Monday, June 30, 2008

Using God’s Name is No Game

"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

“Sir, you are making my job very difficult.” The commander replied, “How’s that chaplain?” “Well, sir, I spend a lot of time asking God to bless the men and the efforts of your battalion and you turn around and ask God to curse it.” This was a discussion a wise chaplain friend of mine had with his boss about his using the name of God in vain. From that point on, the commander made every effort to eliminate using God’s name in vain. We need to remember God’s name is holy and should never be used in a trite and trivial manner. If we are to invoke the name of God, let us do so with reverence and admiration. When you call His name, He’s listening. SP303

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bring Me Luck?

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.” Exodus 20:4-5

“Chaplain, with your little prayer and my lucky rubber band on my wrist. I know I’m going to shoot well during gunnery.” Hmmm, is that so? Today, idols may come in the form of trinkets like a rabbit’s foot, medallions, statues, horseshoes, or even the cross I wear around my neck. These objects, in themselves, have no power. But when we believe they supposedly bring good fortune or have some intrinsic spiritual value, we’ve got a problem. We establish these items as idols that inherit the same value as some mystical favor-giving god. They become idols if we ascribe any power to them. In reality, there is no power in such things. And why would we place our trust in some blind, deaf, dumb, and impotent object when we can simply pray to the Creator of the Universe? True and righteous power comes from God and God alone. There’s no such thing as luck. SP302

Mark 5.1-20 Sunday School

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Supreme Allegiance to Only One

"You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

I love the Army but it’s not my god. I believe in the Army values but my supreme loyalties and duties belong to Christ. Over the years I have watched men and women sacrifice their spouse, the kids, the cat, the dog, and maybe even the kitchen sink in homage to their “career god.” But it’s not just career. False gods come in all shapes and sizes. Relationships, recreation, fame, and fortune can all demand our highest devotions. Worship is reserved for the One and only true God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He and He alone deserves our greatest affection and allegiance. And consider this: we worship more by our actions than our words. If someone placed 24-hour surveillance on your life, whom would they say you worship? May it be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) The closer I look at the commandments, the more I realize I need the mercy of a forgiving God. SP301

Friday, June 27, 2008

Already Dead

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:11

I was on the edge of my seat listening to a Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient share his testimony. One of the things he mentioned was that he and his comrades had counted themselves as already dead in order to deal with the stress and fear of combat. This gave them tremendous focus on the job at hand and gave them the ability to overcome very dangerous circumstances. Wouldn't we be wise to adopt the same attitude as Christians? We need to come to realize that we are already dead to sin and the ways of this world. We have died to self and now live for Christ. This frees us up seek Christ’s will for our lives with courageous focus, fearing only God Himself. SP299

Thursday, June 26, 2008

“About Face”

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD . Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:31-32

I learned how to execute an “About Face” when I was a JROTC cadet in high school (my sons are doing the same today.) FM 22-5 says “On the command of execution…move the toe of the right foot to a point touching the marching surface about half the length of the foot to the rear and slightly to the left of the left heel…On the second count, turn to the right 180 degrees on the left heel and ball of the right foot, resuming the position of attention.” Sounds complicated but after some practice, you get the hang of it. The intent is to turn from one direction to the opposite in one movement. I learned another kind of “About Face” a few years later. It turned out to be the most important “About Face” I ever made. It’s a spiritual one. God calls us to repent and turn from our sins to His righteousness in Christ. This “About Face” is so important; it’s a matter of life and death. SP300

The Natural Order of Things

And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
(Luke 2:51-52)

It doesn't seem right for God to “fast forward” through the mundane. I’m sure Jesus experienced everything from diapers to the awkwardness of puberty. He embraced the natural order of things. All for our sake He became human. Experiencing the things we do so He could be an effective model that we could identify with and emulate. FJ13

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Compassionate Warrior

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:13-14

Some of the most moving photos of American GIs in action are those of soldiers taking care of children. In a past issue, the cover of the "Army Times" exhibited one of our finest carrying a wounded child to aid of the medics. The muscular warrior with camouflage and body armor is a stark contrast to the small defenseless kid in a hostile environment. The photo speaks volumes of the protector and defender. Power coupled with compassion is perhaps one of the most striking characteristics of the American soldiers. Could it be that we are only following the example set by our Maker? In this war torn world there are also spiritual casualties and the Almighty scoops them up in His loving arms and rescues them. He knows our frailties and weakness. He is our protector and defender. The Great Almighty and Compassionate Warrior comes to our aid in our time of need. SP298

Competing Loyalties

Finding her “lost” son, Jesus’ mom asks, “why have you treated us this way?” He replies, “Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house.” Answer: the Father has priority in my relationships. Jesus would teach about these competing loyalties later in His ministry. He would explain how relationships, material goods, or pride may become an obstacle to following Him completely. Each disciple must make a choice because ultimately they could not serve two masters. Jesus demonstrated as a 12 year old boy that His supreme loyalty belonged to the Father. FJ12c

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

22 June 08 Sunday School Lesson


"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all." 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12

I've witnessed some pretty awesome things in my life; skies filled with parachutes over Panama, sunsets in Kuwait, an M1 tanks firing the main gun, early morning flights over the North Georgia mountains, a demo charge sending debris 100’s of feet in the sky, and the beaches of the Solomon Islands. But there is nothing more awesome than our God. I have seen miracles of healing and reconciliation. I have seen His crushing judgment on those who would practice evil. I have seen Him rise up the down trodden from the ashes. Our God is awesome God, He reigns from heaven above! Worship Him for He is worthy. SP297

Monday, June 23, 2008

Old Self / New Self

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

One of the toughest transitions I've ever had to make was going from enlistedman to Non-Commissioned Officer. I went from follower to leader, from carefree to the burden of responsibility, from one looking up to one being looked up to. It was a challenging transformation. It meant a different relationship with my peers and my leaders. I could no longer do some of the things I could as a private. I now had to set the example. I took on greater responsibility for technical and tactical knowledge. I had to shed the old enlisted ways and take on the new NCO ways. In like manner we do the same as we go from an unregenerate person of the world to a child of God. We have new values, responsibilities, and even new authority. Live up to those stripes. SP296

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When Death Comes Early

The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. Isaiah 57:1-2

The bad news carried on the airwaves. A plane carrying soldiers from the 101st had crashed in Gander. Initially, we had no report of who was on the aircraft. But three of the Company Commanders in the Battalion were very close friends of mine and the odds were high at least one of them was on that plane. In time, I discovered Brian had perished in the crash. Brian was an energetic young West Pointer with loads of potential. He was a man of God who had committed his life to the mission field while deployed to the Sinai. Why would God take such a talented young disciple in the infancy of his service? The answer may never be clear, but my wife found the verse above in her quiet time and it was great comfort to me. Perhaps God was bringing him home early to protect him from some evil. Even in our deepest grief we can be certain that God is in control and has a plan. SP295

The Skills of a Disciple

Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
(Luke 2:46

The two most important skills of a disciple, listening and asking questions. At 12 years old Jesus was listening and asking questions in the temple. As He did so intently as a child, He would expect the same of His disciples later (Mk 4.3,9-10). Carefully listening is the first step of faith in Jesus. Not allowing all our presuppositions to plug our ears but straining to take in all that He says. The next is having the spiritual hunger and thirst to ask questions. To be inquisitive, investigate, to be humble enough to say to God and others, “I don’t understand.” God loves a seeker. (1 Chron 28.9) Listen and ask questions. FJ12b

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zeal and Youth

They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me." John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. "For he who is not against us is for us. "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
(Mark 9:33-41)

If we are in the business of training young leaders there will be mistakes. How do we treat young men who make mistakes in their zeal for Jesus? Here's how Jesus did it.

"But there is such a thing also as honest scrupulosity, and it is more common than many imagine. There is a certain tendency to intolerant exaction, and to severity in judging, in the unripe stage of every earnest life. For the conscience of a young disciple is like a fire of green logs, which smokes first before it burns with a clear blaze. And a Christian whose conscience is in this state must be treated as we treat a dull fire: he must be borne with, that is, till his conscience clear itself of bitter, cloudy smoke, and become a pure, genial, warm flame of zeal tempered by charity." A. B. Bruce "The Training of the Twelve"

