Friday, April 27, 2007


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


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


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.