choppers. It meant we didn’t have to road-march to the rear, which was particularly painful when you were dead tired. We wouldn’t have to hump that heavy load in our rucksack. All we had to do was get on the bird and relax because we were going home. One day God’s going to call an ENDEX and we will fly away to our heavenly home to be with Jesus Christ. Some say it will be soon. I’m looking forward to not having to trudge this weary old world with my rucksack of imperfection. But until then we have to Charlie Mike (continue the mission). But, be encouraged by this, ENDEX is coming.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

THE BACK AZIMUTH

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:10)

Some times in order to get back to where you are going or to figure out where you are, you need to determine a back azimuth. So, if your original azimuth is less than 180 degrees you need to add 180 degrees (STAY WITH ME NOW, IM TRYING TO MAKE A POINT) and if your azimuth is more than 180 degrees you need to subtract 180 degrees. And if you do all that, you will head the exact opposite direction from where you were heading. Sound confusing? (to some it’s child’s play but to others, gobligoop) Well let me assure you that repentance is a lot easier to figure out. If you are not heading Christ’s way, you are heading the wrong way. Turn around.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14.6)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Wiz Bang War Toys

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:47)

When first Gulf War kicked off there was a lot of conjecture about the war and its outcome. I can remember listening to some friends talking about how our technology would ‘save the day.’ I felt very uncomfortable putting so much trust in something we see fail us everyday. Whether it’s the ‘blue screen of death’ on our computers or an answering machine that seems to be possessed, I’ve just seen too many ways for technology to go south. I’m a techno geek at heart and I think its great, but even so, I think I’ll do a little more praying in times of war.

Friday, August 17, 2007

STRAIGHT AND TRUE

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Kings 22:2)

What would you do if you fired your weapon and the bullet took a hard left before it hit it’s target. You might check the sights, maybe your firing technique, and then squeeze off another round. Now the bullet takes a hard right. What’s up with these bullets? It’s like they have a mind of their own. You’d be ticked. ‘I shot that bullet dead center and it executed a right flank on me.’ Well, bullets don’t have a mind of their own, but we do. We have a choice to fly true to course or deviate and go our own way. By the degree we stay on course is the degree by which we demonstrate our loyalty to the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Times of Trouble

He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ (Job 2:10)

I was praying for a young Canadian Infantryman in Afghanistan. I came into contact with him through a prayer request from his wife. I learned that his life was spared when a bomb dropped by one of our aircraft hit their position and four of his comrades were killed in this friendly fire accident. My first thought was one of great relief that my new friend was safe. And then I wondered why God didn’t spare the lives of the others. I was like Job’s wife asking why bad things like this happen. Job is wise enough to acknowledge that we wont always have all the answers. But one thing is for sure; we will have to trust God in the good and tough times. Let trouble push you toward God, not away.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Old Dog

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.’ (Mark 2:22)

I walked out to the PT formation and the music was blaring. I knew something was up but couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it was announced that we would be doing aerobics that morning. I’m sorry, but I was raised on the daily dozen, four mile run and cold showers. I couldn’t even pretend to enjoy dancing. You know the old saying: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ When it comes to PT I’m an Old Dog (Old Wine Skin). But, I can’t afford to grow hard and unteachable in my spiritual life. If I want God to use my life, I need to stay fresh and pliable. OK, I’ll work on my Aerobics if we all promise to keep those spiritual muscles pumping.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I Need a Volunteer

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ (Isaiah 6:8)

You get the word pretty early in your military career, ‘Don’t volunteer for anything.’ And it’s funny to watch how instructors drum up volunteers. They teach the students, ‘When I ask for volunteers, you all raise your hands and begin shouting ‘pick me, pick me!’ It’s quite the sight. Then there is the guy who volunteers and ends up driving the General around in a nice car all day and eating ice cream at the O’ Club. Now that’s something everyone wished they had volunteered for. God is looking for volunteers as well. He’s looking for men and women who would be willing to work in His kingdom. The assignments range for right where you are now to some far away country. The ‘where’ is not as important, but the ‘who’ is top priority. God is looking for a few good men and women to work in His kingdom.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stand your Ground

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.’ (Daniel 3:17-18)

He came into the office and he was steaming. Seems the report I had typed wasn’t what the commander wanted. I was the training NCO and I had typed up the Unit Readiness Report to match the truth. He wanted to know why the anti-tank gunners weren’t qualified. I replied, ‘because the didn’t shoot well, sir?’ But that wasn’t the question he was asking. He was asking why they weren’t qualified on paper? I then understood what he was asking and respectfully told him I could not change the USR. Even though he looked mad, I could tell he respected the decision. I was right and stood my ground.

Impossible

Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’ (Mark 10:27)

The phone call came out of the blue. On the other end was one of the people I affectionately call a ‘little old lady in white tennis shoes.’ It was her unfortunate duty to inform me that the US Army could not accession me as a chaplain because of my P3 hearing profile. I had lost some hearing as an enlisted guy and now this defect would keep me from my dream. I asked if there was any exception and she replied, 'It’s impossible to come on active duty with a P3 profile.’ One year later, my National Guard unit wanted to promote me but couldn’t because of my profile. Unbeknownst to me, they sent my medical records before a review board and had my P3 downgraded to a P2. I was promoted but more importantly, I could now officially apply for active duty chaplaincy. Nothing is impossible for God!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Fine Line

Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:23)

Ever noticed how some people like to make things harder than what they really need to be? In the Ranger community, we call it ‘crossing the fine line.’ There is a fine line between hardcore and stupid. We can cross the line spiritually as well. We can make up rules and regulations God never intended for us. I don’t know about you but I find it hard enough to obey what I see clearly written in Scripture with out dreaming up more stuff to do. KISS: Keep it Scriptural Soldier.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The 70% Solution?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

70% is all that is necessary to pass in almost every Army school. It’s enough to get by and 70% almost ensures maximum graduation. But, is God satisfied with 70%? We know He’s forgiving but, will we use that as an excuse to give less than our very best? He wants us to “give it everything we got” in our relationship with Him. Remember the greatest commandment; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 100% and then some.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

They Earn Their Pay

For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ (1 Timothy 5:18)

We were building a Platoon Defense, which basically means a lot of digging. We dug all day long; fighting positions, trench lines, mortar pits, etc… By sunset, we got the word that we would need 500 sand bags filled with dirt to put on the finishing touches. So, all night long, the company filled sand bags by jeep lights. I can certainly say I earned my pay that day. But, there are some who are building a spiritual defense around you. They dig into the Word for us and fill protective sand bags with their prayers. They work hard as missionaries to the military: Navigators, Christian Military Fellowship, Campus Crusade, Cadence, Officer’s Christian Fellowship, and others. All laboring hard to meet the spiritual needs of the warrior. Let me encourage you to support these ministries financially and through your prayers. A worker is worthy of his wages.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Battle Captains

For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

Before the fight there are captains in the Tactical Operations Center working feverishly on the battle plan. They are called Battle Captains. It’s their responsibility to develop and write the Operations Order. They take the commander's intent for the fight and turn it into a written plan to distribute to the subordinate units. But, as important as the battle captain may be, the authority and execution of the battle plan belongs to the commander. So it is with scripture. Holy men of God may have written the Bible but ultimately its intent and authority belongs only to God.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Wise Guy?