Go with the Flow

Who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9

I received an Army Commendation Medal for my service in Korea but I'm not sure why. First, I never wanted to go to Korea and after a year deferment, thinking the Army had forgotten, I was finally sent to the "Land of the Morning Calm." Once I got to Korea, I didn't quit sniveling about being there until I was on the plane coming home. The only reason I was in the ROK was because my Army and Country wanted me there and I decided it would be best to follow orders. It was my duty. And there I was getting an award for something I didn't want to do in the first place. Sometimes serving God is a lot like that. We are blessed simply by being a part of His purpose. There are times we may go kicking and screaming. Sometimes we don't even do the best job we could. And yet because it's His purpose we end up reaping the benefits. We’d probably live a lot longer if we’d just relax and go with the flow, God’s flow that is. SP294

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lost Parents

Read Luke 2.41-50

Joseph and Mary leave Jerusalem at the conclusion of the Feast of the Passover and head home. “…After spending the full number of days…” they had met their religious obligation. But “the boy Jesus stayed behind.” A full day into their trek home His parents realize He was missing. Another three days of searching reveled He had never left the Temple. His parents may have been done performing their religious duties, but He had only begun. His response to His emotionally drained parents was matter of fact, “…Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" (Lk 2:49) When the prescribed days were finished, Jesus wasn’t. Are we just paying our dues or does our relationship with the Father cause us to linger? Is being with Jesus more than fulfilling an obligation? FJ12a

Eating the Good Stuff

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Isaiah 55:2

One of the things I loved about the Ranger Battalion was that we could always expect a great meal in the mess hall when we returned from a deployment. Sometimes we had steak, sometimes steak and shrimp; sometimes we even had steak and lobster. What a feast! I would eat until I almost bust. God invites us to do the same at His table. He bids us to come and eat spiritual food that is free and plenty. He has laid out a delicious smorgasbord of spiritual food and all we have to do is come help ourselves to the feast. Where is this fantastic culinary fair? It’s in His Word. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” (Jeremiah 15:16) SP293

Thursday, June 19, 2008

To War!

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 6:12

I served in the Army for 29 years and wear no combat patch. And yet I have been at war 24/7 since December 23, 1979 when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. Daily battles with the evil one and his darkness. Some days intense, others mild but always the struggle to Pray and read my Bible. Always a battle to believe that God can do all things. Always a struggle to share the life giving message with souls that are lost. Always a battle to train up other faithful men who will teach others also. But what is the cost of quitting, or surrender? To war then, to war! Brothers and sisters are you surprised at the strife you encounter in living out your faith, don’t be. You are in the great conflict. It’s for the souls of men and your reward to come. But know this first of all; the victory already belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. So fight on! Read, Pray, Obey, Share and Trust! And we will all drink deep in His victorious glory when the battle is done. SP292

The Role of Obstacles in Discipleship

Read Matthew 2.19-23

Joseph and Mary were hiding in Egypt until Herod died, why? Couldn’t God have just taken him out earlier? They were afraid to live in Judea because Herod’s son was the new ruler, interesting. Couldn’t God have protected them? The angel warned them and they end up in Galilee, why? Couldn’t they have raised Jesus anywhere? Nope. All these so called obstacles served as bumpers to accomplish the Father’s ultimate purposes. In the end they channelize Jesus and His parents into fulfilling prophesy. “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Nazareth becomes the city where Jesus grows up according to the sovereign plan of God. Recently, I was told I most likely have Multiple Scorsese (MS). I have two choices. I can see it as a great tragedy and worry myself sick about this sickness. Or I can embrace it as God’s sovereign will for my life and look for the blessings that come with it. I’d rather trust God than get bitter. What are the “obstacles” you see in your life? Embrace these circumstances as bumpers to channel you into the Father’s will. FJ10

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Finding the Interested

Read Mt 2.1-12

Jesus polarized people even as an infant. Simeon, Anna and the Magi were very excited to see the coming of the King. But not everyone was happy. King Herod and the people of Jerusalem were "troubled" by the whole thing (Mat 2.3) I find evangelism much easier when I’m talking to people who want to talk about Jesus rather than oppose Him. I don’t feel like I’m jamming the gospel down their throat. This is where the invitation to church or Bible study really comes in handy. “Hey we have a Bible Study and we are studying Jesus, would you like to come?” You know pretty quickly whether they are interested and it culls out those who are not. I invite a lot of people to discover Jesus and a lot of hungry folks show up. Using this simple technique has lead to greater effectiveness in leading people to Christ. Make it a habit to invite folks to something that tests their appetite. FJ18

