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Posts Tagged ‘families’

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.

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Chaplains are pretty busy during Annual Training season in the National Guard.  Tuesday I gave another suicide prevention class.  It’s a requirement that Soldiers get the presentation at least once a year.  The training focuses on the magnitude of the problem, how common issues can drive anyone to the point of despair, and that everyone can watch out for your battle buddy.

While many try to pin the Army suicide issue on multiple deployments, the majority of issues that drive people to suicide are common issues:  failed relationships, financial difficulty, and legal woes.  These are typical factors that we see in the civilian population, at schools, in factories, and even in the church.  PTSD is a factor in military suicide, but it is not the top issue that Time magazine or other media outlets want you to believe.

The fundamental issue to remember is that everyone can save a life.  You probably survived a breakup, be it in high school, college, or at work.  You probably understand what it is like to bounce a check or have a tough time making your paycheck last the entire month.  We are all in the same boat.  We all have the life experience necessary to help people at risk of suicide.

Remember and apply ACE: Ask, Care, Escort.

If you believe that someone is at risk of suicide, ask him/her about the problem.  Find out what is going on in the person’s life.  Directly ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.  Care by listening to the issue.  Find out what is causing the pain and suffering.  Why is the Soldier upset?  Finally, escort the Soldier to a resource.  That can be a chaplain, a medic, a counselor, an NCO, a friend, or a family member.

Don’t leave the person alone.  Make sure that he or she gets help.  It is okay to call a suicide hotline or wake up a supervisor, just don’t ignore the warning signs.

You don’t have to be a mental health counselor to apply ACE.  You don’t have to be an expert.  But you can practice these basic steps in suicide first aid.  Do your part to reduce suicide and help your friends.

If you need immediate assistance these suicide hot lines are always available:

Military One Source – 1.877.995.5247 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

 

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Each Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of America.  We celebrate freedom, independence, and the precious rights that guarantee the blessings of liberty.  But it is important to remember how religious freedom was the original goal of living in our land.  And by that, I mean prior to signing the Declaration of Independence.

Christianity operated in a very different environment from what we know today.  Prior to the Pilgrims leaving England, there was no separation of church and state.  There was one official church for people to attend and the King was the head of the church.  During the 1600s, British law required citizens to attend worship services.  Those who did not attend would be fined one shilling for each Sunday and holy day missed.  People who conducted unofficial church services could be fined, jailed, or executed.

As persecution and arrests grew, the Pilgrims left England for Amsterdam.  By 1617 the congregation was stable enough for another, more permanent move.  They wanted an enduring place where opportunity and religious freedom could be secured for their families.  They turned their eyes to the new America, braved a sixty-five day voyage across the Atlantic, and started Plymouth Colony.

Days after sighting land, The Mayflower Compact was established as a way to honor God, guarantee just and equal laws in the colony, and create a free form of government.  The Pilgrims decided to establish a system where every member of the colony could enjoy guaranteed rights and freedoms under majority rule.  Freedoms that they were unable to enjoy until that very moment when the ink was dry.

Their voyage and vision created the first written constitution on our continent.  It became the seed of American freedom and democracy.

We often forget the past difficulties that Christians have faced trying to worship God.  We also forget the difficulties in our present age.  We have been so blessed with liberty in our nation, that we forget the inequalities that exist elsewhere.  While we are not fined, jailed, or executed for practicing our faith in America many others suffer across the globe.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the same fears, torment, and punishments of seventeenth century Pilgrims.

Recognize the incredible gift we have as Americans and utilize your religious freedom.  Glorify our risen Savior in song.  Strengthen your faith in a worship service.  Read your Bible in public.  But also take time to pray for the persecuted Church beyond our borders.  Their current plight was ours not so long ago.

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I love lemonade.  There is nothing like a glass of lemonade during the summertime.  It’s the best you could ask for.  A cold glass of lemonade hits the spot after mowing the yard, walking the dog, or just relaxing on the porch.  This amazing drink will immediately satisfy me, draw a thirst quenching “aaahhh” from my mouth, and deliver a toothy smile to my face.

Sure there are different kinds of lemonade out there.  You can get lemonade in an Army mess hall or even a Navy galley.  But I’m talking about the good stuff.  The lemonade recipe that your grandmother used.  You know what I’m talking about.  A recipe with real lemons, sugar, and plenty of kick.

My wife and I recently went to a Chick-fil-A and ordered lemonade with our meal.  We didn’t know what to expect of the drink.  Would the lemonade be a watered down version or something that tastes too syrupy sweet?  The sign said it was made-from-scratch daily, so we decided to take a chance on their lemonade.  We were both amazed.  It was absolutely fantastic!  It had to be one of the finest lemonades out there.  Where had this been all of my life?  Why didn’t anyone tell me that Chick-fil-A lemonade tasted so good?

