Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quality of Life

I'm settled in at a new FOB- FOB "Rusty." It is pretty decent. I have to say that the quality of life in theater is not too bad; it is MUCH better than for the soldiers who came in during the initial phases of the war. The quality of the food at the DFACs (Dining Facility) is good, with many choices. There is air conditioning virtually everywhere, and the housing is good. I'm speaking in generalities for OPSEC purposes, of course, but I am positive about this environment.

Now... that doesn't change the fact that we are in a dangerous place, and in a critical phase in this war. Soldiers going "outside the wire" are doing a brave and dangerous job on a daily basis. That doesn't change with air conditioning and hot food. But I think it's important to note that we are living in very good circumstances, considering it's a combat environment. Soldiers love to complain; anyone with two minutes in any branch of the military will tell you that. So, I need to find something to complain about soon. But, the reality is, it could be much worse. The soldiers who served in Vietnam know that, and even compared to the first Persian Gulf War, I think we have it much better.

Of course, that isn't t0 say that I can't wait to be back home in my bed, at home with my family, but, it really is pretty good here.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Surreal Life

That's the feeling I have- that some of this is surreal. Today I had lunch at Burger King- the sign on the building says "Burger King, Baghdad-Iraq." They sell small souvenirs- like a compass, watch, and a couple of other things, almost like a Hard Rock Cafe, which say "Burger King- Iraq." Those are combinations of words that my mind doesn't readily process. But here I am.

After running some errands in the morning, getting ready for my departure to the Forward Operating Base I will be serving at for a while, I went over to the PX complex. At the PX (Post Exchange- basically a big retail store) complex there is an Iraqi Bazaar. Inside the building are a number of Iraqi vendors selling everything from silver items from one of Saddam's palaces, to old Iraqi currency, to glass and crystal, to rugs, to TVs, cell phones, and so much else. I walked around there for a while, and picked up a couple cheap souvenirs for my boys. While doing so, I began to speak with one of the Iraqi vendors.

I had asked him if he was from Baghdad, making pleasant small talk. He told me he was, and I asked about his neighborhood; from what it sounds like, his neighborhood has a lot of retirees, and is relatively safer than other places. However, he began to talk a little more about his feelings about the Americans, and our role there. He proclaimed that Iraq needs the Americans right now, to help keep the peace. He explained that there had never been this kind of trouble between Shias and Sunnis in the past, but, according to him, it (the violence) was being stoked by outsides sources. According to him, the Syrians and Iranians didn't want to Iraq to be a strong, independent, free country. This makes sense, considering Syria is run by the Baath Party- Saddam's old party- and Iran is a Shia nation, like many of the Iraqis. A free, democratic Iraq would be a problem for both of them.

This man, like many Iraqis, is simply a human being caught in the middle; just trying to make a living and stay safe, he is caught in the transition between a brutal dicatorship, and a growing democracy whose very existence threatens the oppressive regimes of its neighbors. This doesn't make the American sacrifices in Iraq any less painful, but helps to remind us that we are doing this for a reason. There are real people involved, and a genuine struggle between the forces of peace and democracy, and the old ways of oppression and fear.

The US has not done this whole thing perfectly (no war has ever been perfect). Are there things that we would do differently if we started over? I would guess so, but that's for historians to debate. But the crucial thing is that we need to do it well now, not because of any past mistakes, but because the future of many people depends on it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On the Throne

This is a picture of me sitting on Saddam's "throne" in the palace. Above my head you can see a miniature depiction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem, which stands where the Jewish Temple used to stand. On the throne, it apparently reads: ""Victory is from God and soon we will retake Jerusalem." Saddam was fixated on retaking Jerusalem and did things such as paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers after they would blow themselves up.

Olympic Solitude

This picture is taken at the FOB (Forward Operating Base) I visited yesterday for a worship service. The FOB includes part of the old Iraqi Olympic Training Complex. Some of you may know that this was a site of misery, as athletes who did not perform well enough were often tortured.

