Act of Valor

I just finished watching the movie Act of Valor.  It was an action-packed movie that highlights the bravery and sacrifice of so many of our warriors.  They leave their families and are willing to give their lives for something bigger than themselves.  I love being a Chaplain and serving and caring for such brave men, women and families.  It truely is an honor to serve those who have given so much.

When you think of the word “valor” what comes to mind?

It can be defined as boldness or determination in facing great danger, espscially in battle; heroic courage; bravery.  I personally know men who have received medals with a “V” device for valor.  Their stories of bravery are awe-inspiring and humbling.

A great new web site was released with the movie Act of Valor.  The site is called Life of Valor.  It was created by two retired Navy Seals and it encourages men to examine their lives and ask:

  •  What is the purpose of my life?
  •  Who and what am I living for?
  •  How do I define the code that I live my life for?

The site challenges men to take the next step in faith and live by a code that makes a difference in the world.

Have you ever thought about the purpose or code for you life?

What guides how you live your life?

John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

What are you willing to give your life for?

Act of Valor ends with the stirring words of Tecumseh, a Native American leader, read by a Navy Seal as words from a father to a son.

So live your life so the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a stranger if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools and robs them of their visions. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

How does this final quote speak to you? 

What does it mean to sing your death song? 

 

 

Be Yourself

When Brandon and I were first married, he was pastoring a small church in rural Illinois.  So with the wedding ring and the new title of “Missus” also came the title “Pastor’s Wife”.  And with the title came the expectations.

Looking back, I’m not sure if the expectations came from the church or from me.  But I had this view of what a pastor’s wife should be.  She should play piano, sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, help with youth group, sit in the front pew and on and on.  So as a new bride and a new pastor’s wife I tried to be all of the above (except that I don’t play piano and you don’t want to hear me sing).  I diligently taught my three students in Sunday school, I attended the evening youth group, I sat in the second row during service . . . and was miserable all the while.  I don’t like teaching Sunday school.  I didn’t enjoy youth group or spending my Sunday evening there before returning to work Monday morning.  I hate sitting up front where people can see me.  I was trying to be someone I’m not.  I was trying to be someone other than who God made me to be.

A couple of years into this ministry I finally gave myself permission to be me.  I quit attending youth group and I quit teaching Sunday school.  Instead, I helped the church purchase its first computer and projector system to use during the service.  I happily sat in the empty balcony and created stunning slides to aid the church in worshipping.  I crafted announcement slides and played videos to enhance Brandon’s sermons.  And I was as happy as can be: I was being me.  I don’t think the church knew quite what to do with me.  I wasn’t the normal pastor’s wife, but they loved me anyway and expressed appreciation for what I did.

God created each of us on purpose.  Some he created to lead beautiful music, other to teach amazing lessons.  Some he gave amazing amounts of compassion, others he gave the gift of conversation.  He made us that way on purpose.  If we all wanted to sing and no one wanted to teach, how would anyone learn?  If everyone was busy talking and socializing, who would stop to have compassion on the hurting?

Jeremiah 1:5 says,

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

If God created Jeremiah to be a prophet even while still in the womb, hasn’t He surely created each of us to fill a special role?

Be who God created you to be.  Not who you think you should be.  Not who someone else thinks you should be.  Be who God created YOU to be.  He made you that way on purpose.  Don’t miss out!

Financial Freedom: The Colon Family Journey

Carole and I have been married for over 10 years. We are a blended military family with fourteen children. Out of our fourteen children, six children still reside with us at Ft Campbell, Kentucky. Upon committing to each another in marriage, Carole and I also committed to living a debt free life together.
Our debt free journey begins in June 2000, where our blended family had a debt balance well over $25,000. In the midst of a move from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, we stayed true to becoming debt free, creating and executing a debt free plan.

Carole home-schooled four of our children during the day while working at Wal-Mart during the evening. This opportunity allowed Carole to contribute to the families’ financial goals.

Although I had developed a six year debt free plan, Carole had a different idea.  She established a debt free plan that would be accomplished within 24 months. The family worked extremely hard keeping track of expenses and making many sacrifices when necessary.

Our family was able to meet our goals of becoming debt free, in 22 months, two months earlier than expected. We paid off over $25,000 of debt.

Since that time, our family has been determined to remain debt free and have followed Dave Ramsey’s, Total Money Makeover Plan.  To this day we remain debt free, saving and paying for everything with cash, to include saving for a 100% down payment for a home. We are currently at 83% of reaching our housing goal. (Current target amount is $150,000.)

