Saturday, May 31, 2008

Knowing it by 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

There are a bunch of things I’ve memorized in my years in the Army; General Orders, Ranger Creed, SALUTE Report, METT-T, and the list goes on and on. Usually, the things that I’ve memorized have been associated with the basics and fundamentals of being a soldier. These are principles and procedures that guide the daily execution of duties. I must say it took discipline to memorize but it does pay off in the end. I’ve also practiced this discipline in my Christian life. I have what I call a “Basic Load” of verses that assist me in my daily walk with God. I am amazed at how often these verses fit the situations of resisting temptations, ministering to others, and enjoying the abundant blessings of God. Need some ammo for living the Christian life? Lock and load a few verses in your heart. SP274

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Price of Unbelief

The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked… [However] not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. Numbers 14:20, 23

“I just joined for the college money.” “I needed a job, I didn’t think I’d ever have to go to war.” “I don’t mind the Army, I just don’t like this shooting stuff.” Real statements I’ve heard from individuals wanting out of the Army. They wanted the privileges but were unwilling to assume the responsibilities of being a soldier. The Children of Israel pulled the same stunt. The Lord rescued them and was bringing them to the Promised Land. But the people balked because they were afraid and didn’t trust God. The Lord was angry so Moses interceded on their behalf. God did forgive them but He also promised they would never see His blessing. God would give the land of milk and honey to the next generation. We can forfeit blessings when we simply settle for His forgiveness and don’t trust and obey His will. Of course God wants to give us grace and mercy, but He is also building His Kingdom. Trust Him and march forward. SP272

The Rest of the Story: Numbers 13:1-14:25

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Growing Rich and Green

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:2-3

One of the common experiences of Ranger students is to suddenly realize the beauty of the Dahlonega Mountains (unless of course you were a winter Ranger). In a state of emaciation and severe suffering, I found myself walking through a blanket of ankle high ferns with the clearest creek babble next to me and the sun rays piercing the lush leafy trees. I immediately experienced a sense of peace in this surreal place. It was like I died and went to heaven. It was a remarkable thing to take in the incredible fertility and growth along the mountain streams. Much like the promise of this passage in Psalms describing spiritual growth. If we continue to read and practice God’s Word, we will experience this same lushness in our own lives. Like the plants and trees along the mountain creeks, is the man or woman who trusts and follows the Word of the Lord. SP271

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Commander’s Intent

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

“Sir, I’ll need Close Air Support for this mission.” “You got it good Sergeant, FSO make it happen!” The Battalion Commander was ready and willing to honor my request on the spot. It was right in line with what he wanted to happen on the objective. I have experienced the same thing in my prayer life. When I’m praying for the things that I know God wants to accomplish, I see so many more answers to my prayers. The trick is figuring out what His will is. But really its no trick, we discover His will every time we read the Bible. We learn more about Him and His work as we study His Word. It is amazing to see how God responds when we ask according to His will. Pray in line with the Commander’s Intent. SP270

CAS (Close Air Support) – The use of Air Force Aircraft to provide fires for ground troops
FSO (Fire Support Officer) – Artillery Officer responsible for coordinating artillery fire for forward maneuver elements

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Creed

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8

“Recognizing I volunteered as a Ranger…” The beginning of a creed I memorized long ago and probably didn’t appreciated for its full potential in my younger years. In today’s modern Army everyone’s memorizing and reciting the standards through creeds. From the soldier’s creed to the NCO creed, we infuse our principles into the hearts and minds of our young warriors. Believe it or not, it makes a difference. I think God had this figured out long before the Army. He has instructed us to continually have His Word on our lips, constantly thinking and pondering it’s meaning, persistently applying it to everyday life. Have you grabbed a hold of a meaningful piece of Scripture and really integrated it into your life through memorization and mulling it over again and again? It will pay big dividends in your life, especially over the long haul. SP269

Monday, May 26, 2008

Our Plans vs God’s Purpose

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

The plan was simple. Get way out front, stay awake, and report any enemy armor movement. We were aggressing the 5th Mechanized Division and as a light infantry unit, we needed a lot of warning. The weather was miserable and for three days there was only the sound of rain and boredom. Fatigue set in as the catnaps became insufficient. I told my assistant team leader to take charge while I caught a few Zs. I suddenly woke to the rolling thunder of tracked vehicles and a comatose recon team dead asleep. I grabbed the radio and called back a frantic SITREP. A few moments later the battalion commander was bragging about ambushing the columns and congratulating me on my alertness. If he only knew! Sometimes our best plans fail miserably and yet God is able not only to salvage it but also provide great success. Remember to trust Him because He is in control. SP268