To say that I was surprised by their lemonade would be an understatement.  I had been settling for something less, when this recipe was clearly better.  This discovery became our new gold standard when it comes to lemonade.  No longer will we settle for something less.

God understands good lemonade.  He gave humanity a recipe to follow regarding life.  He knew that this recipe would satisfy us, quench us, and make us smile.  This recipe is the finest out there.  In fact, it is the perfect recipe.  It is the gold standard of recipes.  But some folks wanted to make their own recipe.  They wanted different ingredients and proportions in the mixture.  They were willing to settle for a recipe with less because it was something that they had made.

Romans 1:25 shares that people exchange the truth about God for a lie or “the” lie depending on your translation.  This passage tells how people “worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator . . .”  This lie is about self.  I know better.  I am more important.  I will do whatever I want.  The rules don’t apply to me.  In essence, I will follow my own recipe.

Folks have the choice to follow their own recipe in life.  Perhaps they didn’t know just how satisfying God’s recipe is for us.  But when you taste and discover how incredibly satisfying it is, you won’t settle for less.  May God bless you and your pursuit of His righteousness, His recipe for your life.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff have recently outlined new policies to deter sexual assaults in the armed forces.

One of the major changes will happen at basic training for new recruits in every service branch.  New recruits will receive training on sexual assault policies within their first two weeks on active duty.  Making sure that recruits are educated on right conduct and appropriate behavior will go a long way in the force.  This prevention and education effort should be viewed as an important step in reducing sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.

Additional policy changes include ensuring that sexual assault cases are handled by officers at the Colonel or O-6 level, and forming a new Special Victims Units across each service branch in order to better investigate assaults and bring more perpetrators to justice.  Cases will no longer be dropped by low-level commanders who can prevent investigations from moving forward with flimsy excuses.  Cases will instead move past the local unit level and be pushed up the chain of command for investigation by senior officers.

While these changes are new and still being fine tuned for implementation, I hope that advocacy efforts will also be a part of the equation.  All of the services need to provide high levels of support through unit victim advocates, sexual assault response coordinators, medical services, legal representation, and counseling.

Veterans and service members can make confidential reports to a chaplain, healthcare provider, sexual assault response coordinator, or victim advocate.  If you need help or have questions you can call 877-995-5247 or click www.safehelpline.org for additional resources.

 

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Moms play a critical role in every family.  They raise us, nurture us, love us, demonstrate the right way to live, and make gigantic sacrifices for us.  We owe them an incredible debt.  Now consider the additional responsibilities of being a military mom.

Military moms act as a single parent during deployments.  Their work load doubles when duty calls a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine overseas.  They endure hardship, long hours, little rest, and loneliness.  They sacrifice time and comforts to make life better at home.  A military mom keeps the family together while times are tough and a loved one is deployed.

The Bible shows us a great example of motherly love and action in Acts 16:1-2.  “Paul came to Derbe and to Lystra.  A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethern at Lystra and Iconium.”

Timothy was a remarkable and talented young man.  He was highly recommended by the local church leaders.  His mom, Eunice, had done such a good job raising and teaching her son that Paul wanted to take him on his missionary journey.  Think about this accomplishment.  Her work at home made this young man ready to enter the ministry of the early church and reach the world for Jesus Christ.

She was a strong woman of faith as was her mother (2 Timothy 1:5).  But Eunice was unique in that she was able to pass this faith along to her son.  This was no small feat since Timothy’s father was not a believer.  It also required extra work since it was usually the father’s job to teach the sons and the mother’s job to teach the daughters.  Perhaps there were times when she felt too exhausted from all the work of the day to spend time with her son.  But she would not give up in her responsibilities.  She was faithful and willing to do the extra work.  Praise God that Eunice made time to teach her son Timothy!

Be mindful of Eunice and her tremendous example from scripture.  Think about her loving sacrifice of time and how it changed her family and ultimately the world.  Consider how moms have made time for us and how we should respond with our own families.  May God give you the faith, the vision, and the strength of Eunice as we celebrate mothers across America.

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The VA recently announced that it will hire an additional 1,600 nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to bolster its staff of mental health providers.  VA officials said they plan to launch an immediate recruiting and hiring effort in its 21 service networks.

Many veterans report difficulty in getting appointments and receiving timely access to the care they need.

I believe that this announcement will make a positive impact on veterans and military families.  Hiring additional staff will go a long way to improve the care and service veterans receive.  It will also increase the trust and confidence that veterans place in VA medical centers.  One bad experience can easily convince a veteran that quality care is beyond their reach, or worse yet, no one cares.  I know service members who say, “if the VA isn’t willing to help me, then why should I even try to get help in the first place.”

Today’s story should be seen as encouragement.  Encouragement that veterans matter.  Encouragement that seeking help will not be ignored.

 

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