Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘religion’

memorial_day

For many, this weekend marks the beginning of summer.  It will entail a trip to the lake, a national park, or just staying home to grill some brats. Others will attend patriotic parades, decorate grave sites, fly the American flag, or participate in a Memorial Day event.    

It is a weekend when we remember those who have died defending our nation, our freedom, and our principles.  It is estimated that nearly 1.3 million service members have died and an additional 1.5 million service members were wounded fighting for our country.  Speakers and politicians will highlight stories of sacrifice, selfless service, and love as essential values that create military heroes.  While people will point to battlefields, war zones, and far off foreign campaigns as the epitome of valor, these values have a greater beginning.

We understand sacrifice, selfless service, and love because of God.

John 3:16 shares, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  God gave His Son as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongs of humanity.  This sacrificial gift shows the value and love that God has for us, His children.  Jesus Christ demonstrates this perfect and holy love by freely laying down His life for us.  He acts as a substitute, bleeds and dies on our behalf, so that we can benefit in life with the Lord.

It is a familiar story that we will hear about heroic Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.  It is the same reason that we hand out medals for bravery and valor.  But do not forget the one who died for you.  Many died for our freedom, but one died for our salvation.

Read Full Post »

National-Day-Of-Prayer

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 is the National Day of Prayer.

You can join the effort in several ways.  You can attend an event in your community, go to a worship service, take time to pray at home, or commit to pray for an issue on the website http://nationaldayofprayer.org.

The National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of May, each year as designated by the US Congress.  People are encouraged “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. Each year since its inception, the President has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray.

No matter where you are or what plans you have for Thursday, take time to share the concerns of your heart with the Almighty.

Read Full Post »

moh

Today President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the legendary Roman Catholic priest from Pilsen, Kansas, the nation’s highest military honor, making him the sixth chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor.

Chaplain (CPT) Emil Kapaun was posthumously awarded the medal of honor for his selfless service and heroic efforts during the Korean War.  He repeatedly risked his own life to aid wounded soldiers and keep their faith while in captivity.

During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety. When he couldn’t drag them, he dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded.

Herbert Miller remembers the first time he saw Chaplain Kapaun.  It was November 1950 and Miller, an Army sergeant, had a gun pointed at his head by a Chinese soldier.  Miller lay in a frozen, blood-stained ditch in North Korea.  Hit by a hand grenade, his ankle broken, Miller figured he was a goner.  But then, seemingly out of nowhere, a soldier bearing a small cross on his helmet appeared.

“Chaplain Kapaun came from across the road,” Miller recalled. “He pushed that man aside. He picked me up and carried me. We were both captured at that time.  “I kept telling him, ‘You can’t carry me like that. You put me down,’ ” Miller said, worried he was too much of a physical burden for the slender Kapaun. “He said, ‘If I put you down, they’ll shoot you.’ ”

After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners were forced to march into enemy territory toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, carrying the wounded on stretchers, and encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.

After coming down with a bout of dysentery accompanied by pneumonia, Kapaun was sent to the camp’s “hospital,” which POWs called the “death house,” a place with little-to-no medical care. As he was being carried to the hospital, he asked God’s forgiveness for his captors, and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith.   Kapaun died two days later, on May 23, 1951, at the age of 35.

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans. His extraordinary courage, faith, and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, and retain their faith in God and country.

Read Full Post »

Bible

Hollywood can say what it wants, but The Bible is the top-rated cable program on Sunday nights.

The History Channel’s mini-series The Bible drew an impressive 14.1 million viewers on its first night.  Horizon media, meanwhile, said some 50 million viewers tuned in to at least some portion of the program over the first three weekends of the five part series.

The show is an outright success.  The latest installment pulled in 11 million viewers and audience retention rates are just as remarkable. To put the numbers into perspective, the premier had better ratings than The Walking Dead and every episode beat Fox’s American Idol.  If the ratings don’t impress you, they certainly confound Hollywood’s entertainment experts.

This Judeo-Christian-themed show reveals an appetite for religious programming that is consistently overlooked in Hollywood.  Did they forget that The Passion of the Christ made over $600 million to become the highest grossing R rated film in history?  Did they also miss The Chronicles of Narnia, Courageous, and Fireproof?

