Noah, Spirits in Prison, Angels, and Temptation

Lent has begun. A journey of Forty Days heading toward Good Friday and Easter. We all know the End of the Lenten Season is Good News. It’s the getting there that can be a bit rough, a bit less-than-good. No sooner than I was marked by the ashen cross on my forehead last Ash Wednesday service, I was ready to wash it off! No more reminders of how bad I can be! Or what I am made of and where I will wind up~~

But it’s not just about me! It’s about the whole sweep of the Bible story that includes old man Noah, Angels, Spirits in prison, Water rescue, and being tempted. Christian or not, all people, if they are honest, know they are tempted! Tempted to the bad in life. Tempted to give in, give up in all the rough spots in the Journey before they get to the safety of Easter Home.

So, Lent’s 40 Days is a miniature of each and everyone’s life: ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but Good News in spite of being marked by a ashen cross on your forehead! Who hasn’t thought “it’s Friday…but Sunday’s coming.” Actually it’s more like “it’s Monday…can’t wait til it’s Friday! Weekend is coming!”

However we count the days it’s a spiritual journey from the point of view of the Bible. And that point of view is ultimately full of Light not all of Darkness. It’s a struggle as our texts show us; but whether from The Genesis or Mark or Peter text the message is Good News: God IS at work to bring us through!

There are a lot of “players” in the journey. Let’s get to know more about some of them this Sunday in worship! Don’t be “tempted” to skip out just because it’s supposed to rain(!). Remember, Noah got through a whole lot more water than we’ve had lately! Jesus made it through temptation! Peter’s fellow Christians made it through their trials. So, if the “creek don’t rise”…..see you soon!

Pray for each other~†

Pastor Barry

He Guides Us Through Transition

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:8

Have you ever noticed the significance of the number forty in Scrip¬ture? Moses worked as a shepherd forty years before God called him to lead the Israelites from captivity. Moses was atop Mount Sinai forty days receiving the covenant God made with the Israel¬ites after redeeming them from bondage. God led His people in the wilderness for forty years of testing before entering the Promised Land. Jesus was tested in the wilderness forty days before begin¬ning His public ministry. And it rained forty days and forty nights when Noah built the ark.

As you can see, it’s not only the number forty that’s significant, but the events that this number helped to define. Each event is a period of passage and transition—in the unfolding of God’s gracious and redemptive activity.

Are you in a period of transition? We’re all living through seasons of life if not specific, shorter transitional phrases in life. It’s the way God designed it. Every end is a new beginning. Remember that God walks with us through every season, every transition. He is in control, enjoy the ride.

Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Jesus, thank you for every season that I find myself in, in the winter help me to remember that your provision is coming, in the spring help me to be thankful for new beginnings, in the summer help me to relish the warmth of your grace and mercy and in the fall remind me to rejoice in the harvest. Amen

May God Bless each of you this weekend,

Chaplin Rob

Your Life is Shaped by Your Thoughts

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

God is far more interested in changing your mind than changing your circumstances.

We want God to take away all of our problems, pain, sorrow, suffering, sickness, and sadness. But God wants to work on you first, because transformation won’t happen in your life until you renew your mind, until your thoughts begin to change.

Why is it so important that you learn how to manage your mind? Let me give you three reasons.

Manage your mind, because your thoughts control your life.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (GNT). Your thoughts are powerful and have the tremendous ability to shape your life for good or for bad. For example, maybe you accept the thought someone told you when you were growing up: “You’re worthless. You don’t matter.” If you accepted that thought, even though it was wrong, it shaped your life.

Manage your mind, because the mind is the battleground for sin.

All temptation involves the mind. Paul says in Romans 7:22-23, “I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin” (TLB).

One of the reasons why you get mentally fatigued is because there’s a battle in your brain 24 hours a day. It’s debilitating because it’s intense, and it’s intense because your mind is your greatest asset. Satan wants your greatest asset!

Manage your mind, because it’s the key to peace and happiness.

An unmanaged mind leads to tension; a managed mind leads to tranquility. An unmanaged mind leads to conflict; a managed mind leads to confidence. An unmanaged mind leads to stress. When you don’t try to control your mind and the way you direct your thoughts, you will have an enormous amount of stress in your life. But a managed mind leads to strength and security and serenity.

“Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (Romans 8:6 NLT).

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Three Steps to Surrender, and Eight Results

“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins — even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry” (Job 11:13-18 CEV).

