Warrior-Chaplain Retires

West.Retire2Though June 15 was his “last day on the job” as senior pastor of the USA Army White Sands Missile Range New Mexico Protestant Chapel, Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Brad West, and his wife, Susan have their sights set on “what’s next?”

I had the joy of taking the West Family out to dinner, the evening before Brad’s retirement ceremony on June 4, with their daughter, Natalie, her husband and son.  I listened to stories of family travels, the challenges of separations due to Brad’s several deployments, plus discussion of hopes and excitement of the future.  It was a fun time of “pre-celebrating” the ending of a fruitful 23-year military career, and launch into next phase of life and ministry.  The love and levity of the mealtime gathering spoke volumes of the flexibility and commitment this family had to one another and to their chaplain husband, father and grandfather.

The next day, I drove 60 miles due west of Ft. Bliss, Texas to the 500-seat chapel where Chaplain Brad and Susan had ministered the past two-plus years.  I arrived early enough to present them with a framed painting of the Lamb of God set in the frame of the Cross.  On the reverse side was a Certificate of Recognition and Appreciation presented by the Board of CBAmerica for their many years of faithful and fruitful ministry service.  (See photo).

Then I found myself a seat near the rear of the chapel, as I had to leave before the end of ceremony to catch my plane home. (White Sands is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there!).  People began to arrive for the 3:30pm ceremony.  Among the first were the Commanding General and Command Sergeant Major of the Installation.  Normally, the “Garrison Commander” (a colonel) conducts such ceremonies, and when unable, the next in command steps in.  But not this time.  Today, another active member of the Protestant Chapel would officially “retire” Chaplain West, the Commanding General, himself.

While I waited, I would soon learn why.  People of all types began to filter in, Soldiers in uniform, some with their families, found their seats in what looked like their usual Sunday seats.  Civilians, workers and supervisors, recognized by their dress came in with teenagers, children, and a few infants and toddlers.  It struck me that it looked much like a civilian church, with people of all ages and stages of life.

One man came up to greet me, he must have been a chapel usher, and when he didn’t recognize me, I explained that I was Chaplain Brad’s endorsing agent (director of chaplaincy) for CBAmerica.  When I said that, he moved me to the side.  He looked me in the eyes and said, “I want you and your denomination to know something; Chaplain Brad saved my marriage.”  With teary eyes he briefly shared how early on Chaplain Brad detected a problem and challenged him to “man up” and be the head of his family.

Walking off, another person greeted me and asked if I knew how and why Chaplain West was assigned to the White Sands chapel.  Shaking my head, he explained that he had been serving on Ft. Bliss, and hour east, when the Army chaplain assigned to White Sands died by suicide.  My mental file searched back to a story about an Army chaplain who died by his own hand, and I realized it was Brad’s predecessor.  Army leadership were aware of the devastating impact on the chapel congregation, and looked for the right shepherd to come and gather and heal the stricken flock of believers.  Though not an assignment many would anticipate, Chaplain Brad West was the shepherd needed.

I sat down.  The ceremony began, the National Anthem played, and the incoming chaplain prayed, before the Commanding General (from memory) rehearsed Brad and Susan’s entire military career.  A believer himself, he quoted Scripture, and referenced his time under the preaching and pastoral care of one of the “Army’s finest chaplains.”  Following this 25 minute tribute, the chapel was called to attention, and Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Bradley A. West was awarded the Legion of Merit for his outstanding decades of military service, including the rebuilding of the White Sands Protestant Chapel.

I slipped out and raced back over the white sands to the El Paso airport.  Boarding my plane, I belted in and pondered what I had just seen and heard.  I thanked God for allowing CBAmerica to endorse and field effective, godly chaplains like Brad West; and prayed that he and Susan would find new opportunities for ministry in the Northwest CB Region where they plan to settle near Bend, Oregon.

I encourage readers to send congratulatory emails to Brad and Susan at Bradley.allen.west1@gmail.com.  NWCB Churches interested in utilizing Chaplain West’s family life, counseling and pastoral skills are encouraged to contact him directly after July.

Report submitted by Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, CBAmerica.