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Hear My Name Being Called

He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. Revelation 3:5

Wood, Charles D. I’ve heard my name so many times as I have walked across stages and parade fields; for graduations, promotions or awards. There’s something about hearing your own name. You stand with a unit or group but you are called out as an individual. It makes you feel good to be acknowledged by name and we’ve all had that feeling. One day there will be another kind of ceremony, a ceremony with eternal consequence. Jesus Christ will callout the names of all those who have placed their faith in Him. All those who have received Him as their personal Lord and Savior. He will read their names from the “Lamb’s Book of Life” and present them before the Father and His angels. Is your name in the book for the final ceremony? SP267

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Comparison Games

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

At the Chaplain’s School I noticed a brand new chaplain in the Basic Course who had obviously been an infantrymen before he became a chaplain. He had both SF and Ranger tabs, he was HALO and Pathfinder qualified, and to top it all off, he was a combat vet. As I admired the warrior, I suddenly realized envy beginning to creep in. I caught myself comparing badge for badge. I had some he had, but then again; I was lacking… WAIT! It’s a trap! Ambush Left! Any time we start the comparison game we set ourselves up for failure. God uniquely creates us for a specific reason and that necessitates difference. When we start the comparisons, we are left with two conclusions; I’m better or I’m not as good. Neither is true. I’m different with a distinct mission and praise God for that. Stay on azimuth with your calling and break contact with comparisons. SP266

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hangin’ in There

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

I got a PhD in PT in ROK ranger school. The training events consisted of 45 minutes of calisthenics followed by negotiating an obstacle on the confidence course on the side of a steep mountain all day long. It was eight straight hours of PT everyday for eight straight days. I could have been as smart as a box of rocks and still made it through the school. I really thought I hadn’t learned a thing. But actually it taught me a lot about endurance and perseverance. I learned how to keep driving on in the pain, suffering, and monotony. And I guess it’s helped me a great deal in my Christian life as well. Living a life of faith is not always fun and exciting. Some days you get into the daily grind of things and wonder “what am I doing, what’s the use?” But we know if we hang in there, we will see the goodness of Christ once again. We will experience that new day with all it’s blessings. Don’t give up, keep plugging, keep driving on! SP265

PT - Physical Training
ROK - Republic of Korea
PhD – Don’t start calling me Doc, I’m only joking J

Friday, May 16, 2008

Saluting Privates

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he *said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."
Revelation 22:8-9

It’s it or is it not? A narrow gold metallic emblem fixed on the front of the beret, hummm. Is it the butter bar of a brand new lieutenant or a unit crest? When in doubt, whip it out…the big snappy salute. Only to find out it’s a private you just saluted. This was especially embarrassing when a private would salute you back and say, “You have a good one too Sarge.” Imagine how the Apostle John felt when he was corrected by the angel, “Don’t worship me, I’m a servant like you.” Oops! We can inadvertently misplace our worship in the wrong thing too. Anytime we put people, places, position, or possessions above Christ, we are in a very real danger of saluting the wrong person. Gut check: are you worshiping Jesus and Him alone? SP331

Thursday, May 15, 2008


But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign LORD. Ezekiel 44:12

The M1A1 tank was awkwardly sticking out of the hole with its aft end protruding in the air. Fortunately, the crew had avoided major injury even after their abrupt and sudden stop in the darkness. The tank had plunged into a hole that was dug for enemy tanks eight years prior during the 1st Gulf War. Here we were, on a simple training exercise in Kuwait, and the enemy was still causing harm to our guys years after official hostilities had ended. Sin is a lot like that. It has its immediate effects but it can also have long lasting consequences extending years later. These consequences not only affect us but can influence the lives of others as well. We cannot expect God to rescue us from second and third generation repercussions of our mistakes (although often times in His mercy He can). We must make our decisions in life as though we may have to live with the results for years to come. Don’t dig holes you’re afraid you may fall into later. SP264

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

For Meritorious Service

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 3:13

One of the things I’ve enjoyed about the Army is being recognized for doing a good job. From coins to medals, I could always count on an occasional token of encouragement. You know it’s the same with serving Christ. He rewards His servants with His good blessings. He promotes us to ranks of greater responsibility in ministry. He brings people into our lives that encourage and support us. He provides our needs and demonstrates His love day by day. We are given greater confidence in our relationship with God. We can even expect a crown and rewards in the kingdom to come for all eternity (Mt 5:12, Eph 6:8, 1 Cor 9:25). There is great reward in serving the King of kings. SP263

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

M2M (Man to Man)

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverb 27:17

“How can I grow closer in my walk with Christ?” This was a question from my fellow RI as we sat discussing the Christian life on a mountain in the North Georgia. That question has since been repeated hundreds of times with many different men in burger joints and on beaches, road trips and retreats, a Autostrada in Italy and a boat on the Nile. Helping men who want to grow in their relationship with God. It’s a discipleship process I call “Man to Man” (or for my wife, Ma’am to Ma’am). It’s a method that takes time, patience and prayer but the results are a sharper spiritual life that draws men and women closer to God. Of all the church services, all the Sunday School classes, and all the seminary courses, none has impacted my life the way this simple process has. Whether a peer or mentor, once a week, grab your buddy and some chow, crack open a Bible, and talk about life. It will definitely sharpen your walk with Jesus. SP262

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ever Eat Snake?

