Rocks

President Trump said the U.S. Soldiers he’s sending to the border should shoot those who might throw rocks at him. Then, after a lot of push back from the military, he backed off and said he didn’t say that. He said they would arrest them. I thought of that wintry day in Boston, 1770, when…

Seeing the Face of Christ: Part 2

Two years after my Guatemala trip, I headed south once more, this time to El Salvador (Spanish for, “The Savior”). Leaving Guatemala, I had questioned whether I should leave the Army, but I had nothing about it, and that was bothering me some. I had learned one lesson very well, however: I decided not to…

Seeing the Face of Christ: Part 1

When Richard Nixon bombed North Vietnam in January 1973, a number of Christians urged evangelist Billy Graham to intervene. But Graham refused. He said, “God has called me to be a New Testament evangelist, not an Old Testament prophet.” It was the pressure of the situation, no doubt, that led him to make such an…

Pity the Nation

A poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (video) “PITY THE NATION” (After Khalil Gibran) Pity the nation whose people are sheep And whose shepherds mislead them Pity the nation whose leaders are liars Whose sages are silenced And whose bigots haunt the airwaves Pity the nation that raises not its voice Except  to praise conquerers And acclaim…

Closed Hearts and Minds

I’m dismayed at some Christians today. They are so caught up in rightwing conspiracy theories, nationalism, racism, fear and hate that they cannot see Jesus in those who are naked, hungry, sick, or in prison. They have a cynical world view, and in their fear they reach out to teachers and preachers and politicians who…

Between the Pincers

My great-grandmother’s family left New Brunswick at the beginning of the Acadian renaissance, in 1883  (a year before the Acadian tricolor was adopted at Miscouche). Acadian leaders had little sympathy for those leaving at this critical time.. Léon Thériault comments, …. Although exact figures are not available, it appears that people from St. Mary’s Bay,…

Adventist Beliefs — Things Unsaid

Here are some things that the Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church never mentions. It never says which translation of the Bible to use, nor how many books are in it. You can use the KJV with Apocrypha or NIV without. It never takes a position on the “eternal generation of the…

When Chaplains Protest

[Originally posted in 2016] You don’t often hear of military chaplains engaged in political protest or resigning in disagreement with policy. But it does happen. Charles Liteky, recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam, returned his medal in 1986 in protest of Reagan’s Central America policies, laying it with an explanatory letter…

INDIVISIBLE–A Chaplain’s War

We received free tickets to see “Indivisible” yesterday afternoon. It’s about Chaplain Darren Turner, and his 2007 deployment to Iraq. He had just finished chaplain school and been assigned to Fort Stewart when his unit deployed for 15 months as part of the surge. Fifteen casualties, IED and rocket attacks–what a way for a brand…

Abraham “in Hope Believed”

(October 20, 2018, Sheppard AFB) It’s great to be back with you again, There’s a bit of sadness with this visit, as this is the last time we’ll be having this service. I’m grateful to all who have taken part. It is obviously not the end of our concern and care for our Adventist members who are…

End It Now

My first ten years in the military (1986-1996) I knew of one Soldier suicide and no sexual assaults. In the past ten years, those are two major issues I deal with. Again. And again. And again. People in power think they are entitled. They think they are invincible. They think they should protect fellow members…

A Prayer for 9-11-2018

Almighty God, We gather this morning in memory of a day that changed our world. A day of darkness and fear, a day of loss and grief.  We remember our sense of vulnerability and the feeling of a world turned upside down. We remember the war that began then, and has continued for a generation.…

Wedding Sermon, Part Two

(At the wedding of Aimee-Joy Cork and Joseph-Alexander Hearn, August 5, 2018, Katy, Tx) The last time Joy sang that song in public she was holding my hands and looking into my eyes. It was May 23, 1982. Joy’s father was the pastor who stood before us. Some of you were there. Ten years later,…

Wedding Sermon, Part One

What a Wonderful World Text: Genesis creation story (Preached at Spring Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church the day before my daughter’s wedding). Shortly after we moved to Houston in 1998 we took a trip to New Orleans. Aimee was in first grade, and there was one thing she wanted to see above all others: Louis Armstrong…