2015 Men’s Roundup – Sept 11-13

Brochure-SquareMen’s Roundup is a Christian men’s conference and camping retreat held in a forested mountaintop setting at Camp Tadmor in Lebanon, Oregon where men are encouraged to believe, obey, connect, and lead. Roundup features an inspiring primary speaker, well-known guest artists and musicians, biblical teachers leading action workshop breakout sessions, great food, and opportunities for guys to worship, learn, grow, and connect with other guys. Roundup is also a wonderful opportunity to appreciate God’s beautiful creation, hang out with friends, and break a sweat in the Roundup Race or other sports competitions and outdoor recreation activities.

Go Here For More Information

First Things First

hoyt0615Dr. Bill Hoyt
Regional Consultant & Coach Growing Healthy Churches June 2015

George was a top salesman for Logical Solutions, a software programming and services company. His peers recognized his effectiveness and respected him as a salesman and co-worker. George’s Achilles heel was a bad memory. He had a well-earned reputation for being forgetful. His co-workers found his forgetfulness amusing, but it drove his supervisor nuts.

One noon-time, as George was heading out for lunch, his supervisor asked him to pick up a copy of The Wall Street Journal on his way back from lunch. As the door closed behind George his supervisor looked at the others and said, “Ten bucks says he forgets the newspaper.”

About an hour later George burst through the door, whooping, hollering and waving his arms in the air. He shouted to all within earshot, “You aren’t going to believe this, but I just ran into old man Benson. When I started here he was our largest account. It was a huge blow when he moved his business over to Digitec. We got to talking and I learned he was very unhappy with Digitec. Used my tablet, logged on to our website and right then and there he placed a $350,000 order for services over the next six months.”

George’s fellow-workers hooted and hollered, giving George high-fives and pats on the back. When the celebration died down, his supervisor, who had been strangely silent up to that point, looked at everyone, threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed, “See, I told you. He forgot the newspaper!”

The story reminds us of how easy it is to lose sight of our priorities. In my working with churches I often find the biggest hindrance to their ministry effectiveness is that they lost sight of the priorities. Indeed, one the most important roles for leaders is to help keep “the main thing, the main thing.”

So what are the “universal” priorities that all churches should keep in their sights? What are the “first things” that are essential for a church to keep first if it is to be healthy and effective?

Continue Reading Here

 

In Response to the Supreme Court’s Redefining Marriage

At the meeting of the Regional Executive Directors in Denver on June 29th, 2015, Dr. David Whitaker led the board in a discussion of the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. The following was adapted from an earlier statement created by Dr. Whitaker and is the board’s official response to that decision:

CBAmerica’s Statement Here

Resources:

Here is the update from Christianity TodaySupreme Court: States Can’t Ban Same-Sex Marriage

Here is a statement from Al Mohler: Mohler Responses to Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Here is a statement from NAE: Supreme Court Redefines Marriage and God Defined Marriage

Here is a statement made by a diverse coalition of evangelical leaders assembled by the ERLC: Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage

Here is a Christianity Today Editorial written by Mark Galli: Six Things To Do after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

Here is a statement by Ray Ortlund about Marriage and the Gospel: What is Marriage, According to the Bible?

Here is a summary of the decision by Joe Carter: Explainer: What You Should Know About the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Here is a statement from John Piper: So-Called Same-Sex Marriage: Lamenting the New Calamity

Here is a statement by Erik Stanley, Alliance Defending Freedom, for churches to consider: What Your Church Needs to Know – And Do – About the Court’s Marriage Ruling

Matters of Life and Death

thCAD8B2WOBy Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Chaplain, First Lieutenant (Promotable) Matt Laun, of the New York Army National Guard is stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.  His mid-year ministry report caught my eye.

“It has been a difficult year for the 2/101 CAV (Air “Cavalry” Unit with helicopters). In February 2015 we lost a young Soldier to suicide. In March we lost a Soldier who fell asleep at the wheel while driving in to drill. In May we lost a young Soldier due to a motorcycle accident. Yet, in all of these events, God has provided abundant opportunities to support Soldier’s families, grow closer to our Squadron’s Soldiers, and share the love of Christ.

Two of the Soldiers and their families are professed Christians which presented the opportunity to share the gospel with hundreds of Soldiers during counseling, funerals, and ceremonies. Everything has a cause. Many times the cause is our own poor decision-making, but our God has the amazing ability to give glorious purpose to all things!!”

