Category Archives: Chaplin Rob

Hope on Arrival

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary (Luke 1:26–27, esv).

Times were tough in the nation of Israel. Occupied by the Romans, tyrannized by a capricious lunatic King Herod, they never knew what a day would bring. Helpless to change the situation or protect their own families from all of the dangerous, frightening uncertainties, the people of Israel faced a fearful future. These were desperate times.

Hope meets us where we are.

So when you come to Luke 1:26, where “the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,” it’s important not to gloss over this Christmas moment and fail to see its true historical setting.

Don’t view it through the lens of a modern-day nativity scene, everyone with glowing faces and embroidered clothing.

Mary lived among common, ordinary people who were overwhelmed by challenging and difficult circumstances. They were left with only one thing to hang onto: the promise of the Messiah.

Just as today we’re waiting for Christ’s return, they too were waiting. All the prophets had talked about it—Isaiah, Micah, Malachi, and many more.

All the hope of Israel was tied to the coming Messiah, a promise they could only wait for. But then Gabriel came with the announcement—Jesus was coming.

Hope meets us where we are. Hope finds us.

I mean, look where it touched down: Nazareth. Remember Nathanael’s question? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)?

Nazareth was seventy miles away from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, a small, rural place known mostly for being the nondescript, disrespected home to fewer than two thousand people. Why would God choose to send the Messiah by way of Nazareth? How could that be?

It’s because God meets us where we are. We don’t have to make our own dreams come true. All we’re told is to be faithful, to do what God has given us to do. Then, even with all the things our heart may look and long for, hope can find us. Like hope found Mary.

Where are you this Christmas? What are your fears? What are the things about which you’re secretly in anguish? What’s causing you to feel . . . hopeless?

Maybe you fear time, not knowing how much longer you can keep doing what you’re doing.

Maybe you fear loss of control, watching something slip out of your hands that you’ve tried to make happen, realizing now that you can’t orchestrate it on your own.

Maybe you fear something that would be irreparable, a series of events that, if the dominoes keep falling, can never be fixed or made right again.

But hope says God can still make things right. God can make amazing things out of ashes and clay. The great unknowns that are troubling you and your family the most right now have not escaped His notice or attention. Unlike us, He sees the future perfectly. So let Him meet you where you are.

Mary was a poor woman from an obscure town who found hope because God found her. He sent word to this faithful betrothed girl, announcing that He had not forgotten His promises.

God pursues us.

He comes after us.

Hope finds us.

Blessings,

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

A Promise in the Pain

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted. – Psalm 138:3

About five seconds outside the womb I think we all discover that this life isn’t easy. And it seems that the older we get the tougher it becomes. Some people have problems or are attracted to difficulties like fleas to a dog. Others make it through life with relatively little difficulty.

But most likely, you’ll face some tough times in life, and it’s not important how your challenges stack up to the challenges of others. Sometimes you might wonder if you are going to be able to make it through, and you will if you hold onto God. He’s promised to see you through.

Are you weighed down? Do you feel overcome with grief or alone in your struggle?

You can choose to take steps to walk through your challenges and come through them a stronger person.

Remember, believing in God and in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. But it does mean you have resources, people, and God’s Spirit who will see you through your problems. What could be better?

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. – William A. Ward

Blessings,

Ch. Dunbar

Lonely Souls

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:11-12

In his lifetime Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting. Today he’s known for his passion and artistic genius. And he’s remembered as a lonely soul. In a letter to his beloved brother, Theo, Vincent wrote:

‘Our inward thoughts, do they ever show outwardly? There may be a great fire in our soul, and no one ever comes to warm himself at it; the passers-by see only a little bit of smoke coming through the chimney and pass on their way. Now, look you, what must be done? Must one tend that inward fire, have salt in oneself, wait patiently yet with how much impatience for the hour when somebody will come and sit down near it, to stay there maybe?’

What great fire has God impressed upon your soul? Do passers-by see more than just a little bit of smoke? Are you tending the fire?

Van Gogh expressed his passion in his art. Look for the best expression of your passion that will honor and glorify God.

The passions are the winds that fill the ship’s sails. Sometimes they submerge the ship, but without them, the ship could not sail.- Voltaire

Blessings,

Chaplain Dunbar

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Persevering Amidst Hardship

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:3-5

In 1741 George Frederic Handel wrote Messiah, one of the finest and most inspiring musical scores ever composed. In the time leading up to his greatest accomplishment, Handel’s health and fortunes had reached a low ebb. A stroke had left the right side of his body paralyzed: and he worked under the threat of imprisonment on account of crushing financial debt.

I can’t help but wonder whether Handel would’ve chosen the tenuous life of a composer had he known ahead of time the suffering he’d endure. If not, the world would’ve missed the blessing of this timeless and beautiful composition of praise.

