Christian Life in an Equal Marriage World

That was the topic of a workshop led by Dr. Gerry Breshears, professor of theology (Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon) at the NWCB Men’s Roundup at Camp Tadmor, Oregon Sep. 11-13. Gerry urged attendees; pastors, chaplains, elders, and laymen, to use positive statements when discussing marriage in today’s world; because negative statements only inspire defensiveness which prevents meaningful dialogue. His definition: “Marriage: The publicly pledged, permanent, exclusive, covenantal union of one man and one woman.” (Genesis 1:27-31) More information on this topic and related issues can be found at www.breshears.net and http://1drv.ms/ZaJaCs. Dr. Breshears’ workshop was one of several that I and other CB chaplains attended during this action-packed weekend.

Winning in the Court of Public Opinion: Same-sex Marriage (What to Say and How to Say it: Public Affairs 101 for Military Chaplains)

As the dust settles on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) 26 June 2015 decision on OBERGEFELL v. HODGES, legalizing same sex marriage, many military chaplains are asking questions on how this landmark (earthshattering?) case impacts their ministry. Following is a summary of positive statements, supporting facts, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) that are based on the First Amendment, current DOD regulations, and recent Constitutional protections added under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA’14), and previously affirmed by the 1986 case of Katcoff v. Marsh (Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit). Review these statements and keep this sheet handy when asked your opinion in public or in private. Remember: It is more effective to state your position in posit­ive terms, than what you are against. Negative statements tend to evoke a defensive response and shut down meaningful dialogue, preventing effective communication. Now, more than ever, a positive Christian voice needs to be heard. Be sure to clear all public media interviews with your Public Affairs Office prior to granting interviews as a military chaplain.

  1. Central Issue: No one should be required to deny their faith in order to serve in the Armed Forces. A.    Supporting Statements:
  1. No American, especially those serving in the armed forces, should be forced to abandon their religious beliefs.
  2. Chaplains and service members shouldn’t be denied the very constitutional freedoms they have volunteered to defend and are willing to die for.
  3. Military policy should center on what best protects our nation and the freedoms that service members volunteer to defend…and are willing to die for…to preserve these freedoms for all Americans.
  4. Supporting Facts:
  5. The First Amendment guarantees religious freedom for every American – including military chaplains.

 

  1. Our government was formed to be freedom’s greatest defender, not its greatest threat. Military chaplains don’t surrender their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights and abandon their religious beliefs:
  • When they join the military
  • When the Judicial Branch of Government “creates” a new constitutional right (same-sex marriage)
  • When the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government create policies in response to partisan demands from a vocal minority
  1. When chaplains are muzzled and prevented from sharing the full counsel of their faith, the spiritual health and well-being of service members will suffer.
  2. Forcing military chaplains to abandon their religious beliefs threatens the spiritual support they provide to Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Airmen, and defeats the purpose of the chaplaincy.
  3. Military chaplains are called upon to perform or provide, (provide or provide for, i.e. facilitate) for every service member regardless of their faith background or orientation.
  4. The military chaplaincy is mandated by the US Constitution, as confirmed by the 1986 case of Katcoff v. Marsh heard by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
  5. Moving “Forward on Marriage:”

When asked your opinion on the 26 June 2015 decision on OBERGEFELL v. HODGES, legalizing same sex marriage, you may consider the following response:

The news from the Supreme Court was bad. Even so, this decision doesn’t end society’s discussion about the future of marriage and laws affecting the family. The Court’s decision demands that we:

  • Continue to promote a view of marriage that prioritizes children’s needs over adults’ desires,
  • Affirm the right of every child to know and be raised by both their mother and father,
  • Promote a legal framework that values lifelong marriages and discourages divorce, and
  • Promote the truth that the union of a man and a woman is the only objective definition of marriage that produces human flourishing.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and Proposed Responses:Question: Now that the SCOTUS has ruled there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, will you perform same-sex ceremonies for gay service members?Answer: This question comes up frequently when people don’t have all the information about established law and policy.Here’s what you need to know:

 

  • Chaplains aren’t required to officiate at any ceremony that is counter to their religious or personal beliefs. This is consistent with established law and policy.
  • Chaplains provide for religious support to help service members find someone who can meet his or her spiritual needs, and they provide religious support.
  • In this case, I can’t perform a same-sex wedding ceremony, but I will direct them to someone who can.

Question: Now that SCOTUS has ruled there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, will you provide premarital and marital counseling to gay service members? Marriage retreats?

Answer: Approaches to counseling vary, case by case, but there’s never a case where a homosexual service member’s requests are ignored.

  • It’s important to remember that Chaplains provide for religious support and will help a service member find someone who can meet his or her spiritual needs.
  • Some chaplains will provide counseling to homosexual partners but make it clear at the outset that their counseling and pastoral care are based on a certain biblical and doctrinal perspective. Other chaplains will refer homosexual individuals to someone who can help with their specific needs.
  • The bottom line is that chaplains provide and provide for religious support.

Question: Now that SCOUTUS has ruled there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, is there a conflict between your oath of office (to support and defend the Constitution) and your religious beliefs?

Answer: No, not at all.

  • The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion for all Americans, including Chaplains.
  • Chaplains shouldn’t be denied the very constitutional freedoms they have volunteered to defend and are willing to die for.
  • The Supreme Court reiterated this guarantee in its recent marriage decision. “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection…” This includes Chaplains.

Redeployed, Not Retired!

Capital City Rescue MissionIt has been a challenge making contact with all of our CBAmerica chaplains during my first six months on the job.  One chaplain I almost gave up on was Rev. Donald Lyon.  Finally, I got him on the phone, verified his contact info, and when I asked about his ministry, I couldn’t take notes fast enough.  So I asked Don to send me a robust report of his ministry career.  What I learned was impressive.

Don writes, “I received my ecclesiastical endorsement from CBAmerica Chaplaincy on April 12, 2010. I entered the pastoral ministry in 1967 and stepped down from a senior pastoral position January 2009. I am currently serving the Lord at the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany NY, working with homeless men. The last church where I served for 27 years understands I have retired from my senior pastor position, however, I tell all others that I have been redeployed.

The Lord has opened a new door of ministry sharing the Gospel with homeless men and guiding them through our “Life Program” to become disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus gives them an abundant life forever. Visit us at www.capitalcityrescuemission.com to see how we are “Giving Hope…Transforming Lives” to many men today. I am grateful for the Lord’s leading in 42 years of pastoral ministry and now 6 years of a ministry to homeless men in Albany NY.”

Don quantified the extent of his ministry activity over the past six months: “22 worship services, 54 Bible Studies, 40 other small groups, 288 one-on-one visits.”  The results: 18 first-time decisions for Christ and 22  rededications among “the least of these” roaming the streets of Albany New York!!!

How can you pray for an “old Lyon” on his “second wind?”  Don continues:

  • “Pray for continued effectiveness in reaching homeless men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Pray as we are establishing a Rescue Mission for homeless women at our Albany campus.
  • Pray for growth in a local Baptist church which started in our chapel and now meets in Celebration Hall at our Albany campus.
  • Pray for more of our men to follow the Lord through the waters of baptism under the leadership of Pastor Randall who is an ordained Baptist minister.”

I was amazed reading all Don reported, so I checked his file to find out his year of birth.  Don Lyon will be 75 this August!  Do me a favor and send an email birthday greeting to Don at coupleoflyons@aol.com (you know he’s been around a while with an email like that).

Pray for Don and his wife, Ruth (the other Lyon), as they invest their autumn years “reaching those others can’t…or wont!”

PS:  If after reading this, you sense the Holy Sprit is nudging you to get involved with some new and/or audacious form of ministry, talk to your pastor or elder for advice.  If they agree you have the gifting and life circumstance to pursue some form of chaplaincy, contact me for info on how you might become endorsed by CBAmerica to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Andy

Andy Meverden

Director of Chaplaincy
CBAmerica
O: 720-283-3030
C: 303-263-6175
3686 Stagecoach Rd, Unit F
Longmont, CO 80504-5660

When Heaven Comes Down

thCAHBXI47A report from Chaplain David Kuntz illustrates the Kingdom impact of his ministry and the ministry of the other 37 CB hospital and hospice chaplains across America.

From David’s report:

“Heaven can be sometimes present and future. As I walk along life’s pathway with Emanuel – God with us, I am reminded that I am already in touch with the essence of Heaven. God is with me, in me and all around me. Each day in the hospital I am blessed with hints of Heaven in my ministry.

This past week I was able to meditate on this glorious truth. I witnessed a mother and father’s prayer for their daughter and her child.

Here is the story: A single mother was told her unborn child had a serious heart defect. This specific diagnosis would require three major open heart surgeries. The children who make it through the heart surgeries and long hospital stays have a short life expectancy. In this case the mother of the child had three specific tests done that confirmed her child had a bad heart defect.

The mom delivered and the baby was med-flighted to us. When the baby arrived in our hospital, we did a test to see the heart defect and it was gone! The cardiologists were stunned. The mother told me that her parents were Christians, but she was not. She said she had not prayed much until she was given the bad news about her son.

She relayed to me that she had many prayer chains going for her son. To her regret, she told me she did not believe in God, but now she does and she wants to follow HIM. I asked her what she named her son and she told me Luke because he was a real heart doctor.

This week Heaven came down in the middle of the room as this mom returned back to her loving Father.”

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?

