Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Temporary Blindness

"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked him. The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see." Mark 10:51

It was my second jump in Airborne School and I couldn’t see a thing. Shortly after I exited the aircraft I was enveloped in green nylon. I had collided with a fellow jumper’s canopy. I frantically looked about me only to be totally blindfolded by parachute. Suddenly I popped out and I could see again. I quickly slipped away and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Most of us have the blessing of sight but there are occasions when we are struck with a temporary spiritual blindness. We fail to see God’s hand in the tough times or we are tempted and walk in darkness. We lose our way as we begin to doubt, groping in discouragement. The remedy for this temporary blindness is to turn to Christ to open our spiritual eyes. As the song says “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (Helen H. Lemmel)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Standing Ready

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Before I joined the Army I thought that soldiers woke up when reveille was played. I would soon find out that I would wake up long before the 0600 bugle call. Normally, we had already conducted first call and an accountability formation prior to hearing the first note. Then we stood quietly in formation at Parade Rest ready to be brought to attention and render the proper honors to our Nation’s Colors as they rose for the day and the playing of reveille. We weren’t getting out of bed that time; we were up, alert, and prepared for the call. Another bugle call we need to be ready for is the trumpet call of God. Jesus taught many parables in which He exhorts us to be ready and alert for the time of His second coming and the gathering of His people (Matthew 24-25). Stand Ready.

If you’d like to here reveille, go to the following link;

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Soldier On

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
2 Timothy 4:7

I was standing next the Commander of our MLRS Battery who had received orders to aim his missiles at Iraq. The troops stood before me, their chaplain, wide eyed and prepared to perform their mission. They asked me to offer prayers for God’s protection and guidance. Operation Desert Fox had begun. Just another response to Sadaam’s defiance since the First Gulf War. And later a Second Gulf War after another round of failed diplomacy. A soldier’s work is never done. And our spiritual soldiering is never done. Day after day, month after month, we are in a fight between the forces of good and evil. Are you in the fight or have you become a POW or WIA? Are you proficient with your weapon (the Bible) or are you struggling to aim it right? Let me encourage you, soldier on for Jesus! SP247

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mighty Warrior?

Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior."
Judges 6:11b-12

If the truth be know, Gideon was hiding. He was beating out wheat on the inside of a wine press (which is not the prescribe way to perform this very dusty job) and trying to keep out of sight of the Midianites. Then the angel of the LORD shows up and addresses Gideon as “mighty warrior." I can just see Gideon, “Who me?” Gideon did not see himself as a warrior let alone a mighty one. But God sees him in all his potential. He knew Gideon better then the man knew himself. How do we see ourselves? Sometimes a little reluctant, maybe fearful or nervous about the future? Well let me assure you that God sees our fullest potential. And why shouldn’t He? With all His power and might behind us, we really can’t fail. Has God asked you to do something you’re hesitant about? Trust Him and move out, He sees the mighty warrior within you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Connect the Dots

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11

I helped one of my fellow Ranger Instructors grow in his relationship with Christ in Dahlonega, GA. He in turn helped a cadet at North Georgia College who, 15 years later, became an instructor at West Point. Some very close friends of ours from Ft. Stewart, GA sent their son to West Point and was discipled by that instructor. Small world? How about this? The man who discipled me at Ft Campbell, KY had a son who joined the Air Force 17 years later. The son just happened to be stationed at an Air Force Base near the seminary I was attending in Phoenix, AZ and I discipled him. Coincidence? No way. I believe God has a plan and it is intricately woven through our lives to accomplish His will. Occasionally, God lets us “connect the dots” and encourages us as we survey His handiwork. Contemplate His awesome sovereignty and take comfort in His grand design. SP244

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

High Speed

In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52

The 12-mile road march in less than 2 hours, that’s pretty high speed. Running the 2 miler with a sub-eleven time, that’s pretty high speed. Disassembly and assembly of the M4 rifle in less than 30 seconds, that’s pretty high speed. In the military we label people and things that are fast and proficient, High Speed. But nothing is going to be more high speed than our resurrection or rapture at the second coming of Christ. Jesus tells us “no one knows the day or the hour” (Mat 24:36), so no one knows the exact time He will return. I’ll never make predictions but, I do know this, He’s coming back and when He does, it’ll be quick, fast, and in a hurry! That’s High Speed. Are you ready?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Taking Care of Your Own

