Please hold…

This is powerful.

The Lions Den

Uncle Paul calls you on the phone and tells you about his wife who was just taken ill. You get distracted, and tell him to ‘hang on a sec.’ He says: ‘take your time.’ You were 18 at the time.

70 years later, after a life of job hopping, military tours, ups, downs, family duties, hobbies, and the common affairs of life,  you find yourself in a hospital bed; hardly unable to move your right hand, you notice the phone (the one with the cord) is off the hook, and struggle to put it back, but first you put it to your ear and say ‘hello?’

Of course the voice on the other end is uncle Paul who says: ‘I’m here, I waited for you.’ Of course the phone drops immediately to the floor. And in that moment of unannounced honesty but bitter and unvarnished truth, you saw the revelation…

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6 Pieces of Advice for the Christian Joining the Military

Brandon J. Adams

CENTCOM CoCSo, you’re signing on the dotted line.

First thing I’d say is, thank you. Good decision. You’ve either got a lot of guts, a lot of devotion, or a lot of trust in God to be joining the armed forces. Or some combination of all three.

I served a four-year tour in the Air Force. It was all stateside, the only really notable aspect being that it took place in the immediate post-9/11 world. Over a decade since my separation, I still vividly remember the lessons – how they equipped me for the future and simultaneously cast a pall over my track record. I have regrets from those days that the grace of God is still chipping off.

So I humbly ask for your ear now, because I want you to do better than I did. Here is the advice I’d give for surviving military life.

1. Learn to admit…

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In Which I Nerd Out Astronomically and Theologically

orionThe constellation Orion has returned to us.

Enough of a familiar sight to basically be the herald of winter to Northern Hemisphere dwellers, the Hunter, as Orion is often called, is known for its two brightest stars: Rigel at the lower right, Betelgeuse at the upper left. They’re the sixth and eighth brightest stars in the sky respectively, with absolute magnitudes of -7.84 and -5.85 (lower is brighter on that scale).

Next time you look at Orion, do so with this fact: the brighter star, Rigel, is over 200 light-years further from Earth and not even 10% the size.

Since learning those facts, I have never looked at Orion the same way. Rigel is an object of unbelievable luminosity.

Then consider that no created light can outstrip that of its creator.

And Orion is such a small sample of his work. Earth’s atmosphere, while a blessing, also does us a disservice towards understanding the breadth of his work, because it hides most of it. The stars of Orion appear to be relatively isolated objects floating in a sea of blackness, like chips of ice on a perfect sea. They are not isolated.

Shortly after moving to a rural town several years ago to teach math, I looked up one chilly but crystal clear December evening trying to pick out Orion and…could not locate it. That’s a different kind of chill. It took several seconds of confused scanning before I spotted it – it was right there, where it should be.

But it was now surrounded by so many stars that I had never seen before, only just now appearing in the absence of city glare, that the entire constellation of Orion had initially blended into the cosmos. No longer was the night sky a sparse collection of points; it more resembled a black canvas covered with fine dust, so numerous were the stars. Even the three collinear stars of Orion’s iconic belt had been able to hide at first amongst the galaxy’s sprawling glory.

Then consider that the stars visible from Earth are only an infinitesimal fraction of God’s work.

We are so alone among the stars…yet not alone at all.

This man is only one small step towards grasping the immensity of God.

 

His Peace Must Be Chosen

jordanEver heard psalmists and David Crowder sing unabashedly of God being “everything they need” and wondered, What on earth are they talking about?

Me, too.

One of the chief comforts of Scripture when we are disappointed, discouraged, or heartbroken, is that the Christian’s highest goal is not that dream or achievement or milepost you’ve fallen short of, but knowing God. Making him your peace, your joy, your contentment, your soul’s richest food and water. He, the Bible tells us repeatedly, is the only thing that will truly ever satisfy.

But you might have noticed it doesn’t just drop in with the mail.

Where is it then, God? Where are you?

Or as a friend put it recently, “Why can’t I appropriate for myself what God has promised me?”

We know God is faithful. His side of the deal is inerrant and unfailing; there is no lie or failure with him.

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Is God Opposed to Your Dreams?

soldierAs I was wrapping up Air Force basic training (never have seven weeks passed so swiftly and so slowly), one of the final bureaucratic details was the chance to tell the Air Force our preference of first posting, for them to promptly ignore.

We were given a “dream sheet” on which to list eight desired destinations. We could select a base, state, region, or country.

Some of us got an insider tip: wait until tech school to file your sheet. For whatever reason, sheets filed there tended to be actually seen by someone, whereas those filed at basic vanished into the same black hole that has probably consumed all my socks.

So I waited until tech school, filed my sheet, and waited with bated breath for the dorm sergeant to announce my posting. He did this weekly from his podium, usually triggering jeers of fake sympathy for anyone getting “Why Not Minot?”

Finally, my turn came. I got a posting in the…half of the country I’d requested.

Wrong border, though. 1,500 miles away.

Did the Air Force just not care?

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“Your Prayer is Awaiting Moderation”

Brandon J. Adams

waiting“Your post is awaiting moderation” is something we bloggers see a lot.

When we comment on someone else’s blog, depending on their settings, our comments have to wait for their approval before they’re displayed.

Ever felt like your prayer is awaiting moderation? in heaven? For, like, decades?

Prayers have four answers: Yes, wait-then-yes, no, wait-then-no. In descending order of fun.

I once found it tempting to think that at least “wait” didn’t mean “no”. But I then found that…no, that’s not how it works. Sometimes he has us wait – for years – and then says no.

And that’s rough.

It’s one thing to get a “no” right off the bat. At least you can deal with it then, get past the disappointment. But years of waiting and then a no? It feels almost cruel. Hopes gotten up and then dumped.

We can dodge these unpleasant truths if we want…

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When God Shreds a Millennial

Brandon J. Adams

porkA few years ago, I stood in my church’s kitchen combing through massive chunks of steaming pork, to be sold heaped between buns as  a mission fundraiser.

As I coaxed the juicy meat into smaller chunks, I was disappointed.

I’d recently been pulled out of a couple ministry opportunities at my church. I’d been assured that it wasn’t about my heart or competence – just other things going on.

The struggle in my heart was real. Sin kept whispering at me, You wanted to do X and Y and here you are in the kitchen, holding a fork. The Spirit in me wasn’t that stupid. I knew it’s not about me. I knew ambition is unholy. And I was more than happy to be doing my part in the mission. But sometimes lies can feel overwhelming, especially in an incumbent climate of fear and self-criticism. A gale against a fragile…

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