Sunday, November 27, 2005
A smile says it all. Accomplishment! What a great feeling it is to finish. Completing something difficult is even more satisfying. I continue to stand amazed at the young soldiers that we get here. They just keep coming. In this picture is a group of soldiers that have just completed their 7 day field exercise known as “Victory Forge”. It’s the culmination of all of basic training. They march out to their training area, usually about 10 miles, spend seven days putting into practice all they have learned and then they march back in usually about 6 miles. They are tired and cold, but as you can see the enthusiasm is hard to keep a lid on. In the middle is the core of training, the drill sergeant. These volunteers work ridiculous hours and put up with more than you can imagine. The only job harder than being a basic training soldier, is being a drill sergeant. It’s a thankless life, so here is my thank you to all of you who get up early and stay up late. Here is my thank you for your experience, your patience, your expertise, your professionalism and your commitment to this generation of young warriors. So thanks to all my Drill Sergeants from your Chaplain. You are appreciated and prayed for today. Thanks for pressing on!
Philippians 3:14 "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Monday, November 14, 2005
One of my greatest fears as a child was drowning. I hated rough housing in the swimming pool with my friends. Inevitably someone would always try to hold you under the water. The feeling of panic and helplessness is overwhelming when you are being held under the water by a 14 year old when you are just 10. As an adult and a Chaplain that feeling of being overwhelmed still happens. Instead of being held underwater, now the problems of ministry can rise up in life just like that swimming pool water. Lots of times I feel like I’m trapped in the bowels of the Titanic as the waters rise with nowhere to go. As a Chaplain one of my jobs is to listen. Most of the time I listen to people as they are experiencing life’s most difficult times. People die, get sick, and have relationship issues and addictions. People are not happy with their jobs and not happy with life and some days it seems like all these people rain in on me at once. Today just happened to be one of those days. In the Bible I read about Jesus being overwhelmed with people and their issues and for heaven’s sake He is God. My problem is that in my arrogance I think I can help everyone. I believe so strongly in the power of the Gospel and in Jesus’ ability to save lives. I believe that no one is beyond the saving grace of God. But some days I take on what isn’t mine. I make the John Coffey mistake. If you’ve seen the movie “The Green Mile” you know what I’m talking about. In the movie John who is a huge man, a giant of a man, on death row for the murder of two children. (By the way, he didn’t do it). John has an uncanny ability to heal people. But in his healing process he takes on the sickness of that person. He allows the trouble of that person to enter him and then he spews the illness out like a swarm of bees. But it takes its toll on big John. Finally after a while he can no longer spew out the evil and it ultimately overcomes him. Having empathy is a lot like that. I thank God for that gift. I thank Him for the ability to feel the pain of others. Sometimes when I meet with people I actually hurt physically when I talk to them. But it takes its toll on us. I’ve found that if I don’t let it go, if I don’t spew out the hurt of others it wears me down. Today I haven’t been spewing, that is until just a few minutes ago. Its funny how just a few minutes of confession and simple trust in God can ease the burden. My prayer tonight was simple. “Lord, I can’t do it all, it’s too much for me. I need You. Ease my load and help me to do what I can and not what You can. I give all the pain of today over to You. Thank you Lord!” If you are being held under, relief is just a simple prayer away. Won’t you join me in letting go of what is not ours. Be John Coffey, but remember to spew it out!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
I'm not sure but I believe that little boys ought to play with guns. That may stun you as you read this, but I'm quite sure that when I was little no one had to teach me about warfare. I remember defending the woods behind my house against all enemies foreign and domestic. We trained in those 150 acres of hardwoods for war. Why? Why is it that war is such a systemic part of our lives. I'm in the Army and that’s what we do. We train and we fight. But we can't be so myopic and think that we are the only ones ever to do this. And as a Christian how does war fit in to my belief system? Or does it fit at all? It’s clear to me as I look at the world that it is broken, in need of repair. I also believe that it is broken beyond mankind's ability to restore it completely. The Bible says that even creation groans for the revealing of the sons of God (read Romans). Our creation is broken as well and it is ultimately man's fault. Yep, I said it. We did it. We broke the world. Our rebellion against God and His plan has set in motion irreparable damage, that is, irreparable from our limited standpoint. Wars, disease, rape, injustice, famine, and natural disasters are all a part of this broken world. This world needs restoration. I've come to the conclusion that the message and mission of Jesus is the only answer for this. He is the only one who can save this world. And He is doing it. The great part is that it’s not all up to me or you. Jesus' mission will be accomplished. God is heroic and courageous. There is something deep within us that longs to be that hero. It longs for a vital mission. Little boys dream of being heroes and saving the day. So too God, our Hero, is now in the process of saving the day. We are made in the image of that God. So I say Hooah to Jesus! I say we will bear His image with honor and live according to Micah 6:8 and do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
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