Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Word Power

To say they "had words" would be an understatement. Boy, did they have words. Words like, "auriferous" and "eradicate" and "impecuniously" and "inesculent" and "tropophilous" and "palynological" and "schadenfreude" and "zarzuela" and "pilchard" and "zetetic" and "concinnity" and "epexegesis" and "aleatoric" and "irenicism" and "gallimaufry". For Samantha of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts "diapason" chimed up and finished her off. For Sean of Muncie, Indiana it was "limn" that painted him out. "Otacoustic" sounded the fate of Aaron of Decatur, Illinois. And in the end no one could take the place of Sean of Aitkin, Minnesota as he successfully spelled "succedaneum" to win the 74th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee on May 31, 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia. The English Language may not be the prettiest language in the world but it certainly is multifarious ("having great variety"), and, arguably, the most influential language in the modern world. Why then do people always want to speak French? I know lots of people in this very organization who must be nearly fluent because they are always saying, "pardon my French, Chaplain".

No matter who we are dealing with at a given moment, whether children, subordinates, or even leaders, our choice of words state or imply something very clearly about us and our relationship with the other person or persons to whom we are speaking. The Apostle James said that like a bit controlling the movement of a horse, or the rudder setting the course of a ship, so too, "the tongue is a small part of the body" that can determine the direction of our lives (James 3:5). How we speak and the words we choose to employ affect our attitudes, our actions, our moods, as wells as the attitudes, actions, and moods of our listeners. The right words can steer a misguided soldier toward success. The wrong words can make every member of our homes upset. The course of our day, and ultimately of our lives, can be altered simply by our words.

Where are your words taking you?

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Teamwork is the Pits

It’s been called “The greatest spectacle in the history of sports”. How’s that for a bold claim? I should think that honor would be reserved for Bicycle Basketball. However, the contest in question is none other than the Indianapolis 500. Speed, adrenaline, heat, asphalt and rubber combine in one dizzying 2.5-mile lap after another to create a scene nearly impossible not to watch! Where else do you hear phrases like, “Racers, start your engines!”, “The yellow flag is out”, or “Emerson Fittipaldi is dreamy!”. It is, to say the least, a spectacle. But this year something different caught my eye. It wasn’t the crash in the first turn of the first lap, although that was a pretty scary. It wasn’t the rookie taking the checkered flag, although that was pretty exciting. It was the pit crews. Was it just my imagination or did they seem to move at the speed of light while engaging in a dance of upgrades and repairs, checks and refills. Mere seconds separating the beginning of their automotive ballet from its dramatic conclusion. It was rhythmic and fluid, something beautiful. How could they do so much, so right, in so little time? Simple ... Teamwork. “A cooperative effort by the members of a group or team to achieve a common goal.” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, 4th ed.) It is one of the foundational principles that make our nation different and greater than every other nation on the planet. It is why we are able to say, “E Pluribus Unum” (One out of many)

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3). Because when you do you sacrifice the efforts of the entire team on the altar of arrogance. The same holds true for those who might think their role in the efforts of the team are minimal or even unnecessary. Again Paul wrote, “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15).

Whether you drive or clean windshields, you are no more necessary or unnecessary than anyone else on the team “As it is, there are many parts, but one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20). Do what God has created you to do. It’s important!

Thursday, August 21, 2003


Sleep is a great thing. I love sleep. Not just because I've had a bad day or because I may have been deprived of it previous night. No, for me sleep is a great thing for one very good reason...dreams! I hate to brag, but I am a world-class dreamer. I dream many dreams a night. One or two early on and then about a thousand in the last half hour before the alarm goes off. One dream in particular recurs often...thematically speaking. I dream about flying. Usually it involves me lying on a broken down cardboard box, flying carpet style, and the wind catches me as I soar over my neighborhood, which isn't really my neighborhood just one I dreamed up where most every house has a pool, except mine. At first I have quite a bit of trouble controlling my flying box. Eventually, though, I get the hang of it, and man can I fly. So for me flying is another great thing. Usually.

Recently I was on a flight that was NOT a great thing. After sitting on the runway for a couple of hours waiting for a storm to blow over, we finally took off and flew directly into the storm that just passed us. This particular plane was not a big stable 747 but one that had a guy who was responsible for winding the rubber band enough to get us to our destination. Talk about turbulence.

The reason for the trip in the first place was to visit a soldier with cancer. He looks toward his future and sees storms. Grey skies, lightening, thunder, and very little calm. For him, life is turbulent. You may never get cancer. But you may have marriage trouble, financial trouble, or live in a war zone in the middle of the desert. That's turbulence. And for the one flying through it, it's never fun. Sometimes it's sickening. But that doesn't have to be all there is. For the child of God there are calm skies and sunshine just beyond the clouds.

King David understood turbulence and the peace that follows life's storms when he wrote in Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Clear skies are just beyond that cloud if you’ll let Jesus fly you there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Principle of Appropriate Dress

Frankly, I am not a morning person. That's not to say I don't enjoy a beautiful sunrise or the sting of the cold autumn air or the taste of that first cup of coffee as much as the next guy, because I do. What I don't like about morning is it's proximity to last night. No matter how "early" I go to bed, morning kind of arrives "like a thief in the night". And if your mornings go anything like mine, they usually proceed according to a fairly predictable schedule.

0547 - Initial Alarm Sounding
0547 - Initial Snooze Button Smackage
0618 - Onset of Self-Awareness
0619 - Panic at realization that formation is in 11 minutes
0620 - Get dressed and hurry to morning formation with mere moments to spare
0630 – Morning Formation, Physical Training, etc.
0900 – Rest of day spent in sleep deprived haze

The trained eye will note that the first thing I "do" each day is get dressed. If I were a betting man I'd wager you get dressed pretty early on, too. It's an indispensable part of the day. And of course you must dress properly, i.e. warm clothes on cold days and cool clothes on warm days.

A good example of what I like to call "The Principle of Appropriate Dress" is going into battle. No one, except maybe the Cuban Ballet Brigade, enters a battle wearing a shocking pink tutu. Instead, the thinking soldier will wear something a bit more woodsy. If he does not, chances are pretty good he will die.

We dress our bodies in shoes, socks, pants, belts, shirts, hats, gloves, and any other number of items, while many times our spirits remain naked and exposed. The Bible says in Ephesians 6, "Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own." In other words, don't forget to dress appropriately and completely each day. If your spirit is dressed in prayer, meditation, scripture, etc, you'll be prepared for the hassles that normally accompany a day at work, at home, in traffic, at the bank, or whatever.

The world we live in may soon dictate that you or I actually go to war. The question is we ready to fight? Without a doubt! To kill? If necessary! To die? That depends on how we're dressed.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Cow Town

When you're young things can seem bigger than they really are or smaller than they really are, depending on your perspective. When I was young, things seemed huge. The little farming community I grew up in was around 30,000 or so (if memory serves) but I was sure there were at least 100,000 people living there and that it would take a person at least a week to traverse on foot. Cause man, that was one booming metropolis. Then I began to grow and my world began to shrink. I hit my teen years, when there is no such thing as perspective, except mine of course. When you're a teen things generally seem less significant than they really are and you are generally positioned at the center of the universe. I know I was. Having traveled the world (which meant I had walked from College street to West street in only an hour or two) by the time I was 14, I just knew that this little cow town couldn't have more than a dozen people in it and I could probably throw a rock clear past the train tracks. Certainly nothing significant would ever come out of this silly, little, insignificant town. So I grew some more thinking that I was probably the saving grace of that place while everyone else was going to homecoming parades and watching High School football games and musicals and cruising Main street on Friday nights. Boresville…or so I thought in all my glorious arrogance. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts changed that. He attended my old high school. He was a freshman during my senior year at Woodland High School in Woodland, California. And he was murdered in Afghanistan while serving America in Operation Anaconda as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was a Navy Seal…one of America’s real heroes. I wish I’d have known him.

There was another little town with little or no potential. But a great man came from there, too. The town was Nazareth and the Man was Jesus. “What good can come out of Nazareth?” people would ask. He was murdered , too…in support of Operation Redeem Man. I’m glad I know him.

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

Take a moment and introduce yourself to Jesus…a real Hero. I know He’d love to meet you.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

SPF Infinity

Remember summer vacation? Three glorious months away from scholastic torture and taskmasters with hideous names like Mrs. Tranham, Mr. Davis, and Ms. Huey. When we finally graduated from high school, knowing everything there was to know about the universe at large, we entered the grown up world of corporate America where summer and winter melted into one unending year of work. But still we got a vacation. Not quite three months long, but a vacation nonetheless. We just called it "the weekend."

Then many of us joined the US Army, intent upon defending our borders against the angry red menace, and here we are handsomely rewarded with 30 days of annual vacation. We just called it "leave." But, whether it's grade school vacation, weekends away from a McJob or leave twice a year, all have one thing in common - - - the bane of world class relaxers everywhere...sunburn.

People get sunburned because they don't wear sunscreen, don't wear clothing, don't stay indoors, or a combination of all three. The funny thing about sunburn is that it is totally preventable. We can avoid the pain of having our skin crisped by our solar neighbor simply by protecting ourselves. But often we do nothing because we are too stubborn, too vain, or totally unaware of the adverse effects of over exposure to sunlight.

As a chaplain in the US Army, I daily encounter the effects of over exposure in the lives of soldiers and their families. Like hardcore vacationers relaxing in the sun, many people tend to think that they are immune to the effects of sin. Most don't even like using the word sin, often because they are too stubborn, too vain, or too unaware of it's effect in their lives. The funny thing is...those effects are avoidable. Like keeping a supply of sunscreen readily available on the beach, we can be prepared to counter the effects of sin through the practice of our faith. By attending worship, reading scripture, meditation, and prayer we can protect ourselves. In the book of Psalms, David, King of Israel wrote, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

I want to encourage you to take some time today to protect yourself because you never know what might happen tomorrow...and you don't want to get burned!

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Universal Evaporation

Where we were doesn’t really matter. Neither does why we were there. Nor does it matter who we were with or how we got there. What matters is that for about one half second the universe evaporated. Just before that moment, my daughter was sitting quietly in my lap, looking around the room while I was focused on something else. She seemed to cuddle and fidget simultaneously. I have no idea what goes through a three year old's mind at a moment like that but she was exploring my face and hair and arms with the lightest of touches. Then her hand and my gaze crossed paths. As I glanced downward, I saw her hand slowly move into mine. Her palm rested in mine. And the universe evaporated. I noticed that her hand was only about one third the size of mine. It was several skin tones different than mine. Her hand seemed infinitely more smooth than mine and infinitely more fragile. It seemed to float there forever as though the tips of her tiny fingers were attempting to memorize every line, every wrinkle, every crevice. In that same half second I relived her birth and wondered how she could ever have been small enough to fit within her mother's womb. I felt her hair brush against my face and smelled her breath. I could almost hear her fighting with her brothers and the sound of her shrill voice when I return home from work everyday…and the universe evaporated. And when reality recondensed, I was different. Not because of some new emotional attachment to my daughter or some “special moment” that she won’t remember tomorrow. I was different because I think I experienced God in an unbelievably fresh way.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5) As much as I think I know my daughter, God knows her more. And he knows me just as intimately and completely as he knows anyone. And what really struck me is that despite all that he knows about me, he still wants the best for me. He said, “’I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11) I have hope and a future because God knows me. Think about that and watch the universe evaporate.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

An Oscar Extravaganza

It began with the Pre-Pre-Sneaky-Look-Ahead-Show. Then came the Post-Pre-Pre-Sneaky-Look-Ahead-Show. It is American Pageantry at it’s apex. Glitz, glimmer, silk and satin, diamonds, hairdo’s, manicures and red carpet. And after a year of waiting … it’s OSCAR time. When the entertainment industry honors it’s best. You don’t see this with other industries, like say…the politics industry. Visualize it with me…

(applause roars and fades)
Unseen Announcer In Unseen Sound Proof Booth: “Here to present the award for lifetime achievement in causing gridlock is Senator Strom Thurman”
Sen. Thurman: “Thank you! The nominees are The Ways And Means Committee … The Justice Committee … The Proof Of Purchase Committee … and The Committee Against Male Itch.”
(jump to acceptance speech)
Winning Committee Members: “We’d like to thank the Academy Committee …”

Nevertheless, the Academy Awards are a big deal. It is a time at my home when we watch each nomination with anticipation and say things like, “Oh, I heard that was a good movie.” and, “I really want to see that one.” or, “That’s a renter!”