Peace of Mind

You [God,] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

It was my second jump with the 82nd Airborne Division. I landed ok and as I rolled up my chute, I looked up at more troopers exiting the C141. Half way through the stick, two guys entangled and “burned in” about a hundred meters from me. I was afraid to jump before that event but now I was terrified. Three years later, just before a jump and it donned on me that the deep fear was gone. Oh sure, I was still nervous but nothing like my previous fear. I was a Christian now and my relationship with God was running deep. I had a brand new focus, I wanted to serve Christ with all my heart. My trust in Christ had given me a peace the permeated all of life’s circumstances. Are you living in that peace? Have you trusted God with every situation and circumstance? He is able to give that peace that goes beyond all comprehension. And more importantly, He is able to do above and beyond our wildest expectations. Keep the Faith! SP291

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Passin’ the Guidon

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:6,9-10

During a change of command ceremony there is a lot of tradition. Soldiers stand in formation, orders are read, and the guidon is passed. The passing of the guidon is my favorite part. It’s symbolizes the passing of command from the old commander to the new. The old commander no longer holds authority over those in the company. Allegiance and obedience now belongs to the new commander. This bears a lot of resemblance to our relationship with God when we put our faith in Christ. We are no longer in charge. We have given full loyalty and submission to our new Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ. But what would happen if the old commander came back to the company and started giving orders? That would be disastrous. In the same way we pass the guidon of our lives to Christ and should never take it back. Leave the guidon in His hands and give Him complete command of your life. SP290

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chowin’ Down

Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " Matthew 4:4

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight… Jeremiah 15:16

During the 8-hour break between the Mountain and Florida phase of Ranger school I had several things I wanted to do. Getting something to eat was at the top of the list. My hunger took priority over laundry, entertainment, and even sleep. So my buddies and I decided to hit the local pizza buffet. I was like an eating machine. Slice after slice was devoured and oh, the absolute pleasure of having a full belly again. I wonder if we have that kind of hunger for the Word of God. Does our desire for God sit like an empty pain in the pit of our spiritual stomachs? And does our yearning to be filled with spiritual bread take priority over the mundane tasks of life, or recreation and entertainment, or even our physical needs? When we eat from the Bread of Life, the Living Word of God, we can be totally satisfied and filled with joy having dined with our Glorious Creator. SP289

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Danger: Tail Rotor

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Proverbs 24:11

The PZ was crowded as several Blackhawks landed. I was on the radio with the pilot when out of the corner of my eye I saw a soldier being signaled to another helicopter. That will make any Pathfinder nervous. I started to move quickly toward him and my instincts proved me right. As the soldier started toward the other aircraft, he was headed for the rear of the helicopter. Now at a dead sprint I was able to catch him about 10 meters from the tail rotor of the second aircraft. I grabbed the back of his rucksack almost pulling him out of his skin. As he looked at me in disbelief and anger, I pointed at the tail rotor that would have cut him to shreds. He had avoided a bloody disaster. You know, people all around us are wandering unaware on the PZ of life. Eventually, many end up walking into a spiritual tail rotor and parish for all eternity. As God’s Pathfinders, it’s our job to point out the danger and get them safely to the right aircraft. SP288

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Semper Fi

The people of Joseph replied, "The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots…But Joshua said…though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out." Joshua 17:16-18

I think Joshua was the first Marine. From the amphibious assault on the shores of the Red Sea to the 12 man recon mission into the Promised Land to being the Commanding General of Israel, he was always faithful. It wasn’t his strength or courage that lead him to one of the most successful military campaigns in history; it was his obedience and faith in God. Of the 12-man recon team, only he and Caleb thought that God was big enough to defeat the giants in the land. And even in his old age when the troops started to doubt he said, “though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out." Joshua was a great warrior because of he was always faithful to God and His plan. He believed, trusted, and executed. How about you? Do you see the iron chariot on the horizon? Are your knees a little weak before the battle? Semper Fidelis! Be always faith-full to your God. He is more than able to lead you to victory. SP287

