On War Movies

I saw “American Sniper” yesterday.  It was uncomfortable viewing. I appreciated its portrayal of Kyle’s struggles to reintegrate after deployment–something especially difficult, I would think, in a job where you have repeated short deployments with little transition time, and when you are not part of a large unit and so are dealing with reintegration issues…

A. T. Jones on Military Chaplains

Alonzo Trevier Jones, a leading Seventh-day Adventist theologian in the late 19th century, and tireless advocate of religious liberty, was also an Army veteran, having been converted while a sergeant serving in the Pacific northwest. I found an interesting article from The American Sentinel (March 20, 1889) where he discusses Army chaplains–it represents the first…

Signs of the Times

In September, I went to Lisbon, Portugal. I was speaking at a gathering of Adventist college and university students from across Europe. One day, I decided to explore. I took a taxi to the Gulbenkian museum to see its exhibit of Islamic art. And then I thought I’d take a walk through the Edward VII…

Choose Life

(Preached at Spring Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church, 13 December 2014) Turn in your Bible to the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 30. Moses addresses the children of Israel as their wilderness wanderings come to a close. Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before…

The Kingdom of God and Political Protest

Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God–but he told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He is a king. He has a kingdom. But it is not an earthly kingdom.  Because of this, it is not established by the means known to the world. It is not established through violence, as he told…

Does God Care about His Creation?

Of course he does. That’s the essence of the Christian doctrine of providence–God not only created the world, but he continues to care for it. But I recently read an article that suggests that only neo-pagans and pantheists are concerned about creation.  The author was arguing against those who would see Revelation 11:18 as promising…

The Ordination of Women

Arguments against the ordination of women in Protestant churches are wrongly framed. The issue is not ordination. That is a smokescreen. What is ordination but laying on hands and appointing someone for a particular work?  The issue is what kind of work women can do in a church.  And those who talk about “male headship”…

A Forgetful People

We are forgetting our stories. We are forgetting the stories that once helped forge a national identity. We put so much focus on “multiculturalism,” and hearing other people’s stories, that we no longer tell our common stories. A Darwinian consciousness has gripped America, so that the past is dark, and deluded, and racist, and we…

Religious Liberty in the Military

The House Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing today on the issue of religious accommodation in the military. Articles about the hearing (example) make it appear black and white. One side says fundamentalist Christians are proselytizing without opposition, and the other side says Christians are oppressed. Obviously both can’t be right — and I have…

Secret to Youth Retention: Parents

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Looks like the Bible was right all along. According to this study, retaining young adults is not a matter of smoke machines, dancing girls, liberalizing standards, or any of the other fads. “The holy…

Luther as Ecumenical Teacher

I had a bit of déjà vu this week, as I visited my seminary for an event for the first time in years. It was the annual Luther Colloquy, now expanded into a full week of activities as the Fall Academy. It was eerie, as the lectures I heard could have been given in their…

Choose Life

At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses addresses the children of Israel as their wilderness wanderings come to a close. Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and…

Religious Liberty in Houston

Contrary to news reports, religious liberty is alive and well in Houston. To underscore the importance of religion in this city (the most diverse in America), it is one of the protected statuses in Houston’s recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance. The intro to the ordinance gives the meat of it: “It is the policy of…

Instant Experts

You’ve probably noticed the phenomenon–a story appears in the news, and suddenly everyone is an instant expert on the topic. It might be the Middle East, or AWOL soldiers, or immigration, or the border.  I started thinking about this after hearing several comments about Pope Francis. A masonic chaplain celebrates what he thinks is a…

Lutheran Purgatory

Rev. Alan Kornacki, Jr., has written an insightful little booklet, Lutheran Purgatory: Pastors without Calls. It’s about the experiences of pastors (jumping off from his own) who find themselves without a call. It’s written from the perspective of a pastor in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, but has wide applicability. A pastor can be without a…

New Opportunities

I got back from deployment at Christmas, and the time since has been an extended sabbatical. I’ve had the usual monthly drill with my National Guard unit, and several opportunities to teach ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). I’ve made some good connections with the Houston Muslim community, and attended an Adventist-Muslim Relations networking event…

A Busy Month

Well, it has been month since I have posted anything here. I’ve been busy. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been invited to three Iftar dinners (I gave a talk about fasting in the Abrahamic religions at one). I’ve also been busy with regular National Guard drill, teaching suicide intervention, attending the state American…

An Ordination Anniversary

I was ordained as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on June 11, 1989, at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Abbottstown, PA. That was twenty-five years ago. Ordination involves the setting apart of someone by laying on of hands and prayer who has been called to the ministry of preaching the Word…

On the death of Ronald Reagan

Ten years ago, Ronald Reagan died. I heard him speak in Rockford, IL, in 1976. I didn’t care for him as president (he was in office during my years in college and grad school). I never voted for him. I disagreed with his Central American policy: the illegal wars, the CIA torture, Oliver North’s escapades…

Luther and Snow-Covered Dung

Roman Catholic apologists frequently claim that Martin Luther illustrated his teaching on justification by comparing it to snow covering a pile of dung. They quote this derisively, saying it is clearly unbiblical. Yet no one has ever been able to cite the passage it comes from. I asked Eric Gritsch about this once, and he confirmed…

The Pope and the Patriarch

Some folks have asked what I thought about the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew. There are some folks who see sinister signs whenever Christian leaders meet. I think this is sad, as the last prayer of Jesus for his followers was that they be one. The schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches…

More on dogfights near cheese farms …

An on-line publication wonders whether a church should be decorated with the fleur-de-lis. A conspiracist sees ominous signs in Pac-Man. Church boards angrily debate carpet color. Those with nothing better to do try to find a new interpretation of Daniel’s 1335 days. Is this what Christianity is about? I minister with soldiers–with men and women…

Reading the Qur’an

Blogger John E. Riütta writes, Why I’m Reading the Qur’an. He says some people were shocked when he mentioned it. The answer seemed pretty obvious to him, as it does to me. You can click on the link to read how he phrased it. I first started reading the Qur’an in college, when I had a…

Spiritual Direction

I’m going to a training tomorrow for spiritual directors. And saying so, I have to acknowledge that some folks view the term, “spiritual direction,” with great suspicion. Somehow my name was added to a list that delivers daily missives condemning “spiritual direction,” “spiritual formation,” and “spirituality.” The basic problem with these jeremiads is that they…

A Strategic Vision for Adventist Campus Ministry

Back in the 1890s Ellen White called for Seventh-day Adventists to embrace the public university and see it as a mission field, sending students to it to evangelize through a ministry of presence and positive witness. Two-thirds of Adventist college students today are at non-Adventist colleges and universities, but Adventist Christian Fellowship says maybe 150…

2014

Well, it’s a new year, and I am home in Houston. The last few weeks of 2013 I was busy with preparing for the return home, and briefing my replacement from the 42d CAB (NYARNG). Then came the journey home, a few days of out processing at Fort Hood, and we were home for Christmas.…