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.

Game of Thrones

game-of-thronesWith the start of its 6th season, Games of Thrones has been trending on social media.  Game of Thrones is a popular television show that is based on a series of fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin.

The main pot of the show is the civil war between three rival families, the Starks of Winterfell, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock, and the Baratheons of Dragonstone. The story line incorporates swordplay, magic, and mythical dragons, as the backdrop in the struggle for power as each family endeavors to lay claim to the throne and to establish their kingdom.

While I have never read the books or watched the series on HBO, I know there is conflict among existing kingdoms—the kingdoms of light and darkness; and, it takes a certain amount of grit and courage to live walk out of the darkness and into the light.  Paul addressed this issue in his letter to the Colossians:

As you live this new life, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage. You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light. For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. For it is by his Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. (Colossians 1:11-14 ~J.B. PHILLIPS).

Never allow anyone to tell you they you have no right to this kingdom.  Jesus said He came to His own, but His own people did not receive Him. But to all who have received Him—those who believe in His name—He has given the right to become God’s children (John 1:11-12 ~NET).

When you walk with Jesus, you have been given the right to:

  • Be God’s Child (John 1:12)
  • Be redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
  • Be a co-worker with God (6:1)
  • Be a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • Be able to come boldly to the throne of grace, so you can obtain mercy and find grace to help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16)

Life is more than just a game of King on the Mountain as you battle to claim a throne.  It’s a real fight, and you have a God who stands by your side:

Your arm is mighty. Your hand is strong. Your right hand is lifted high.
 Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne. Mercy and truth stand in front of you. Blessed are the people who know how to praise you.
They walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.  ~Psalm 89:13-15

Character, Faces and Names

namesDuring a recent conversation, I was asked if I knew a certain person; I replied, “I know the name, but I can’t put a face with it.”  Names are used to identify, organization, warn, encourage, and to express hope.

The name and character of God was the focus of a Psalm that David wrote after the Ark had been recovered and returned to the Holy of Holies:

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!  Remember His marvelous works which He has done…  ~I Chronicles 16:8-12

When a child calls out Mom or Dad, he is expressing trust and hope in the power and resources of his parents.  The same is true when God’s children “Call upon His name.”

Notice how the name of God is associated with His character:

  • Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you—Psalm 9:10
  • The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower—Psalm 18:2
  • The LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust—Psalm 91:2
  • The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him—Nahum 1:7

Whenever I discuss the name of God, I remember the words of Paul in Philippians 2:9-11:

God has highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I want to encourage you to follow the advice of an old gospel hymn, Take The Name of Jesus With You:

Take the name of Jesus with you,

Child of sorrow and of woe.

It will joy and comfort give you,

Take it then wherever you go.

Precious name, O how sweet!

Hope of earth and joy of Heaven.

Precious name, O how sweet!

Hope of earth and joy of Heaven.

The Brotherhood of the Big-Footed

feetSince I belong to the brotherhood of the big-footed, I need a lot of help to keep my feet pointed in the right direction. This is one reason I have a special fondness for Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.

When God’s Word is your guide, and you use it as a lamp for your feet, you’re less likely to stumble and fall.  It’s an ever-ready guide to help you:

  • Gain strength and to grow in love—Ephesians 3:16-20
  • Resist evil—Galatians 5:16-21
  • Increase in knowledge and to be filled with the fruit of righteousness—Philippians 1:9-11
  • Grow in your faith—2 Peter 1:5-8

To burn brightly the old fashioned lamps needed either oil or burning embers of coal.  The oil that fires-up the lamp of God’s Word is prayer.  To find the light and guidance you need, I suggest that you make Psalm 119:33-36 your prayer for today:

Help me understand Your instruction,
and I will obey it
and follow it with all my heart.
 Help me stay on the path of Your commands,
for I take pleasure in it.
Turn my heart to Your decrees
and not to material gain.

A Godly Celebration

god-is-goodYou’ve heard it before: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it’s too good to be true.” When you read Zephaniah 3:17, you may think that it sounds too good to be true:

The Lord your God is with you. He is a warrior who saves you. He happily rejoices over you; renews you with his love; and, He celebrates over you with shouts of joy.

Before you pass judgment on the veracity of this verse, you may want to consider it from the perspective and testimony of some people from the pages of history:

  • Think about Daniel. He was thrown into a den of lions which was the sentence of death; however, God intervened; the lions were afflicted with a serious case of lockjaw; and, Daniel was saved.
  • What about David? This runt of the litter was fiercely courageous, and God used him as a warrior to slay Goliath.
  • Lazarus heard the shout of God, and he experienced a celebration and the joyful power of the resurrection.

Still think it sounds too good to be true?  Then you might want to read Psalm 121, the Pilgrim’s Psalm, from The Message:

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble; your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you—Shielding you from sunstroke, and sheltering you from moonstroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.

Believe it! God is with you, and He wants to happily rejoice over you.

Fashionista or Functionalist

home-juradoNo one has ever accused me of being a fashionista.  I’ve always preferred blue jeans over a three-piece suit; and, instead of wearing patent leather wingtips, I’d rather wear tennis shoes or boots.

This is why you might find it surprising that I took some interest in a fashion slide show: What People Were Wearing the Year You Were Born is geared more to women than it is to me, and it gives a visual history of what has been in style for the last 100 years.

While I do have my Sunday-go-to-meeting-clothes, I also have different sets of clothing that I wear depending on the occasion.  Instead of being a fashionista, I guess I’m a functionalist.  I don’t wear my Muck boots to church, but they’re sure handy when the snow is a foot deep and the temperatures are sub-zero.