Each ministry report form asks chaplains to identify at least one blessing.  Matt continues: “God has continued to present opportunities to be involved with community events as a Chaplain representing the Military. This includes Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Ministries, The National Day of Prayer, Grace Race Buffalo, memorial dedication ceremonies, and tomorrow 6/6/2015 I will have the honor of giving the invocation for a flag pole ceremony at a park in Niagara Falls, New York.”

I love Matt’s youthful enthusiasm.  He sees the problems facing the younger generation of Guard Soldiers, so he crafted a new ministry program: “In January 2015 I initiated a new Religious Education program. The initial stage of the training includes basic critical thinking. Please pray for this program as God develops critical thinking skills and opens doors for [spiritual] conversation with our young Soldiers.”

Pray for the Holy Spirit to sustain and guide Matt and the other 94 active and reserve CBAmerica military chaplains distributed across the US, in four overseas locations, and on ships cruising in hostile waters, as they deal with matters of life and death.

Contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy, for information on what it takes to minister in specialized military and civilian settings; fulltime, part-time and volunteer. Email: chapandy@cbamerica.org

From Prison with Praise!

prisonBy Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy

Chaplain Evan Spencer’s career began in the active Air Force and meandered through the Air Force Reserve, as he entered the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  He’ll be the first to tell you it hasn’t been easy, but all along the journey he used his musical gifts to elicit praise from those he served.

His last report (January to June, 2015) recorded innumerable one-on-one visits, extensive pastoral counseling with Christian inmates, Bible Studies and coaching his inside group of “chapel volunteers.”  Chaplain Spencer dedicated a significant amount of time to discipleship of those inmates serious about the Christian faith.  As a result, he led two offenders to Christ and baptized five into His Name!

Evan lifts the curtain of ministry in his report.  Part of his great joy was that he “encouraged offender ‘TB’ over a period of time last year to start attending services.  He has since given his heart to the Lord and is a regular in the chapel ministry.”  In another situation he “ministered to ‘LL’ in counseling.  He was a Pagan who was into worshipping and serving the devil for most of his life.”  He said the way that Evan explained the Gospel caused him to think.  He has subsequently dedicated his heart to the Lord, and has recently been baptized.

Join me and the angels in Heaven in rejoicing over these “lost sheep” who have been “found” in the Federal Prison.  Pray for Evan and ten other CBAmerica chaplains currently serving in Federal, State, and Military prison facilities.  Thank God for the “quiet” spiritual revolution that is taking place in the hearts of many of those incarcerated with nothing but time on their hands.  Pray for our chaplains to wisely and effectively coach and utilize volunteers from outside and inside the high walls of prison, so that the Truth of the Gospel will be clearly heard, hearts penetrated and souls saved through Jesus Christ.  (Read Matthew 26:31-46 for Jesus’ words on the importance of prison ministry.)

If you sense God’s Spirit leading you into prison ministry, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy for advice on how to pursue this specialized chaplaincy ministry.  Email: chapandy@cbamerica.org.

Corban alumnus ministers in unique capacity

Ian%20Howarth%20700pxMen and women in the Army National Guard too often face civilian obstacles that challenge them personally, physically and spiritually.

They struggle with marital and financial challenges, as parents, in civilian jobs and more, all which affect military readiness. In 2010, Ian Howarth, ADP ’09, made a decision to help these soldiers and airmen through serving God and his country as a military chaplain.

He is now a captain in the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field just outside of Boise. Although he joined the Oregon Army National Guard in 2010, it was a decision he and his wife, Allyson, had talked about since 2004.

“I was a youth leader and met a pastor going through the chaplaincy,” he said. “It struck me how much of an impact a chaplain has on the soldiers and airmen we serve.” Although Howarth started his adult life with a desire to become a teacher, and did so for several years, he said he also had a strong desire to work in ministry.

Howarth’s long-time friend, military retiree and fellow Corban alumnus Steve Fink, ADP ’09, had many open and honest conversations with him about military life and the role of chaplains within it.

“He’s really taken on that chaplaincy role,” Fink said. “He has the ability to deal with stressful, personal situations and putting people at ease.”