Carole and I have facilitated Financial Peace University classes at Fort Campbell, Bethel Community Church and the surrounding community. The results have been outstanding. As of today over 225 Soldiers, Civilians, and their families have graduated, reporting a $1.7 million change in position. This represents money saved and debts paid during the 13 week Financial Readiness Training.

Our heart is to see others become free from the bondage that debt represents and to encourage contentment along with wealth building. We are dedicated to spreading a message of hope to all and are reaching that goal one family at a time.

You want me to do what, Lord?!?

For most of my life I have been a die hard introvert. My goal was to blend in and not be noticed. My worst nightmares were being chosen for audience participation at large events or having to speak in front of adults. Even worse if said adults were women. I perceived women as being the worst about judging, gossiping and maliciousness.

Children don’t bother me.  I taught K-8 technology classes for three and a half years and second grade for two.  Little kids are sweet.  They still think that you are cool and smart.  Not so with adults.

So how did a die hard, adult-fearing introvert like me end up teaching and leading in women’s ministry? It’s all God. Only God could bring me from who I was to who I am now. I have now led at least six women’s Bible study classes and am currently mentoring another class. God amazes me. I’ve always known I had the gift of teaching. But it is only within the last few years that God showed me I could partner with him in teaching and leading adult women in deepening their relationships with Christ.  It has been an awesome journey and I have discovered the joy of sharing the depths of God’s word with these women.

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

My story is one that gives God the praise. There is no way I could have overcome my fears and preconceived notions without God leading the way. I don’t know what God has for me next, but for now I am going to keep using my gift of teaching and rely on God to provide the strength that I need to accomplish great things for his glory.

Need Jesus

A classroom of first graders was learning the difference between needs and wants. The difference between the things you’d like to have, and the things you must have in order to survive.

As we took turns allowing each student to offer up an idea of what a need is, I heard the obvious answers: water, food, and shelter. The kids talked about the chance of survival without each of those things.

And then a little boy surprised me when he said, “Jesus is a need. We can’t live without him. I learned that in Sunday School.”

I was struck initially by the simplicity of the statement, because it really is true that without a faith and trust in Jesus, we will die. Unless we have the saving grace of Jesus, we will not enjoy eternal life, and we will suffer the lasting consequences of our sins. And I presume this is how the little boy interpreted the response.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that I NEED Jesus in order to get through this life. Too many times in my life I have attempted to “go it alone.” I have tried to make my own way and I have really messed things up, so much so that I ultimately return to prayer and ask for help straightening out the mess I’ve made. Maybe the little boy was suggesting that, without Jesus, there really isn’t much of a life. It’s more a case of survival.

But the most striking part of the entire exchange was the boldness the boy spoke with when he stated the need for Jesus. No apologies. No watered-down explanations. No disclaimers about different people and different beliefs.

Just a simple statement that Jesus is the equivalent of water and food in our lives.  The longer we go without them, the weaker we become. We might survive for a while without them, but eventually, we will die.

And then, at the end of it all, as kids so often do, another boy wrapped up the conversation this way: “Jesus is both a need AND a want.”

From the mouth of a 6-year-old.

God gave you a job – commit to it!

A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. – John 3:26

I read this verse to my youngest daughter the other night. It was part of a devotional. In the Scripture, John’s disciples are getting the “green eyed monster” of jealousy. They tell John that Jesus – who they remind him John was kind enough to baptize and vouch for – this Jesus is out baptizing and preaching, and doing it too well! He’s doing it so well that all the people who listened attentively to John are now crossing the river to listen to Jesus.

John replies with grace and vision – “He must become greater, and I must become less.” John has accepted the role God prepared for him. He’s done his best in that role, and he’s not going to give in to green-eyed Envy.

It’s a great lesson, and that in itself could speak to you or to me in our work or other situations, motivating us to play our role and not get into grandstanding or gossiping or jockeying for position.

But check this out. After the devotional, my youngest daughter looked up at me and said, “Dad, don’t forget to pray (over me).”

And right there in that room was the Holy Spirit, speaking through my daughter, saying Tim, you are appointed to pray over this child and minister to her, just as John was appointed to preach for Jesus.

A man or woman can receive only what is given them from heaven. What have you received? The responsibility of being a father? Or a daughter? A husband or a wife? A command master sergeant or a platoon leader or a basic trainee? Whatever your responsibilities, be assured that they were appointed for you before you were born. God selected you to minister to your spouse, your children, your parents, your leaders, your followers. He molded you for that purpose. For “you are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10)”.

Embrace your divinely appointed roles. Commit yourself to your roles and use your own unique gifts in service. There’s peace in that commitment, peace and purpose.