A small part of the show was dedicated to those within the film industry who have passed away this year. A four or five minute montage was shown briefly highlighting the names, faces, and works of some of the more well known actors, actresses, writers, producers, directors and musicians who had earned a place in the hearts of fans everywhere. This year there were names like Jack Lemmon (of Felix Unger in The Odd Couple fame), William Hannah (of Fred Flinstone and Scooby Doo fame), Chuck Jones (of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd fame), and Anthony Quinn (of Anthony Quinn fame). And there were others. Famous people … beautiful people … talented and wealthy people … dead people.

The fact is that everybody dies. Hebrews 9:27 says, “…man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” It doesn’t matter who you are, you will die and you will be judged, we all will. And the only thing we will be allowed to bring with us is our salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

Gold statuettes and good deeds stay here. However, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but [will] have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Wanna be a winner?

Friday, August 08, 2003

A Leap of Faith

With about thirty minutes of day light left we began to suit up. The first thing one puts on when preparing to conduct any airborne operation is the main chute. This is quite possibly the most hideously painful piece of equipment the US military has devised. Its harness runs over your shoulders, across your chest, between your legs and up your back. When properly tightened it threatens your ability to reproduce while simultaneously forcing you to fold mid-torso, as though you were trying to touch your chin to your navel. Then comes the reserve, tightened just enough to make you think you can breathe when in fact you can’t. Then your ruck sack, filled with thirty to forty pounds of stuff, most of which is designed for the specific combat purpose of weighing thirty to forty pounds, is hung on the same metal rings that hold your reserve in place, causing you to nearly lose consciousness because of the searing pain of everything crushing your collar bones. Once you’re all suited up you immediately make your way to the holding area where you quickly sit for at least 2 hours. At last the plane arrives and you attempt to stand and waddle to your place on board.

After a short flight everyone gets ready and when the green light comes on man after man files out the door into the night. Within four seconds, the main chute automatically deploys and the jumper decelerates from over 100 MPH to 0 MPH. This gives you the sensation of being strained peas and dooms the possibility of future parenthood. Forty-five seconds later you are on the ground checking your vital signs and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

The scariest part is the last 5 seconds in the plane. You don’t know if there’s actually a parachute in that bag on your back. It could be laundry or dishes. You just have to trust that the riggers packed a chute that will work. If you don’t have faith in your equipment you won’t be able to bring yourself to actually jump. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Because unless you trust him to do what he promised, you will never take that first step into the unknown. And you’ll never experience the exhilaration of risking your life for the Gospel.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

American Highlander

There are men, and then there are men because some men are just manlier than others. I'm talking about the kind of men who participate in the "Highland Games". Manly competitors in the Highland Games "enjoy" such events as the Caber Toss, Stone Throw, Hammer Toss, and Battle Axe Competition. Rumor has it that in the near future they will add The Wimp Pummel and The Sissy Haul. Like their Scottish cousins-in-manliness, the American lumberjack is particularly masculine. Legendary figures like Paul Bunyan, John Henry, and Senator Joe Leiberman conjure images of manliness for all of us. These masters of the American wilderness compete annually in “Timber Sports”.

Recently I watched the Manly Logger Games, on the local 24/7-all-guys-sports-rerun channel, as Mountain Men from around the nation competed in the Stock Saw, the Underhand Chop, the Single Buck, the Standing Block Chop, the Hot saw, and the Springboard. During the springboard event, the competitor uses two springboards, stuck in little notches he chops into a nine foot pole, to ascend as quickly as possible and chop a firmly attached 12" diameter block from the top of the pole. They do this with razor sharp battleaxes normally used to fend off the Scots.

In the course of the springboard, one extremely manish logger stood out from the rest. Not because he was bigger, faster, or even brighter. Rather, he stood out because he messed up so badly. No matter how hard he struggled he could not get the springboard to do what it was designed to do. He tried and tried but eventually he simply climbed down and did it all over. Meanwhile, the guy he was racing finished in record time. However, focused on the end state of the event, our hero continued working until he finished.

Each of us is running through life and things don’t always turn out like we want them to. Life is difficult, unpredictable and often unfair. Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14). It doesn’t matter what’s behind you…sin, anger, hate…whatever. Press on toward Jesus. The finish line is just around the bend and His team will win.

Stay focused and claim your prize!

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I Hate Peas!

Hate is a really strong word, even though we don't always use it properly. For instance, when someone says, "I hate peas!", what they really mean is, "Peas are the lowest item on my vegetables-I-like list." But the word hate generally means an extreme dislike to the point of wishing death upon the object being hated. For instance, I hate push-ups! They are, in my opinion, a divine punishment for some terrible transgression mankind has perpetrated in eons past. Push-ups, especially in an "Army Physical Fitness Test" sense, are 2 minutes of upper body death that serve only to emphasize how much better the other guy is than me. I guess the real problem is that when I do push-ups everyone else appears to have arms that are 6 inches long and as big around as my waist. On the other hand, it seems that I, with my 5 foot pencil arms, must push myself to a near vertical position to complete one repetition. The difference is that they work out more than I do! They are fit because they spend untold, lonely hours in the gym pumping iron and doing push-ups.

Several years ago, a good friend of mine and his wife discovered that she was pregnant. They were excited and we were excited for them. But something happened and the baby was stillborn. They were devastated. Seemingly ad infinitum the questions of "how?", and, "why?" poured out as they grappled with their situation. But through the entire ordeal they stood together and remain so to this day. They stood strong in the face of a test that would crush others. How? Because they were fit...spiritually fit. They had, prior to the test, spent untold, lonely hours in God's gym pumping spiritual iron...praying, reading scripture, meditating, attending their church, and spending time with like-minded people.

Spiritual fitness, like physical fitness, is never simple. It takes time, effort, consistency, and is often inconvenient. Nevertheless, we must work out physically and spiritually so that when the day of the test comes we are prepared to pass it. The Apostle Paul said, "All good athletes train hard for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm not going to get caught napping and missing out." (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, The Message)

Are you ready for the test?

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

An Army on One

Like any good Army, they attacked while I slept. Believing the enemy was nowhere near my position, I laid down in the cool shade and the tall grass to take a little nap. I can almost hear them whispering from their hiding places, "Wait till he's down...then strike!" And, oh, how they struck! Hard! The strange thing is I didn't even know it until days later. Talk about stealth. In fact, it was not until I discovered the attack that I realized such an Army existed at all. Until then they had, in my mind, fallen into the same category as the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Easter Bunny. No...these are frightenly real. Chiggers! Microscopic, flesh-eating, bump raising purveyors of unending torture and misery. And still I have never seen a chigger, I've only seen and experienced what they can do. Whoever said, "What you don't know won't hurt you.", never met a chigger.

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being ... certain of what we do not see." Certainty of the unseen ... faith! Many people have trouble with the idea of faith. For many, the mere mention of it conjures images gray haired nuns armed with razor sharp rulers, or of the preacher on TV that continually asks for money to spend on obscene amounts of hair spray, while others equate faith with ritualistic church attendance every Sunday since their early childhood or the rite of saying grace prior to meals. Sadly, those images are not altogether without warrant. But faith is so much more. It is a part of the puzzle that is Everyman! A large part, without which, the puzzle would be incomplete and indiscernible. The same faith that sees the existance of bugs in the evidence of their bite, enables you and I to see the evidence of a gracious and grace-full God in the world around us.

For the leader ... the sergeant, the commander, the mentor, the teacher, the employer, the father ... faith is that which sees the potential in those placed under his care. It recognizes that every soldier has the potential to better himself, his fellow soldiers, his unit, and his country. Perhaps that's why the writer of Hebrews said, "And without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6, NIV). For without faith we will never see the image of a loving and caring God stamped on every member of this or any organization. And unless we as leaders are able to recognize that image, that potential, we will never lift our subordinates above the level of mediocrity.