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

We were clearing a trench line and we were bogged down. Our pretend enemy was tougher than anticipated. I thought I’d try to be slick and do something the OPFOR would never expect. So I jumped out of the trench and ran across open terrain to pinpoint the enemy. I found 'em alright! There I was, in the open with no cover and my MILES was singing it's nasty little death song. I probably looked like the village idiot performing in the town square. I had made a foolish decision. We are in a dangerous business and we need wisdom. But, we need wisdom for a myriad of other decisions we make everyday too. Decisions with our jobs, families, finances, and most of all, our spiritual lives. God promises if we pray for wisdom, we will receive it. Sounds like something we ought to be praying for daily.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Character First

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach...(1 Timothy 3:1-2)

His wife was killed in a head-on collision by a drunk driver who happened to be a private in the same unit. The commander called me at 0300 for my help to inform my boss and my friend that his wife was dead. Of course he took it pretty hard and we drove him to the hospital to identify her body. Only one problem, the private was in the same emergency room. The commander and I were caught off guard and fearful of what might happen next. The Sergeant simply walked up to the private, asked how he was doing, and then said ‘you heal up, and we'll worry about this later.’ That was the strongest demonstration of character I have ever witnessed. But really I should have expected nothing less from my friend because he had proven himself time and time again to be a great leader. Great leadership is built on the foundation of great character.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What's In a Name

‘You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7)


‘Oh, sorry chaplain.’ I hear that phrase often. It's the familiar expression soldiers use when they swear in front of the padre. Most of the time, I just nod my head to acknowledge the expression of regret. But, there is a form of swearing that is very dangerous: the misuse of God’s name. God's name is often spoken in curses, jokes, and interjections without even thinking. Yet this is one of the least recognized sins. Anytime we use His name for anything other than to address Him or to speak of Him respectfully, we use His name in vain. His name is holy and should only be spoken in reverence. Handle with care!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sniveling

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Numbers 11:1)

Complaining is one of the soldier's favorite pass times. I know, I have done my fare share and still do. But, the scriptures remind us that whining and sniveling really ticks God off. Now why is that? Well, one of the big reasons is because complaining communicates a lack of trust in God. It's a indication of wavering faith. I mean, do we believe that God has our best interest at heart or not? There's a deeper question with deeper ramifications. We should be asking; ‘Ok God, this situation stinks but what are You trying to teach me through this?’ Case in point: My wife and I were discussing this over dinner one night and we both agreed that her cancer has drawn us both closer to God, not the opposite. Go Figure?

If you would be interested in financilly supporting the ministry at Fort Benning, please email me at charleswood1@gmail.com

Monday, July 09, 2007

In the Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

I stood on faded yellow painted lines. The barracks were long gone. But after 25 years I was standing in the exact spot where it all started. I was standing in the street where we jumped off the buses and Drill Sergeants skillfully molded me into a soldier. Although there was little evidence, the memories came flooding back. It was the beginning of my military career. But what if someone came to me and challenged the fact that BCT never happened in that place. What if they said I was just making it up. Could I convince them beyond the shadow of a doubt that 25 years ago I was doing push ups right there in the now abandoned street? The answer is no. The only thing I could do is to point out the evidence and hope they would believe me based on the credibility of my character. They would have to take it by faith because they weren't there to see it all happen. And so it is with God being the source of all creation. We can't prove it but we can point out the evidence of intelligent design. And we believe God is the author of creation based on the character of the scriptures.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Restoration

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

As a chaplain, I heard the confessions of a lot of sins. From drugs to theft to sexual immorality. By now, you would think that I've heard it all. However, at times, I'm still taken back by the destruction in some peoples lives. Sin has ripped through them like a nuclear blast leaving a wide radius of devastation. As I listen and I quickly remind myself of a quote I heard many years ago. ‘The seed of all sin is within us. All it needs is a little water and fertilizer and it will bear its ugly fruit.’ After reminding myself of that truth, I tend to be more compassionate rather than judgmental. When I see that I could also be tempted by the same sin and I am eager to restore rather than just reprimand. Restore one another.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

On Target Self-Assessment

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

I never celebrated a near miss on the rifle range. I wasn’t content with “almost” hitting the target. And, I’m sure if I was satisfied with “close enough,” my time as a sniper would have been extremely short. Sometimes we have a little trouble hitting the target when it comes to self-assessment. We can overestimate our skills or abilities, which can lead to arrogance and eventually failure. We can woefully underestimate ourselves and limit our own potential. Our greatest personal fulfillment will come when we accurately assess our strengths and weaknesses. Our best contributions to the others will be achieved when we have a true sight picture of who we are and what we can do.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Calming the Storm

He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:26)

The rain was coming down in sheets on the M16 range at Ft. Lewis, WA. Normally it just drizzles, but on this day, it was pouring buckets. It was raining so hard the water would splash off the carrying handle of the rifle into the rear site aperture and I couldn't see my target. It was useless to try to fire so the platoon waited for a break in the weather. We were sitting in the bleachers under a tin cover and the noise was horrendous. One of my fellow rangers in the platoon, who was poking fun at my newfound faith, yelled, ‘Hey, lets get Wood to PRAY that the rain stops.’ Immediately, the rain stopped and there was a deafening silence. All were speechless, myself included. I never again took any grief for being a Christian. Whether it is actual atmospheric conditions or figurative, Christ still calms the storms.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Your Child for the Cause?

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

After 9-11, I heard a woman on the radio say she “wasn’t against the war in Afghanistan but was unwilling to send her own sons.” At first, I was angry and I scolded the talk show caller, “Hey, we are at war and sometimes there are sacrifices to be made.” Then I thought about my own two boys. Am I willing to send my own sons into combat? I trembled at the possibility. Suddenly, I could identify with the lady on the radio. I mean, I was willing to go myself but, what loving parent wants to send his child off to war? The answer, God. The Father was very willing to send His Son into the middle of a spiritual firefight, knowing full well, He wouldn’t make it out alive. And, the Son willingly went to war to secure our eternal freedom through His sacrificial death. Now that puts God’s love into perspective and it compels me to follow Him all the more.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Carry On

Then some soldiers asked him, ‘And what should we do?’ [John the Baptist] replied, ‘Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay.’ (Luke 3:14)

Ever wonder what God thinks about our profession? John the Baptist gives us a clue as one of God’s spokesman. He was one of the top prophets of all time (Matthew 11:11). John was in the business of telling people about the coming of Christ and Repentance (getting your life straight). His message was simple, ‘Stop living in sin and start living for God.’ Now you know with a message like that, he's a straight shooter. John wouldn’t pull any punches if he saw sin in a persons life. But, when some soldiers came to him for advice, notice what he did not tell them. He didn’t say “stop soldiering” as though it were a sin to be a warrior. No, he tells them “don’t abuse your power and carry on (be content with your wages)”. So, Guardian of Freedom, Giver of Liberty, and Keeper of Peace do what’s right and carry on.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

False Motivation

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:23-24)

‘Hooah, Air Assault Sergeant!’ That was our reply to the Air Assault Instructor as he informed us we would be doing more push-ups. This was after spending several minutes going though ‘break area’ procedures (Basically a smoke fest intended to get the students attention right from the get go). My arms were starting to look like truck axles as a result of the millions of push-ups I had already done. There may have been one or two kooks in that formation that wanted to do more push-ups but most of us were giving an obligatory ‘Hooah’ just to please the instructor. It was all false motivation. When we practice the rituals and traditions of religion we can fall in to this same attitude. We kind of go through the motions but really our heart is not in it. Attitude Check? Worship in spirit and in truth.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Through the Minefield