When I read the bible, I think Paul was also a functionalist.  Instead of being worried about the fashion and style of his day, he instructed his cohorts to dress for the occasion:

In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray (Ephesians 6 ~JB Phillips).

When he wrote to the Colossians, Paul spoke of functional clothing for the Christian life:

Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Colossians 3:12-13).

Before you leave your house today, you might want to look into the mirror to see if your clothing is fitting for your agenda:

The man who simply hears and does nothing about it is like a man catching the reflection of his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, it is true, but he goes on with whatever he was doing without the slightest recollection of what sort of person he saw in the mirror. But the man who looks into the perfect mirror of God’s law, the law of liberty (or freedom), and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who sees and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness (James 1:22-25 ~JB Phillips)

Boxing, Pampers, and Politics

trump-cruz-liar1Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself thinking about Jim Mc Donald.  Mac was a gym teacher and a coach at El Dorado High School.

Mac was also a man of practical wisdom, and he had the solution to any problem between hot-headed boys when their disputes got too heated and feisty—boxing gloves.

After a few punches were exchanged, and arms were quickly wearied, the arguments were ended.  None of these matches lasted very long, and I can’t remember anyone getting hurt too badly.

If I could find those gloves, I’d encourage Trump and Cruz to get them on and to get after it.  After a couple rounds of physically pummeling each other, maybe they’d be willing to start debating policy and quit demeaning partners.

I’m sick of hearing Ted whine about Donald’s comments about Heidi, and I’m equally tired of hearing Donald whimper because Ted has slighted Melani. Instead of discussing the weighty issues, Ted and Donald are being characterized by a pettiness that’s ridiculous.

Their nauseating narcissism and infantile behavior is casting a dark shadow on the hopes of the Republican Party, and its effort to elect the next president.

As an old sage once said: “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common, they both need to be changed regularly—and for the same reason!”  The foul behavior of these men have left a rank odor in the air, and I think it’s time they make a change.

Peyton Manning Retires or Goodbye Omaha

peyton-manning1Four years ago, Peyton Manning joined the Denver Broncos.  Before he stepped on the field for the first time, he first waked through the locker room to meet the

In this era of super-sized egos, Manning was a rare gem.  He loved and respected the game, and it showed on that April day in 2012 when he shook hands with the guys on the practice squad, the backups, and the starters.  Every one of the Broncos already knew who he was, but Peyton wanted to know each of them.

Most people who follow the NFL were pretty sure Manning’s career was over, so no one was surprised when the news began to leak out on Saturday night.  To show respect for his fellow Broncos, Manning had sent each of them a text before his final decision to retire became public.

As I think about the way this famous man has managed his life, I’m reminded of a couple of Scriptures:

  • Romans 12:3: I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.
  • James 4:10: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.
  • 1 Peter 5:6: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

I hope aspiring athletes will remember Manning less for his signature “Omaha” and more for the manner in which he has respected the game and the way he continues to invest in the lives of others.

Choice Choices and Daunting Decisions

decisionEach day of your life, you are presented with the opportunity to choose to do or not to do. Many of these choices are minor, but there are times when major decisions must be made.  Some of your choices can be as simple as:

  • What clothes will I wear?
  • What should I eat for breakfast?
  • Which brand of toothpaste should I use?

Major decisions can be more taxing and involve questions like:

  • Should I be cremated or have a traditional funeral?
  • Should my money be invested in an IRA or a ROTH?
  • Should I use a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon for back surgery?

On occasion, people will call me when they are facing a perplexing situation that requires a major decision.  They will consult with me and ask for my opinion concerning where they should work, live, or who they should marry.  Their question is often:  How do I know the will of God?

Discovering the will of God is more of a mystery than what it needs to be.  Let me suggest five questions to help guide you.

  1. Is the action you are considering consistent with the principles of the Bible? God will never lead you to do something that is contrary to Scripture.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  2. Have you prayed and asked for guidance? For I know the plans I have for you; plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
  3. Have you discussed your situation with your friends? A nation will fall when there is no direction, but with many advisers there is victory (Proverbs 11:14).
  4. What will the results of your decision look like? If your mother reads about it on the front page of the newspaper, will she be proud of your actions or will she be embarrassed?
  5. Are you depressed, angry, or stressed out? If so, you need to clear your mind and calm your emotions before you try to make a wise decision.

I encourage you take some time to reflect on Psalm 37, and how it relates to your situation.

Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him

Flags, Banners, and the Cross

Banner_smYou’ve probably heard it said many times, and I agree: “If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.”  This simple phrase means there needs to be some consistency between what you say and what you do.

Since I attempt to practice what I preach, I try to read my Bible every day.  When I find a particular verse that speaks to me, I will read it in several different versions, and I’ve found that Biblegateway is a great resource to do this.

During my Bible time this morning, I was reading from I Corinthians, and the 18th verse of the first chapter caught my attention.  Notice how it’s rendered in the J.B. Phillips version:

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already  experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is                        nothing short of God’s power.

One of the realities of being rescued, is the person who needs help has to ask for it. Safety and protection is usually a concern in times of danger and distress. The same was true for David, and he spoke of this in Psalm 60:4-5:

You have raised a banner for those who fear you—a rallying point in the face of attack. Interlude. Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power.

Whether it’s a flag or a banner in the Psalms or the Cross in the New Testament, both give strength to persevere during the ups and downs of life.  Paul said:

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

I recommend that you bookmark Psalm 71:2-4, so it can be a prayer the next time you’re fearful or need some encouragement; and, it might be helpful to go to Biblegateway and read it in several different versions.

Psalm 71:2-4

Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors

I hope you will have a good week as you discover the power of the Cross and find comfort in God as your rock and fortress.