Some critics claim that the calendar is artificially inflating interest around the series.  I don’t see how this argument holds water.  Sure the mini-series airs during Lent and will end on Easter Sunday, but that does not speak to the desire for clean stories and religious programming every day of the year.  The content is drawing the audience, not the calendar.  Content is what drew people to the show and developed a loyal following.

The series is truly unique in that the creators wanted to honor the integrity and accuracy of Scripture.  Nancy Dubuc, president of the History Channel, told MovieGuide.com that a group of theologians and scholars were regularly consulted on the accuracy of the project. “This is probably the most important book in mankind, regardless of your beliefs or religious affiliation,” Dubuc says. “We spend a lot of time talking about this book, and probably not enough time knowing what’s in it.”

Again, that is the entire point.  People are curious about the Old Testament, the New Testament, and how the Bible impacts us.  While Hollywood has not cracked the code, people want to connect with the story of God.

Thanks to the History Channel and The Bible leadership team, people are watching the series, having conversations about the text, and finding out what the story of God holds for them.  That is the ultimate success no matter how the ratings turn out next week.

Read Full Post »

Bible Series

If you have seen the ads, there will soon be something worth watching on television.

The History Channel will present, “The Bible” as a five-week mini-series.  The premier is March 3, 2013 from Emmy Award winning husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.  The final episode of the series will air on Easter Sunday and will feature the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This television series is a great and simple way for people to explore the message of God.  While the Bible is one the best-selling books of all time, many have not read the text.  The mini-series will give Christians, spiritual seekers, and curious souls an opportunity to discover the Holy Bible in a new and exciting way.  Hopefully, it will serve as a reason for folks to open the text, connect with Christ, and continue their discovery of God’s plan for humanity.

Below are a couple of reviews for the series.  Feel free to share the news and catch the show.

“To help insure the accuracy of the miniseries, many Christian scholars served as advisors and hundreds of Christian leaders have given their endorsement.” – Outreach Magazine

“It is also a project close to Mr. Burnett’s heart. In the past couple of years the 52-year-old former paratrooper says he has become deeply religious, a transition he credits to Roma Downey, his wife since 2007. ‘It wasn’t until I met Roma that I truly understood my faith and it’s been a dynamic shift for me,’ Mr. Burnett said.” – Wall Street Journal

“Famed television producer Mark Burnett tackles his projects with passion, but The Bible is a special labor of love.  The 10-hour, five-part docudrama, which premieres March 3 on the History Channel, will span the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, presenting some of its best- known stories, including Noah’s Ark, the Exodus, Daniel in the lions’ den and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

‘In terms of importance, nothing we’ve ever done, not Touched By an Angel, not Survivor, not The Voice, not The Apprentice, none of this could possibly compare to The Bible,’ Burnett says. ‘To us, as a family, we love the Bible.
This is not a TV show to us. It’s images and sound and sacred text that people will still watch, way after our grandchildren are old people.’

Since the entire Bible can’t be covered in 10 hours, the miniseries, which was filmed in Morocco, focuses on a select group of stories and features such compelling figures as Abraham, Moses and David. Some stories had to be compressed for artistic purposes. ‘In the end, what we’ve done is a meta-narrative, a grand narrative of emotionally connected stories. We know we’re not qualified to teach the Bible. We’re qualified to be good television producers and storytellers. By telling these emotionally connected, big stories, hopefully millions of people will reopen their Bibles,’ Burnett says. Downey came up with the idea for the miniseries a few years ago. ‘It is our obligation to tell the stories as written,’ he says. ‘The stories are so brilliant and compelling.’ The project will have broad appeal, he says. ‘If you know the Bible, you’ll enjoy seeing the stories come to life. If you’ve never read the Bible, I think you’ll love the stories,’ he says.  ‘There’s a reason the Bible is the most widely read book in the world.'”USA Today

Read Full Post »

Military Hands

Every marriage is precious in the sight of God.  It is an institution that began in Eden and continues with us as a gift from our Creator.  We often forget that marriage was meant to be a blessing for humanity.  When Jesus was asked about divorce in Matthew 19, he pointed back to the creation story in Genesis. Perhaps the people needed a lesson on the original intent of matrimony.  Here Jesus reminds the crowd that the marriage of a man and woman was meant to be permanent, a bond of eternal love and devotion.  It is a lesson that we still need today.