Friday, June 13, 2008

Unfolding the Map

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130

I was having a particularly tough time keeping this bunch of ranger students on course. Every few minutes they were either heading the wrong direction or under their ponchos with red lenses making a map check. After a few hours of weaving back and forth across the desert floor, I told the patrol leader to show me on his map where he was. Then the problem was obvious. As we unfolded the map together, this poor ranger student slowly recognized the error of his way. You see, we were at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah and he was using a map from the mountain phase in Dahlonega, Georgia. Right country, wrong state. The same thing can happen to us when we only read small portions of the Bible and pick and choose what we want to learn. We don’t get the big picture and we can actually be pretty lost in our misunderstandings of the scriptures. Navigating life is a little easier when I survey the whole landscape of God’s Word. SP286

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Borrowed Glory

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11

As a kid growing up as an Army Brat, I used to like wearing my Dad’s Army stuff. I would put on that oversized hat, helmet, or pistol belt and think I was cool. Or even put on a fatigue shirt with all the badges and give that long sleeved, handless salute in the mirror. Then when I joined the Army, I donned my own uniform. Over the years I’ve collected my share of ribbons and badges and I still look in the mirror. But there’s something I remind myself, all these things belong to God. He is the one who gives the strength and endurance to pass the physical rigors. He is the one who gives intelligence and wisdom. He has given success and glory and ultimately it all belongs to Him. So the next time someone is looking at your uniform and asks, “What’s that?” you can let them know, “My Dad let me borrow it.” SP285

A Disciple’s Response to God's Word

Read Lk 2.8-21

The shepherd's response to God's revelation of the messiah's birth was immediate, direct, and aggressive. They wasted no time making their way "straight" to whom the revelation spoke of and they made "haste." Quick, fast, and in a hurry. That is the response of a person who is convinced that what they just heard is of great value. That's how a disciple responds to God's Word (Lk 2.15-16). FJ6

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

34 Feet of Faith

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 3:5-6

They came back to brag about their exploits. As an infantry trainee, I was lapping up the stories of the guys who had just graduated AIT the class before. Now in Airborne School, they talked about jumping out of a 34-foot tower. “34 feet!” I thought, “Well, if they did it, I can.” You see, I was thinking they meant I would jump from 34-foot tower and hit the ground. I was mentally prepared to do so because I had faith that if they did it, I could. Of course, as soon as I got there, I learned it was more like some ride at an amusement park and you never touched the ground. But, as a naive private, I was willing to do what ever it took. And isn’t that a lot like our faith in God. We think He’s going to ask us to do some horrendous thing but we trust Him and take that leap of faith. Then we see His provision and experience His grace. We find that it wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, it turned out to be pretty fun. Don’t have it all figured out? Time to trust Him. SP284

A Chain Made by God

Read Mt 1.1-17, Lk 3.23-38

A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, right? Unless God made it. The genealogies explain the human heritage of Jesus but also the sovereign work of God the Father. Running back to David, Abraham, and Adam, the human chain authenticates the promises of God and gives the disciple confidence in the Word of God. The Maker of the chain is more important than the chain itself. God’s plan cannot be thwarted. FJ2

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Before You Bust on Others

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Get off the Truck! off the truck! The Drill Sergeants screamed, as I was officially welcomed to basic training. Having been in JROTC and an Army brat, I knew the deal. Keep a low profile, do what you’re told, and move out sharply. With my duffle bag over my shoulder I was one of the first in formation. It was complete mayhem. People pinging off one another, Drills yelling, guys doing push ups, it was crazy. But I was gloating over the fact that “I knew what I was doing, I was no rookie like the rest of these guys.” Suddenly it was dead silent with forty sweaty bodies standing at attention. One Drill started out low and choppy, “Who…is… missING…THEIR…DUFFLE BAG?! I thought, “Oh, I pity the poor schmuck who left their bag on the truck.” “WOOD, CHARLES D.” came the enraged voice. I had someone else’s bag. I was the poor schmuck! Lesson: Check your own stuff before “assisting” others. SP283

New Devotional

I've been working my way through the Gospels again and God is showing me so much. I'd really like to share some of my findings with you. So Sprinkled in the midst of Swordpoint will be some thoughts from a devotional I will call “Following Jesus, a Call to Discipleship.” These devo’s will be raw and unedited. Basically, my quick thoughts without a whole lot of polish. If there is an editor out there who wants to smith my writings, feel free to edit away and send it back in an email and I will make the changes ( Hopefully this will stimulate the head, heart, and hands to follow Jesus more closely.