The Changing Face of Ministry

There’s a decline in respect for pastoral ministry, it seems to me, even among pastors. And by “pastoral ministry” I mean the visiting and care for members. I’ve seen it in pastors who give excuses for not visiting members in the hospital, even when they were told in advance and specifically asked. “That’s the job…

Government Must Not Define Religion, Part Two

No military chaplain can be forced to violate their conscience; that’s clear in both law and Army Regulation 165-1. Unfortunately, an investigator at Fort Bragg faults a chaplain who followed his conscience and Army regulations (press release). When a lesbian couple applied for a Strong Bonds retreat, he found a substitute. For that, he was…

Old-Fashioned, Part Two

Jesus said, “Have you not read that he who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no…

Old-Fashioned

I’m old-fashioned. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe these foundational truths. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified,…

The Government Must Not Define Religion

It is a dangerous thing for the government to start defining what is and what is not religion. And that’s true whether the government leaders seeking to do so are liberal or conservative. The Obama administration erred when it tried to say religious freedom is merely “freedom to worship,” and sought to restrict the rights…

Chaplaincy IS Ministry

Chaplaincy is under fire from different directions. Some church leaders suggest chaplaincy is something other than ministry — something you do if you “fail in ministry” or (strangely) want a “back door into ministry.” Meanwhile, some in chaplaincy (or, “spiritual care,” as they prefer to call it) want to separate chaplaincy from ministry and turn…

Adventists on Military Service

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially organized in 1863, during the US Civil War. The church from the beginning took a stand against bearing arms. When the first draft law was enacted, you could pay $300 and get out of it. The church was small, and few were affected. But the law was changed to…

Comparing Views on Abortion Across Denomination

Interesting PEW survey shows 42% of Adventists said “abortion should be legal in all or most cases.” 54% said it should be illegal. Some denominations that are officially very strongly anti-abortion seem to have a hard time persuading their members — 48% of Catholics and 46% of Missouri Synod Lutherans were for legal abortion. Lutheran…

Fear and Immigration

I recently read a diatribe by a white liberal about the dangers brought by immigrants–especially those who make up much of the growth of our denomination. He was upset, and afraid that they would take our church backwards, in a “sectarian” direction; afraid that they would bring with them conservative beliefs and ways of doing…

The One Project: An Almost Epitaph

This coming week the final “One Project” gathering will take place in San Diego. It was started by a group of folks who were primarily chaplains at Adventist colleges and universities, to focus on “celebrating the supremacy of Jesus through the Adventist Church.” It became very controversial in some corners, with people saying it pushed…

The Four Chaplains–After 75 Years

Thirty-two years ago I raised my hand, took the oath of office, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Chaplain Candidate, in the US Army Reserve. That summer, as a student in the Chaplain Officer Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ, I first heard the story of the Four Chaplains: George Fox, Alexander Goode, Clark Poling,…

Rise and Shine: An Epiphany Sermon

My younger brothers were very happy last month when the most recent Star Wars movie came out. They have been devoted fans since the release of the first move in 1977–forty years ago. I have pictures of them at Christmas 1978 with their first Star Wars toys—12 inch figures of Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Darth Vader,…

Mary’s Song: The World Turned Upside Down

We’ve come to another Christmas season, and most of the trees are up and decorated.  Carols echo from speakers in every store.  Lights adorn the houses in the neighborhoods.  Cute creches decorate yards and mantles.  Wish lists have been drawn up by children, and parents frantically shop to fulfill their dreams. Christmas is a time…

When Miracles Grow Old

(Thanksgiving Sermon, 2017) Text–Numbers 11:4-6 We call the day, “Thanksgiving,” but I think we have forgotten the point. I was on-line yesterday and searched for “Thanksgiving Day” and “God”—I got 3 million results. “Thanksgiving Day” and “pilgrims” got fewer than 700,000. “Black Friday” got over 53 million. We keep the holiday on the calendar, but…

Divine Providence: The Forgotten Truth

We approach another Thanksgiving Day, and I think few understand the point. It is not supposed to be about sales, nor eating, nor even thanking other people—it’s about acknowledging God and praising him for his steadfast love. That’s what George Washington had in mind in 1789, when, in response to a request from Congress, he…