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)


Probing for mines was not one of my favorite things to do. It involves sticking the ground with a sharp non-metallic object at a 45 degree angle every two inches until you clear a way through the minefield. It’s slow, tedious and if they’re real mines, DANGEROUS! It’s the lead soldier’s responsibility to find a safe path through the explosive real-estate. That’s what Jesus has done for us. He is the safe path to the other side of a life filled with land mines. He led the way and cleared a course to God. Now it all boils down to our decision to trust Him for this safe passage by following Him.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Mail Call

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

There’s nothing like a letter from someone who loves you to boost the ol’ soldier’s moral. It didn’t matter whether I was in Kuwait or Korea my wife would send me the greatest letters. I’d carry Deb’s letters around in my green notebook and when I got a chance, I’d whip it out and read again. You know, I never got tired of reading those letters. I still read some of them today. It’s always good to get a letter from some who loves you. God has written us a letter as well. The Bible is God’s letter of encouragement and exhortation to His spiritual warriors. It gives instructions on how we ought to live. But the part I like most is where He tells us how much He loves us and His desires to bless our lives. Hey Soldier, you got a letter from your Father.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Attitude Adjustment

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

Reality was beginning to sink in when they issued me my Desert Camouflage Uniforms. I was headed to Kuwait and I knew the four-month deployment would be miserable. My brother Mike had just returned from a rotation in the desert and I got a full debriefing. I was forewarned. So instead of viewing it as some torturous expedition, I made up my mind to have a positive attitude. I memorized Philippians 4:8 and repeated it often during the sand storms, heat, bugs, long hours of counseling, monotonous meals, etc. I must say, it was one of the best times of my life. What you think develops an attitude and attitude can change everything.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Driving On

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

He gave no instructions, we just started running. My Samoan Squad Leader was a PT animal. We ran around Abrams Drop Zone and then to the river and started heading for the barracks (about 12 miles). We were relieved and proud that we had accomplished such a physical feat. But, we didn’t stop! The Squad Leader just kept running. We ran right past the barracks as the rest of the company was heading for the showers. What a deflating moment. A few of us hung in there. We would not allow ourselves to quit. We proceeded to run around North Fort and back (another 6 miles). Eighteen miles for Monday morning PT! You know the Christian life is a lot like that run. Sometimes we think we have arrived and then we realize the finish line is still way down the road. Life is not a sprint. We need to be faithful for the long haul. Don’t Quit, Keep Driving On!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Believe in Life After Death

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ (John 11:25-26)

In a moon lit night the swift current of the Nasqually River took control of the 15-man rubber raft. My PSG knew we were out of control and made one last command, ‘Don’t let this thing turn sideways.’ No sooner had he barked out the order, when we hit a massive tree stump in the middle of the river. The raft turned sideways and dumped its contents of rangers into the glacier fed waters. As the other rangers swan free, I was trapped under water, snared in the raft’s rigging. As I tried to untangle myself, I thought, ‘This is it, this is the end.’ Suddenly, the upside-down raft jolted and I was unshackled. I popped out of the water gasping for air. “I’m alive!” I believe this a good picture of what it will be like for us when we experience physical death. We will pop out of the turbulent waters of this life into the next. What an exciting promise to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Timid Ranger

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Most people don’t know this but I have an incredible fear of drowning. Because I was close to becoming fish food on three separate military training events, I get a little nervous or timid around water. I recognized this weakness and I enrolled in a scuba diving class. I wanted to confront my fear head on. Several friends in my Sunday School class also signed up. As we got in the water and began to be acquainted with the breathing apparatus, all but one friend dropped from the class. As I watched the others get out of the water, fear was raging inside of me. I aggressively reminded myself I could not quit and had to overcome this phobia. Soon I was 15-20 feet below, exploring the waters. This is the way we should tackle our fears in our spiritual lives as well. We cannot allow timidity to sideline us in our walk with Christ. Take the plunge and go for it!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good Commo

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

In my 26 years of service I've been through 3 generations of radios. I found that no matter which radio, you could always establish good commo if you knew what you were doing. I heard, 'This radio is a piece of junk!' over and over again. I even said it myself a few times. But most of the time it wasn't the radio with the problem, it was the operator. It took time and effort to learn to use our communications gear effectively. It's the same with prayer and seeking God. There are those who have given up on prayer because 'it didn't work.' But let me assure you there is nothing wrong with the receiver, it's the transmitter. Seek Him with all your heart.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

GOD’S OPERATION ORDER

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is God's desire for each of us: success (as defined by God, not man), hope, and a future. Three things none of us would turn down. But every time we do not follow the Commander's Intent we end up doing just that, denying the very power to receive them. Following the whole plan of God for our lives is essential. We often get daily FRAGOs (fragmentary orders). How we follow the FRAGOs will determine how well we follow the big plan.

Charlie Mike! (Continue Mission)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

HURRY UP AND WAIT

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)

Wow, we have done some waiting in the military haven't we? Sometimes it's in the most miserable weather, too. One of the most notorious places for waiting is Green Ramp at Pope Air Force Base. When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division I sat on that concrete forever waiting for a jump (and sometimes just to find out the jump was cancelled). But when it comes to waiting on God, we can be assured it's always beneficial. Sometimes it's a matter of our not being ready. Sometimes it's a matter of lining up other people and circumstances. But waiting on God is always about perfect timing. Who knows where that extra time in the chow line or the delay traffic will lead. Learn to rest in your waiting.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Simplicity

Jesus replied: `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22:37-40)

Being an Infantryman was great because everything was boiled down to its most basic elements. Folks often joke about grunts being less than intellectual in their profession. More brawn then brains. (I did like coloring all those pictures in my FMs) But, the truth of the matter is the simpler the task, the easier it is to implement. Christian living is simple too. We only need to remember two things: Love God and Love People. Simple, right? It's a good thing too, because if you're like me, that's plenty.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PX Warriors

If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Ever run into a PX warrior? You know what I mean, guys who really haven't earned a badge or award but are wearing it anyway. When they are discovered, it’s quite a disappointment. The soldier is stealing the hard earned merits of those who really deserve the honor. It’s false advertising and their individual integrity isn't worth the price of the badge itself. Do we fall into the trap of false advertising as Christians? Isn’t it the same when we say we love God and do not love our brothers? Love for God cannot exist without love for others. Don't be a PX Christian, love God by loving the people around you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

JOY IN SUFFERING?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

I'm not sure I counted Ranger School as pure joy. But one thing for sure, it did develop perseverance. It was also a time of growing faith. I read parts of the New Testament up in the mountains and down in Florida. I considered for the first time that maybe I ought to seriously seek out a relationship with God. And I was stiffly confronted on my own sin. All this was brought on by a prolonged period of suffering. As I look at the results, not only physically but spiritually, I can count it all joy. But Ranger School isn't the toughest thing life has to hand out. We can suffer in many ways but we have more hope when we understand its process and product. Hang in there.

One Target, Three Questions

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Going to See the General

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

I checked in with the secretary and then entered the General’s office. It was the first time I wasn't nervous around a general officer. Oh, don't get me wrong. I demonstrated the respect due any senior leader but my knees weren’t knocking. I wasn't feeling the anxiety I normally experienced. The reason for the calm is clear. He had been my battalion commander and we had developed a close professional relationship. Relationship makes all the difference. That's what we have with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, a relationship. And now, rendering all proper respect due to the Creator, we can enter into God's presence with confidence and calm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

THE ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU, YOU HAVE TOO MANY

The LORD said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, `Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'‘ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. (Judges 7:2-3)

The answer was ‘NO’ from the Chief of Chaplain's Office the first time I applied for the chaplaincy. I had banked on the fact that I was an Airborne Ranger and the Army needed me. Even the Chief's Office had affirmed me two and half years earlier. Seems my permanent hearing loss and my school credentials would keep the chaplaincy out of my reach ‘forever’. I was crushed. Three years later, through some miraculous circumstances, I was suddenly eligible again. The message was clear. God didn't need all my tabs and badges. He would receive the credit for my accessioning to the Army Chaplaincy. Some times more is not better. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

ONE STEP CLOSER TO GLORY

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

When you are young, death seems like something reserved for the unlucky in combat or a parachute jump. But the older you get the more the reality of such a fate begins to soak in. Then the big reach for significance begins to take over; a reach for promotion, power, material goods, and anything that would satisfy the yearning to be somebody who has done something. But unless we invest in the eternal, we simply toss it all to the wind. Fix your eyes on the eternal.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

GETTING OLD

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

My brother, was talking to an older gentleman when he remarked, ‘I'm feeling old.’ My 41-year-old brother, replied, ‘Yah, I know what you mean.’ The man in his 60's rebutted, ‘No you don't. You're still young.’ To which my brother replied again, ‘And how many combat equipment parachute jumps do YOU have?’ You know, my brother has a point. For a lot of us it's not age, it's mileage. Yes this tent will fade but our hope is in Christ who will be able to rescue us from our decay. Everyday is just one step closer to glory.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Souvenirs VS Treasures

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

I can remember as a kid sneaking up to the attic to look at some of my Dad's old stuff. My favorite things were in an old footlocker. The wooden box contained maps, uniforms, equipment, and other trinkets. When I opened it up, I was immediately confronted with the smell of rotting souvenirs from the Vietnam War. The smell was an aged combination of jungle and sweat, a unique odor of decay. They were pretty cool things to rummage through but it would be foolish to treasure that kind of stuff (or any other material thing for that matter). It's all rotting away. We need to remember that our riches are stored in heaven. We need to deepen our relationship with Christ and extend our love to other people. These are the treasures that bear the sweet aroma of our good works and are kept safe in an eternal footlocker.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

You are Different

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

(1 John 2:6)

 

I had the opportunity to walk through the halls of the High School I had dropped out of six months prior. I strutted past familiar classrooms in my dress greens and peered through the glass looking for friends. I came to my US History class and the teacher glanced my way. It was the same teacher who told me I would never amount to anything. It was apparent that he either didn't recognize me or didn't want to recognize me. One thing for sure, I was different. I was not the same guy he had scolded a half a year earlier. The same should be said for us as Christians as we walk the halls of this world. A good question to ask ourselves; Am I the same person I was six months ago, a year ago?  Am I becoming more like Christ?

 

Pass it on to a friend in need of change. 

 

 

 

 

Friday, June 08, 2007

Set Free



Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

After returning from a deployment to Kuwait for Intrinsic Action and Operation Desert Fox, I jumped into my car for the first time. As I drove down the street, my Explorer seemed like a new fit and much more comfortable than my Hummer back in the desert. I also realized I could drive anywhere I wanted. I was free. What a feeling of relief! We can experience a similar freedom in our lives through our relationship in Christ. Jesus has freed us from the power of sin and death. We receive incredible liberty through the knowledge of God’s love and His benevolent acts of grace toward us. We breath a sigh of relief, knowing that our freedom leads to eternal life and greater commitment to Him. We are free in Christ!!!















Thursday, June 07, 2007

First Shot is Not Always a Hit

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)

It was a perfectly good windshield on a old pick up truck and everyone was eager to get a shot at it. The goal for the eight snipers was to see what type of deflection the windshield would have on the bullet. The Lieutenant was standing on the firing line explaining how we would all shoot at the same time. Ready, aim, fire, BANG, my weapon was the only one that splattered the windshield. It seems the LT was still in the process of explaining the commands. Not only was he very weak-kneed from being scared half to death by the unexpected shot, but he was very angry (so were the rest of my sniper compadres). Likewise, there are times we are quick to shoot off our mouth before we fully understand the situation. We need to listen carefully before we engage in speech, especially if we are angry. Once words are spoken, they can’t be retrieved.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Through the Storm, Not Always from the Storm

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

Have you ever noticed they don't put guys who are cold, wet, and hungry on recruiting posters? The fact of the matter is, as a soldier, sometime or another, you'll be all three (and probably all at the same time). That's the reality of being a soldier. The same is true for the Christian life. God does not promise a painless life but He does promise He'll get you through it. He will make a way through those tough circumstances. Our job is to endure and trust in Him as He guides us through the storm.

Monday, June 04, 2007

THE ANTIDOTE FOR DEPRESSION

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior (Psalm 42:5)

One of our greatest fears as soldiers is NBC (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare), especially the nerve agents. When we see the films of the poor goats exposed to agents and slowly twitch to death, it makes us very aware that this stuff is dangerous. But there is an antidote and if you inject yourself quick enough you'll survive. Depression can be like a nerve agent. It can begin to dim the senses and paralyze positive thinking. Putting our hope in God and His promises is the antidote to depression.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

SUNSET

‘In your anger do not sin’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

As a soldier I've been all over the world and I have seen a lot of awesome sunsets. Kuwait, California, Korea, The Carolinas, Egypt, Texas, Italy, Kentucky, all with their own beautiful sunsets. But they also have one other thing in common. We're not to let the Big Heat Tab in the Sky go down with our anger still simmering. That means dropping your ruck of frustration before BENT (Beginning Evening Nautical Twilight). Sunset mean letting it go.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

When We are Weak

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We were training with Navy SEALs at Coronado, California and the obstacle course was getting a work out. Seems a little competition was going on between commanders. We had four consecutive runs at the sandy torture chamber and it appeared no one was winning. By the fourth round of affliction, my comrades and I had hit muscle failure and were doing more bumbling and stumbling than running and climbing. We had become weak, a tough thing for a young Ranger to admit. Certainly, we all have felt weak at one time or another. We run the obstacle course of life and sometimes we just get plain smoked. There are times we feel so weak, we wonder if we can make it another day. This is when we really get to see the strength of Christ in us. Call on Him and He will give you the strength you need to press on. (Phil 4:13)

Friday, June 01, 2007

It’s the Little Things

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” (Luke 16:10)

Proud of myself and after much labor, I thought I had done a great job on making a new instructor assignment board. My Team Chief, a stickler for details, was quick to point out that the nametapes were not all the same length. A small detail that would certainly make the board look a lot better. He was instrumental in teaching me to pay attention to details. We also have to be very careful with the little things in our spiritual lives. We may start missing our weekly fellowship, or a daily devotion, or forget to pray. If we neglect these details, it hinders our fellowship with God. The smallest tasks may be the most important.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Flock

Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." (Luke 15:1-2)

I was setting up my pup tent in the “Dust Bowl” at the National Training Center when one of my young pious soldiers came to me with a look of distress. “Chaplain, how can you stand this place? I mean with all the dirt, and foul language and these…these guys…” So, I stopped and looked and listened to my soldiers around me. Hard working troops with uniforms stained with the odd mixture of camouflage, salt, sweat, and dust. The sight was mingled with the pinging of tent pegs and the sounds of joking, swearing, and complaining. I replied, “Looks and sounds like my mission field. And do you know what? Sooner or later the Love of God is going to break through and I want to be here when it does.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

GUARD DUTY

‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ (Matthew 5:27-28)

Purity Check! How are you doing in the area of lust? This temptation starts with the eyes, enters the mind and could end up in sin, either in thought or action. Our first line of defense is having a sentry at our eyes. The simple act of looking away can be a big help. ‘Halt, Who Goes There! Do Not Advance to Be Recognized.’ Stay Alert, Stay Vigilant.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dead or Alive

Say to them, `As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)

As Christian warriors, how should we respond to victories in battle? I think we can certainly rejoice that we have triumphed over evil. But, when we look at God's attitude about people dying for their wicked ways, we see He would rather they repent. Christ tells us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27). How do we actually practice that? I think a practical way is to pray for them. Here’s an example of a prayer for our enemies; ‘God help our enemies to turn from their destruction before it is too late. Help them to wisely choose Your ways rather then the ways of the wicked.’ God would rather have a person turn and live than continue in evil and perish.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Brand New

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10)

When I graduated from Basic Training I was a new person. I went from 17-year-old high school drop out, to being a soldier. A transformation had taken place and I would never be the same. I was a young rebellious kid who had been changed into a disciplined young man. I was brand new. As Christians, we have undergone a change as well. First, there is a spiritual change in our status with God. We have a new relationship with the Father through the righteousness of Christ. Then there are new adjustments in our actions. A soldier acts like a soldier. A Christian should act like Jesus Christ. There should be a definite transformation in us as we put our faith in Jesus. Live the New Life!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pay Back is a Medevac

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

We used to have a saying, ‘Pay Back is a Medevac.’ We would jokingly (and sometimes seriously) use this comeback when we had been slighted in some way or someone hurt one of our own. But, individual revenge is strictly off limits for Christians. We are commanded not to act as though we are judge, jury and executioner. We should leave the business of vengeance to God. There is no room for individual revenge in our Christian lives. However, before anyone relates this to the war on terrorism read Romans Chapter 13. Individual revenge? No. Governmental justice? Yes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When We Go Off

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (Proverbs 29:11)

I was standing on the hood of a M-151 Jeep exploding on my warriors who stood there looking sheepish. A section of my reconnaissance platoon had just crossed a wide-open danger area with no security measures. I was spitting flames when it dawned on me, ‘These guys know I'm a Christian and here I am cussing and swearing and peeling the paint off my jeep.’ Some may be quick to let me off the hook with, ‘You were a Platoon Sergeant, that's the way you're supposed to act’ or ‘That's the only language troops understand.’ But the scriptures say that a man who can’t control his anger is a fool. Control is demonstrated when we consciously choose our words and how they are delivered. So now, when I feel like blowing up, I don’t act like a dud. C4 - Check Fire, Calm Down, Control Words, Communicate Effectively.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

THE GOD WHO SEES ALL

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (PS 51:9-10)

Have you ever been so relaxed around your supervisor that you said or did something you later regretted? Once I was talking to the Battalion XO and complaining about an issue. As I left the room I thought about how immature and petty I had sounded and wished I had never said anything at all. I made myself look bad in my supervisor’s eyes. But, those were my real thoughts and attitudes about the issues and as immature as they were, it was the real me. We try to hide our weaknesses from others in order to appear more mature or noble then we really are. We can't do this with God. He sees and hears everything, even the things hidden deep in our hearts. I'm glad we don't have to fake it with God. He knows us to the bone and when we confess our shortcomings He's ready and willing to forgive.

Monday, May 21, 2007

INCOMING!

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

The second offensive weapon in the full armor of God is prayer. Prayer can be compared to modern day artillery. It's called for over the radio from afar and able to rain fire on the enemy. In spiritual warfare, prayer is our preparatory and sustained attack on the plans of the enemy and allows us to participate in the work of God. I wonder how much has been accomplished in these last days by a nation united in prayer. Much more than we'll ever know.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Weapon Proficiency

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:11, 17b)

The Word of God is compared to the weapon of the day, the sword. Today it can be compared to the rifle of the modern soldier. It takes familiarization, training and practice to become proficient with an individual weapon. I remember doing blindfolded assembly and disassembly, shooting from different stances in bad weather and at night, even firing with a gas mask on. We as Christians need to be just as serious in being proficient with our weapon, the Scriptures. We should read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Word of God. Let me take this opportunity to encourage you to read your Bible daily and begin memorizing some key passage of scripture.

Today is the 100th post of SWORDPOINT!
Pass it on to a friend.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Put on your K-pot

Take the helmet of salvation... (Ephesians 6:17)

In 4-64 Armor at Fort Stewart, we had a display case in the battalion headquarters. There were many artifacts from Desert Storm and one of the most interesting was a Kevlar helmet. It had been worn by a young Private First Class who is certainly counting his blessings everyday. The Kevlar bears the scars of a 7.62, AK-47 bullet. The helmet saved his life. That's a great description of the ‘helmet of Salvation.’ It's an eternal lifesaver and the scars it bears are those inflicted on the Lord Jesus at the cross.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bullet Stopper

...in addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)

As I read Blackhawk Down, I was struck by the incredible punishment the Ranger convoy endured as it roamed the streets of Mogadishu. The lost string of vehicles became great sport for their enemy as both men and machine were riddled with bullets. One of the Rangers noted that it looked as though the sun was poking holes in the Humvee door. What a terrifying experience! In the same way, our everyday lives are just as penetrable as our spiritual enemy tries to take us out. Without protection, we can be riddled with unholy holes. We try to duck behind our own strength or wisdom for protection, but the flaming missiles of the evil one streak through it all. God is our only shield and our trust in Him deflects the enemy’s projectiles. By faith, we hunker down behind His love and promises and we are protected. Take Cover Behind Jesus!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Intentionality in Ministry (Part 3)

LPCs

...and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

As a young infantryman in training the Drill Sergeant kept saying to us, ‘We'll be traveling by LPCs today.’ We always expected some vehicle to pick us up and take us to our destination. Invariably, we would end up walking everywhere we went. Then we figured it out. LPC stood for Leather Personnel Carrier, boots! The soldier’s feet are one of his greatest assets and must be protected with properly fitted boots. They protect the feet of those on the go. Jesus commanded us to ‘Go.’ In Matthew 28:19, He says, ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples...’ We are called to a mission. And, as we are going, part of our protection and presentation is the Gospel. Think about that for a few minutes. There's protection in presenting Jesus Christ and bringing peace into other's lives. Lace up those boots!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Put On Your Body Armor

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place... (Ephesians 6:13-14)