No marriage is easy.  They all take work.  They all require sacrifice and commitment.  Military marriages require all the above plus an extra dose of patience, a heap of faithfulness, a double batch of kindness, and a strong shot of self-control.

This week served as a reminder that military marriages are especially difficult.  A recent investigation by the Associated Press showed that 30 percent of military commanders who were fired since 2005 lost their jobs because of sexually related offenses.  The list includes sexual harassment, adultery, and improper relationships.  These 78 commanders lost more than their rank.  They lost more than their position on a military post.  They lost their families.

We all have distractions in our marriage, but military couples truly have an extra burden.  They endure deployments, reuniting as a couple and a family once the deployment is finished, frequent separations for training missions, plus a litany of long days and late nights for regular work to get done.  It is tough to make a marriage like this succeed.

When I completed the chaplain officer basic course at Fort Jackson, drill instructors had the highest divorce rate on post.  Soldiers with this job had an 85% divorce rate.  That number shocked me back then and it still does today.  When you get past the initial surprise, the percentage made sense.  These drill sergeants arrive at work before 5 am, wake up the recruits, train hard all day, get home around 7 or 8 pm, and repeat this kind of schedule until graduation day.  Where is the time for your spouse?  When can you enjoy your family?  With schedules like this, who would be surprised with such a high divorce rate?

Don’t focus on the headlines.  Don’t focus on the gloom and doom.  Military marriages can and do work.  Part of the solution is making time for each other.  Stay current with your spouse.  Attorneys, doctors, social workers, and yes, even chaplains, are required to get a set number of continuing education hours each year.  This is encouraged to keep professionals current on the latest ways of helping those they serve.  We should show the same devotion to stay current in our marriages.  Don’t allow your relationship to wither on the vine.

Remember the gift that God has given you.  Your marriage is meant to be a blessing.  Also remember how God intends us to use the gift of marriage.  May Christ continue to strengthen your eternal bond of love and devotion.

Read Full Post »

trafficking

Human trafficking is the third largest crime in the world.  It is also one of the fastest growing crimes across the globe.  Trafficking consists of kidnapping, slavery, child abuse, prostitution and is a problem right here in America.

Child sex trafficking is a terrible type of abuse that no one should ever encounter.  The average age at which a girl enters prostitution in this country is fourteen and in some states it is as low as twelve.  The stories of survivors are depressing and horrific.

January 11-13 has been designated as the weekend of prayer to end slavery and trafficking.  This is the second annual national prayer initiative where people can join together and pray for the end of this terrible injustice.  Make time to lift up the victims, survivors, traffickers, and customers who are creating the demand for this crime.

Please mark your calendars, mobilize your prayer warriors, and devote time to this worthy prayer initiative.

Read Full Post »

Technology is trying to make the world better, but it often makes me feel like a dinosaur.

One of the latest marvels out there is a soft, flexible, wristband that you wear 24 hours a day.  It is combined with an app that tracks how you sleep, move, and eat.  The “UP” by Jawbone then helps you use that information to “be your best.”  The concept is extremely impressive, especially to me, a guy who frequently falters in his exercise routine and does not get enough sleep.

Gadgets are often used as mirrors to show people the good, the bad, and the ugly things we do each day.  The “UP” is ultimately trying to improve the physical health of people by showing them a better way and giving daily reminders on what to change.  After learning about this new item, I immediately began to wonder, what technology or gadget is out there to improve spiritual health?  What electrical device could show people a better way and give daily reminders on how to improve their spiritual lives?  What technology, gadget, or electronic doodad would strengthen my walk with Christ?

