Hebrews 13:8,9--Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.
Stan* came over to my house. Earlier he sent me an email stating that he and his wife would not be attending our small group. But I wanted at least a chance to get to know him so I invited him over to chat. During the course of our conversation Stan said he and his wife were having a difficult time finding a church to attend in Colorado Springs because of theological differences. When I asked him what that meant Stan said that they did not believe Jesus was God. Therefore, church leaders were not comfortable putting them in a leadership position. He further elaborated that 95% of Christians mistakenly are taught and believe in Jesus’ deity. No wonder they were having trouble finding a church home!
Mark 6:2,3—When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished. “Where did this man get these things?” they said. “What is this wisdom given to Him, and how are these miracles performed by His hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t His sisters here with us?” So they were offended by Him.
My ranger friend Chaplain Bruce took me out prospecting not far from Pikes Peak. In our backpacks we had multiple water bottles and coconut water and we were pretty sure we would not get thirsty. What we did not count on was deviating from our plotted course or how steep some of the climb would be. By early evening, as we descended through forest, we ran out of fluids and Bruce’s legs severely cramped up. Had we gone much further the same thing would have happened to me. It is easy to get dehydrated in the dry air of Colorado. Water is life.
Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, characterizes people with the growth mindset as those who are willing to: embrace challenges; persist in the face of setbacks; see efforts as the path to mastery; learn from criticism; and, find lessons and inspiration from the success of others. Consequently, they reach “ever-higher levels of achievement.”
Matthew 9:32-34—Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to Him. When the demon had been driven out, the man spoke. And the crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”
Every year about 1500 volunteers gather on December 24that Building 910 on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. They arrive fifteen minutes before the start of their two hour shift to receive instructions and then move to one of four conference rooms where phone lines are set up. During eleven shifts, over 134,000 calls and over 6500 emails will come in from all over the world, (mostly the U.S. and Canada), from children and adults who want to know where Santa Claus is.
Operation Guardian is an exercise designed for selected Army units to practice search and rescue, decontamination, life-saving skills, convoy movement and set up and tear down of portable equipment. I had the opportunity to watch my soldiers train in Florida and Georgia. When I arrived in Ocala my staff briefed me that there were civilians seeking admittance to our training who were spreading reports that the exercise was a staging operation to bring in foreign occupation troops and remove American freedoms.
On Tuesday I flew into my headquarters to get ready for a key week. The next day with three of my leaders we would interview four candidates to choose our next deputy commander. My current deputy is superb—not just a great officer, but a man who will be a lifetime friend. Unfortunately, I’ve also had the challenge of working with executives who were inept or toxic. So knowing how vital it is to find the right leader, I did not get much sleep. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I felt led to get down on my knees and pray by my bed for wisdom from God and His divine help in making our selection. Immediately I felt His peace.
Jesus had a meeting with His disciples in response to their questions about how they should operate after He returned to heaven. He told them that they needed to write down a vision and mission statement—this would help keep them focused. Second, it would be very wise to have a clear rule book with His stated commands so people would know what they could and could not do—much simpler and more elegant than what the Pharisees were teaching. Third they would need to get a solid 501 (c)(3) so that they would get credit with the tax collectors for their donations. Fourth, they certainly would want to set regular meetings up—preferably on Sunday mornings to differentiate themselves from Jews meeting on the Sabbath. Finally, they should call themselves Christians so they would not be confused with idol worshipers or Jews who refused to believe in Him. You can read the aforementioned discussion in the book of Machinations—a lost part of Scripture recently unearthed in Portland, Oregon. (Of course this is not true).
Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Severely wounded, Luttrell somehow managed through great courage to evade an enemy zealous to kill him. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Sabray tribe found him and whisked him into their village. Despite incredible danger, the tribal chief protected him, fending off Taliban attacks until word reached nearby American forces who then came and rescued him.
In the fall of 1977, I struggled mightily to get my Calculus grade from an F to a D. Worn out from a heavy academic load, I looked forward to flying to Idaho to spend the holidays with my girlfriend and my favorite aunt and uncle. Just weeks before leaving, I received a “Dear John” letter from Julie, graciously letting me know that she was seeing someone in California and wanted to break up. On top of that bad news, this was the last year that West Point had final exams after the holidays meaning I had much studying to do over the last two weeks of December. My heart was heavy and my mind was not on math. When I returned to New York I scored the lowest in the entire class on the Calculus exam, failed the course, and had to go to summer school.
Mark 15:15—Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
It was a bittersweet day. Although I earned my Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) at Fort Benning, Georgia as a Second Lieutenant, I lost my West Point ring in the process. I have always thought it would be great to rent a metal detector and go searching for that lost treasure. The problem is, many decades later, I have no idea even what area to search!