The Cadence of His Voice

cadenceSome people misinterpret the 10 Commandments and the principles of the New Testament as rigid walls erected by God to deny them access to the pleasures of life.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Whenever God says, “Thou shalt not,” it’s to keep you from stubbing your toe or skinning a knee.  Every time He say, “Thou shalt,” He’s inviting you to skip with joy and whistle a tune of happiness.

When you hear the cadence of His voice and walk in step with Him, you discover that He is your strength and shield.

Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him (Psalm 28:7).

The Military Code of Conduct: Sworn to Obey

codeFrom 1971 to 1975, I served in the Air Force and was sworn to obey The Code of Conduct:

ARTICLE I: I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

ARTICLE II: I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

ARTICLE III: If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

ARTICLE IV: If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them in every way.

ARTICLE V: When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country or its allies or harmful to their cause.

ARTICLE VI: I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

Over the years of military history, The Code of Conduct has proven its worth:

  • When Air Force Capt. Scott O’Grady’s F-16 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Bosnia in 1995, he said the Code of Conduct gave him the will to persevere and to evade capture for six days: “I knew it was my duty to survive.” Even though he had been shot down and was alone behind enemy lines, O’Grady said: “I was still part of a team working to get me out, and I had to do my part.”

In a speech following O’Grady’s rescue, Defense Secretary William Perry said the pilot actions had embodied the spirit of the code: “They shot his plane down, but not his spirit.”

  • During Operation Desert Storm, Lt. Cmdr. Larry Slade, was in the backseat of an F-14 Tomcat performing the duties of a Radar Intercept Officer when it was hit be a surface to air missile. Slade ejected, but he was captured by the enemy.  Slade said it takes “takes perseverance, motivation, bravery and courage” to follow the code, and he believes the code helped him survive his 43 days as a POW.

There’s a Code of Conduct in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and there is value in living a life that exemplifies each of them.  In the Old Testament it’s called The Ten Commandments, and in the New Testament it’s found in The Beatitudes.

While it would be wise for you to known each of these codes, I think you would also benefit from being familiar with the two verses that encapsulate each of them:

  • Micah 6:8: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
  • Ephesians 4:1-3: I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

When you adhere to these codes, you can find the inspiration that will stiffen your backbone and give you the courage to live a life that glorifies God.

Awe-Inspired Goosebumps

usaf-thumb-450x355I was watching Kansas City play Houston last night, and during a commercial break I peeked at a video on YouTube.  It featured military jets flying low to the ground, and it reminded me of my time in the Air Force.

There were times that I didn’t want to drive through the guard shack and risk having my vehicle searched by the military police, so I would sneak on and off base through a little-known passage.  To navigate this route, I had to drive by the end of the runway.

Whenever a pilot saw my vehicle at the end of the tarmac, he would hug the deck until he was almost on top of me and then go full throttle. To be rattled by the power of the jets was an exhilarating and awe-inspiring experience, that left me covered with goosebumps.

I’m not sure if Isaiah was ever covered with goosebumps, but I do know that He had an awe-inspiring experience when he saw the Lord in His splendor and glory and heard the voice of angels:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” Isaiah cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” ~Isaiah 6

To emphasize the majesty, purity, and holiness of God, Isaiah didn’t say God is holy; he said God is holy, holy, holy.  This means the holy Creator is wholly unlike His creation:

  • He has never felt the pain of a stubbed toe.
  • The ups and downs of the stock market never worries Him.
  • He has never had an infection and never had a shot of penicillin.
  • His resources are limitless.
  • He has never been puzzled by a puzzle.

Our holy God invites the whole of His creation to approach Him in a time of need: We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin; therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. ~Hebrews 4:14-16

It’s awe-inspiring to think that our mountain moving, mercy-filled, and gracious God, invites you and me into the realm of His glory with three simple words— “Come to me.”

Wear It With Love

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When I was in the military, the uniform of the day specified what I wore on a given day.  I usually wore drab olive fatigues and combat boots, but on occasion I was required to wear my dress blues and spit-shined shoes.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians, he described their uniform of the day, and he instructed them to:

Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  ~Colossians 3:12-14: The Message

Regardless of whether you’re wearing blue jeans, a black tie and suit, or a stylish dress, don’t forget to put on the love of Christ—it’s your “all-purpose garment” and uniform of the day.

Be Trendy and Live Trimly

87273_genesis_fitness_clubI didn’t realize it at the time, but I was a trend setter in late 1971.  I joined an elite group of men in an exercise club.

Health and fitness clubs can be found in any town of any size today.  They’re easy to see with their bright signage that lures you in and smiling attendants who entice you with their catchy mottos: “Expanding wellness and extending lives through health.”