I am a dinosaur, so responses were slow.  I instead turned to some familiar items that currently help people strengthen their faith.  I distinctly remembered a Marine I met at Camp Lemonnier.  He downloaded the entire Bible to a handheld device and used that for our Wednesday night study of Matthew’s gospel.  During this year’s annual training exercise, Soldiers were constantly asking for a “Military BibleStick.”  It is a digital audio player that is pre-loaded with a dramatized recording of the entire New Testament.  I handed out more sticks than Bibles this summer.  There was another Soldier who wanted to read the entire Bible in a year, so I showed him a website where he could tailor a reading plan to his schedule.

As people begin to use their new gadgets and electronic Christmas gifts in the new year, utilize technology so that you can improve your spiritual health.  Download your favorite translation of the Bible, add a prayer appointment to your electronic calendar, use Pandora and listen to your favorite Christian artist, find a website and sign up for a daily or weekly devotion.  Don’t worry.  Dinosaurs can jump into the mix as well.  It does not matter if you keep a journal on a note pad or an iPad, the focus should be on building your spiritual muscles in 2013.  Use technology in a way that will strengthen your faith and devotion in Christ.

Read Full Post »

We love this simple story because it speaks to our condition.

Christmas can be downright maddening.

First, everyone wants a piece of your time.  Once you flip your calendar to December there is an immediate flood of invitations to office parties, family gatherings, teas, banquets, and more.  The rush of the Christmas season only seems to get worse as the month continues.

Second, there is a flurry of activity.  Get out the decorations.  Put up the lights.  Set up the tree.  Start baking cookies and other delights before the guest arrive.  Don’t forget the multiple pageants and plays you need to attend also.  And remember to get your annual Christmas card out before everyone else.

Third, commercialism and consumerism run amuck.  Celebrate Christmas this year with a 60 inch flat screen tv for $200 this Saturday only.  Remember that it needs to be HD or the kids won’t like it.  We really go crazy buying presents.  Our focus easily turns to material items and excess instead of providing gifts of joy.  This year the local Christmas bureau didn’t have enough people to adopt needy families.  They ask for food, blankets, coats, towels, cleaning supplies and other necessities.  Perhaps those were the gifts that we should have given this year.

This cartoon is a timeless classic because it sums up our struggle with Christmas.  Charlie Brown and company encounter all the typical distractions that try to steal the real meaning of Christmas.  In his frustration, Charlie Brown asks, “isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  The turning point of the cartoon is when Linus takes center stage to share the story of Luke 2, Jesus being born in Bethlehem.

We too, get caught up in the parties, the activities, and the gift giving, but there is much more to the season.  Take time to hear the simple story.  Take time to focus on the importance of angels proclaiming his birth.  Take time to focus on what is truly important this Christmas season, our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Read Full Post »

Everyone loves the Christmas season.  While reasons may vary from hearing a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus to snow sledding, people love the Christmas season.  It is the arrival of our promised Emmanuel, “God with us.”  This season also has a funny way of changing people.

Yes, Christmas is the best time of year, but we often forget to mention what it does to us.  Christmas brings out the best in us.  No matter where you live, there is an increased effort for people to be kind, caring, and generous.  Drivers are more courteous on the roadways.  You open the door for someone when their arms are full with shopping bags.  Neighbors help each other by raking leaves or shoveling snow off sidewalks.  We even tell total strangers, “Merry Christmas!”

This spirit of gratitude and grace comes from our Creator.  God has demonstrated His love in sending Jesus Christ to earth.  We celebrate this perfect gift in many ways, but the power of God’s love changes us.

We reciprocate the love that God has shared with us, His children.  The gift of Jesus is so tremendous that we live in a different way.  We choose to be transformed and in turn show greater compassion.  This beautiful event happens more now than at any other time of the year.  Christmas and the celebration of our Savior yield a new and different world.  One where people give gifts, adopt orphans, feed the homeless, care for widows, support unemployed veterans, and show compassion to the resident stranger.  In short, we decide to live out our faith.  We put God’s plan of grace into action.

As the Christmas holiday approaches you and your family, make the decision to be transformed.  Reflect the love that God has poured out from heaven, through Jesus the promised Messiah.  Demonstrate your faith and share the love that you have received from our Heavenly Father.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: