Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Enduring Freedom

Most service members think about spiritual matters during deployment.  We take stock of our lives while in the face of death and danger.  This time of examination and spiritual questioning is important.  Rarely do we stay the same afterward.  This time of spiritual searching will frequently send service members in one of two distinct directions.  Many gain a stronger relationship with God.  Others may question their beliefs and feel spiritually empty.

For those who may be in the later category, I want you to know that it is normal to ask questions about our faith.  Spiritual matters are important downrange, when we have returned home, and as we reintegrate into our communities.  Everyone is impacted differently by war.  We have endured different levels of strife and conflict. We also have different levels of spiritual understanding when we enter the combat zone and when we leave.  Regardless of your location or when you served, your faith will be different when you come home.

No matter if your faith has grown or shrunk, it is important that you continue moving forward in your Christian walk.  Do not stand still in your faith.  1 Timothy 4:7b-8 shares, “rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Every believer, civilian or veteran, needs a spiritual fitness routine.  Like physical fitness, spiritual fitness must be practiced.  While it is different from going to the gym and lifting weights, the concept is the same.   We need to exercise our spiritual muscles in order to grow our faith.

Spiritual fitness can take place in many different ways:

  • prayer
  • reading scripture
  • attending worship services
  • seeking spiritual counsel
  • fellowship
  • meditation
  • journaling

This is a small, but important sample of spiritual exercises that you can try.  Feel free to try one and gradually combine others to your list.   You can also participate in these activities with your family, friends, and a Christian community of believers, adding a greater dimension to your spiritual fitness by increasing your connection to other people.

Spiritual fitness is important to everyone.  It draws us closer to God, forms us in the image of Jesus Christ, and allows us to strengthen our faith.  Your spiritual fitness also affects your ability to deal with stress and times of crisis.  Multiple studies determined that veterans who have an active spiritual practice report fewer and less severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  Those who struggled with their faith or felt alienated from God had more severe PTSD symptoms.

Spiritual fitness also reduces anxiety, loneliness, and depression.  Studies have also documented how people with a weekly pattern of attending worship services live longer, are healthier, and recover from illness more quickly.

Veterans and service members can take comfort in the transforming power of God. No matter where or when you were deployed, God still cares about you.  No matter what you saw downrange or what you did, you can have a redeemed life.

When life seems full of despair, the Lord shares purpose, meaning, forgiveness, and acceptance.  Continue to move forward in your faith.  Train yourself to be the godly and righteous person you were called to become.

Read Full Post »

conflict

Tell me if you have seen this before.  People of faith acting like they have no faith.  It can happen at work, on the basketball court, or (gasp) even at church.

Here is where we must double down and show that our faith in Christ is alive.  We must approach the individual in love, correct the erring brother or sister, and disciple that person toward a stronger walk with the Lord.  It is tough work for anyone to mentor or disciple fellow believers.  It can be dirty, difficult, and burdensome.  But there is a great reward in seeing others strengthen their faith.

Some folks will give you a self-help book or tract on anger management.  Perhaps we should point to what has worked well in our past instead of proclaiming a new and better way.  We already have a reference manual on conflict, the Bible.  We should continue to use the Bible as the foundation of our faith, especially in matters of behavior.  It can certainly speak to the need for correction, love, and forgiveness.

The Apostle Paul wrote to several churches that needed guidance in solving conflict and maintaining their Christian walk. Those letters comprise a large part of the New Testament. Jesus even addresses how to approach a sinning brother in Matthew 18:15-17. Another powerful passage is in Luke 17. Here we see the need for brothers and sisters to speak the truth in love and if the erring person repents, we must forgive. The offense and number are irrelevant. We are called to love one another. But keep in mind that any kind of disciplinary procedure should always have restoration of the sinning person as the ultimate goal.

I believe that a Biblical approach in resolving conflict is the best way forward for churches. It creates a transparent environment where people are open with each other, seeks righteous behavior in our world, and conveys Christ.

Read Full Post »

Heavenly Father, we ask that You continue to heal and restore as we remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Comfort those who mourn the loss of loved ones from that day and all the actions that have followed in its wake.

Be with our military as they leave their families and sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears on our behalf.

Guide our leaders as they direct our nation.

Eternal God, help us to fix our eyes on You, to live like Christ, and to respond to Your Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Read Full Post »

I was driving on the interstate when a white Nissan Maxima passed me.  The car was moving pretty fast, so it had my attention.  As the car zoomed by, I could see the outline where an ichthus once resided on the trunk lid.  Ichthus is the fancy word for a “Jesus fish” logo.

Clearly, one of two things could have happened to the vehicle.  First, someone took the fish off the car.  Second, the fish fell off the car.  I wanted to think that a Christian sold his or her car to this speed crazy maniac and then he pried it off the Maxima.  But I digress.  Regardless of how it left, the result would be the same.  It was a marked car.  Jesus used to be there and He left a distinguishable mark.