The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear” (NCV).

So how do you learn to live in God’s love so that you can live free of fear?

Every day, you have to surrender your heart to God.

When you wake up every morning, before your feet hit the floor, you have to say, “God, before I even start this day, I surrender my emotions to you. I want you to be Lord of my feelings. I want you to control my mind and my emotions. I surrender my heart to you. I want you to fill me with your love.”

Job 11:13-18 says, “Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins — even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry” (CEV).

There are three commands and eight promises in that Scripture. God says you do this, and then he’ll do that. Every promise has a premise.

First, he gives you the commands: Surrender your heart to God every day. Turn to him in prayer. And give up your sins, or confess your sins to God.

Then, notice the eight benefits: You won’t be ashamed, you’ll be confident, you’ll be fearless, your troubles will be like water under the bridge, the dark night you’re going through is going to be brighter than noon, you’ll be able to sleep well because you are safe and secure, you will be filled with hope, and you’ll be emptied of worry.

Wow! Who wouldn’t want to experience those benefits? You ought to write that verse on an index card and put it somewhere you’ll see it throughout today and this week. Let it remind you to do those three things — surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and confess your sins — so that God’s love will fill your life and cast out all your anxiety and fear.

Try it this week, and then watch how God fulfills his promise as he fills you with his love.

Blessings to each of you!

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj

Only God Can Provide

“Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32 TLB).

The major cause of stress in your life is worry. You worry because you wonder if you will have what you need when you need it. But anytime you expect other people to meet your needs instead of God, you’re going to be frustrated and disappointed, because nobody can meet all your needs.

Only God can do that.

If you want a cure for stress, you need to learn to look to God to meet your needs.

Some people find their security in their job, and when they lose their job, they lose their peace of mind.

Others put their security in their marriage. Then their spouse dies or they go through a divorce, and they ask, “Who am I? What is my identity?”

Or maybe they put their security in their money. There are a lot of ways to lose money.

I recommend that you never put your security in anything that can be taken away from you. You can lose your job, your health, your reputation, your spouse, and your mind. But you cannot lose your relationship to Christ.

When you put your security in that promise, you can trust God to meet all your needs.

Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?” (TLB).

If God loved you enough to send Jesus Christ to die on the cross, don’t you think he loves you enough to take care of every other need in your life? Yes! Of course he does.

Every time you start to get stressed out, pause and say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 ESV).

God’s going to provide. He’s going to take care of you. Instead of stressing out, look to him to meet all your needs.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Unwrapped Gifts

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. – Hebrews 2:4

If you’re a Christian, you have spiritual abilities . . . and it may be the case that you have some spiritual abilities that you’re not aware of—unwrapped gifts just waiting to be opened. The Bible says God’s given some people a gift for declaring His truth with power and clarity. Some possess the gift of encouragement—the ability to provide comfort and cheer, even in the worst situations. Some have the gift of giving; what fulfills them is sharing what they have to bless others in need. Still others have the gift of mercy; they enjoy helping people in hardship or trouble without blaming or judging.

When these gifts are used and developed, the church/ Christians becomes a dynamic place where lives are transformed and God’s Kingdom is built. When you find and use your gifts, you’ll see God’s love and generosity more clearly, and you’ll feel fulfilled like never before. Discover your gifts, and use them!

What is your Gift? Are you using it today?

God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. – Unknown

Your spiritual gift tells you what to do for Christ; your passions tell you where to do it; your personality tells you how. – Jim White

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj,

Mountain Top View

Most everyone has a mountain top story or memory. Many recall their first visit to The Smokies and a vigorous hike up Mt. Leconte. Some of us tell stories of being up on one of the many 14,000 ft. mountain peaks in Colorado. Other mountains? What sights one can see high up on a mountain!

Two of our texts for this Sunday are about high places! Mark recounts Jesus on Mt Tabor (?) in lower Galilee with Elijah and Moses appearing! The 2 Kings text describes the prophet Elijah going upward to heaven in a whirlwind as a chariot and horses of fire appear! Paul in 2 Corinthians speaks of the glory of Christ, the light of the gospel, but that is often hidden by “the god of this age.” People look but do not see because they are looking in the wrong places quite often. They never look up! They never look for the Holy One!

Whenever we do encounter God in high (or low) places, in worship or in nature or…..you name it (!), it leaves an impression. We remember the experience and it becomes one of many foundations for our ongoing life of faith.

The key is faith! Trust! In spite of never perhaps having another mountain top experience in the Lord! Faith walking is sometimes more like being on a highway that is flat, routine….sort of like driving from Nashville to Memphis (!). Okay, I suppose, but not very exciting. Both mountain and flat stretch are part and parcel of the Christian life. Sometimes a great view with great company (Elijah and Moses), sometimes with not much to see and in the company of some people and some situations blocking the view!

Mountains, valleys, exciting moments, shadowy times….they come to each and all. What stays with us? Memories of the great moments….and hopes for that which is even greater. We live out of the past gifts of God to us, and also that which is yet to be given. We are people of faith, experience, tradition, and the community of the saints. We celebrate these different gifts in worship.

Invite someone to worship this Sunday…someone who may need to stir a memory, or someone who needs to have hope for something greater than what they are going through now! Past, present, and future….they are all there in worship, in church life, in the community of faith. Be a part of it!

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

The Great Mandate

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13

The Bible’s central theme is God seeking and saving those in dire need of forgiveness. Jesus willingly died on the cross for you and me, even though we often don’t feel a need to be forgiven. And even though you and I all too often continue to exhibit a rebellious nature. Through faith in Jesus, God forgives us in spite of ourselves.

But there’s more. God’s forgiveness is a creative force. It spills out to you when you receive it and affects every one of your human relationships. You see, forgiveness is both a gift and a command of God. It’s God’s gift to us that allows us to have everlasting life; at the same time, God tells us He won’t extend that forgiveness to us if we’re not willing to forgive others.

Remember . . . we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, and neither should we expect others to deserve ours.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C.S. Lewis

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, my own sinful nature makes forgiveness so hard but your Holy Spirit who lives inside my heart empowers me to let go and forgive. I depend on you Lord to help me to forgive those who have hurt me. Amen.

Blessings,

Chaplain Dunbar

Living In Excess

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12

Do you think that our lives are out of control?

Economists have repeatedly warned that Americans have become addicted to spending and shopping, and at the same time they are crushed by debt all in an attempt to attain lifestyles beyond their means. Doctors and nutritionists speak regularly of the rising obesity rate and the danger it represents. Educators, pastors, and child professionals have long testified that generations of over-indulged American kids are growing up seriously lacking in discipline, direction, and conviction.

The common denominator here is excess. It’s become our way of life, and to put it bluntly, it’s destroying us.

I don’t think the question can any longer be: do we know? We must ask ourselves an even tougher question: do we care? The apostle Paul said that he learned to be content in all circumstances. We can take a lesson from him.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Frederick Keonig

TODAY’S PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to find contentment and fulfillment in you. Forgive me for living a life of excess. Help me today, my Lord to take honest stock of the things in my life that are excessive. Amen.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj,

Paul Says ‘Play Ball’….?

Really? Have we had 51 Super Bowls and now onto 52?! That’s most of MY life! I suppose many could say the same thing about having television shows, movies, and various fashions and trends of the era. We live in our 21st century American culture and that is considerably different from the American life of our great grandparents. Different from other nations and ages.

Our Bible texts take us to an age that knew nothing of our culture, inventions, and fashions. But if we read Paul closely he is dealing with the cultures he is ministering in! He shares what and how he will adapt. For the sake of the Gospel! Jesus ministers in first century Capernaum on a busy Sabbath including a family members illness, healing, meal time, and a demon! Then he moves on to the next town or community. Some things the same then as today! But also different as we look back although we hope to receive a Bible message still relevant now.

So, people wake up and think about how the Sunday will unfold, how will we worship and then move in and around a major cultural event whether the interest is in the actual game or more so in the new commercials or the half time spectacle! Or the food or the company we keep?!

We do this all the time and we model for our children and grandchildren, our neighbors and the unchurched, the outcast and those whose lot in life rules out any interest in a Super Bowl because of numerous personal, health, or work circumstances.

Well, my intentions are to watch and enjoy the Super Bowl but also keep in mind how Christ and culture meet and what will you and I do with both! A tough question at times, but that’s one reason to go to worship, read the Bible, look how others lived in the past, and maybe get some current help in that matter! If Paul can adapt to his culture for the sake of ministering the Gospel and bearing witness to the good gifts from God, so can we!! Each may “draw the line” somewhere in our wide ranging cultural life but we need each other’s help in doing so!

See you Sunday morning if I don’t see you later at kickoff time!

Pastor Barry