Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm back!

I took this picture today! That's my lovely daughter Tori and no she is not in Iraq with me...I was at FT Dix with her! I made it back to the states about 5 days ago and am currently doing some out processing and waiting on a few soldiers to arrive here. Its been a long year, but its over and now on to the next thing. The next thing will include lots of naps, taking walks with my wife and kids, reconnecting back into my neighborhood, catching up with old friends and generally just living the life of a simple guy with a great family and being glad to be alive and at home with my loved ones. Thanks for all the support over the last 373 days. I'm going to keep writing here, but my speaking schedule is being put on hold in favor of family, rest, silence, an solitude. Time to recharge. So blessings to you all thanks again for all the encouragement over the last have no idea how much it meant to me. To God be the glory...great things He has done!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Old is Gold

I got the following email from my Orthodox Chaplain buddy and wanted to share it with you all. We in the Western world of evangelicalism have lost much of the mystery and beauty that still resides with much of the Eastern world of Christendom. We think that the latest and greatest is the best and brightest. But read the following and I challenge anyone to find a more profound, succinct and theologically moving homily anywhere and it takes about 5 minutes to read. And oh by the way it was written in the fourth century. 

Happy Easter everyone..He is risen!

Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! (Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!)

St. John Chrysostom was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander, spent his early years studying under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians and was ordained a deacon in the year 381 by the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios. In 386, St. John was ordained a priest by the bishop of Antioch, Flavian.

Over time, his fame as a holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the demise of Archbishop Nektarios of Constantinople - successor to St. Gregory the Theologian - Saint John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch to be the new Archbishop of Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey.)

Exiled in 404 and after a long illness because of the exile, he was transferred to Pitius in Abkhazia where he received the Holy Eucharist for the last time, and said, "Glory to God for everything!", falling asleep in the Lord on 14 September 407. His Easter Sermon, which follows below, is still read among all 400 million Orthodox Christians on the Great and Glorious Day of our Lord's Resurrection, as it has been for nearly 1600 years...

With Warmest Regards,

CH (CPT) Kevin Millsaps

If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday and the Pinning Ceremony

"Pin my medals to my chest and bury me in the leaning rest" a line from an old Army running cadence. At the end of every tour in Iraq or Afghanistan there is always an awards ceremony. Th Army is big on awards, especially in a combat environment. Its part retention and part tradition. When people are recognized for the work they have done they are more likely to sign up and serve again. As my time here draws to a fast close, today was my awards ceremony and alot of nice things were said. Its good for your leaders to take notice of what you have done. I got pinned on today and just now realized that today is the day that Jesus' pinning ceremony took place. His award was not a commendation medal or a bronze star or even a medal of honor. His award was being accused of crimes he didn't commit. His award was three illegal trials. His award was to be called a blasphemer of God. His award was to be beaten beyond recognition. His award was to be stripped naked and spit on. His award was to be cursed by the very ones that He loved. His award was to labor under the weight of a Roman timber. His award was a solitary 800 meter walk, His award was the fleeing of his closest friends. His award was the mocking of soldiers like me. His award was crown of 100's of thorns  beaten onto his head, His award was to stretch out willingly and his pinning ceremony took place over looking the very city He came to save. His pinning ceremony was not characterized by words of "Job well done" and "Congratulations" but words like, "Save Yourself if can" and "Look...the King of the Jews". His pinning ceremony was characterized not by pride but by humility and pain. His pinning ceremony was accompanied by the darkening of the sun, an earthquake and the tears of the Father. His pinning ceremony cut the veil between you and me and a Holy God and His being pinned and His life's liquid, His blood paid and paved the way for access to Life....the Life of really being able to relate to God without religious hoops to jump through. I'm humbled to have had my pinning ceremony on the same day as Jesus'. Someday soon, I'll get to take all my "Bling" as we call it off my uniform and present it in the real ceremony before my God and King. So today I'd just like to say to Jesus..."Well done sir!...Well done and thank You so much!"

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...