Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One Chapter Ends & A New Chapter Begins

After 8 years of service as a Chaplain in the United States Army; My family and I have made the prayerful decision to leave the Army and return to the work of the local Church. I have accepted the work as the new preaching minister at the Ham Lane Church of Christ in Lodi, California. You can follow my new blog at www.chaddonley.wordpress.com May God bless you - CD

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Love Good Biblical Preaching

I love good Biblical preaching. As a Battalion Chaplain in the United States Army; I am not assigned to a chapel, but rather I am assigned to a Battalion of Soldiers. Therefore, since I have been on Active Duty these past several years, I have not had the opportunity to preach in a consistent manor. The majority of my time is spent in counseling sessions with my soldiers and doing necessary staff work serving as the Commander’s Special Staff Officer. I do my very best to make time for a ministry of presence to my Soldiers by eating in the dining facility with them, frequenting the motor pools and other work stations and accompanying them in each and every field exercise in which I am allow and able to participate. However, as much as I enjoy and have been so blessed by Soldier ministry; I truly miss have a consistent opportunity to teach and preach God’s Word from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. I host several individual and group Bible studies throughout the week, but in my heart there is just something so fulfilling and special about the awesome privilege of preaching to a gathered group of believers on a Sunday morning. I miss it!

I love good Biblical preaching. The most important hour in any Nation’s week is the hour when God’s Man approaches the pulpit to present God’s Word to God’s People. Preaching is teaching with a tear in the eye. Preaching is truth on fire. Preaching is the Word of God in the hand, the fire of God in the heart and the zeal of God in the soul. Preaching is the gift of God wrapped in an excited voice. Preaching is the moral conscience of a nation. Preaching is the soul of the church. Preaching is the throne room of society Preaching is the scepter and crown of the preacher. Preaching is the moral level of the succeeding generation. It was preaching that originally built our secular colleges. It was preaching that originally built our public school system. It was preaching that originally established our law system, and in the early days of our country, a degree in theology was a prerequisite to a law degree. It was preaching that started the Lord’s Church some two thousand years ago. I love the country preacher’s response to what takes place when he preaches on a Sunday morning; “I just set myself on fire and folks come to watch me as I burn.”

I love good Biblical preaching. Biblical preaching which understands that we have all sinned and that our sin has separated us from our God, and that no one can justify himself before our God, and that without Jesus Christ we are lost. Biblical preaching that understands that in spite of our sin, God loves us and wants us freed from our sin, and that He therefore gave his only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay that debt that He did not owe and that we could not pay.

I love good Biblical preaching. I am so thankful for each and every opportunity that God blesses me with the amazing privilege of preaching. I am so thankful for the godly men who stand behind the pulpit each and every Sunday to proclaim the Living Word of God. God bless good Biblical preaching.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What does it mean to be a Christian?

The obvious answer to the question, “what does it mean to be a Christian?” is one who follows the teachings of and pledges allegiance to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. When I was in college, at OVC, we had a Campus Minister who loved to sing the song:

I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
And I have C-H-R-I-S-T
In my H-E-A-R-T
And I will L-I-V-E E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y

I can recall another professor and basketball coach who drove a Ford Torus station wagon and had a bumper sticker that read: “I’m not perfect; I’m just forgiven.” Here are a few more quotes I found on what it means to be a Christian:

When I say that 'I am a Christian', I am not shouting that 'I am clean living. I'm whispering 'I was lost, but now I'm found and forgiven.'

When I say 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride. I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong. I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success. I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou, I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow!

The Apostle Paul said it this way, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10,11).

What about you? What does it mean to you to be a Christian? Let me know what you think.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Taking on the gods: The Task of the Pastoral Counselor

As Chaplains, what all is involved in the endeavor of being a pastoral counselor to our Soldiers? Today’s pastoral counselors often integrate modern psychological thought and method with traditional religious training in an effort to address psychospiritual issues in addition to the traditional spectrum of counseling services. But, have you ever considered that our true task in pastoral counseling is taking on the gods? This is exactly what Author Merle Jordan is suggesting in his book: “Taking on the gods: The Task of the Pastoral Counselor.”