Read Luk 1.1-4, Jn 1.1-18

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ begins with understanding who He is. Luke wants to explain to Theophilus "the exact truth" Lk 1.4 and launches into His story. John also takes great pains in explaining the mystery of the God/Man who came to His own and only those who received Him were named "children of God" Jn 1.12. These are the true converts of Jesus, those born of the will of God Jn 1.13. God the Son, explaining God the Father to those who wanted to know Jn 1.18. FJ1

Monday, June 09, 2008

Good Soil

“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." Luke 8:4-8

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God…the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:11,15

He was one of my RIs, a young motivated Buck Sergeant fresh out of the 3rd Ranger Bn. He came up to me after PT and looked me square in the eye. “Sergeant,” he said, “I know you are a Christian and I know you are really living the life. Will you show me how?” I started with the basics; How to have a quiet time, share his faith, Bible study, and lots of time spent together talking about life and our Lord. Then I started to challenge him to bear fruit, to reproduce, “The things I’ve done with you, go and do for someone else.” 12 years have pasted and now he’s a Major who’s done very well in his career, he has a family, and lots of responsibilities. I had breakfast with him recently and as we talked he opened his Bible. He shared his white-hot passion for God and how He was using him in other men’s lives. He’s still bearing spiritual fruit, planting the Word of God in other men’s souls. Now that is good soil! SP282

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Spiritual Strangulation

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Luke 8:4-8

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Luke 8:11,14

While being trained in the art of hand-to-hand combat, I was taught a particularly nasty little move, the rear strangle take-down. You sneak up behind an unsuspecting sentry and in a split second, wrap one arm around the neck, placing the shoulder to the back of the head, then leaping backwards, thrusting both your body and your opponents to the ground. It immediately cuts off the air supply and has a high probability of snapping the neck. The move is silent and deadly. It sounds pretty gruesome doesn’t it? But consider how the things of this world can strangle the life of faith. They quietly and slowly creep up from behind and before the sleeping Christian can react, these things wrap themselves around the vital passageway of abundant life and choke out the things of the Spirit. It’s spiritual strangulation as a result of life's worries, riches and pleasures. Check your six, Stay Alert, Stay Alive. SP281

Saturday, June 07, 2008


While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." Luke 8:4-8

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God…Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. Luke 8:11,13

Ranger School’s advanced mountaineering on Mount Yonah started in the cool of the morning. I had a pep in my step and life was good. But as the sun rose, so did the temperature and the big rock was transformed into something more suitable for baking tortillas rather than mountain climbing. By the end of the day my pep had gone to pot and there was more smoke than smile. The relentless heat radiating of the rock all day had turn my mind to mush and my legs to rubber. The same thing can happen to Christians who are not prepared for the trials that come with living a life of faith. Starting our walk with Christ can be fun and exciting but what happens when the tests of life come? Temptations, failures, dashed dreams, and struggles begin to turn up the heat and we are left wondering, “Is this all worth it?” The secret to avoid being scorched? Sink your roots deep into the living waters of Christ’s daily and seek Him first. Beat the Heat! SP280

Friday, June 06, 2008

I Can’t Hear You

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." Luke 8:4-8

"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
Luke 8:11-12

I was standing at attention in front of my Black Hat and he was extracting a little motivation from this “wannabe” paratrooper. He asked, “What do you want to be!?” As I yelled “AIRBORNE!” at the top of my lungs I heard him reply, “I can’t hear you.” Wait a minute! I was tossin’ my tonsils and he couldn’t hear me? No, it wasn’t that he couldn’t hear me; he didn’t want to hear me. He wanted something else, he wanted more. I think the Black Hat is a good example of how some folks treat God. The Lord has given a clear message of salvation in His Son and provided a way for an eternal and abundant life. And yet, for some, the response is, “I can’t hear You, God.” You’re not loud enough. Not enough tricks to prove You are real. I don’t like what You got to offer. And then the Evil One comes in and snatches away the little understanding that they could have had. Don’t let the message fall on deaf ears. Listen carefully. SP279