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10

I got the grand tour of the USS Enterprise, one of America’s finest weapon platforms. My fellow Navy Chaplain gave my family and I a four-hour walk about that even included eating lunch with the sailors. By the time we left, we had a pretty good understanding of the “Big E” and her capabilities. As we departed for the shore, I discovered others who were a little less enthusiastic about their tour of the aircraft carrier. They didn’t have a personal tour guide and were confined to the flight deck and the hanger one deck below. I listened to their disappointment and I realized the great benefits of my relationship with my fellow chaplain. It’s like the advantage we have as Christians. We belong to the family of believers. Certainly, we should take care of all people but we are also encouraged to give special priority to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are the family of God, look out for one another. SP242

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Fallen Messenger

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

The S3 and I were wandering through the rows and rows of crosses in the American Cemetery in Tunisia. These hollowed grounds honored the fallen warriors of the North African Campaign during WWII. We were awe struck as we walked. Suddenly, in mid-flight, a pigeon died and plopped at the feet of the S3. She was already feeling a little creepy walking among the dead and this pushed over the edge. She turned to me with a look of astonishment and she was white as a sheet. She asked, “Chaplain, is this a sign?” I responded, “Yes, it’s a sign that God loves you.” I explained the passage about the sparrows and how much more God loves us than the birds. The cemetery was full of fallen messengers saying, “I paid the price for your freedom, live worthy.” However, the bird was a fallen messenger who reminds us “Even though you do not live worthy, God still loves you and paid the price for your freedom anyways.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Next Generation

Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Psalms 71:18

The Colonel and I were talking to some brand new Lieutenants and they were thanking us for the investments we had made in the Army. It was quite clear that we looked look ancient to these guys. I felt like a cowboy riding off into the sunset before the sun had really set. We were very honored that they would say such a thing, but I also realized my time is almost up. Even in the twilight of my career, I wanted to invest in young soldiers. Now comes the more important questions; Am I investing in the next generation of Christianity. Am I mentoring a younger man or woman in Christ. Am I taking the riches of God’s blessings and passing them on to another. I believe this is exactly what Jesus commands us to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). What a treasure! One day when we are “old and gray” the next generation will thank us for helping them become like Jesus. SP230

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Be on the Alert!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

I stepped quietly over the frost covered sleeping bags to get to the 155-artillery piece. The occupants of the frozen cocoons were happily enjoying their dream world as their sneaky enemy placed “Destroyed by Rock Force” stickers all over their equipment. I easily slipped in and out without a challenge because no one was on their guard. The cost the next morning was probably nothing more than a little embarrassment, but could you imagine the consequences in a real war? We are in real combat everyday, spiritual combat. The enemy is constantly trying to sneak through our moral defenses by enticement and temptation. He is waiting for us to doze off mentally and then sneak through our principles and values. If we are not on our guard, we won’t even see it coming. In the spiritual fight, we cannot afford to be a sleep and allow Satan to sabotage our daily choices and our walk with Christ. Be on the alert! SP239

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Looking Back

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62

The wooden board was pre-cut so that it would break easily over my back. It was a stunt we had pulled many times in our hand-to-hand combat demonstrations. As long as the aggressor struck me across the meaty upper-back, the most I would feel was a little sting. During this particular demo, my pugilistic partner was late with the anticipated blow. I looked over my shoulder and WHACK, the board broke as planned but the jagged edge put a nice gash in my chin. As the blood flowed, I realized it was a big mistake to look back. Can we make the same mistake spiritually? In our walk with Christ we can be tempted to look back. We may desire the lifestyle of the past or be unable to let go of previous sins committed. We could be resting on old laurels or just unwilling to face the future. In any case, looking back keeps us from moving forward and can be a potential danger to our spiritual journey. Eyes Front! SP238

