Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Respecting an Establishment of Religion

            As I was searching the Word this morning to find something to share for the “Word of the Day,” I ran across these verses in the first chapter of Jeremiah:

4 The Lord gave me this message:

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.
8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others you must build up and plant.”

            The interesting thing about this particular passage – as it concerns me today – is the fact that the Christian faith is being persecuted at an alarming rate. I understand that since its inception it has been scrutinized and persecuted even to the point that Jesus was crucified and most every one of his disciples were martyred to prevent “The Way” from prevailing but this generation might really be the last opportunity for our society to reclaim our Judeo-Christian values.
            As an Army National Guard Chaplain, I can only give you a snapshot from my foxhole. There appears to be a consistent theme of challenging Chaplains to defend their callings at the expense of their faiths. By that I mean, in order for a Protestant Christian Chaplain to continue serving the Nation and Constitution, we are being challenged by entities within our government and organizations outside our government to compromise what we have sworn to “uphold and defend” not only as written in our Constitution but as agreed upon within our various denominations and Endorsing bodies.
            Jesus said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (John 15:18). It’s not surprising to be persecuted. What’s surprising is the methodology, by which Christian Chaplains are being attacked – in the name of pluralism, Equal Opportunity, quotas, Political Correctness … whatever! You name it! But here’s the beauty in the beast: through all this we get to share the light and hope of Jesus Christ! Regardless of the oppression, we have the power of the Holy Spirit, compelling us to rise above this and share his hope! “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die (Philippians 1:20).

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers (1 Timothy 4:10).

But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ (Hebrews 3:6).

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true (Hebrews 6:11).

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it (1 Peter 3:15).

            I encourage you – all of us – to pray for our Chaplains – the men and women serving those who serve. May they never be put in the position to compromise their own faiths regardless of which faith they claim.

Amendment 1 to the US Constitution
            Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Defenders of the Faith

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bird in the Ceiling

            All morning while I’ve been at work there’s been a bird in the drop ceiling. I’ve heard it jumping around up there and have even hit some of the tiles hoping to “scare” it out of the area but it seems to have made the space above my office its new home. I borrowed a broom from the guys across the hall hoping that I could lift a tile and give the bird an escape route.
            As God so often does, He painted a picture for me concerning my own life and the sin I so easily get caught up in. Like the bird “trapped” in the drop ceiling, so my life “trapped” in sin is similar. Sometimes I get into the sin by chance, sometimes on purpose but, I guess, it’s ultimately my choice to enter into sin … or, at the very least, to entertain the temptation to sin.
            I know that Scripture tells me this: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
            Just like me giving that little bird an escape route with the open tile, God gives me – He gives each of us – an escape route from temptation. Whether it be claiming his Word or making something blatantly obvious like hanging up the phone during a risqué phone call to someone besides one’s spouse, God always gives a way out – the opportunity to do the right thing.
            Let’s make the hard right instead of taking the easy left.