What I like about the picture is my shadow, which I didn't notice when I took it. Along with the Olympic rings, which have a black smoke mark on the right hand side, there is a certain peaceful solitude to the picture.

At the Palace

I"m going to try uploading some pictures, here and there. The internet connection is hit and miss, so it's hard to do. This is a photo of me in front of one of Saddam's palaces- this one is in Baghdad, at Camp Liberty. My understanding is that it was his main palace. The place is incredible. When you look at this place, compared to how the rest of Iraq lives, it is really quite a pity.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Flying Across Baghdad

It was a busy day today! I jumped in a helicopter and flew to another FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Baghdad and helped with a worship service. What an incredible feeling that was zipping along just over the rooftops across Baghdad. It was a beautiful flight, and I loved the view.

Later this afternoon, I made some trips around Camp Liberty, including a visit to what used to be Saddam's main palace. I got to sit in his "throne," and get my picture take. The building itself is incredible- everything is marble, almost like a state capitol building. There is intricate plaster work on the ceilings that has been hand painted, and a chandalier that reportedly cost 1 million dollars. Amazing how this guy lived while the rest of the nation was in shambles.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Random Thoughts

I went for a run last night (around 10pm), and ran along one of the artificial lakes built for Saddam's palace. That was different. Kind of like running around a lake at home, except that they don't have palaces the used to belong to an evil dictator! :)

Life here at Camp Liberty is pretty good. Food is good, the PX (Post Exchange- basically kind of like a WalMart) is large. There are also local vendors from whom you can buys things. I have already bought a couple of gifts for my boys.

Another thing that is important to note: troop morale is very high. People are, by and large, excited to be here, and feel good about their work. I know many of you have heard so many times that the media distorts the news, but it's true. I have even heard first hand about numbers of deaths and injuries of Iraqis that have been just flat out wrong. Is there violence here? Of course; it's a very dangerous time. There is a lot of fighting going on between Iraqis. In some ways probably similar to our inner city gangs, but with quite a bit more violence. And yet these are not organized Armies, fighting for control of the government like in a civil war. Given time- lots of time- the Iraqi Army and Police should be able to stand up and take control of the situation.

I just feel like I should say that the feeling I get from troops here is very different than what we see on TV back home.

One other interesting thing: there are troops that I have seen here and in Kuwait from so many different nations: Australia, Great Britain, Japan, and other countries.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day One Under My Belt

Well, I've had my first in Iraq. It's interesting, really. Camp Liberty is a nice place. Parts of the post have some water- artficial lakes built by Saddam, apparently. His palace is a large, extravagant place, that can be seen from many part of Liberty. Other parts of his compound have been turned into offices and PXs and so on.

This is all part of a large complex, so we are really relatively safe here, though one can hear explosions from time to time, and see plumes of smoke. I have heard small arms fire as well. But by and large is very secure.

I went to the PX today, and picked up some things, such as a converter. The electricity here comes out as 220 volts, instead of 110 like in the states. You need an adapter to plug things in, but the converter actually converts it down to 110v. For some appliances, you don't need the converter; they can take he extra electrial input. However, when I connected my alarm clock in, and broke it, I realized I probably needed a converter!

People always wonder about the weather over here; it's hot, obviously, but probably not that dissimilar from Arizona. It feels better than the humidity of the south US, but it is awfully hot here.

On a totally random note, Iraq is 9 hours ahead of central US time.

In Iraq at last

Well, I'm here. I flew into Iraq last night, in the middle of the night local time. Kuwait is 8 hours ahead of central time, and Iraq is nine hours ahead (Kuwait doesn't do day light savings time).