Scripture tells us that those who follow Jesus are marked men and women.  Ephesians 1:13 reads, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

In that era a seal denoted ownership.  That unique mark, stamp, or seal was legally recognized for the land owner or businessman to identify the possession.  It would also be used to show that a transaction took place.

As followers of Jesus, we should be like the marked car.  Our lives should look like, sound like, and operate like Christ, regardless of the location.  Our behavior and actions should stand out as a way to glorify the Son of God.  We are marked men and women who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit.  This is why we smile.  This is why we share the hope that is in us.  This is why we demonstrate kindness and service to others.  We are a redeemed people who have been changed.

So let us remember who made the distinguishable mark on our lives and may that compel us to reflect the love of Christ.

Read Full Post »

The Senate confirmed Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass as the next chief of the National Guard Bureau and Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel as the bureau’s vice chief during a late evening session July 26.

Grass, who also will be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be promoted to the rank of general. Lengyel will earn his third star.

The Senate’s action followed Grass’ July 19 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“To the men and women and families of the Army and the Air National Guard … you can know that I will be your strongest advocate,” Grass said during the hearing.

Asked about the his role on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Grass said, “As a member of the Joint Chiefs, I [will] definitely have to bring forward the adjutants generals’ and governors’ thoughts, concerns, on the homeland mission. … I also need to be able to balance that with the federal mission and deployable forces and be able to give my best military advice to the secretary of defense as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.”

Grass will succeed Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard’s first four-star general and first to be appointed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

1 Timothy 2 is a call to prayer.  It reminds us to offer prayers and petitions for all who are in authority.  Take time to remember the new leadership at NGB and the important roles they have.

Read Full Post »

Everyone loves being called a “single digit midget” in the military.  It means that you have entered the end of your deployment cycle and you are under 10 days from being home.  Your freedom flight is ready to carry you across the ocean and onto American soil.  A homecoming is just around the corner.

Homecomings also mean that a military family is giddy with excitement.  They are preparing to circle a date on the calendar and pick up their hero at the airport or attend a welcome home ceremony.  Either way, it will be a day to remember; a day that soldier, spouse, and family have been praying for.

Once the military family is reunited, challenges can easily surface.  This transition will take time for everyone involved, so here are some tips once the deployment is finished.

Give your hero time to adjust at home.  Don’t tightly schedule activities or gatherings.  He or she may require additional rest adjusting to a new time zone, a change of food, and a change of climate.  Yes, while it may be hard to believe, but the weather in some parts of the world is much worse than the heat we’ve experienced this summer.

Plan some together time for the immediate family.  Do something special where all the kids can be involved.  This will help your hero get back into the rhythm of family life.  It’s often best to re-connect as a family first and then have a romantic getaway.

Discuss roles and responsibilities.  Roles typically change during the deployment.  Will everything return to the pre-deployment routine?  Who will balance the checkbook?  Who will pick up the kids after school?  Who will mow the yard?  Perhaps the kids have been fixing dinner on Friday night for the last 5 months and they enjoy the challenge.  What will normal family life look like now that your soldier is home?  Now is the time to discuss what is best for the family.

Be patient and tolerant with your spouse.  New experiences during a deployment may bring changes to your hero’s attitude and outlook.  The parent who stayed home may also have a short fuse from being the “only adult” at home.  Remember Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you . . . .”  Challenges will arise, but continue to show grace and compassion toward each other.

You just spent a year apart, now is the time to enjoy togetherness.  Get off the computer.  Put down your phone.  Go out.  Talk.  Make time for each other.  Celebrate the gift God has given you.

Read Full Post »

Each year Gallup releases a “Confidence in Institutions” survey.  This year it reveals that only 44% of Americans have a “great deal or quite a lot of confidence in ‘the church or organized religion.'”

Organized religion has ranked at the top of the list from 1973-1985, but now it is tied with the medical system.  Bean counters will quickly point out that religion still ranks fourth out of sixteen institutions tested, but that can hardly be viewed as a prize.  Bronze medal?  Sorry church, you missed it by that much.

After I let the survey results simmer, my thoughts went to people who have been hurt, wounded, and injured by the church.  When I hear stories of people searching for a different church home it is always for a reason.  Too often families leave a congregation because of strife, bitterness, and conflict.  They leave due to splits and infighting.  They leave because of hurtful comments and negative attitudes.  Unfortunately, the pain can be so intense that many won’t even bother to look for a new church home.  Many stop looking or worse yet, stop going.  When that is the legacy, why would people express confidence?

I like it when people describe the church as a hospital for sinners.  It is the emergency room where we find comfort and peace through Jesus Christ.  But this spiritual hospital will have people who are coughing, fever-ridden, and sick.  There are varying levels of sickness due to sin.  Cross-bearing is a requirement for ministry to occur in this setting.  There will be unpleasant people in every congregation, but then again what emergency room doesn’t have someone in need of a physician?

If you are looking for a church home or stopped looking for a solid body of believers, remember that Jesus died for you and all who suffer from the pain of sin.  He died for everybody.  Congregations are made up of imperfect people who are in need of the Great Physician.  Place your confidence in the Son of God and you will never be disappointed.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: