God is STILL calming storms

Alternate text

Jesus Still Brings Peace in the Middle of the Storm

In the gospel of Matthew, we see a powerful scene of Jesus saving the disciples’ lives through calming a raging storm. Often, it can feel like we are struggling through a storm in our own lives. Jesus is still willing and able to calm all of those storms, just like He did for the disciples many years ago…

SOURCE: https://www.thomasnelsonbibles.com/blog/jesus-still-brings-peace-in-the-middle-of-the-storm/?

Devotional Thought for Today – 06/03/2021

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PSALM 8

Context: Mathew Henry says of this Psalm: God is to be glorified, for making known himself to us. (1,2) And for making even the heavenly bodies useful to man, thereby placing him (man) but little lower than the angels. (3-9)

I am old enough to remember the days before space exploration when we as kids would look to the stars and dream of reaching out and touching them. When the USSR launched Sputnik on October 4, 1957, the idea of reaching them no longer seemed so far-fetched. Then with the famous words of Neil Armstrong on 20 July 1969 of “One giant leap for mankind” even the moon seemed like just a stone’s throw away.

I was definitely not a “Christian” then, nothing more than a nominal Catholic at best, but I still gazed at the moon and stars in awe of the expanse and magnitude of their glory. I look back at those times now and see the hand of God preparing this hard head for later years of submission. The scope of the heavens reminding me of my place in the universe and the kingdom.

I still look at the heavens at night in awe, how could such a masterpiece be created? I know the answer of course but for someone who flunked stick people in art class, it is simply beyond comprehension and most comforting that in their vastness God knows my name.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/14/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part XII

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In yesterday’s posting, we began looking at the various roles or positions that Chaplains can hold. We listed a total of 14 and I have broken those into 5 main areas:

  • Business
  • Disaster
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Public Safety

As we look at each of these areas I hope to expand upon them, give some idea of a job description, roles filled, and the need for the Chaplains in each. Under the heading of Business, I have grouped the following; Corporate, NGO’s and other Private Organizations, Sports Teams and Workplace.

People spend more time at work than anywhere else. But just because they go to work does not mean they’ve left their worries at home. Anxieties crowd out focused work time. Hospital visits create mounting unpaid days off. Illness and death devastate families and burden employees with skyrocketing health care costs.

Employees are not the only ones who suffer during crises. Time after time, employers repeat stories of inadequate workplace support programs and feelings of helplessness.

https://chaplain.org/mission/

First I had no idea the number of Chaplains serving in positions like this across America nor the need until I started looking for a Chaplaincy position myself. Jobs in corporate America kept popping up. I found the following job description helpful:

A corporate chaplain provides spiritually-based care to persons in the context of their employment, respecting the diversity of the workforce being served. They respond to individual and family needs, as well as work-life concerns such as job stress, coworker relations, and career direction. They also provide consultation to management about issues affecting employee and company well-being, including organizational change, ethical challenges, conflict resolution, team development, and outplacement. Corporate chaplains are called upon to lead first responder teams in the event of critical incidents affecting the workplace. Corporate chaplains are highly trained in the services they provide, whether this takes place on the corporate premises or externally at a chaplaincy provider center.

https://www.spiritualcareassociation.org/corporate

Employees in corporations big or small all have problems, many times they do not want or feel comfortable sharing those problems/issues with their boss or the HR department. That is where the Chaplain can be most helpful.

The same applies to NGOs, Private Companies, and Sports Teams. Remember as Chaplains our primary mission is to provide compassionate care, comfort, and counsel (4 C’s) to those assigned to us. Making our presence known in these businesses, being seen, being accessible, having an open-door policy, lets folks know they can come to you for those 4 C’s.

One thing we/I can never forget as a Chaplain is that the folks we serve may or may not have the same ideals, morals, or standards as we do. Therefore we must approach the position with a few assumptions:

  1. We strive to make folks better through the 4C’s
  2. We minister within the spirituality of those we serve, that is we do not impose our religiosity upon them
  3. Every person has some spirituality but not everyone is religious

This does not mean we “give up” our beliefs in order to serve, God forbid. It just means we do not serve with disdain, judgement or imposing our beliefs upon others.

Romans 1:1

In closing, you may have noted I left Workplace off the above list I did so purposely. Although it would seem to fit or even be another way of saying the same thing, here it refers to our own workplace. Many Chaplains (volunteer, part-time, etc.) are bi-vocational. As such, their other “workplace” is no less a place where they can be a servant of God and the Gospel of Christ.

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/06/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part V

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Today we continue our series by looking at the third stage of the 5 Stages of GriefBargaining.

Everytime I think of someone trying to bargain with someone, (I am speaking under duress of some sort) two things come to mind (neither advantageous), first is the legend of Robert Johnson the famous blues artist of the 1920-30’s. The story goes he made a bargain with the devil at the Crossroads of Hwy 49 and 61 here in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He fame and fortune were short live however as he died young in 1938. The second is folks who want to play let’s make a deal with God. Jewish talk show host Dennis Prager addresses the issue of deal-making in his book Think a Second Time:

I have come to realize that many religious people, of all faiths, believe that they should be able to avoid the calamities that afflict the less pious. They believe, in effect, that they can make a deal with God — ‘I’ll do what You want so that You do what I want.’

It should be apparent that both of these example do not have a “happy or expected ending.” This problem in both is selfishness. The person is asking for a self centered goal, I want because I want, or I am entitled to it and you shouldn;t withhold it from me.

In our study we need to remember a couple things. First Not everyone goes through all stages, or in the exact order. Yet Bargaining really does naturally follow Anger. Once the anger has begun to subsided we tend to try and work out solutions, anything to alleviate the pain we are in or anticipating, even if they may not be the most rational at the moment. It begins with trying to figure out how one could have and should have done things better and usually ends up with statements like:

  • ‘heal this person God and I will change my life around’
  • ‘I promise to be be good if you just let ____ live’
  • ‘I will get the counseling I need if you can stop him/her from dying or leaving me’

It is important to note that folks are feeling helpless both emotionally and physically and we can cause more harm than good if we approach this wrong.

Biblically the question has always been can we bargain with God? My answer is, Yes and No, which is probably not what you expected or wanted to hear. So let me give you some examples that seem to indicate we can bargain with God:

  • Abraham, in Gen. 18:16-33, when he pleads with the Lord over the fate of Sodom
  • Jacob, in Gen. 28:20-22, Jacob make a vow to God concerning finding a wife
  • Jephthah, in Judges 11:30-32, The Amorites have said no to peace so Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands…
  • Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:11, Hannah is barren and made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will…

If we look at each of the above scripture it would appear that these individuals struck a bargain with God, for God fulfilled their requests. All these folks had one thing in common they were desperate and seemingly had nowhere else to turn. Yet to imply they “Bargained” with God is to say they held a Low View of God. Which their stories reveal to be false.

For He has not despised nor detested the suffering of the afflicted;

Nor has He hidden His face from him;

But when he cried to Him for help, He listened.

PS 22:24

So how does this apply to Chaplains and Ministers dealing with grieving folks? First we need to encourage them to pray. We need to encourage them to pray in the right manner. Encouraging them to pray in a manner that Bargains or Negotiates with God is wrong. Praying to God for comfort, clarity, healing, etc. assumes He is sovereign over all things. It is not about making a trade it is about putting God’s will first. Now, caution here I am in no way suggesting shoving doctrine or theology down some grieving souls throat. I am encouraging Chaplains/Ministers to guide them (provide that care, comfort and COUNCEL) in praying correctly.

Okay, I hope you can see why I said Yes and No, while seemingly “bargaining” with God. Since God is in control of all things, He wants us to, and expects us to intercede, on behalf of others and even ourselves. This is where we can be most effective, when grief has no voice as I said yesterday, is can become malignant, our job as I see it (care, comfort and counsel) is to guide them (again for the short time they are usually with us) through the grief process. Here in the Bargaining Stage guiding them to “righteous bargaining” or properly put intercession.


How to Deal With Negative Emotions and Stress

How Do Christians Deal With Stress?

How to Overcome Negative Emotions and Feelings

Devotional Thought for Today – 04/01/2021

Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying Series – Part II

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Yesterday, we began this series by explaining the goal to be: to attempt to write a series of posts using mainly the Psalms as text that can be used to provide comfort to those Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying. This was mainly to be from a Chaplain/Ministerial view but hopfully applicalble and helpfull to all.

For me, as a Christian Chaplain, all roads lead to Christ so our first post began with a quick look at Christ, the Great Physician. I can not imagine trying to comfort someone who is completely against the Bible (think Richard Dawkins) with scripture. So the first thing is a triage of sorts to find out about them. As I should have noted yesterday this is not a CONFRONTATION, but a friendly get-to-know-you session. Remember the goal, mission call it what you will of the minister/chaplain is to provide care, comfort, and counsel.

Lamentations 3:31-33

One of the first lessons I learned when dealing with those “suffering” was they are grieving. No matter the person or situation, loss of job, divorce, illness, death, etc. grief is inevitably involved. I began my Chaplaincy working with the incarcerated and even the toughest of those men and women, grieve (even if they don’t show it). Having a right understanding of the grief process is critical to ministering to them.