The flight was interesting. I flew in a C-130, which is a fairly decent sized cargo plane, with four propellers. It was a smooth flight, and then we did what I think is called a combat landing. That meant that we flew at a certain altitude and then when we got to the airport, we descended rapidly. This also included a number fo sharp turns, in opposing directions, one after another. In other words, we would take a hard right (not like an airliner, but more like an amusement park ride), and then take a hard left, then drop really quickly. It's all to make the plane a harder target to hit. :)

Now I'm at Camp Liberty, by the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). It's nice, relatively speaking. This is where Saddam had his main palace. I drove by it last night, but I want to see it in the daytime. It's hot, but not as bad as Kuwait. There are some palm trees and other kinds of trees, though not by where I am staying right now. My accomodations are in a trailer, with AC (!), and a small room for myself. Bathrooms are a short walk away. It's really not too bad, all in all.

I don't think I'll be staying here, though. I don't know my exact assignment yet, but I am working under the Fourth Infantry Division. It should be interesting whatever it is.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Well, here I am in Kuwait. It's Wednesday morning here (late on Tuesday night back home). It's surreal being here. To prepare for something so long and now finally to be in the Middle East is really a good feeling.

My flight here was interesting. We made stops in Iceland and Germany. I've always wanted to go to Iceland, but hopefully next time I'll get to see a little more of the country.

On the way in here, we flew over Iraq. That was eerie. I had a bit of a knot in my stomach, to be perfectly honest, as I flew in for tha last leg. It was partially excitement, partially anxiety, and partially a whole bunch of other emotions. I can't imagine a person not feeling that, at least on their first trip over here. But I also can't express the gladness at finally being here, and being able to get started with my ministry.

Kuwait is not my final stop. I am at Camp Ali Al Salem currently. A pretty decent place. My first meal in country was: McDonald's. Yep, there are golden arches here. Also a Pizza Hut. I will maybe post a picture of the arches if I get a chance. But it is HOT (yeah, first time anyone has said that), but it's not humid. I prefer this to the humidity of Missisippi.

As for after this, I now know where I am going, but I'll wait to talk about that until I get there. Security concerns are a big deal, considering how many people read blogs, but also with the number of hackers who read emails any time you or I or anyone send them. I heard this statistic: if you send an email, assume that 200 people will read it, along with your recipient. So, as a result, my blog is going to focus more on how I perceive things, about my spiritual life, and that sort of thing, and I will not, obviously, write about details about things before they happen.

One last thing: I met with a couple of chaplains when I got here, and they prayed Psalm 91 over me. It was such a blessing. I commend the psalm to you all; many of you know it, but I encourage you to read it, and say it as a prayer for all of our troops. I believe they make bandanas with that psalm on it as well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Packing Up and Ready to Go

Well, it's not too long until I leave. I am spending the time until I leave taking care of final details and making sure everything is packed and ready. One of the important things is to download some TV shows and podcasts for my iPod, since I'll be spending quite a bit of time in an airplane!

It's strange packing up everything I will have for a year into two duffel bags and a small footlocker. But it also reminds me that a lot of things I have are things I don't really need. When we bought our house two years ago, I was so happy to have a walk-in closet. Now my wardobe is a lot simpler- camoflauge and a few civilian clothes!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flying Out

Today I found out when I depart for the Middle East. I cannot, for obvious reasons, reveal when that will be, but the day is coming sooner than later. I'm excited. This is what I've been training for, and I'm ready to go. In addition, the sooner I go, the sooner I will most likely see my family again.

I looked up the forecast for Kuwait today. The ten day forecast includes nothing lower than 116 degrees for the high. How can it be so hot? I guess I'll soon find out. Maybe it's really not that warm, and the Weather Channel web site is just having some fun with me. I doubt it.

The only relief will be that there is no humidity. It is so humid down here in Mississippi, in addition to the warm weather. While Kuwait will be warmer, I wonder if it won't feel better?