The next time you find yourself wanting to address, or speak about, a subordinate using words such as "worthless", "good-for-nothing", "dirt-bag", or some other more colorful metaphor ... think of the chigger, and have a little faith.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Cannon Guy

Being a guy, I can almost guarantee that I know what he was thinking. That’s because guys are fairly predictable. Regardless of culture, race, religion, or creed guys are guys and we all think alike. And I’m pretty certain I know what he was thinking. He was thinking, “Enough playing around, I’m going for the record! Set this puppy on high and let her rip!” That’s what he was thinking, all right! His name is Ermes Zamperla (I swear this is true) and he is a human cannonball! That’s right, Ermes is a rare man indeed. He earns his keep by allowing himself to be launched out of a tube, over the cheers of an awestruck crowd, and into the waiting softness of an inflatable landing pad…usually! But years of flying only 150 feet or so can wear a guy down and really make him want to soar. So it was that on a recent afternoon in sunny Florida, that Zamperla the Incorrigible thought, “Enough is enough, man”! He set his trusty cannon on “Unreasonably High” and climbed in. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Fail to Plan…Plan to Fail”? Well, our hero neglected to tell his Landing Pad Placement Officer about his intentions. After a brief countdown and an even briefer “BOOM” an amazingly fast flying Ermes emerged from the tube. At first the euphoria of reaching near terminal velocity was easily heard by onlookers in his howls of delight which were almost instantly replaced by shrieks of terror as he watched his landing pad disappear behind the horizon. Some 25 feet later, Ermes Zamperla “landed”, rolled head over heels, and was finally stopped by a fiberglass fence.

The word “sin” in the Bible literally means “to miss the mark”. When you aim at providing for your family but allow the pursuit of success to lead to neglect, you’ve missed the mark. When you aim at being the best but allow yourself to believe that that somehow makes you a better person than everyone else, you’ve missed the mark. When you aim at heaven but begin to think you can earn your way in by being a good person, you’ve missed the mark.

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Where are you aiming for?

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Compassionate Leadership

I don't know what he was thinking at the time. He may have been depressed, or anxious, or frustrated, or angry! I don't know what he was thinking. Nevertheless, there he was, perched on the edge of the cliff of eternity, with only a blue plastic tube full of oxygen keeping him from plummeting into the chasm below. His mother sat quietly at his side gently touching his limp hand or occasionally running her fingers over his young but weathered face. As she looked at the deep purple bruise woven around his neck her eyes questioned, "Why is he here? What happened? Perhaps something inappropriate was said at the wrong time." Perhaps. "Or maybe something appropriate was not said at the right time?" Maybe. Without saying a word she asked , "Am I the only one who loves my boy?"

"When Jesus ... saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things."(The Gospel according to St. Mark, chapter 6, verse 34)

In "a large crowd" there are a lot of people, who may have done a lot of unseemly things. And Jesus knew everything each one of them was guilty of. And he reacted, not with frustration, not with anger, not with inappropriate language, but with corrective compassion.

The soldiers in today's Army are dealing with a lot of things soldiers of the past didn't have to deal with ... drugs ... divorce ... depression. They don't need us to accept or condone what they are doing. They don't need us to scream at them like little children, or the family dog. And they don't need us run our fingers through what's left of their hair and give then a back massage and tell them that everything is alright, when it is not. They need us to have compassion on them and to teach them "many things." That's called leadership and it's our duty.


InWords are quite simply short writings with an inspirational point. Each InWords is my attempt to hone the creativity God has blessed me with in such a way that He is glorified. Ultimately, the goal of InWords is to take both the ordinary and the extraordinary in life and look at it in such a was as to discover Gods hand in it.

I hope you enjoy reading InWords. I'd love to hear if you have been blessed through them and how. I pray my writing will bring you closer to God in some small way or that through the words I've written the Holy Spirit will crush your heart and give you a new one to bring you into a personal relationship with the God of the Universe.