When I began my journey I was told and taught there were 5 Stages of Grief:

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression1
  • acceptance

1 Note some modern text now add two other stages in-between depression and acceptance. They are 1) The Upward Turn– This is where you finally begin to feel better and see the light 2) Reconstruction and Working Through – begins to start to work through the aftermath of loss and take control of your life.

The highlighted link above gives an expanded explanation of each stage. What is important is after meeting and “triaging” a person to understand what stage they are in. It is completely different talking to someone who is in the anger stage after a bitter divorce compared to someone who has just lost a loved one to cancer.

One common denominator in all grief counseling I have encountered is the lack of control someone feels. A common theme is “I could have or should have done…” Even if they do not directly blame themselves they feel a sense of loss of control so great it can in a sense paralyze them emotionally and even physically. That is where we as ministers/chaplains come in to provide that care/comfort and counsel helping them get through their situation.

One last reminder, as noted yesterday, that going it alone should never be an option for anyone. Be sure if you are not a Minister/Chaplain are experiencing grief, are hurting, or have suicidal thoughts you seek help immediately. see links here.

RESOURCES:

C.S. Lewis and the Five Stages of Grief

How to Cope with Grief

Understanding the Grieving Process – Focus on the Family

A Biblical Model of Grieving

Understanding and Recognizing the 7 Stages of Grief

Devotional Thought for Today – 27 March 2021

Death and the Christian

Matthew Henry quote: He whose head is in heaven need not fear to...
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2 Corinthians2 Corintios 5:5 5:5

Over the past few months our family has experienced the death of family members and dear friends. While we can and should mourn their deaths, we also need to look at these events from a Biblical and practical standpoint.

In some cases the individuals were sick and suffering, in other cases the sudden loss was from an accident or in one case a random act of violence. In all but one of these deaths I, was able to provide comforting words to the families because I was convinced the individual was a true believer. For some it was that they were no longer suffering and were as the Bible promises ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord.’ For others we can not begin to explain why things happen, why the guy ran a red light, but we can find comfort in knowing God is in complete control and His ways are always greater and wiser than ours.

The great preach Charles Spurgeon had much to say on the Subject of death having preached many a sermon on the matter. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes of his:

1. “To be prepared to die is to be prepared to live.”

2. “It is the very joy of this earthly life to think that it will come to an end.”

3. “The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven.”

4. “The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church.”

5. “If I do not think of death, yet death will think of me.”

6. “It is not a loss to die, it is a lasting, perpetual gain.”

7. “Let us learn to hold loosely our dearest friends. Let us love them, but let us always learn to love them as dying things.”

8. “It is a grand thing to see a man dying full of life.”

9. “He who learns to die daily while he lives will find it no difficulty to breathe out his soul for the last time.”

10. “All the glories of midday are eclipsed by the marvels of sunset.”

Today’s Prayer

Pray for the Grace Needed to Die Well

We must pray for grace to deliver us from death* and to carry us well through our dying moments.

Lord, make us know our end and what is the measure of our days; let us know and consider how fleeting we are, that our days are as a few handbreadths and all mankind stands as a mere breath! Psalm 39:4-5(ESV) Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 1 Chronicles 29:15(ESV)

Lord, so teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom, Psalm 90:12(ESV) and make us to discern our latter end! Deuteronomy 32:29(ESV)

Lord, make us always ready, dressed for action with our lamps burning, Luke 12:35(ESV) for the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not expect. Luke 12:40(ESV)

Keep us all the days of our service, waiting till our renewal comes; and then shall you call, and we will answer. Job 14:14-15(ESV)

Bring us to our grave like a sheaf gathered up in its season; Job 5:26(ESV) satisfy us with life, whether it be long or short, and show us your salvation. Psalm 91:16(ESV)

And when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, be with us, that we may fear no evil; let your rod and your staff comfort us. Psalm 23:4(ESV)

Let goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life, and let us dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:6(ESV) May steadfast love and faithfulness be with us. 2 Samuel 15:20(ESV)

Ransom our souls from the power of Sheol, and receive us; Psalm 49:15(ESV) guide us with your counsel, and afterward receive us into glory. Psalm 73:24(ESV)

MATTHEW HENRY’S “METHOD FOR PRAYER”

* We must all die (save those alive when the Lord comes), so the author directs us to ask for deliverance not from the inevitable fact of death, but from the fear and power of death. Editor.