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

I was preparing a live fire ambush with my squad when a big Bull Snake slithered into our presence. Seeing the opportunity for some good training, I pounced on the poor critter and I was cooking him over a small fire in minutes. As the guys learned how to dress, prepare, and eat their little survival meal, not one of them asked for seconds. I think I can speak for all of them, I’d rather have steak than snake any day. And you know, our heavenly Father realizes that. He knows what our desires are and He is well aware of our needs. God is a good Father who gives good gifts to His children. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for the desires of your heart. SP261

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk [of the Word], so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. 1 Peter 2:2

Have you ever been real hungry? I’m not talking “just a little late for supper” hungry. I’m talking real hungry! Like “several days with just the bare minimum” kind of hungry. That’s the kind of hunger that starts to have a dominating effect on the body, soul, and mind. In Ranger School, I got to the point where every spare moment was spent fantasizing about food. I would envision all kinds of wonderful concoctions I would make when I graduated. Like a vanilla milk shake with M&Ms, cashews, and peanut butter. In the Florida Phase we had to cross a road and I saw a Big Mac wrapper. I thought I was going to die. I would dream about food, think about food, and long for food. That’s the kind of hunger we need to develop for the Word of God. A desire that is so overwhelming we can’t wait till the next time we get to read it. Like a baby for milk, like a Ranger Student for chow, crave the Word of God. SP260

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rank has its Privileges

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

I remember watching the sergeants when I was a private and thinking, “I’m going to be a sergeant someday so I don’t have to rake these pine-needles anymore and I can just supervise.” Now, looking back, I see that although being a sergeant wasn’t easy, having the rank and position did have its advantages. Being promoted yielded the fruits of better pay, more responsibility, job satisfaction, and a greater since of accomplishment. The same is true with our position in Christ. When we receive Christ as our personal Savior, we also inherit all the rights and privileges that come with this relationship. And as we continue to grow in our faith we see even greater benefits of being in Christ and serving Him. SP259

Friday, May 09, 2008

Submitted Those Supply Requests

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

One of my primary duties as a Platoon Sergeant was getting the “Beans and Bullets” for my troops. I would submit daily resupply requests and status reports. One thing I could count on, no request, no supplies. And if you want to go from hero to zero, let your troopers go hungry. So you can bet I always made sure I got those requests in. Our heavenly Father wants our supply requests too. He has encouraged us to come to Him and ask for the things that we need and even the desires of our hearts. So submit those spiritual supply requests daily. SP258

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Divine Signature Block

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

As the Operation Sergeant it was much easier to get things done. Working on the commander’s staff, I wasn’t asking for material or help on my own behalf; it was always on behalf of the Colonel. It was his name and signature on the bottom of the paperwork. It was his position and authority that warranted the attention of those who received the request. The same is true when we pray to the Father. Jesus tells us to pray in His name and it is by His name that the Father hears our prayers. Christ holds the supreme position of sitting at God’s right-hand and preeminent authority as intercessor for the believer. When we pray, we receive in the name of Jesus Christ. SP257

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Being Fully Equipped

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

There is no doubt as the Second Gulf War was prosecuted, the United States Military is thoroughly equipped. Everything from aircraft, to ships, to tanks, even to the individual soldier on the ground, the equipment, training, and people are the finest in the world. And in a time of war, we wouldn’t have it any other way. But with all our military might, how do we match up in spiritual power? Am I fully equipped to do good works and win the spiritual battles in my own life? There is a way to ensure I’m at 100% Operational Readiness and that’s to spend time in God’s Word. I need to hear it, read it, study it, memorize it, and meditate on it. Then I will be fully equipped for every good work and the spiritual battles the lie before me. SP256

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7

One of the frustrating things about being a private was being reminded of the same things over and over again. Simple things like setting up a Claymore mine, aiming my weapon correctly or digging a fighting position. Over and over again, I was trained in basic tasks and I would complain that I could do these things in my sleep. And that was the method to the madness, to be able to perform “even in my sleep.” Repetition had turned essential tasks into instinct. The same can be done with the basics of the Christian life. As we practice the disciplines of prayer, Scripture reading, sharing our faith with others, we become proficient at the very things that draw us closer to God. Even our children benefit as they see the Christian life lived out consistently before them. Repetition works! SP255