Sometimes during PT we run in our body armor to add weight and make running a little more challenging. Once PT is done, we can drop that heavy armor in the closet. When we are deployed, however, we wear it 24/7 because if lead starts flying we want to have it on. For the believer, our body armor is RIGHTEOUSNESS. Not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ. It's issued to us at spiritual birth. This spiritual flack vest is put on by acknowledging the fact that our good deeds don't cut it. If we begin to think that somehow our good works make us more acceptable to God, the spiritual shrapnel of Satan's accusations begin to wound us. We need Christ to protect us with His holiness. Nothing can penetrate the Righteousness of Christ. Keep your spiritual body armor on.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Truth Based Faith

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. (Ephesians 6:14a)

I was confronted with this question, ‘If I could prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus never existed, would you believe it?’ Without a second's hesitation I responded, ‘Yes.’ My challenger was dumbfounded and stood there with his mouth open. When he regained his wits he replied, ‘You are the first Christian I've met who has ever responded that way.’ Obviously, he'd been setting up trip wires for Christians for some time. I then explained that my faith was based on evidence gathered from the scripture, history, science, and my experiences in life. I told him I was pursuing the truth, not a fairy tale. Both he and I knew he could not disprove the existence of Christ. He was testing my foundation for faith. We seek the truth. Jesus said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.’ (John 14:6)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Safety First?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

We were rushing down the runway at Ft. Benning in a C-141 and settling in for the long flight to Ft. Bliss, Texas. We had grown so comfortable with our frequent trips to the desert that we ignored some of the basic safety precautions. Then suddenly there was deafening explosion. I jumped as though a bolt of lightning had struck me. A portion of the engine housing had ripped off. Now things like putting on a helmet and rolling down sleeves didn't seem so trivial. Both were done in seconds, but precious seconds that were only given by the grace of God. We made a safe emergency landing at a nearby airport. Seconds. That's all it takes. In the spiritual realm the unprepared trooper can have his or her life suddenly and irrevocably changed by a bad decision that the tempter has initiated. Be prepared. Put on the full armor of God.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don’t Give Up on Them

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

Failure is a tough part of life. I tried for the Expert Infantrymen's Badge (EIB) seven times and failed seven times. I was always the honor graduate in everything I did but for some reason I would always bolo the EIB. I knew I wouldn’t quit until I conquered it and others assisted me as well. My Chain of Command could have said, “Wood, you've wasted enough time on this. Face it, you’ll never be good enough.” However, they stuck by me. They encouraged me and allowed me to train year after year. We also fail in our spiritual lives. Our brothers and sisters fail too. Our job is to encourage and lift up, not to discard or ignore. It takes support and encouragement to restore the fallen and the goal should always be restoration. By the way, on my eighth try I finally received my EIB.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You Struggle with that Too?

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

One of the things I found unique in Ranger School was that everyone was the same. Although there were officers and enlisted in the course, we wore no rank and were forbidden to even mention it. Everyone carried a heavy rucksack. Everyone had their turn at carrying the radio and the M60 machinegun. And most importantly, EVERYONE was evaluated on leadership and followership. Everyone experienced the same thing. Much like it is in the Christian life. We all experience temptation and we all have the means by which to escape it. Jesus makes sure of that. He gives a way for success. The question is, are we willing to take it? Pop Smoke and Break Contact!

Intentional Ministry (Part 1)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Worthless?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)

In the Army we find it too easy to say, ‘This is worthless.’ MRE toilet paper when it's wet is worthless. A dud grenade, old chemlights, and a protective mask with no filter are all worthless. If you were around for the Gamagoat (6 wheel utility truck), we said it was worthless. But, one thing we should never call worthless is another human being. You and I are worth a great deal in the eyes of God. He proved it by sending His Son to pay the ultimate price for our salvation. He counts us as worthy of His priceless sacrifice on the cross. To God, you and I are His most valued creation.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A BOOK BY ITS COVER?

But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’ (1 Samuel 16:7)

He was a short, skinny, scarecrow-looking kind of man. He wore army issue coke bottle glasses and spoke in gentle tones. He was my first supervising Chaplain and I was not impressed. But I soon found out there was more to the man than met the eye. He was a runner, sometimes 20 miles a day. He’d served as the 2nd Ranger Battalion’s Chaplain with great effectiveness. And when we went to the National Training Center I saw the lion in him come out. He was as tough as any other soldier in the Brigade. But what impressed me most was his heart. As a brand new Chaplain, I found myself in very interesting circumstances. Every time I called him on the phone, I would no sooner hang up, and he was right there to coach me through the situation. Looks are deceiving. It’s the heart that counts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Supply Sergeant

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15)

If you have been in the Army for more than a month you have met the supply sergeant. Supply sergeants have been stereotyped as greedy, stingy, beady-eyed bean counters that always say ‘NO.’ But that hasn’t been my experience. In fact, I’ve found them to be pretty generous. Most of them look for a way to provide above and beyond (except the one time as a private I was sent to supply to get a box of grid squares). Maybe I’ve just been blessed with folks who understand how to take care of soldiers. God operates the same way. He is always ready and willing to provide the things we need and even a lot of the things we want. If we don’t receive what we request, then we can rest assure there is a very good reason for it. It never hurts to ask.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Navigating Life

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5)

I was just a young private in Basic Training and a topographical map was thrust in my face. It just looked like green and brown spaghetti to me. The instructor was spitting out information like a machine gun and I was lost before I even got started. Then they showed me a compass and explained how to use it. He said, “using the degrees on the compass, determine your direction and look for a fixed object. Move to it without deviating right or left.” I’m a simple guy and that sounded good to me. This works in our spiritual lives as well. We exchange our own ideas for the values found in the Bible, that's our compass and map. As we begin to trust God’s principles as fixed markers for navigational aids in life, that's our known terrain features. And our final destination, to be like Jesus. Now that's some simple navigation.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

STUMBLING IN DARKNESS

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Once as a Ranger Instructor I was with a patrol that was moving very quickly through the woods at night. As we glided down the trail in pitch-black conditions I thought to myself, ‘These students really want to get to that patrol base and get some sleep.’ Then there was a problem. We got off the trail and the point man maintained the same speed as previous. Suddenly ranger students were cracking their shins on logs and being whipped in the face by swinging branches, a very painful night movement. Come to find out the point man was using an infrared flashlight and night vision goggles. He could see the light and the obstacles through the NVGs but no one else could. Sometimes as Christians that’s how we lead others, leaving them to stumble in the darkness of mystery as we glide by most of life’s obstacles. Share the light of Jesus!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Master’s OP ORDER

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)

In all my days of soldiering I must have heard hundreds of Operations Orders. The details of the plan were always meticulously spoken to soldiers ready and willing to carry out their mission. But, we also have a saying, ‘No OP ORDER ever survives the first round fired.’ In other words, as much as we think, prepare, and plan, there are too many unknowns, too many things that can go wrong. The plan usually ends up being salvaged with contingencies and ingenuity. There is no such problem when it comes to the Master's plan. There are no surprises for God. He is able to plan the intricate patterns of our lives with certainty. This can give us great confidence as we consider His great competence in guiding our lives. Charlie Mike in Jesus!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Never the Same

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

In August of 1977, I was standing on the parade field at FT. Jackson, SC, and had just graduated Basic Training. Eight weeks of Drill Sergeants and pushups and I made it. I became a soldier and I would never be the same. Two years later, I gave my life to Christ. I submitted my life to His authority, asked Him to forgive me for all my shortcomings, and committed myself to follow Him for the rest of my life. At that point, I became a Christian (a Christ-like one) and since that day, I have never been the same.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stand in the Door!

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)

I remember the first time I heard these words, ‘Stand in the Door.’ I was jumping out of a little mock-up of a C-130 that was only a 2-foot jump into a sawdust pit. But three weeks later I heard those words from the Jumpmaster over the roar of a real C-130 at 1500 ft. Exiting the real door took a little more faith but I had gone through a process of training and it prepared me for the moment. I stood in the door of the aircraft and leaped into the prop-blast with skill and confidence. God has also asked us to pass through certain doors in our lives. Some doors are simple and others are very challenging. But, we must press through them nonetheless. Can you hear Jesus? He says 'Stand in the Door.' He has given us the command to 'Go.' Stand in the door and take that leap of faith!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Total Confidence

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20-21)

As an instructor at the Air Assault School we would teach soldiers how to rappel from helicopters. Having to practice what we taught, the instructors would always demonstrate the rappel first. About 100 feet above the ground, we would hang out over the edge of the helo and leap backwards into ‘the wild blue yonder.’ We did it hundreds of times. It didn’t take long to gain total confidence in our equipment and technique for descending down the long rope to the ground. It became second nature. That's where Jesus wants us. To trust in Him completely. To have total confidence in Him. The more we walk with Him, the more our trust in Him can become second nature. ON RAPPEL!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Drop Rucks!

So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. (Acts 24:16)

A rucksack (military backpack) was my main mode of moving supplies for 18 years. In the light infantry, what I owned was on my back. At times my ruck would weigh over 100 pounds. The weight would cause the straps to gouge into my shoulders mile after mile. After I finally stopped and received the command to drop rucks, I would release the cumbersome load and feel as light as a feather. That's the same kind of feeling we can get when we clear our conscience. When our souls are burdened with a heavy load of guilt, we should repent and ask for forgiveness from God and others. So, through in blood and name of Jesus, "Drop Rucks!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Battle for My Soul

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

As soldiers we should identify with the metaphor of warfare. We learn about our enemy's weapons and tactics. We train hard and long to defeat our foes. Yet, there is another war being waged. A spiritual war, a war for our souls. How well do we know our spiritual enemy's weapons and tactics? Do we realize the battle is won or lost with our daily choices? How hard do we train to resist temptation when it comes our way? Guard the spiritual fronts of your life. Be ever vigilant in prayer and resist the desires that would lead you astray. Fight the good fight.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Humble vs Humbled

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:5-6)

I think one of the hardest character traits to secure is humility. In the military, we are taught to be proud of who we are and what we do. That's a good thing. But when it leads to arrogance and disrespect we find ourselves crossing the line and getting into trouble (not only with men, but with God). It gets tougher too. The more experience and skill we acquire, the more unteachable and hardened we can become. We need to remember this; when we become stubborn and arrogant, we stop learning and set ourselves up for God’s discipline. It’s our choice. We can either humble ourselves or let God adjust our attitude. We're good, real good, but not perfect. Better to be humble than to be humbled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fishing Buddies Make All the Difference

Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch." So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. (John 21:3-6)

We all know that fishing is a sport of skill, technique and patience. But fishing can also be a matter of who you take along on the fishing trip. I had a friend name Bart and he was an expert fisherman. He knew exactly where the fish would be biting. If you went fishing with him, you were sure to catch something. The disciples were expert fishermen and yet on this day they caught nothing. Jesus yells from the shore, “Cast your nets on the other side.” One word of advice from the Master made all the difference in the world. I don’t think Jesus was as interested in them catching the fish as He was demonstrating that He was the best one to take on the fishing trips. And it was fishing for men not fish that was the real point of His object lesson. Are you praying that Jesus will help you fish for men as you are sharing your faith?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Backing it Up

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

We've all met them. They're legends in their own minds. They brag and tell war stories and yet when it comes to doing the real tough stuff, they're not around. I went through Ranger school with one such hero. A sergeant who had “been there and done that.” We caught the guy several times weaseling out of the hardships we all shared. His actions did not match his words. As Christians our actions are our greatest credentials. The words merely explain our actions. Live Like Jesus, Love Like Jesus!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

TO KNOW AND ACCOMPLISH THE MISSION

Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)

What would you think of a soldier who was told to assault hilltop 526 and instead went to the beach to go swimming. What? Doesn't make very high marks in your book? In fact you'd have a few choice words for such dereliction of duty. Well Christ has given us a mission: Make Disciples. But first, we must be a disciple (loyal follower, committed student). Before we can make a disciple we must be one. Then we can help someone else become a disciple. Are you following the orders of the Great Commander and Chief?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Giving Always Returns

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)


When I deployed to Kuwait I knew to bring lots of 100mph tape and 550 (parachute) cord. Every good infantryman has learned that these two items are essential in the field. But I also had the advantage of having good intel from my brother, Mike, who had deployed on the rotation before me. He told me to bring basic tools and lots of nails. Then I instructed my Chaplain Assistant that if any one asked for any of these items, give them freely. By the second week of the 4 month deployment we were out of most of our precious supplies and only had a few nails left. My Assistant was a bit concerned that we hadn't saved more of these things for ourselves. Then I reminded him of this spiritual law, ‘whoever sows generously will also reap generously.’ And sure enough it happened. Everyone wanted to square away the chaplain by giving us things that made the deployment a little easier. We always received what we needed and more. Give to those around you and those who are in need. It will return.

Friday, April 06, 2007

In Plain View

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)

As a sniper in the Ranger Battalion half my job was shooting and the other was hiding. We had specially designed suits and received extra training in camouflage to ensure maximum stealth. I must say we were pretty hard to find. During one training exercise in Yakima, Washington, we had at least a platoon looking for us all day. Even though they walked and drove by us several times, they never saw a thing. But, one thing is sure with God, you can't hide. He sees everything and even understands the motives behind our actions. This is some great motivation for living our lives as though we were always in plain view.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We Got it Good

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:3)

Sometimes it's good to get a reality check. I can remember as an enlisted guy driving my brand new car and wondering whether I should re-enlist for a $3000, $6000, or $10,000 bonus. Then all of a sudden it struck me, ‘What other army in the world has enlisted soldiers being confronted with such a quandary?’ When I consider how good I really have it, I am humbled and convicted by some of the petty things I complain about. We should also consider Christ and His sufferings. All His sufferings have worked out to benefit us. Good things to think about when we are tempted to snivel.

Friday, March 30, 2007

No Fear

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

When my family and I traveled through Egypt we were a little nervous. You know traveling through a Middle Eastern country these days can cause any American family (especially a military family) a little fear. But, Egypt has more security than you can shake a stick at. There's a soldier with an AK-47 rifle on every corner. We had a plain clothed Secret Serviceman with us almost everywhere we went. After evaluating their vigilance, I still wasn't sure a dedicated terrorist couldn't sneak by their security. Then I thought about God's security. Whose intentions can go unnoticed by Him? Who can overcome His defensive plan? No One! With Him as our security there is truly “No Fear.”