Taking on the gods explores a clinical and theological approach to the treatment of individuals, couples, and families suffering from neurotic styles of life. Merle Jordan exposes the origins of neuroses in idolatry: the substitution of false psychological gods for the true God as the center of ultimate reality. In attempting to earn the approval of these false gods and to escape their harsh judgment, one enters into a second idolatry: becoming one's own Messiah, parts of the self are sacrificed to placate the false gods. The resulting personality distortions are the source of many emotional difficulties.

Jordan discusses not only the role of pastoral counselors in helping clients confront their idols, but also the counselors’ responsibility to recognize their own false gods. Topics covered include: Pastoral Counseling as the Encounter Between Gods, The Implicit Religious Drama in Marital and Family Counseling, The Operational Theology of the “Common Cold” - Depression, and Self-justification Versus Justification by Faith Through Grace.

Jordan would say that taking on the gods is a significant responsibility of pastoral counseling. That we must confront those psychic structures, forces, and images which masquerade as God in the lives of our Soldiers, their families and in our own lives. Once these false gods have been exposed; our task then becomes bringing love, faith, and hope into the lives of our Soldiers and the family members which we serve and being an extension ministry of Jesus Christ walking in the hells of human existence. Jordan would say these are all ways of expressing the true evangelistic purposes of pastoral counseling.

According to Jordan, helping people to “take on their gods,” to free themselves and to experience the loving God; is the heart of the pastoral counselor's task. Imagine, just as Elijah did some 3000 years ago, you can take on the gods of this age and show the power of the true and living God. I confess that the thought of taking on the gods in the lives of our Soldiers and in our own lives may seem like arrogance or a very humbling and awesome challenge. Nevertheless, taking on the gods is at the heart and soul of pastoral counseling. May our prays today echo that of Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel: “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again” (1 Kings 18:36-39).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming - by Henri Nouwen

A story you may or may not have read before and a classic painting you may or may not have seen before are brought to a new light in Henri Nouwen’s book, The Return of the Prodigal Son: a Story of Homecoming. Nouwen develops a chance encounter with Rembrandt’s painting of the same title into a personal spiritual odyssey. Inspired by the painting, he skillfully dissects each section of the powerful gospel drama of the Prodigal (or “Lost”) Son in the light of his own personal life journey.

From the back cover: "The themes of homecoming, affirmation and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy or anger." The New Oxford Review says, "The Return of the Prodigal Son is a beautiful book, as beautiful in the simple clarity of its wisdom as in the terrible beauty of the transformation to which it calls us."
Drawing on years of pastoral experience and insight, Nouwen passionately reflects on his own spiritual journey as he became "more and more aware of how long I have played the role of observer." For years he had tried to get students and parishioners to see the importance of actually living the spiritual life, "but had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God?"

As the painting took on a personal resonance, he began to see in it the heart of the story that God wanted to tell him. The Prodigal Son became, for Nouwen, a mysterious window that exposed the kingdom of God in an intimate way. He was now able to see the fallen world through the eyes of God’s redeeming love. This introspection as he pondered Rembrandt’s portrayal eventually led him to living with and ministering to the mentally disabled.

Nouwen says: Each little step toward the center seemed like an impossible demand, a demand requiring me to let go one more time from wanting to be in control, to give up one more time the desire to predict life, to die one more time to the fear of not knowing where it all will lead, and to surrender one more time to a love that knows no limits.... I would never be able to live the great commandment to love without allowing myself to be loved without conditions or prerequisites.
Herein lays the essence of the gospel: God is for us! It confronts us with the fact that … "truly accepting love, forgiveness and healing is often much harder than giving it. It is the place beyond earning, deserving and rewarding. It is the place of surrender and complete trust."

The Return of the Prodigal Son expresses Nouwen’s personal "homecoming" journey that answered his lifelong question of identity. He discovered that he is the one Jesus loves unconditionally. His book carries the hopeful message that God’s healing love for us is always available, He searches for us and even runs to embrace us – all we have to do is receive it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why I Became An Army Chaplain

I was asked this week why I chose to become an Army Chaplain and after some thought, here's what I cam up with...

I was adopted by the late Russell and Bonnie Donley of Pleasant City, Ohio. Both my father and his brother-in-law, my uncle, served in the Army during the Korean War. I grew up hearing stories and accounts of their time in service as a Soldier in the United States Army. As a young child, I would play “Army” with neighborhood friends and I believed in my heart that someday I too would be a Soldier as my father and uncle were before me. However, during my High School years, I was lead to Christ by a peer and during my senior year in school I felt the burden and the call from God to serve Him as a minister and evangelist of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Upon graduation I attended a Christian College where I trained to be an evangelist and minister in the Churches of Christ. I grew greatly in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during my years in college. I then spent the next ten years doing the work of the evangelist and preaching in the Churches of Christ. Although it was obvious that God’s Hand was upon me and my ministry; I felt there was a void in my ministry.

After 9/11 transpired, I felt the patriotic call to serve my country and my childhood desire and dream of serving in the Army was revived in my heart. When I learned of the Army Chaplain Corps, I knew right away that this was the missing element in my ministry. I could now have the astonishing ability and opportunity to fulfill my calling to the Lord while in turn fulfilling my desire to serve my country as a Soldier in the United States Army.

There are some who feel called to serve their God and there are others who feel called to serve their Country. Then there are the few who feel the call to serve both God and Country…we call them “Chaplains!” I became an Army Chaplain because I genuinely feel the call of God in my life to serve Him and He has placed within my heart the desire to serve the men and women of the United States Army. My God has blessed me with the talents, abilities, gifts, training, education and experience to devotedly serve as a Chaplain. I became an Army Chaplain to bring God to Soldiers and to bring Soldiers to God. I became an Army Chaplain because I cannot see myself doing anything else. I know beyond a doubt that God has blessed my ministry as an Army Chaplain and that He will continue to bless and to equip, train and qualify me to be His Man in the United States Army Chaplain Corps.


“For God and Country.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Captains of the Church - A Suggestion to re-title Pastors

Being a "Captain" myself, I had to share this with you all:

Mike Foster thinks we should stop calling ourselves “Pastor.” In a tweet last summer he wrote: “If I don’t make employees/clients call me ‘Creative Principal Mike’ then why do some expect ‘Pastor’ in front of their name?”
He’s not the only one dropping the “Pastor” prefix. Erwin McManus is known as the “Cultural Architect of Mosaic.” I’ve also met a few executive pastors who are the”Chief of Staff.”
Maybe they’re all on to something. After all, “pastor” doesn’t carry the cache it once did. According to one survey the profession of “pastor” is near the bottom of the list of most-respected professions…just above “car salesman.” To make matters worse, pastors don’t seem to think very highly of their profession either. The following stats come from The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.:
* 90% of the pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week.
* 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.

* 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
* 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
* 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
* 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
* 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
* 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
* 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
* 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church .
* 50% have considered leaving the ministry in the last months.

* 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.
* 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
* 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.

* 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.

So, what should we do about this dilemma? Based on a recent commentary I saw by John Hodgman, I’d like to propose a change. Rather than calling our church leaders “pastors,” let’s start calling them “captains.” Think about it…captains are all very respected and liked characters in our culture:

Captain America

Captain “Sully” Sullenberger

Captain James T. Kirk

Captain Kangaroo

Captain Caveman

Captain Stubing

Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Crunch

In addition, they are very strong leaders often depended upon in life and death situations. They must set vision, direction, and hold the course in a storm. From time to time they must face the threat of mutiny. And to top it off, captians are qualified to marry people.
So, forget about “cultural architect,” “spiritual leader,” or even “cheif ecclesiastical officer.” The next time you see your pastor, greet him or her as “O Captain my captain!”