When I joined my club in 1971, it wasn’t Genesis or the YMCA, it was called boot camp.  There were no smiling faces, just sneers.  Words of welcome were usually limited to 4 colorful letters that would have made grandmother blush; and, the mottos were tirades about the history of my family that I’d never heard before.

You may be using some of the latest technological gadgets to enhance your time in the gym. So many people are purchasing devices to monitor their activity that PC Magazine ran an article that compares the different features of Fitbit, Mio Fuse, Vivosmart, Jawbone, and others.

The Be Trendy-Live Trimly Fitness Craze has found its way through the doors of Oral Roberts University.  Freshmen students at ORU must wear a Fitbit, and they’re required to average 10,000 steps a day and 150 minutes of intense activity each week.

Exercise and sports are common analogies found in the bible, and Paul used them, in I Corinthians 9: “So I run—but not without a clear goal ahead of me. So I box—but not as if I were just shadow boxing.  Rather, I toughen my body with punches and make it my slave so that I will not be disqualified after I have spread the Good News to others.

Paul was more concerned with a person’s spiritual health than he was their physical health.  Which one of the two is your greater focus? More importantly, how are you monitoring your spiritual activity?

What would a spiritual Fitbit say about you? Be Trendy, Live Trimly, and Think Theologically.

In The Cross Hairs: Dodging Bullets

Sniper3SNIPER ALERT!  You have a bulls eye painted on your heart, and your faith is the target.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is an atheistic and anti-god organization that has launched a vicious assault designed to silence any expression of faith in the public square.

FFRF is more evangelistic in their efforts to remove God than many Christians are in sharing their faith.  They encourage their membership to contact any business or magazine that casts religion in a favorable light.

Even the Saturday Evening Post and AARP have felt the wrath of FFRF:

  • AARP published an article: “The Paradox of Prayer: A Pilgrimage” and FFRF admonished its membership to contact AARP to express their displeasure.
  • The cover story in the most recent addition of the Saturday Evening Post focuses on the power of prayer.  FFRF has mocked the article and it’s asking its members to write a letter of protest to the editor.

When FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor went to Northern Illinois University to give a speech, she stayed at the Holmes Student Center Hotel.   When she found a copy of the Bible in her room she was angered and shocked.

Poor little Annie found the presence of the Bible to be obnoxious, inappropriate and unconstitutional since it was made available in state-run lodging.  She made the assertion that the Bible was proselytizing her in  the privacy of her bedroom.

Poor little Annie is an orphan-maker:   She is attempting to get Bibles banned from public hotel rooms.

The actions of the FFRF have caught the attention of the American Center for Law and Justice, and it’s speaking out for the rich Christian heritage of the USA:  “We’ve been defending constitutionally protected religious speech at the Supreme Court for decades. Now, we’re sending these universities a critical legal letter to protect the Bible.

You can help protect your Christian liberties by signing a petition here.

The actions of FFRF stand in stark contrast to the sentiment of John Adams, our second President:  “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

It’s time to stand up and speak out before your free speech becomes a crime.

Fighting The Good Fight

rockyOne of the true facts of life is that it is rarely a cake walk and it often serves up a big slice of tough times.  Regardless of the path you choose to follow or the dream you will pursue, you may have to scrap a little along the way.

When the odds seem to be stacked against you, you might want to heed the words of Sylvester Stallone’s alter ego, Rocky Balboa and take it, “One step. One punch. One round at a time.”

Even though I never liked the politics of Muhammad Ali, I admired his prowess as a boxer.  The champ once said that, “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

Ali was known more for his ability to bob and weave than he was for a knockout punch, and his rope-a-dope antics frustrated his opponents as well as his fans.  There were few, however, who questioned his dedicated preparation for a fight and his desire to win.

Just as a boxer trains hard, studies his opponent, and then steps into the ring with faith in his skill set, the Christian needs to:

  • Endure hardness as a good soldier (2 Timothy 2:3)
  • Keep a cool head. Stay alert because the Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up (I Peter 5:8, The Message).
  • Fight the good fight, finish your course, and keep the faith 2 Tim 4:7-8
  • Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11).

The myth of Rocky Balboa was his ability to reach inside and find the inner strength to beat the unbeatable foe—he willed himself to win.

When you have to face a battle, remember the words of Psalm 144:1:  “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, He trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.

God will do more than just train you, He will sustain you: “The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes (Deuteronomy 1:30).”