In a strange way, I am going to miss Mississippi. Do I want to stay here? No...I want to get going and get to work. But I've been here for almost two months, and I'm starting to get used to the place. Maybe I'll get a University of Southern Mississippi t-shirt as a souvenir.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Today I received what has been my greatest blessing since I got to Camp Shelby: hospitality.

This morning I went to chapel, and heard an excellent sermon. After that I went to the hospital off-post to visit a sick soldier. Finding him sound asleep, I left a short note and a devotional by Henry and Richard Blackaby, called Experiencing God, in a version written exclusively for soldiers. After that I headed to a coffee shop to check my email, and grab a cup of tea. While there, I struck up a conversation with a woman reading her Bible. I soon came to find out that she works at a Christian sports camp in Arkansas, and that her family attends a Methodist Church here in Hattiesburg and she was back visiting. I shared that my father-in-law and brother-in-law are Methodist pastors. We spoke a little about churches, and she proceeded to invite me to her church. I was hesitant at first, not being used to southern hospitality, but I decided to go, and drove over to their church, Main Street Methodist Church in Hattiesburg. I attended their contemporary service called “The Fellowship.”

I was blown away. I can’t tell you how much this service ministered to me. First of all, the worship was very similar to Church of the Cross. They used some of the same songs, and the pastor even used a video clip I had used in a sermon. I felt like I had come home! Not only that, but the sermon was about community and inviting people; in short, it was about hospitality. It was excellent. The worship center was alive with the love of Christ, and you could feel the Spirit moving. The pastor used a cool sermon illustration in which he brought people forward to a table set at the front of the sanctuary. Afterward, I can’t tell you how wonderful everyone was.
The family that brought me to church invited me out to lunch, and even treated me (after my initial protest). It felt like I was back at home with people from LCC. I don't think this family realizes how much they embodied the love of Christ to me. I love being on post, and I love my work in the Army, but it was nice to get off post and hang out with a family, and just enjoy the company.

Next week, if I’m still in town, I plan to go back worship there, and bring some people from Camp Shelby. If you’re ever in Hattiesburg, check out Main Street Methodist Church. They’ve got a good thing going there.

Running the Race

Last night I went for a run. I’ve started running more at night than in the morning. For me, it’s easier to run when it gets dark, than in the morning; it probably has to do with the temperature. It feels cooler after the sun has set, around 8:30 or so, than if I run at 6 or 6:30 in the morning. But for some reason, it was just a tiring run last night. Sometimes I run and feel like I could go for hours; on those days it’s a joy to run, and it’s actually relaxing. On other days, though, my legs might feel like a ton of bricks. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a busy day, or maybe it’s the weather. Whatever the case, sometimes it’s hard to keep up the motivation to run.

Our spiritual lives are like that as well. There are a few different references to running in the Bible. For example, Paul hoped, in Philippians 2:16, that he might “boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” Also, in Hebrews 12:1, it says “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Our spiritual lives, and the things included: praying, worshipping, reading the Bible, make up the race that is our faith. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re called to continue to run this race. But there are days where we just don’t feel like it. We can be fatigued or worn out. On those days we might not run as fast, but the call is for us to simply stay in the race.

I’ve tried to use that comparison as a motivator for me. I run because, well, I’m in the Army and I need to pass physical fitness tests. I want to be physically healthy. In a similar way, we train spiritually in order to maintain spiritual health.

It’s usually more fun to work at one’s spiritual life than to run. However, there are times where the spiritual exercise starts to feel tiring, and we feel like we want to just set it aside for a while. The important thing is to keep our eyes focused on Christ, who is the strength and motivator for the journey. It’s to understand that, at the end of the day, we’re not running the spiritual race in our strength, but rather, wholly depending on God to get us through.

Growing Up

I knew I would catch some flak for my last post. Here is a comment posted to my blog anonymously. Anonymous wrote:

Do you think Jesus was a Coward??????Grow up Chris.... You're views and your _expression of them are a disappointment. You sound worse than the politians you are criticizing.... What would of Jesus done? I don't recall him trying to correct corruption by military force.... He certainly wasn't quoted calling anyone cowards...Step back a moment... take a breath and grow up....."