OTHER RESOURCES

A Believer’s Last Day, His Best Day – Thomas Brooks

Mortality – Christians Need Not Fear Death by J I Packer

What does the Bible say about death? GotQuestions.org

What Does the Bible Say About Death And Dying? 100+ Bible verses

Devotional Thought for Today – 02/11/2021

1 Corinthians 6:12

1 Corinthians 6

Matthew Henry gives us some overall context for this chapter; Cautions against going to law in heathen courts. (v.1-8) Sins which, if lived and died in, shut out from the kingdom of God. (v.9-11) Our bodies, which are the members of Christ, and temples of the Holy Ghost, must not be defiled. (v.12-20)

In our main text for today, we find ourselves at the beginning of the last section of the Chapter. Paul here repeats a statement “All things are lawful to me”  which is not ever to be misread or misinterpreted into ‘because my salvation is secure I can sin.’ Nor is it ever to be misconstrued that all things are legal!

Paul makes an effort to point out that even though he is not under the LAW,  it is oftentimes far more expedient to be obedient to it.  John Gill says; when the doing of them destroys the peace, comfort, and edification of others; when it stumbles and grieves weak minds, and causes offense to them; see ( 1 Corinthians 10:23 )

Paul secondly points out that any attempt by “Christians” to walk in the world, that is to practice wrong ideas and actions (even though legal) and be a servant of that sin (power).  We must always ask in any activity three questions:

      • Will this activity edifying or help others?
      • Will this activity cause me to lose control and sin?
      • Will this activity Glorify God?

Today’s Prayer

Father, thank You for the liberty I have in Christ and the price he paid at Calvary for all my sin.  Thank You that I am not under any form of law but under grace and that because Christ identified with my sin, I am identified with His perfect, righteousness, and have been declared blameless through faith in Him. Keep me from sin, I pray and give me the wisdom to recognize things that are permissible, but which are not expedient. Help me to live my life in a way that Glorifies You and edifies others. Thank You that in Christ, all things are lawful unto me, but I pray that I will not cause another to stumble or backslide in my own Christian life. This I ask in Jesus’s name, AMEN.  –   Edited from Source

Devotional Thought for Today – 10/19/2020

1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 Pg 1048 In Church Bibles. - ppt video online download

In context of course Paul is speaking about comforting one another (like-minded believers) about the return of Christ 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18.

Yet is it not the “Christian” duty to comfort one another whenever possible? Not just here as Paul describes  Christ’s return but in all things.  Here are some of my favorite verses on the subject:

Romans 15:5 – Working to build up our neighbors

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Building each other up through comfort and encouragement

Hebrews 10:23-25 – Encouraging one another to to love and to do good deeds

We all have busy lives, often too busy for those around us, but make an effort to see those in need, say a kind word and share the Love of Christ today. 

 

Hope As We Leave Quarantine

The Master's Seminary Blog

Hope As We Leave Quarantine

James Street | 

After months of quarantine, the world finally seems to be getting back to normal. Masks are no longer required in certain places, non-essential business are opening their doors, and churches are starting to meet again. But the Coronavirus isn’t gone; it’s still here. Just because we hid ourselves from the virus doesn’t mean the virus will now start hiding itself from us. Now that people are beginning to gather in public places again, some may get sick with COVID-19—some may even die. That’s a scary thought. Many are uneasy about returning to normal life, and that includes Christians. Church leaders must now make difficult decisions about how to hold their services. Congregants must now decide whether they should even go to church right now or not. There is a healthy fear in all of us and it drives us to look to the Bible for answers. What hope does God give us at such a delicate time like this? For many evangelicals, Psalm 91 has been the answer. Its message is attractive, because it sounds like the pandemic we’re facing today:

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. (Ps. 91:3)

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you. (Ps. 91:5–7)

For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. (Ps. 91:9–10)

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

Abounding in Hope

Abounding in Hope

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

The seemingly sudden onset of the coronavirus pandemic has brought a time of trouble. The past few months have been difficult for many people in our country. Millions have lost jobs or suffered a reduced work volume and consequently face fearful financial uncertainty. And while the economy will no doubt rebound, it’s likely there’ll be turmoil for the tens of thousands of small businesses that won’t recover and must retool and refocus on other ventures. Small churches might not have the resources to maintain contact with their congregations under mandates to shelter in place or limit group gatherings, resulting in a trend for those members to participate in online worship with larger churches.

It’s not yet clear just how all of these restrictions will change our lives and social interaction with each other, but we who are privileged to be a part of the Lord’s Kingdom shouldn’t be anxious about the future. The Scriptures offer precious promises from God to His people that we can rest in during times like these…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE