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.


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


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

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


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.