My response:
First of all, I'm not surprised that my comments have disappointed someone. Taking a stance on something often does that. Funny that someone takes exception to the term coward, but doesn't sign their comment. :) It's never wise to lecture someone on growing up when you don't sign your name.

Second, I don't understand the question about Jesus being a coward. I think I implied that Howard Dean is a coward! Regardless, I don't recall Jesus ever shying away from speaking his mind, calling people hypocrites at one point, turning over tables in the Temple, and doing all sorts of things that good religious people weren't supposed to do. Maybe someone told him to grow up. Who knows.

Anyway, As a chaplain, my first job is to bring the love of Christ to soldiers in all that I do. Yet there is something powerfully unique about the love of Christ: it comes in the face of sin. It acknowledges sin. Lutheran Christians understand that there is a tension between Law and Gospel. The Law shows us our sin, our brokeness, our wrongdoing. The Gospel is God's offer of grace to take away that sin and pain. The Law acknowledges the reality of sin in this world, the Gospel is God's answer.

As Christians we cannot be blind to speaking about the evil in our world. Gospel without Law is cheap grace. If we are unwilling to speak to evil in our world, we offer nothing but feel-good, cheap grace. The Gospel does not negate the necessity to take action against evil; in fact, it compels us, and sometimes evil is stopped by force.

Here is the deal: terrorism is evil. Saddam Hussein is evil. Al Qaeda is evil. We cannot be meek in the face of evil. As a chaplain, I remained convinced that the work our military is doing- though imperfect- is being done to combat evil. We have not got everything figured out and we make mistakes, but I remained convinced that to withdraw- to quit this fight- is an act of moral cowardice.

So, to "anonymous:" I feel pretty grown up, and I disagree with your assessment. I love you anyway, whoever you are. And remember, one of the greatest blessings of this country is that you can believe whatever you want, and be free to say it. God bless you for speaking your mind... and keep on commenting.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Study in Contrasts

On the one hand…

This week I flew up to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for a chaplain training event that is held each year throughout the nation. On both the way up there, and the way back down, I amazed at how many people stopped me, and my chaplain assistant, and thanked us profusely for our service in the Army. One person even anonymously gave up his or her first class plane ticket so one of us could fly first class. Others simply walked up, looked us in the eyes, and said thank you. I feel completely unworthy of their thanks, but I realize it has nothing to do with me. What an incredible thing to see and receive this outpouring of support. There are so many people truly desiring to support our troops.

On the other hand…

On Thursday, the day after I got back, 24 people were arrested in Great Britain for planning and preparing to blow up 6-10 airplanes over the Atlantic on August 16th- next Wednesday. What a God-send that the British intelligence services, in conjunction with Pakistan and the US, broke this ring up. Countless lives were saved and the world was spared a horrific catastrophe. It shows that we are making great progress in the War On Terror. That much should be clear.

But less than one day later, Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee made a speech in which he accused George Bush of trying “scare” the American people, because of this recent terror bust. Huh? WHAT?? Uh, no Mr. Dean, it is not President Bush who is trying scare us. It is Al Qaeda, and the terrorists. They want us to be afraid. They want us to quit. They want us to give up on democracy and cut and run. They want to scare us.

Could the contrast be any clearer? The average American, in spite of what the polls say, supports our troops and want to see the US succeed.

With that said, I want to make a request, or maybe a pitch. For a moment, I’m going to step outside of my role as a pastor, and a chaplain. I’m going to speak just as a guy potentially going into a war zone. I want to speak politically for just a moment. I hope I can be forgiven for this digression, as I never speak about politics from the pulpit or in any official capacity. I sometimes hint at it in this blog, but now I want to say it directly: please vote Republican in the upcoming elections. Those of you who know me as a pastor and do not share my politics on this…I’m sure you can agree to disagree with me. :) But I believe it is of the utmost importance, if we desire to support our military, to vote for the party that will not let these deaths be in vain. We need to finish what we started.

Don’t let the politicians quit. Our soldiers won’t quit. We won't. We didn't leave our families behind for a year to simply decide to be cowards when the going got tough. Americans are not quitters and we are winning this war. Don’t believe what you hear in the media, and please, just for a moment, give President Bush the benefit of the doubt. Doesn’t he deserve to be cut just a little more slack than the terrorists we are fighting?

I feel bad about Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Senator from Connecticut, who lost his primary to a left wing, anti-war candiate. This was just 6 years after running for Vice President for theDemocrats. He lost because of his support for the war, and his support for Israel. He is a casualty of a Democratic Party that has been taken over by people like Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi. We need to elect more people like him, not get rid of them. And in these elections, the ones who are willing to stand up and fight this war to the finish are the Republicans. What happened to Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy?

Enough of that. The good news is that we have an incredible number of people who are just hard working, patriotic Americans, outside of Washington, who really just want to do the right thing, and stick to the commitments we have made. Can we do that?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Which road do we choose?

I read a letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today in which the writer complained that promises have been broken to our soldiers because her brother, who is serving in Iraq, was extended from 12 to 16 months.

As someone heading to the middle east, I don't relish the idea of being away from my family. If I had been there 12 months, and was extended to 16 months, it would be tough. I hope to be home to my family as soon as I can.

Yet...something bothers me. Where has the sense of duty and responsibility gone? Are we a nation willing to fight to the finish, or will we stand by as Iraq potentially descends into civil war, complaining that our lives have been inconvenienced, as we walk away from our responsibility to fight evil?

Let's make that clear. This IS a battle of good versus evil. Terrorists who behead people, who target innocent civilians, who seek to enslave and oppress women and so much more...they are actually evil. Do we believe in evil, or do we think that all actions are relative? One of the greatest weaknesses of our nation- at this time in history- is that we no longer believe evil exists. We didn't believe anyone would fly airplanes into the World Trade Center, and then our worldview was temporarily shattered.

Now we have tried to crawl back into our shells. The situation in Iraq has grown difficult. Yes, it has. It's OK to acknowledge that. Should we be surprised that the enemy is fighting fiercely to prevent democracy and to encourage civil war? Are we that naive? Maybe so. But the reality is that the terrorists we are fighting in Iraq know they can not win through power, so they try to win by convincing America to quit. So they will resist and hope that we will get bored and go home, like a nation with collective ADD.

We need to believe in our efforts in ways like we did in conflicts such as World War II. I wonder if anyone expected their loved ones to return home within a year during that war? I doubt it. Do you think they wrote letters to the editor if their spouse couldn't email every day, or didn't have air conditioning? If you know history, you know that during World War II gas and food were rationed here at home- in the US- and soldiers were gone for years at a time.

Don't get me wrong...I don't want to fight World War II again, and I appreciate the luxuries we have. But I wonder about our resolve. Do we really trust that God can use us to bring freedom to a very sad part of the world, or are we going to cut and run when the going gets tough?

Friday, August 04, 2006


One of the things that most impresses me about the Army is the rich diversity of our soldiers. I mean this in every sense: race, age, hometown, language, and just about anything else. It makes me proud when I see the many types of people that make up the Army, and who want to serve their country. America is really a pretty amazing place. As the son of a Swedish immigrant, I am living in a building with soldiers from Puerto Rico, Minnesota, Nigeria and other places, and we all have shared purposes and goals in the Army.

