Veterans Day Books

If anyone is interested in a good read for Veterans Day, or perhaps getting a gift for a friend in the military, here are several books worth considering.

This book focuses on the role of the chaplain, but also takes a good look at religion in the Armed Forces. It answers a lot of questions about the rights and restrictions applicable to people of faith, and presents an accurate picture of what it’s like to be a Christian in today’s military. Containing a lot of anecdotes and real life examples, it also shows that there is an open door for genuine sharing of faith when done correctly and respectfully. Click on the book to see it on Amazon.

Being in Iraq in 2007 was scary and dangerous. Yet, the Lord was doing some fantastic things in the lives of the men and women I served, loved, and ministered to. Written as a combination memoir and testimony, it tells stories of answered prayer, overcoming fear and temptation, and experiencing the presence of God.

My dad wrote this book about what it was like to be on the USS Yorktown in World War II. He survived the Battles of Midway and Coral Sea, experienced the amazing presence of the Lord during the toughest days of his life, and shares what it was really like. Originally published with the title God Was at Midway and then as USS Yorktown at Midway, last year my brother wrote a new introduction and I added an epilogue.

These books may be purchased on Amazon by clicking on the images of the books. You may also click on the Books tab in the menu above. And if you’d like to listen to my podcast conversations with Richard Blackaby (Blackaby Ministries International) or with Randy Zachary (Family Radio) scroll down to the bottom right and you can play them.

Embryonic Faith

When a female butterfly places an egg on the leaf, it contains the yolk: a thick liquid that has the “germ” of the future caterpillar, plus the food it will need until it hatches. This is crucial because even though the critter might be in the egg for only a week or two, it requires immediate nourishment or it will die. It is fascinating that in every step of the metamorphic process, there is a marvelous combination of beauty and function.

I think this is also true for human beings, especially in the context of the quest for spiritual growth. When we start our journey as a disciple, everything we need to sustain our new life of faith is in place. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We have a sense of faith, even if it’s at the embryonic level. These two will sustainment us and carry us to the next level.

According to 2 Peter 1:3-4, His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

In the passage above, do you notice the goal of participating in the divine nature? That will be the focal point when we discuss the adult butterfly. The creature still in the egg isn’t even close to looking like or behaving like the mature insect, though. It’s not even a crawling bug yet. There are many changes that will have to happen before it gets to the finish line.

Similarly, there are many changes and much growth a believer has to experience before getting to where the Lord wants him or her to be. So, we take it one day at a time until we see the Lord’s handiwork manifesting in our life and character.

There’s nothing wrong with being in the egg if you’re brand new to the life of faith or haven’t even started yet. It’s totally fine to be where you are at this stage of your spiritual life. Take nourishment from what’s around you, learn from others, and ask the Lord for his help. I guarantee that his divine power will give you everything you need for a godly life, and if you hang in there, you are well on your way to participating in the divine nature. That’s God’s promise . . . even for those who are still in the egg.

Legal Basis of Military Chaplaincy

Before he became our first president, General George Washington was keenly aware of our need for military chaplains. He understood that chaplains, through their life, influence, and preaching, could help his men morally and ethically. He knew the impact chaplains would make by instilling courage and discipline. And he wanted chaplains to counsel the soldiers, visit them when they were sick or wounded, honor the dead, and write letters home for those who could not write.

Apparently, the Founding Fathers didn’t question whether a military chaplaincy was needed. It seems they merely adopted the British practice without debate. On July 29, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized a chaplaincy for the Continental Army and decided that the chaplains would be paid. In 1777, they authorized a chaplain for each Army brigade. By 1791, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing freedom of speech and freedom of religion for every citizen, including people serving in our military.

These early actions by the United States Congress in the late 1700s served as the legal foundation and paved the way for further refinements as we shaped the military chaplaincies. When he was a congressman, James Monroe had voted in favor of a military chaplaincy on several occasions. Then as president, in 1814, he signed the explicit authorization for military chaplains. In 1818, a chaplain was authorized for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1838, congress passed more sweeping legislation providing military chaplains at frontier forts, military hospitals, and other military schools. Also included were chaplains for the Navy and for Congress itself. By that point, the legal grounds for a military chaplaincy were firmly in place, and they endure to this day.