May God bless and strengthen you and me to fulfill His good works.

Childish faith

I haven’t yet achieved the child-like faith the Bible describes, but I’m trying.

Unfortunately, mine has often been more childish than child-like.

And there’s a big, big difference.

  • Though I should trust God with everything, I have a death-grip on my life’s decisions. Like a toddler with a favorite toy, I’m  not good at sharing. It’s mine. Until it’s broken. Then I’ll gladly give it to someone else. Once I have botched my life’s decisions completely, I’ll gladly give them to God. So He can fix my mess.
  • Instead of waiting on God and trusting His perfect timing, I get impatient. I want an answer now, and I don’t function well when God’s timing doesn’t match mine. All that is missing is the foot-stomping and clenched teeth of a typical temper tantrum.
  • Rather than learning to be content in every situation, I seem to be ever-dissatisfied. “It’s not fair. I want what my friends have.” I spend way too much time thinking about the things I don’t have instead of being thankful for the things I do. I find myself asking God to remove the hardships from my life rather than watching to see what I can learn from them.

The reality is that I should be more like my 10-year-old son. When he can’t find something, he prays. When he has a decision to make, he prays. When he’s afraid, he prays. When he makes a mistake, he prays. His knee-jerk response to every situation is to pray. He doesn’t concern himself with flowery language and he doesn’t care who’s watching. He simply knows that God’s word tells him to pray without ceasing. But even better than that, he reminds me to do the same.  When he knows I’m struggling with something or having a tough day, he reminds me to pray.

So I’m thankful to have my son’s example under my roof, and thankful that he is demonstrating humility. I’m thankful that he’s showing me what it looks like to trust God with every aspect of his life. And that he’s modeling child-like faith and obedience within the very walls of our home.

Beginning today, I’ll practice sharing. And waiting. And trusting. And I’ll seek contentment instead of seeking what I don’t have. I’ll keep my eyes on God and talk to Him throughout my day. And I won’t wait until things are broken.

 

 

 

“I Pity da Fool” or something like that

Yesterday my four year old son was introduced to my childhood hero in a big way.  He didn’t actually meet Mr.T or get to watch all the past epiosodes on DVD (which I suggested but my wife says he is too young).  However his first exposure to “The A-Team” was in utero just days before birth.  I was home on leave and my wife and I went to see “The A-Team” at the theater.  As the theme song played he was kicking up a storm.  I said he was marching and it was a sign from God that we needed to name our son B.A. Baracus.  My wife vetoed that one fast!

But back to the story.  While at my office, my son found a little orange key chain with six buttons.  On it is written, “Mr. T in your pocket.”  Someone got this for me for Christmas one year and it has always been helpful for a good laugh, a prank call, or a last resort for counseling.  You can choose from a plethora of Mr.T one-liners among them the ever popular “I pity da fool,” “Quit yo jibbajabba,” “First name Mister, middle name Period, last name T,” “Don’t make me mad grrrr,” and a couple others.  I think my son almost wore it out yesterday.

What was interesting was that he would push the button over and over, listen and laugh, but he couldn’t understand what the strange voice was saying.  When Mr. T would say “I pity da fool,” my son started saying “bibitty bo” then “fivadi foo” and many other variations.  He would say it in a Mr. T sounding voice though.  I asked if he knew what it is saying.  He responded no, but that it was funny.  I told him it was saying, “I pity the fool.”  He played it again and said that’s not what it said but what does pity mean?  We had a discussion about pitying fools.  The deep complexities about feeling sorry for people who make bad choices.  I explained (in my great wisdom) that Mr. T was talking about kids who don’t listen to their moms and dads.  You know how mom and dad are telling you to eat all your food or brush your teeth because they want what’s best for you?  Some kids don’t listen and are hungry at night because they didn’t eat their dinner or get cavities in their teeth.  So Mr. T would say “I pity the fool” so it is kind of like he is saying I feel really sorry for those little boys who don’t listen to their dads, because dads really do know what is best for their sons.

My son looked at me then pushed the button a few times and listened to the wise sage Mr. T.  I was thinking, maybe this is working.  This is pure parental brilliance.  As I was day dreaming about writitng a best selling book called “Parenting Tips by Mr. T,”  I was brought back to reality when my son looked at me and said, “Nah Dad, I don’t think he is saying that, I think he is saying (in a perfect Mr. T voice) ‘I peed in the pool!’ ”  At that we both cracked up laughing.  I said maybe and realized the package says “Ages 5 and up” for a good reason.