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sticking Out Like a Swore Thumb

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is… His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Our family had a chance to vacation in Egypt with some friends. You can bet we practiced as many force protection measures as possible. But try as we may to look like tourist, our hair cuts, the way we walked, and the terms we used would give us away as American military. It should be just as easy to identify us as followers of Jesus. The way we act, talk, and carry ourselves should be a dead give away that we are not like the world around us. We need to check our motivations and attitudes to see if we have really been transformed. Do we really stand up and stand out for Christ!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Recruiter Told Me…

Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

I've always liked the Marines slogan, 'We're looking for a few good men.' And I've always liked the way the Marines recruit. They don't pull any punches. They don't advertise their college benefits, travel opportunities, or skills for a future job. They simply give it to you straight. If you want to be a US Marine you need to first and foremost want to be a warrior. I think that is exactly what Jesus did in His recruiting. He didn't promise a life of ease or riches. Instead, He challenges us to live a life of sacrifice and endurance. He advocates a life that is sold out for His objective to share the gospel with all the nations. Who wants to sign up?

Pass this on to another warrior who wants to follow Jesus!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Needs vs Wants

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

I was talking to a young sergeant a while back who was worried about his next assignment. Turns out he got exactly the opposite of what he wanted. He wanted East Coast, he got West. He wanted TOE, he got TDA. I encouraged him to continue to pray and work the system but I also told him God will ultimately chose his next assignment. God does give us our 'wants' but He is more interested in meeting our 'needs'. Sometimes the very place or thing we don't want turns out to be what we needed most. God is our real Branch Manager and He is willing and able to meet our needs.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Compass for the Heart

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9, 11)


One of the keys to land navigation is to trust your compass. I can't count the number of times I've traveled through thick vegetation in the blackness of night and wondered, “how lost am I, really?” But, in the end, following the luminous dial on my lensatic compass, led me to my destination. My compass kept me from wondering off course (where I could have found myself in a heap of trouble). The Bible is our spiritual compass. It points our heart in the right direction no matter what temptations may try to pull us to the one way or another. We need to read it and follow it. The Word of God will guide us in the straight and narrow way and to our final destination, being like Jesus.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Loyalty

Men of Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty… (1 Chronicles 12:33)


Loyalty is one of our most prized values but different things can ambush relationships. We can be put in circumstances where commitments to one another are tested. Things like misunderstandings, unresolved conflict, or petty jealousies can rip us apart. Sometimes people want us to cross over to the other side by joining in on gossip. And you know what? There are times, in our weakness, we give in to saying or doing something against the ones we love the most. Commanders, peers, parishioners, friends, and family all deserve our faithfulness. My prayer for you and I is that we will recognize the ambush and steer clear. Be true to the people around you.

The Wood Family

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Connect the Dots

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)


This morning Jeff Struecker (Famed Ranger from “Blackhawk Down” and now Chaplain at the RTB) gave me the opportunity to share my testimony with 150 young Rangers. I shared how I could look back and “connect the dots” of God’s plan for my life and how faithful Jesus had been to guide me through the years even as a young unbeliever in the Mountain Phase of Ranger School. It was there I started reading the Bible for the first time. Later I would return to same location and preach my first sermon as a E5 Platoon Sergeant playing opposing force against the ranger students. After a few years I was assigned to Dahlonega as a Ranger Instructor, where Jesus used Debbie and I to minister to military, collegiate, and the community. It was in those same mountains that I received my call to be an Army Chaplain and would later serve as the Ranger Training Brigade Chaplain and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with thousands of ranger students over the course of three years. And this morning, at the crack of dawn, Jeff Struecker and I presented Jesus to the men I love dearly, once again. God has a plan indeed! The first part of His plan is to begin following His Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord. To know Him, serve Him and walk as He walked (1 Jn 2.6). The Second is to make Him known to those around you (Mt 4.19). Let’s get cracking at His great plan for our lives.

May I recommend Jeff’s new book: The Road to Unafraid





Just a small side note: Ranger Coleman, one of the men at the service this morning said as he was leaving, "Thanks for starting SWORDPOINT up again!" He's welcome and you're welcome. And I thank you for your support. Pass this on to some other warrior who needs to hear about Jesus.

Friday, March 23, 2007

True Strength

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Being in the military is a young man's game. We walk, run, march, throw, lift, push, carry, and drag. You have to be in good shape at all times. Units take a lot of pride in their physical fitness. We can get so physically strong we almost start feeling like there's nothing we can't do. Then life slaps us around and we come to grips with our mortality. We face challenges that stretch us to the point of failure, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually too. It’s then that we find our true strength is in Jesus Christ. He gives us strength beyond our own. Call upon the Lord. He will renew your strength.'

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Clueless?

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12)

I was talking to an ederly lady on a flight home during Christmas leave years ago. As we discussed her grandchildren and other things, she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was an Airborne Ranger. Her response was typical for those who know nothing about the military, ‘Oh, that's good. We need people to take care of our forests and animals.’ This nice lady didn't have a clue. It's the same with the world. When it comes to spiritual things, they just don't get it. But we should! As believers in Christ, we have the Spirit of God within us and we should know better. Live what you know!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

To Cross

‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

I've built a lot of rope bridges and most of them were near an existing bridge or a fallen log. It was all good training but it looked pretty ridiculous building a rope bridge next to a perfectly good concrete bridge 100 meters away. You can bet in a real situation we wouldn't stop to build a bridge if the other was secure. The objective is to get to the other side. It’s the same in our spiritual life. If Jesus has already made the bridge, the work has already been done and we simply walk across in faith. We cross at the Cross.

Monday, March 19, 2007

LIFE SAVERS

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)

A good friend of mine, Major Rusty Rowe, saved another soldier from drowning. For his act of selfless service and courage, he has been recommended for the Soldier's Medal. Two soldiers were swimming during riptide conditions and one could not make it back to shore without help. So Doc Rowe swam out and brought the young soldier back to shore. He saved her. In the same way, we are drowning in our sin and there is no way we can make it to Heaven through our own efforts. It's Jesus who, in the depths of our despair, has made His way out to us and rescued us through His work on the cross.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A KNOCK AT THE DOOR

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

When I attended Recondo School at Ft Bragg, I was a young E4. At the end of the three-week course there was a board for Distinguished Honor Graduate. As we went into the small Quonset hut we had to knock on the door before we entered. I was last to appear before the board. I knocked on the door so hard the window pains cracked and they yelled, ‘Come In.’ I entered and slammed the door behind me insuring it would need future repairs. As I saluted the All Special Forces panel their eyes gleamed and they all had a halfcocked smile. Later, I was informed that it was my knock at the door that persuaded the board to award me the top position and not my correct answers on patrolling. God is beating on the door. All you have to do is say, ‘Come In.’

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

POW/MIA

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

American Veterans are passionate about POW/MIAs. You see the black and white flag flying all over our nation. Even over some State capitals. We want to bring our own home and we won't give up. Some are still wearing red bracelets for the missing from the Vietnam War some thirty years later. This is so important to us, that we are willing to spend millions to recover the remains of our fallen comrades. God feels even stronger about His own. We are POW/MIAs in this world. He has gone to great efforts through the sacrifice of His Son to find us and bring us home.

Application: Do you know a spiritual POW/MIA? Why not send them SWORDPOINT or some other devotional. Invite them to your church or Bible study. You'd be amazed how Jesus can use these simple acts of kindness.