In 1861, Congress directed military commanders to weed out undesirable or unqualified chaplains because not everyone serving as a chaplain was qualified or was behaving properly.

It wasn’t until 1917 that Congress authorized minority faith groups to have military chaplains. Previously, all chaplains were Christians, the vast majority being Protestant. This new legislation, however, allowed Jewish rabbis to serve as military chaplains, and eventually let representatives of other minority religious groups serve as well, such as Buddhists and Muslims.

Following WWII, the Geneva Convention established the Law of Armed Conflict, which designated chaplains as noncombatants who are not allowed to fight, and who should be protected during battle. The United States was one of the first to sign the agreement to the Geneva Convention guidelines.

By 1956, Title 10 of the United States Code had been approved. This important legislation significantly expands and identifies the roles and functions of military chaplains. Because of the scope of this legislation, anyone interested in the military chaplaincy should read it thoroughly. According to Title 10, the military will fund and maintain a military chaplain corps and retain chaplains.

There have been some significant policies, instructions, manuals, pamphlets, memos, and regulations prepared by the Department of Defense and the various military departments that shed light on the role, function, and tasks of military chaplains.

Chaplains have to know the law. They’ve got to understand current policy, and must build a good working relationship with the commander and command staff, as well as with officers, enlisteds, and NCOs. All commanders are well trained and knowledgeable when it comes to issues related to religion. However, some of them are “anti-religion,” while some go overboard promoting religion. Others don’t care at all about religion, and want to take funds earmarked for religious programs and use the money for other priorities. Therefore, chaplains have to be well informed and strong enough to tell commanders what is right or wrong when it comes to implementing their religious programs.

If we do our homework and maintain proper relationships, we have an open door for an incredible ministry and an opportunity to impact countless lives on behalf of the Kingdom of God.

The Butterfly Lays an Egg

When discussing plants and animals, a fundamental principle of modern science is that every living thing comes from an egg, and this is where the story about Butterfly Believers begins. After mating, a female butterfly deposits her eggs on or under a leaf, gluing it on so that it cannot be blown off or removed. In many species, the caterpillar hatches in just a few days.

Every one of us begins the spiritual journey somewhere. We might have grown up in a Christian family. Some are invited to a church or a small group that meets in a home. Others come to faith in Christ later in life. Whoever we are and wherever we find ourselves spiritually, the Lord reaches out to us and provides the spark of faith, fans it into flame, and our relationship with Christ begins.

This can be seen in my own family. My grandfather converted to Christ at about age seventy-five, living the last twenty-four years of his life as a dedicated Christian who read the scriptures every day and became a deacon in the little Baptist church near his farm. My father was a sailor in the Navy when he met a young lady who invited him to church. He became a Christian and they eventually married. I grew up in a Christian home.

I know people who turned to God during a crisis and found that the Lord provided the help they needed. I’ve talked with others who just felt there was something missing in their life and discovered a God who filled the emptiness inside. A few have told me they had a friend who changed so much after experiencing Christ that they were drawn to the Lord. There are others who came to faith because of a miraculous experience.

In 1st Corinthians 3:5-7, the writer uses a different metaphor.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

In these verses, the Corinthian believers are likened to a plant or a crop. Their faith journey began when someone planted the seed. The Lord sent someone else to provide the water. The seeds sprouted, took root, began to grow, and then flourished.

The point is that we all have to start somewhere. In the same way that every plant or animal comes from an egg, each of us begins the spiritual journey like that butterfly egg. We are alive. We have potential. The Lord wants to take us step by step on a path that will help us develop emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

Freedom of Religion in the Military

Throughout most of the twentieth century, understanding the Constitution and how it affected the work of chaplains didn’t seem all that important. Today, however, it is imperative for every chaplain in the Armed Services to fully understand the Constitution, the Establishment Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause because there is so much at stake.