Monday, May 05, 2008

Bayonet or Scalpel

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I was bounding from tree to tree to avoid being tagged by the OPFOR. After one 3-second rush, I felt a very sharp pain in my kneecap. I looked down and saw a 6-inch piece of metal stuck in my leg. When I reach the Aid Station, the PA had to perform minor surgery to remove the object. Although the whole thing was painful I’m glad it was the doctor’s scalpel and not my buddies’ bayonet doing the cutting. The Word of God is both like sword and scalpel. It can quickly lop off those huge ugly sins that are protruding from our character. But it is also sharp and precise, cutting only what needs to be opened and removing only that which is harmful. It can be used for the purpose of both healing and destroying. Keep reading the Word of God and allow it to perform its major and minor surgeries in your life. SP254

Tagged – Being shot with a laser in training
OPFOR – Opposing Forces
PA – Physician Assistant

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Conflicting Counsel

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2

In the middle of the night we came to the top of Yellow Mountain and the ranger students started heading the wrong way. I stopped the Patrol Leader and asked him if he knew where he was going (a subtle RI hint that you’re going the wrong way). This developed into a full scale meeting with the Squad Leaders under the poncho for lights and maps and debate. When he emerged from the midst of his counselors he declared, “Yes Sergeant, we are going the right way.” I then pointed at the trail sign that I just happened to be standing by the whole time, which clearly showed the right direction. Even with all that prompting, he elected to take his fellow student’s advice and off we went into dinosaur land. Who are your counselors or advisors? Do they give intelligent upright advice or do they steer you into the “land of the lost?” Choose your advisors wisely and remember the Word of God is always a trustworthy counselor. SP253

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I Choose Freedom

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

American’s prize their freedom. Our country was built upon this foundational and noble pursuit. We expect it, we’ll fight for it, and we’ll even die for it. We place the highest value on freedom. So does Jesus. He showed us the way to true and lasting freedom. If we live our lives in accordance with His instructions, we will know truth and it will set us free. Freedom will always come at a price though. Spiritual freedom costs us our supreme allegiance and obedience to the only one that can truly give it, Jesus Christ. As we pursue our national freedoms and liberty for others, let’s be just as diligent to secure our own spiritual freedom by following Christ. SP252

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sick Call

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Matthew 9:12

An interesting quirk about being in the Infantry was the pride we put in the ability to be sick and yet, not go to sick call. I could be running a fever, have a broken bone, or be half dead, but unless someone ordered me to go see the medics, it wasn’t going to happen. That’s what you call crossing the fine line between hardcore and stupid. I have since learned if you’re sick, go see the Doc! I’ve learned that lesson spiritually as well. Jesus gets on the religious leaders of his time because they thought they had a healthy relationship with God. But, because of their spiritual arrogance they were actually very sick. We cannot allow our spiritual pride to keep us from seeing the Great Physician. Acknowledge your sin and weaknesses and He will heal you. SP251

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Helicopters and Babies

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us Ephesians 3:20

My radio crackled, “Whiskey One Five, Stand by, Aircraft is inbound.” I thought, “We still have 30 minutes till RI change over.” I got on the radio, “This is Whisky One Five, SITREP, Over.” “Your wife is having a baby, that’s what!” I gave my fellow RI the student’s evaluation reports as the Blackhawk landed on the LZ. We flew over the camp where I thought I’d get in my car and drive to the hospital, but we kept flying. We landed right on Dahlonega hospital’s helipad and I jumped out camouflage, rucksack and all. I ran into the maternity ward for the much-expected arrival of my first-born. I had been praying for his birth for months but I never expected my ride to the hospital to be so exciting. The events around my son’s birth demonstrated to me that God is able do to above and beyond my wildest expectations. Both of my sons are living proof to that fact. SP250

Whiskey One Five – Wood, 15 Staff, my Radio Call Sign
RI – Ranger Instructor
SITREP – Situation Report
LZ – Landing Zone

He Stands Alone

Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD, that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18

One of the oddest things I saw in Kuwait was a lone tree in a vast open desert. It was such a contrast to see in the scorching sea of sand, one, lone, green tree. We joked that it was the Kuwaiti National Forest but the tree became a rally point. We would say, “Meet at the tree” or “Set up the TOC at the tree” and everyone knew what we were talking about. God is like that tree. The contrast between Him and everything else is so different, so immeasurable; it is easy to delineate between Most High and mundane. In the vastness of creation, God the Creator is the uncreated. The One who was and is and ever will be; Most Powerful, All Knowing, Omnipresent, Completely Just, and All Loving. He stands alone and because of that, He becomes the most obvious rally point. As Christians, let’s meet at the Most High! SP273