Black Hat – Airborne Instructor

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Stick in the Eye

For this is what the LORD Almighty says…for whoever touches you touches the apple of [My] eye (Zechariah 2:8)

My left hand was up in a flash to block the swishing noise coming at my face in the dark. Next it was from the right, then left! The ranger student in front of me was lacking good trail etiquette and letting the branches fly in the pitch darkness. I was prepared though, as I walked with both hands up on both sides for protection from the twigged assault (until he straddled a pine sapling that whipped between my hands and hit me squarely in the face). It was my greatest fear while walking in the woods at night; to get stuck in the eye. That’s how God feels about protecting His children. When people mess with His kids, it’s like a stick in His eye. Sometimes we wondered if God really cares. But try ignoring someone trying to touch your eye. Oh no, He loves you. You are the apple of His eye.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Little More Advice

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction,
and in the end you will be wise.

Proverbs 20:18 Make plans by seeking advice;
if you wage war, obtain guidance.

So many of you have asked for the rest of the story from yesterday, I felt obliged to continue to humiliate myself for your edification (SMILE:)
When SGT Kim said "Live Ammo," a very humbled SSG Wood popped a chemlight and told the SGT to start yelling “American” in Korean. A bunch of old dudes with camouflage and locked and loaded M1 Carbines surrounded and told us to put our weapons down. Kind of embarrassing to be captured by a 60-year-old-over-weight guy with a weapon that’s as old as he is. But than again, he did have the real bullets. I didn't understand a word they were saying but I do know the head dude was ticked. In the end they helped us clear some obstacles off the LZ and the militia sat there and watched our operation with a very weary eye. My first mission established a new SOP; No Snoopen around villages without first notifying the locals (and even then, sometimes its best just to go in with lights and noise blazing). AND When Koreans are advising you about Korea, think twice before you ignore their recommendation. SP277

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Making Wise the Simple

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7

I often hear jokes about infantrymen not being the smartest bunch in the world and especially Airborne Rangers. I’ve kind of taken a bit of pride in being more brutish than cerebral and I like to mention my GED right along with my BA and MDiv. But there was a time when most people would have looked at my educational level and used the word “simple” as a good adjective to describe me. But I had spent thousands of hours in the Word of God, drinking it like a thirsty man. When I was stationed in Dahlonega, a man in our church took notice of that fact. He came to me, the simple infantryman, and asked me to help him with his spiritual growth. I taught him how to have a quiet time, memorize Scripture, share his faith, and how to disciple other men. The simple infantry guy was mentoring the man with a PhD who was a senior professor in the Physics Department at North Georgia College. This is not a testimony to the ability of a man but to the power of the Word of God. Truly it makes the simple wise! SP275

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Little Advice

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow… Isaiah 1:18

We had flown all night loaded up with heavy rucks, snowshoes and artic gear. The flight was rough approaching the dropzone and as we hooked up, I stood half bent over under the tremendous weight. As I exited the door, the deafening roar of the C130 turned into silence and the strain of the heavy equipment was immediately relieved. I was floating under my parachute and I surveyed the dropzone. I noticed it was covered with three foot of new snow. A sudden wave of peace overwhelmed me . The stark winter landscape had been covered with a perfect blanket of pure white snow. It was the softest landing of any jump. That memory creates another picture in my mind, the mental image of forgiveness. When I consider how the blood of Jesus Christ has completely covered my sins, I realize that God’s view of me is a spectacular sight of forgiveness. The followers of Jesus have been cleansed as white as snow and we are at peace. A soft landing indeed. SP207

Spit Shining Our Eternity

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3

I know I’m dating myself but I wish I had kept track of the number hours I’ve spent shining my boots. Probably enough to build the space shuttle. The frustrating thing is that the shine only lasts for a day or two. Then it’s back to “a little polish, a little water, little circles, a little polish, a little water, little circles...” God gives us the opportunity to have something that will shine for all eternity. If we give our lives to the pursuit of wisdom (God’s Word) and leading people to righteousness (God’s Son), WE will shine like the stars forever. Don’t show up to the heavenly formation with just a brush shine, go for the spit shine Trooper! SP206

Sunday, June 01, 2008

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