Like Handel, we don’t know what our future holds. But we can be confident that God does, and that He uses every hardship to mold our character and accomplish a plan that remains perfect despite our inability to comprehend it. I pray that today you persevere in that certain hope. And you find trust that you are always in God’s hands.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Check Your Attitude

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18, esv).

The world is a cold place, and life on this earth can lend itself naturally to miserable attitudes. There will always be enough injustice and irritation to keep us in the wilderness if we choose to murmur, complain, criticize, covet, doubt, and rebel.

“The very same circumstance in life can feel like the Promised Land or the wilderness—depending on your attitude.”

On the flip side, though, life also offers plenty of people and situations to generate thankfulness, love, faith, submission, and contentment—attitudes that cause life to flow with the “milk and honey” of God’s blessing and abiding presence. The choice is truly ours.

Of course, some of our choices are limited. At different times, we reach forks in the road of life where we cannot control much. Sometimes we can’t control where we work, where we live, who the authorities in our lives are, and how they treat us. The only thing we can control is our attitude.

You choose your attitude. Sometimes it is the only thing you can choose—and it dwarfs your circumstances. The very same circumstance in life can feel like the Promised Land or the wilderness—depending on your perspective.

God’s Word teaches us some clear truths about the power of our attitudes.

First, the attitude reveals the true person. “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart,” Jesus said (Matthew 15:18a). Your attitude reveals who you truly are. You can get your external behavior in order but still be a mess inside. God isn’t interested in soldiers that just look the part; He wants His followers to be the part, for real. When God looks at you, He sees through to your heart, because that’s where the true person resides. His goal is not a makeover but real heart transformation—changed attitudes.

Second, the attitude predicts the future. “For as [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, nkjv). Attitudes are patterns of thinking formed over a long period of time. You can’t think in critical, negative, faultfinding, complaining ways without becoming that person. In spiritual terms, you are what you think! God is fired up about this, because how you think foretells who you become.

Third, the attitude is primarily vertical. Most sin has a horizontal dimension. Stealing and lying, for example, affect personal relationships, though those choices are against God as well. But attitudes are clearly vertical—implicit accusations against and rejections of God and His provision. God considers our attitudes to be directed at Him, which is why He takes them so seriously.

So what are you choosing? Are you following your feelings or deferring to a default attitude based on your circumstances? Negative, critical attitudes make life feel like a wilderness—desolate, dry, barren, hard, and joyless. In contrast, positive, grateful, God-honoring attitudes make life feel like the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. The choice is yours. Check your attitude.

Prayer
Lord, forgive me for what often comes out of my mouth, flowing from ingratitude and selfishness in my heart. Please forgive me for the rebellion against You that is ultimately revealed by these murmuring, complaining, faultfinding attitudes. Father, You have given me new life. I pray that You would fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and empower me to see the choices before me through Your eyes. Thank You for saving me, giving me breath, and guarding my steps. Thank You for Your provision, for new mercies every morning, and for the love You continually lavish on my life. Help me to never stop thanking You, and grant that my attitudes would increasingly shine with Your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ matchless name I pray, amen.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

In All Things Give Thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

With the thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror and Christmas stress on the horizon, I wanted to pause once again to remind you that what we celebrated on thanksgiving can last all year.

Sometimes, in the rush of everyday living, we simply don’t stop long enough to pause and thank our Creator for the countless blessings He has bestowed upon us.

When we slow down and express our gratitude to the One who made us, we enrich our own lives and the lives of those around us. Thanksgiving should become a habit, a regular part of our daily routines. God has blessed us beyond measure, and we owe Him everything, including our eternal praise.

As Christians, we are called to give thanks in all the things. Not just the good things, not just some things but ALL things. Are you a thankful person? Do you appreciate the gifts that God has given you? And, do you demonstrate your gratitude by being a faithful steward of the gifts and talents that you have received from your Creator? You most certainly should be thankful. After all, when you stop to think about it, God has given you more blessings than you can count. So the question of the day is this: will you thank your Heavenly Father . . . or will you spend your time and energy doing other things?

I hope you will join me today in giving thanks to God for all that we have. No matter what we must go through today, we are blessed!

We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world along with the hope of our eternal country. – C. S. Lewis

Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference. – Thomas Merton

It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thanksgiving with the mouth stirs up thankfulness in the heart. – John Piper

Blessings,

Chaplain Dunbar

Water for the Thirsty Soul

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water” (John 4:7–11, esv)?

For anyone who is serious about becoming more like Jesus, this exchange between Him and the woman at the well in Sychar is a conversation to study.

“The Lord wants to draw your focus beyond the immediate to the eternal.”

Jesus’ opening line, “Give me a drink,” may read rather abruptly, but the woman’s reply reveals that His tone was a genuine request rather than an order. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

Her response could have been taken by Jesus as a personal affront. But He was not put off. When she asked, in effect, “Why are You talking to me?” His answer took the conversation to a whole new level: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus was basically saying, “You hesitate to give Me water I deserve; but I am not going to hesitate to give you living water you don’t deserve.” What an awesome way of expressing what He might also say to each of us: “You hold back your life from Me, when I am freely offering you eternal life.”

The Samaritan woman didn’t have this insight—she did not realize what He was telling her. She lacked the knowledge of two things: the gift of God and the identity of the One with whom she spoke. Her focus was on the impossibility of drawing water from a deep well without a bucket. She revealed she was stuck in the physical realm. Jesus wanted to give her a spiritual reality, but she couldn’t think beyond her immediate circumstances.

How often have we been stuck on what’s going on around us when the Lord is trying to take us into a spiritual reality? How often do we limit God to the ways and means we can see rather than remembering who He is? It’s so easy to have our attention focused on earth and glance at heaven, instead of fixing our eyes on the final prize and leaving the world to our peripheral vision. This woman shows us how we often miss the spiritual point.

How often do you do the same thing? How carefully are you listening and watching for God’s efforts to speak into your life? You’re in the middle of a busy, hectic day, going a thousand miles an hour—and God is trying to get your attention, trying to take you to the mat with the full weight of who He is.

God has something better for you. He wants to draw your focus beyond the immediate and obvious to the eternal and less-than-apparent. If your soul is thirsty, if you’re not hearing from the Lord or seeing Him at work, but you want to, maybe it’s time to slow down and pay attention.

Pray
Heavenly Father, I want my eyes to be more open and my heart more tuned to hear Your voice. Help me listen for Your true and eternal Word among the lies and distractions that surround me. Keep me aware that the life You have for me goes beyond my physical senses, and You invite me to fix my mind on things in heaven, not on things on earth. Thank You for drawing me into Your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Demonstrations of Love

“[Gratitude] turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. – Psalm 119:76

Right before Thanksgiving, an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said, ‘Your mother and I are divorcing, 45 years of misery is enough. But I’m sick of talking about this, so please call your sister and tell her the news.’

The son called his sister in Chicago and she immediately called her father. ‘You’re not getting divorced!’ she said, ‘We’ll be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing.’

The old man hung up the phone and turned with a wry smile to his wife. ‘They’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own fares!’

If you’re a parent, you can appreciate the humor of this story. Yet I must say I’m glad we never have to worry about God using deception to get us to spend time with him. Instead, he demonstrates his great love through his Son, Jesus.

To think of God’s unfailing love for us is a reason to be thankful.

During this season of food, football, and family remember to stop and to say thank you. Remember to thank God for life, for health, and for family.

Remember to say Thank you!

It is in spending oneself that one becomes rich and it is in being thankful that a life is lived well. – Sarah Bernhardt

Have a Happy Thanksgiving,

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 3

Part 3 of 5.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name . . . Psalm 30:4

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season 7 simple ways

•Journal.

•Tell Stories.

•Serve… together as a family. Collect canned goods, rake leaves for your neighbors, volunteer in a soup kitchen, or invite an outsider (maybe a college student, a single person from church, or someone who is new to the area) to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. Ask your kids to think of someone from their school whom they might like to bless with a basketful of goodies. Start a “giving jar” where you put spare change or extra dollars with the goal of giving to someone in need. Ask your kids if they have any ideas regarding service. Get creative. The possibilities are endless.

•Create. Have your kids make creative place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of just cards with names, have them write, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma.’ Or be even more specific, ‘I’m thankful for Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies.’ ‘I’m thankful for Dad’s funny stories.’ ‘I’m thankful for trips to the fire station with Uncle Joe.’ This will cultivate a thankful heart in your children and bless the people who are sharing the meal with you. (Even if you’re not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, volunteer to bring place cards even if you don’t normally use them).

•Personal: Take a moment today to do a gratitude list. Write down 10 things you are grateful for today. Try doing it every day to remember that you are blessed with so many things.

Tomorrow, part 4.

Blessings,

Ch Dunbar

Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Part 2

A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life.

For the next few days, learn how to Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude Within Your Home this Thanksgiving Season—7 simple ways

Part 2 of 5.

1.Journal.
2.Tell Stories. Share the story of Pastor Martin Rinkart with your family.

In 1636 the Thirty Years’ War was raging. Death, disease, and economic collapse enveloped Europe in a fog of terror. One German pastor, Martin Rinkart, is said to have buried five thousand of his parishioners in one year, an average of fifteen people daily! Yet under the shadow of death and amidst a crucible of chaos, Rinkart penned this beautiful table grace for his children:

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices

Who wondrous things had done

In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love

And still is ours today.

Talk about this with your family. Was this man in denial? Out of touch? Hardly. Rinkart was a person of audacious faith. He knew thanksgiving flows from love of God, not outward circumstance. Share this story and sing the table grace he wrote for his children.

Remember you can be thankful no matter what the circumstance you are going through.

Blessings,

Tomorrow, part 3.

Rob Dunbar, Chaplain, Maj, TN ANG