Online Training for Short-Term Missions

Dr.-Douglas-with-boy

Recent studies have encouraged churches and ministries to scale back on their short-term mission endeavors.  Some root causes for this concern are a lack of training and spiritual formation in those who serve as well as the long-term effectiveness of the field.  Previous studies reveal that less than 20 percent of short-termers are effectively trained in the pre-field, on-field and post-field stages of a short-term mission.  “Training must be much more than a video someone watches or a book to read.  Effective training takes time and an intentional process of discipleship”, says Tory Ruark, a Short-Term Mission Coach for DELTA Ministries International (DELTA).

To make training available to a broader audience, DELTA has launched the first online training course for short-term missions that provides a personal coach to guide participants through the course.  Short-Term Missions 101 is designed for individuals, whether traveling alone or as part of a team, who are not receiving adequate training or who desire to have a more effective short-term mission experience.  Sending agencies can also refer their short-termers to this course to ensure they will be prepared to serve and to be a blessing instead of a burden on the field.

This online course is available for just $45 and provides ideas, techniques, and skills designed to maximize the on-field experience for adults and youth serving on a short-term mission. Training focuses on spiritual growth, character transformation, the ABC’s of short-term mission, cultural adaptation, team building, interpersonal relationships and conflict, evangelism training and field specific modules. Registration includes the online biblical DISC personality profile assessment.

To register for the course or for more information, visit deltaministries.com and click on the “Online Course for Short-Term Missions” link or visit the online store.
DELTA is an accredited member of the Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission (SOE) and CEO Brian Heerwagen helped develop these best practice standards for the United States.  Since 1979 DELTA has effectively trained and mobilized over 10,000 short-termers and 1,000 teams that have mobilized to 100 countries and 30 US states for missions.

Welcome Relief: Clergy Housing Allowance Upheld

The clergy housing allowance is safe for now. Last week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a Wisconsin federal district court, which struck down the venerable clergy housing allowance. As a result of the Seventh Circuit’s decision, clergypersons who serve churches, synagogues, mosques, and other worshipping groups, may continue to exempt certain parts of their compensation from federal income tax.

The news comes as welcome relief to worshipping groups and clergypersons. Last November, for the first time, a federal district court held the federal exemption from income tax for clergy housing allowances unconstitutional. See Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. Lew, 11-CV-626-BBC, 2013 WL 6139723 (W.D. Wis. Nov. 22, 2013). The Department of Justice appealed to the Seventh Circuit. On appeal, the case brought together diverse religious groups, who filed three amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of the government’s appeal. These briefs represented more than ninety American religious groups, including Jewish, Protestant, Islamic, and Catholic groups. The groups all understood the fundamental importance of the district court’s path-breaking decision: had it been upheld, the financial implications to these worshipping groups and their clergy would have been severe., The Seventh Circuit’s decision upholding the housing allowance has thus provided a reprieve.

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CHURCH PLANTING GOING STRONG

BrBrian Howardian Howard, Church Multiplication

2014 was a great year for Church Planting in Pacific Church Network! We have now planted seven new churches since the beginning of 2013.

 

 

 

 

Mission 316, San Marcos

Seed, Ventura

Redemption Hill Uptown, Whittier

Soma, Santa Clarita

Citylights, Fountain Valley

Tradewind Communities, Kailua, Hawaii

Redemption Hill La Habra, La Habra

 

Not only are we planting churches, but each of the seven churches that we have planted in 2013 and 2014 are moving forward and growing. These seven church plants have baptized over 100 people to date! But we are just getting started. Our goal is to continue to plant four new churches every year and 76 new churches by 2026. At our upcoming annual meeting, we will be announcing our 2015 church planters. I am looking forward to 2015 and will be interacting with potential church planters, coaching our current church planters, speaking in order to continue to raise awareness, and preparing for our 2016 church planters.

 

“We continue to make great progress and I am bullish on PCN Church Planting!”

 

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Miki West Memorial Service

Miki West, a long time friend of Southwest Church and fellow worker in the Lord, has gone home to glory.
Miki was a former CB pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Silver City, NM and Bible Baptist Church in Phoenix.  He also served as Chaplain for the VA hospital here in Phoenix. Services are scheduled below.  The family would like to welcome everyone who has been touched by this amazing man’s life to attend.Visitation will be held Tuesday, December 30th from 6-8 pm at Green Acres Mortuary and Cemetery (401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257)His Celebration of Life Service will be Wednesday, December 31st at 11 am at Mesa Baptist Church (2425 S. Alma School Road, Mesa, AZ 85210)

The Graveside Service will be held at 2 pm at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona (23029 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ 85024)

The family is requesting – in lieu of flowers – please make a donation in his honor to either the ALS Association or Gideons International.

Click Here for his full obituary