Note: One of my favorite theme songs is in this clip of  Rocky training with Apollo Creed https://youtu.be/TnqZl_blT7E

Thanksgiving: Thanks to a Special Person

When I posted  this call to  lift our law  enforcement officers  up in prayer, I had no idea that another tragedy would so quickly happen.  I was saddened by the death of  Police  Officer  Garrett Swasey, of the  Colorado  Springs  Police  Department, Colorado who died in the line of duty yesterday.  Please pray for his family, his fellow officers, and the those who were held hostage.

SwaseyToday is Thanksgiving, so I want to say thanks to a special person:  “Hey LEO, I’m thankful for you.”

I realize you might be asking:  “LEO? LEO who?”

Well, it’s not my Uncle Leo.  That fun loving, nephew-teasing, do-whatever-I-can-do-to-help-you fireman, left this world for a better place in 1990. While I am thankful for Uncle Leo, I want to go public, and say, “I’m thankful for a group of people called LEO.”

The character of our Law Enforcement Officers is under attack. This assault is Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc.  It’s poor logic that makes the mistake of claiming that one thing caused another just because it happened first.

Just because a rooster crows and then the sun rises, doesn’t mean that the sun rises because a rooster crows.  Too many people are making the same logical assumption.  Because one white LEO shoots a black person, does not mean that all white Law Enforcement Officers will shoot all black people.

Are there some bad apples in their ranks?  Most definitely, but the rogue are few in number.  Many of these men and women are college educated individuals who are punched, kicked, spat on, and cussed out as a part of their daily routine.  They go to work dressed in bullet proof vests, because they are willing to risk their lives to protect yours.

Are you aware that during the past 10 years, a total of 1,466 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty?  This is an average of one death every 60 hours or 146 per year. In 2014, there were 117 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.  During this same time period, there have been 58,930 assaults against law enforcement officers each year, resulting in 15,404 injuries.

Yes, I’m thankful for LEO:

  • I’m thankful for the more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States.
  • I’m thankful for each one of the 20,538 individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and to protect, and whose names are engraved on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
  • I’m thankful that while I’m at home in the warmth of my house and feasting on a plate of food, that LEO is at work. Whether it is in Chicago, NYC, Wichita, or El Dorado, I’m thankful for you.

If you’re thankful for LEO, “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior.”                                                                                                                                       ~2 Timothy 2:1-3

Piers and the Power of Peers

dockThe answer to the question you may have is, “No and yes.”  There is not a misspelled word in the title of the blog, and I do know the difference between a peer and a pier.  Homophones like “pier and peer” can be a source of confusion:  They sound alike, but they are spelled differently and mean different things:

  • A pier is a structure built on posts that extends from land into the water, and it provides a place for boats to dock.
  • A peer is a person who is equal to you in one or more ways (ability, age, social status, etc.)

This next statement might muddy the water instead of clear it up:  Because a peer is also defined as something of equal worth or quality, it’s possible for piers to be peers.  It’s even possible for you to act as a pier for your peers when you provide a safe harbor for them in the stormy times of life.

As a peer, you exert influence that is either positive or negative.  Solomon paints a powerful contrast of the two:

  • Proverbs 1:9: “My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.”
  • Proverbs 27:17: “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” character?  Have you been enticed or are you the enticer?  Have you sharpened or dulled the character of your peer group?  Are you the shelter in the time of storm or the storm? general

The storms of life are a common denominator of humanity—everyone will face one at some time.  General Douglass MacArthur knew this, and he offered this pray for his son:

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail.

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the weakness of true strength.

Then I, his father will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain. ”

I hope you will do more than just read this and lay it aside and forget it.  I encourage you to peer into the meanings of piers and peers and try to develop a life of peerless character.

Hero Chris Mintz and the Oregon Shooting

umpqua10By now you’ve probably heard of the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, but there are a few details of this incident that you may have not heard.   Evidence indicates that the gunman had an anti-Christian bias. Witnesses reported the gunman asked his victims about their faith. If they confessed to be Christians, he shot them in the head. Those who didn’t answer were shot in the leg.mintz

One victim, Chris Mintz, was shot multiple times.  In a heroic effort to eliminate the threat to fellow students, this Army veteran stepped into harm’s way and charged the shooter.  Even though he was shot in the upper back, left hand, abdomen and both legs, Mintz survived.

While lying on the floor, Mintz said:  “It’s my son’s birthday today,” and the gunman shot him again.

Whenever you hear another news report about this incident, I encourage you to do three things:

  1. Remember to pray for the full and complete recovery of Chris Mintz and the other victims.
  2. Take a moment to pray for the grieving families of those who died.
  3. Reflect on the words of Romans 8:

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: “They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.”

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. ~Romans 8 (The Message)