Being a chaplain isn’t all the media makes it out to be, Howarth said. One example he gave is the misconception that Christian chaplains can’t pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

“It’s a weird dynamic,” he said. “You work for the federal government and you are in the military, but you represent your faith. I’ve never been in a position where I have to compromise my faith to keep my job.” He is endorsed by the Conservative Baptists Association (CBA) and said the military allows him to follow the organization’s tenants when serving military members.

However, Howarth also noted that the role of a chaplain isn’t centered on evangelism, but relationships. He builds camaraderie with those around him and uses his personal experiences to help them through many different challenges.

“I haven’t lost sight of where they come from,” he said. “I may not have the same military experience as they do, but I know what it is like to be a civilian. I know what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. I recognize the turmoil that happens in their marriages and with their kids and I am someone they can confide in.” Fink said soldiers are attracted to Howarth’s character and personality.

“He’s down to earth,” Fink said. “He’s got a phenomenal sense of humor. His heart is for kids and families. He is someone you can hang out with and feel comfortable to speak to. He listens and can put himself in places where the troops need him to be.”

Although he loves his role and believes there are Corban School of Ministry students who would make good military chaplains, he said there are important considerations. One, military chaplains need to be able to work with people from all faith groups including Catholics, Orthodox, Latter Day Saints, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. He also said that while Christian chaplains aren’t required to pray the rosary or offer Muslim prayers, they must be willing to help a soldier find someone who can meet their religious needs.

“It’s all about building relationships,” Howarth said. “My mission is to serve airmen and soldiers. There really is no other ministry like it.”

Read Article Here

Worship

Steve EngramBy Steve Engram, SWCC Regional Executive

Worship. Is there a word that evokes more emotion and division in the church today than this word? The term “worship wars” did not come out of a vacuum, but it came out of a reality that a lot of churches have experienced. For some churches, that battle is a distant memory and they thank the Lord for that! But for many of our Association churches, this battle is raging and continuing to divide. It’s sad, isn’t it? Something that is supposed to be all about God, ascribing worth and value to Him, has become all about us and the styles that we like or don’t like? The very practice of worship, which is to make us the most humble, is the thing that often makes us the most arrogant and selfish.

What exactly is worship? The verb “worship,” translated from the Greek word, “shachah” (shaw-khaw), literally means, “to bow down.” It is an action verb. It requires movement, as well as participation. A person bows down before a king or ruler, which shows respect, submission, honor…worship. This is what we are supposed to do in our hearts before our God. But today it has become about us. The “how” has become much more important to us than the “what”. We have relegated “worship” to mean “music”. Worship is not necessarily music. Worship is not simply a part of a service. Our whole lives are to be an act of worship (Romans 12:1), an act of bowing down our hearts, will and resources before our God in submission to Him and His will. Yet today we focus on the “worship” time of our service, what we want that to be like, what we feel connects us to God. And it has become about us and that is not worship at all.

Is it OK to have preferences in music style and words? Absolutely! All music and artistry flows out of Him who created it all. For He is a God of great beauty and variety. There is no one color or one sound that He created by itself, He created them all. Personally, I prefer blues to yellows or pink. But God made the rainbow of colors and I suspect He likes them all. I also suspect that God is not caught up with a certain style of music or specific sound of an instrument, I am sure He likes them all. What He longs for is people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). I think if we would focus on Him, worship Him with all of our heart and life that we would all find a lot more grace for one another as we gather to sing His praise and exclaim His glory. Grace for the contemporary, grace for the traditional, grace for all those in between, because it is not about us and our preferences, it is about Him, the Alpha and Omega, the Lord God Almighty.

So how do we cease from the worship wars? Reality is, we do also worship God through music and because of that, we do have to pick songs and styles to sing them in to use in our congregational gatherings. Perhaps what we should settle on is not what we prefer, but what would be most known and engaging to our surrounding culture. Think about this: when those who don’t know Jesus come to faith in Him it brings Him great glory and praise – correct? If we focused on what brings Him the most glory and worship, it might lead us to use the style that we think would best connect the lost people around our churches to the Savior that loves them. If they would hear our words of adoration, songs of praise and stories of grace in their language, could that be what ultimately brings the greatest honor to our God? Could that humility in our spirit, of not demanding what we want but what could possibly be used to reach or engage the most for Him, be the ultimate sacrifice of worship?