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Your Six is Covered

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 58:8

Many spiritual parallels have been drawn from the pointman, but what about the warrior pulling rear security? Can’t the enemy sneak around and attack from our 6 o’clock just as easily as the 12? In fact, many times the enemy prefers to attack from the rear because our defensive posture focuses little attention in that area. But, God has not forgotten our vulnerabilities. He is alert to the deceptive tactics of the enemy. He provides 360 degrees of security. He’s got your six. SP237

Monday, April 14, 2008

Grappling with God

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." Genesis 32:28

I knew from my buddies in the Ranger Battalion that hand to hand combat training was the one of the worst gauntlets in Ranger School. At the time, hand to hand was responsible for most of the casualties and medical drops. I had visions of a 7-foot, 250 lb, freak of nature tossing me around the pit like a rag doll. I prayed for a ranger buddy my own size. Not so with an Old Testament guy named Jacob. The Bible says that he wrestled with God and held on until He blessed him. What tenacity! But, why would Ranger Jacob get into the hand to hand pit with God and better yet, why would God let Him win? It was all about a blessing. Jacob wanted God’s benevolent fingerprints all over his life. And God was pleased accommodate him. In a sense, I wrestle with God everyday in my morning prayers. I’m asking Him to bless my family, my ministry, and YOU. SP236

Saturday, April 05, 2008

On Vacation

Deb and I will be on vacation for the next week. Praying for you as we get some needed R&R. In the mean time, keep serving Jesus with all your might and let someone know about SWORDPOINT.

God Wants Something New

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 can remember when God was just starting my calling to be a chaplain. I couldn’t believe that He actually wanted me to get out of the Army with 12.5 years invested in a career. I was good at it and smokin’ through the ranks. And, I was only 7 years left to retirement! I had no idea how we would pay for school and put food on the table. What about our boys, one was two years old and the other two months. What was I thinking? This was a tremendous risk. But, God was at work. He was doing something new and I needed approach things in a completely new way. I had to renew my faith in Christ. When I finally committed to His call, He provided a place to live (rent free), friends supported us as we went to school, and I started receiving scholarships and grants. The rest is history, I became a chaplain. It may not be as radical as my calling, but God wants to do a new work in all of us. Are you ready and willing? Are you a new wineskin? SP235

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Assignment I Never Wanted

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." Genesis 28:16

“Do you like hunting and fishing?” Oh no, I knew what was next, the Mountain Ranger Camp. I just told the CSM that I wanted to go to the Florida Camp or stay at Ft. Benning. I had scoped this out and had no desire to be stuck in the back woods of Dahlonega or out in the desert at Ft. Bliss. “Well Wood, I need you in the mountains because they run the desert phase too and they need folks bad.” I agonized in my mind, “What? The two places I didn’t want and I get them both!” I spent the next five years there and it was one of the most rewarding times of my life. My sons were born there and my wife graduated from NGC. I was leading three separate Bible studies and it was an incredible time of ministry. We made lifelong friends in that place. I received my calling to be a chaplain in those mountains. I saw God work like never before. Sometimes we experience God’s powerful hand in the most unexpected places. SP234

CSM - Command Sergeant Major
NGC - North Georgia College

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Things that Entangle

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1

The strong currents put so much pressure on the nylon rope, it felt like I was pulling a dump truck across the river. I was responsible for getting the lead end of the rope bridge tied to a sturdy tree on the far side. Running out of strength, I got a bright idea. I starting turning in a circle allowing the rope to wrap around my body act like a human wench. Before long I realized I had made a big mistake. The rope was getting tighter and tighter with every turn. It felt like I was being strangled by Boa Constrictor and I strained tremendously to even breathe. This was a bad idea. Sin is an awful lot like that. At first we may think it’s good idea, but as we become entangled it starts to squeeze the life out of us. We begin to strain for spiritual breath and slowly but surely, we lose consciousness of our Creator. Be careful, don’t get wrapped up in things that will damage you and your fellowship with Jesus. SP233