There is an interesting article in the USA Today that I encourage you all to read if you have a chance. It's about a 41 year old mother who is enlisting with her 21 year old daughter. Many of you have heard about her. I know people get down on this country with the constant barrage of negativity in the media, but sitting in my perspective, and seeing how many different people, from all walks of life, want to step forward and serve their nation is impressive. How many of you, at age 41, would enlist in the Army and go to basic training? Now, don't get me wrong, not everyone is called to do that and not everyone even can... but for a moment, I'd like to honor this woman, and the others like her. I was commissioned at age 29, which is completely different than enlisting at age 41, and becoming a private in basic training. Hats off to her, and her family!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tropical Storm Chris

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but Tropical Storm Chris has formed in the Caribbean, and is headed northwest. I have to note this, because this is the first Tropical Storm with whom I have shared a name. I feel proud.

If you want, click here to track the storm. It would be kind of funny if the storm hit Mississippi while I was here. Well, not that hurricanes are funny, but I mean funny in the sense of "wow, what a coincidence." I would say ironic, but I don't think it fits the definition of ironic. Just kind of weird.

(can anyone tell I'm ready to head overseas?)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Current Events and End Times?

Last night I had the chance to get to an Internet Café and read the headlines for a while. Among the things I saw: The fighting in Lebanon/Israel continues, Syria is putting its military on alert, Iran’s leader continues to proclaim the imminent demise of Israel, world leaders are condemning Israel, violence in Iraq continues, not to mention a whole host of other wars and rumors of war, natural disasters and moral degradations.

The reality is that much of this should not be a surprise. Israel, as a nation, was restored in 1948, fulfilling Biblical prophecy that the people of Israel would return to their land after being the objects of malice and scorn by the nations of the world (see Ezekiel 36-37). We all know, unfortunately that the Holocaust is one of many examples of the people of Israel being objects of scorn by this world. It was within three years after the Holocaust that God’s promises to restore Israel came true.

Why does this matter now? Ezekiel goes on to prophesy a great, cataclysmic battle in which many nations will unite against Israel, including Persia (Iran). So many of the pieces to what Ezekiel described 2600 years ago seem to be in place. This will be a forerunner to the end times after which Christ will return. Is this in the process of happening? No one can say for sure, but we should not be surprised to see Israel being persecuted. The good news is that God will protect Israel.

I have referred before to the books of Joel Rosenberg, a NY Times Bestselling author who has written some Tom Clancy-esque novels based on these very prophecies, which have eerily reflected the events we’re currently seeing. I highly recommend his website: I also recommend picking up a copy of his series, which begins with the book The Last Jihad, which talked about a major terrorist attack on the USA leading to a pre-emptive war with Iraq. This book was written about two years before the war in Iraq.

Are we living in the End Times? We cannot yet say for sure. All of time since the resurrection of Christ is considered the end times, but I’m speaking of the prophetic last days of Matthew 24, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation. Jesus said we would not know the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:36). But He did encourage us to be watchful and seek the signs. In Matthew 24:32 and following He said: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.” What is the “it” He refers to? “At that time, the sign of the Son of Man [Christ] will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the hour winds, from one end of the heaven to the other.”

It’s easy to dismiss this. But remember what Peter said about it all, in 2 Peter 3:3: “you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say ‘Where is this “coming” that he promised.’” Later, he writes: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”

Post Ministry

It's been a little slow lately, with the hurry up and wait, but yesterday and today, I've been able to start doing some ministry on post. The Post Chaplain asked me to do a chapel service last night for small unit that didn't have a chaplain, and it was such a blessing to be able to preach- something I haven't done for about 6 weeks! Also, today I got a list of units to visit, and will do that throughout the week. It'll be nice to spend some time doing ministry this week, in a way I haven't been able to since getting here.

We're in a unique situation, as a two man chaplain detachment, in that we won't have a unit or base to which we can minister until we get overseas. If I was deploying with a battalion, with several hundred soldiers, I'd be busy already with counseling, leading chapel services and the like. With just the two of us, however, most of our ministry will not really start until we get overseas. But being able to work with some of the smaller units over the coming days will be a great blessing!