The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from creating an official state religion. Although the precise definition of “establishment” is unclear, historically it referred to government-sponsored churches or religions, such as the Church of England, or any of the other officially recognized national religions throughout the world.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The Free Exercise Clause, on the other hand, extended religious protection to individuals, giving them the right to practice the religion of their choice without fear of punishment or negative consequences.

Although the Constitution deals with religious freedoms for all citizens, it doesn’t specify or authorize a military chaplaincy. Our government and military leaders have decided that having military chaplains is the best way for the constitutional rights and privileges of military personnel to be guaranteed, implemented, and supervised.

In essence, citizens of the United States don’t lose their constitutional rights when they enlist or become an officer in the military.

There have been many challenges to having chaplains in the military and there will be more, but each case inevitably comes back to the Constitution’s Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause. In a nation where people of many faiths live side-by-side, the First Amendment’s free exercise clause protects individuals from government interference in the practice and expression of their faith. The government cannot target laws at specific religious practices or place undue burdens on its citizens who want to worship.

Constitutional authority travels in a direct chain of command: from the Constitution, to the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the Pentagon, to the Branches of Service, on down to the unit Commanders. The chaplain is the commander’s personal staff officer who is delegated the task of implementing and supervising the constitutional religious freedoms, restrictions, and opportunities. In essence, the religious program in the military belongs to the commander, and the chaplain works for the commander to make sure it is done properly and legally. That’s why every chaplain must understand the constitutional issues.

An important consideration to keep in mind here is that it’s the government that is specifically limited by the constitutional amendment. Because religious freedom is an important part of our national values, the government isn’t allowed to restrict those rights or to infringe on the individual’s free exercise of religion. Nor can the government impose religion onto the individual. This is particularly relevant to commanders and chaplains in the military.

The commander has legal and constitutional authority; the chaplain is the subject matter expert who provides ministry for those of his or her faith group, facilitates meeting the religious needs for those of other faith groups, and ensures that all personnel have the opportunity to practice their constitutional freedoms. And because of the Establishment Clause, the chaplain also makes sure nobody is coerced or forced to worship, and that nobody is subjected to presentations of religion against his or her will.

It’s important to note that the Constitution is the authority that gives chaplains the right to express their faith in a secular and pluralistic environment. But it also provides limitations that chaplains must respect. Otherwise, it is possible for chaplains to find themselves caught between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

These clauses were written into the constitution to protect churches from government, and also to protect individuals from religion, because freedom to worship also includes freedom not to worship.

Christians have freedoms, yet so does everyone else in the Armed Forces, and those freedoms are guaranteed. Chaplains have a crucial role in how religious rights play out in the military, and we need to know our role.

Metamorphosis

Romans 12:2 indicates that we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. The word in the Greek text is where we get the English word metamorphosis. Translated as transformed, it is what we use to describe the continuous, remarkable change of form or structure in an individual after hatching or birth.

Several insects undergo complete metamorphosis, such as bees, ants, ladybugs, wasps, and flies. But the most spectacular of the metamorphosing creatures are the butterflies. This is because they are safe, easy to observe, and they are beautiful. These marvelous creatures are called Lepidoptera, which means scaly wings.

Butterflies are special to me for several reasons. First is the fact that they represent the internal and external changes that take place when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ. Second is the mystery, or as some writers call it, the “magic” of the changes that occur during the transformation process. Third is the gorgeous coloration of so many species. They are delightful to find and examine.

Amazingly, transformation occurs in every stage of the butterfly’s life. There is never a day when an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly is the same as it was the day before. Theirs is literally a continuous transformation. This is also true of people. We are always growing, changing, and becoming. There’s always more to learn, and always room for refinement.

The bottom line is that I find butterflies to be interesting and fun. In the same way, living for Jesus Christ is supposed to be interesting and fun. Many of the terms and processes we use when talking about butterflies are perfect for discussing our growth as children of God.

May the Lord continue his remarkable work of shaping and transforming each of us into his image.

Source of the Word “Chaplain”

The background of the word “chaplain” provides an important lesson about care giving. The word itself traces back to Bishop Martin of Tours. According to tradition, in the fourth century, while he was still a young soldier, Martin shared his cloak with a beggar. The cloak became a reminder of this simple act of compassion and kindness. Martin later became a bishop, and upon his death, his cloak (capella) was enshrined as a reminder of his compassion for a fellow human being.

Centuries later, Charlemagne appointed priests to care for his relics. One of the relics was believed to be St. Martin’s cape, and the priests became known as the “cappellani,” or “keepers of the cape.” The cape and other relics were housed in a small room connected to a cathedral, and the room itself was termed the “capella” or “place of the cape.” This came into English as “chapel.” Gradually, the term “chapel” came to mean a small place for worship or prayer other than the main church, and a priest who served in a chapel was called a “chapelain” in French, which is the immediate source of the English word “chaplain.”

Today in America, a clergy who ministers in any context outside a traditional congregation may be called a chaplain. There are chaplains serving in hospitals, prisons, and corporations. Police and fire departments may have chaplains. There are chaplains ministering to truckers and motorcyclists. Others may be found at rodeos, fishing tournaments, campgrounds, and many other places where people gather. Similarly, someone who provides religious ministry for military personnel is typically called a chaplain, regardless of the faith group he or she represents. Interestingly, many service personnel call their chaplain “Padre,” which is the Spanish word for “Father,” and comes from the Catholic tradition.

The above is an excerpt from the book, Military Ministry: Chaplains in the Twenty-First Century, by Paul Linzey and Keith Travis. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2022. Paul and Keith were military chaplains who now teach and write.

A Timeless Classic

I just got a message from a reader of my book, Butterfly Believers.

“I sure am enjoying your book. This is really, really, good and helpful. I believe this will become a staple, a classic for Christians. What I love is that you are able to address so many important topics briefly in this format. Besides, we’re learning interesting things about the butterfly we never knew.” She went on to place the book and its message in the category of John Bunyan and C.S. Lewis . . . “Only more readable!”

I am reminded of what Pastor/Author Scott Cramer wrote after he read Butterfly Believers:

“This collection of short conversations will be used by individuals, families, and study groups for generations to come. I believe Butterfly Believers will become a timeless treasure that should be added to your library, it’s also a phrase that needs to be added to our vocabulary.”

Thank You Card from a Friend

A few days ago, I got a “Thank You” card in the mail from a man in Maryland. He had read my book, Butterfly Believers. In addition to thanking me for the book, he said that it provided some excellent topics for the “Saturday Morning” men’s group he is a part of each week.

I love it. That’s exactly what I hope will happen over and over again. Whether you’re part of a men’s group, a women’s Bible Study, a home group, a Sunday school class, or reading on your own . . . if you’re looking for something different and interesting that will provide food for thought, this just might be worth taking a look at.

Butterfly Believers Book Signing

On Saturday September 10, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, I am doing a Book Signing and Meet & Greet at the Wordsmith Bookshoppe in Galesburg, Illinois. The address is 235 East Main Street, Galesburg, IL 61401.

Inspired by a study of Romans 12:1-2, Butterfly Believers consists of forty devotional readings, each one based on one aspect of the butterfly life cycle. In the same way a butterfly changes every single day, Butterfly Believers are also transforming continuously, moving towards spiritual.

The author presents forty specific facts about the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and imago, adding one or two appropriate scripture verses. The result is an inspiring devotional about moving step by step towards maturity, and blossoming into the beautiful Imago Dei.

There is never a day when an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or butterfly is the same as it was the day before. This is also true of people. The author uses metamorphosis as an analogy, breaking down the steps to personal growth, making it easier to understand, and making the process interesting and fun.

Paul Linzey is an award-winning author of four books and dozens of articles. You may contact the Wordsmith Bookshoppe for additional information or directions. Their website is https://www.wordsmithbookshoppe.com/.

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