Thank you

27 05 2013

Memorial Day is a day we set aside to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country.  This year Memorial Day falls on the three year anniversary of when this day became personal. On May 27, 2010 my battalion experienced our first loss.

I will always remember that night.  I went out and God and I had to talk.  I had been praying for what I thought was a pretty valid request.  I did not want to lose anyone.  God was gracious with me.  He let me vent.  He let me tell him this was unfair.  I knew I didn’t understand but I also knew I trusted God (as much as any of us can).

The cross stood out boldly.  God had personally faced the unfairness of this world.  God had faced death. During my season in Afghanistan I went from simply loving God to respecting God.

As a battalion we had to move forward.  We still had a mission to accomplish.  We would lose others.  I was honored to serve as their Chaplain.  I was thankful for a God with the depth to deal with the realities of war and a hope bigger than our circumstances.

So for this Memorial Day I want to say thank you.

First, thank you God.  Thank you for the peace you give.  Thank you for the comfort you provide those who grieve.  Thank you for your understanding and your grace.  Thank you that you are God who “gets it.”  We can come to you with the realities of this life and you walk with us.  Thank you for your church and your people who are faithful in prayer and are your ambassadors to those who are hurting.

This leads to my second thank you.  It is to you.  Thank you.  I have always felt supported.  I can tell you while I was in Afghanistan I could tangibly feel the prayer support.  I have been thanked countless times for my service.  It is humbling.  It will continue to be an honor and a joy to come along side young men and women serving our country.  I will continue to be grateful for your support and encouragement.

I will end with what Jesus said when he instituted the communion meal.  Jesus said, “I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)  While we honor those who died in the service of our country, let us never forget there is a day we look forward to.  One day Jesus will return and on that day there will be an end to war and suffering.  There will be no more deployments.  He will lift his cup and I will be able to say “thank you” face to face.





Just an ordinary day

18 04 2013

For the United States Monday was a terrible day. It was a reminder of people’s capacity to do evil. It was also a reminder of people’s capacity to do good. Many ran towards the scene to help demonstrating compassion and courage.

As Christians we see these acts of good and evil and it reminds us what the Bible teaches. In Genesis 2 God offered Adam and Eve a beautiful creation with an understanding they would trust and obey. True trust and true obedience requires the ability to choose to not trust and to not obey. God placed a tree in their midst that would allow them to make that choice. They were told to not eat from a tree known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Notice it was not called the evil tree. It was a tree with a fruit on it that if eaten would cause us to trust in ourselves more than God and would lead us to set up our own rules rather than obey God’s. Chapter 3 tells us Adam and Eve choose to eat from the tree. Fast forward and we have Monday.

Thankfully God did not give up on us. In fact, God loved us so much he went the full distance and died for us. Thankfully that was not the end of the story. Just weeks ago we celebrated Easter and God’s victory over sin and death. There is this hope Christians have that the evil of this world is limited. We are hopeful because God offers to transform us. As we choose to trust and obey God, we see our lives changed. Hope becomes our calling card. God established the church to be a gathering place for those who have been transformed with the understanding we would go out and make this world a better place.

By now you should be trying to figure out what my title (Just an ordinary day) has to do with what I have shared so far. I am glad you asked.

What if those who were responsible for the evil on Monday had encountered Jesus? What if there was a healthy church with people who reached out in their neighborhood? What if they made a commitment to trust and obey God?

They would have been transformed and Monday would have been just an ordinary day.

If you will offer me a little grace I would like to push us. Sadly in this world there are places where Monday would have been just an ordinary day. Places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places that don’t make the news in the U.S. face events like Monday far too frequently. When Americans hear those stories, we are saddened but quickly move on and worry about dinner. What if there were healthy churches there? What if lives were transformed? What if they had hope?

As Christians we have a powerful message. Let us commit to making our churches healthy. Let us reach out and make our communities better places. Let us also commit the next time we hear a story of a bombing in another part of the world that we will pause and pray just as hard as we prayed Monday remembering that God loves the world and the church is global.