In today’s Chaplain Corner we are going to look at a brief, yet wonderful, passage of Scripture in Thessalonians. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica, located in Greece. At the close of this letter, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul gives this challenge: 16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
The first challenge is to rejoice always. This is an attitude, not merely an emotion. Our emotions are dictated by our circumstance. Our attitude is a picture of the heart. No matter what the circumstances in my life happen to be, I can rejoice in them. This does not mean I don’t experience hurt, sadness, pain, anger, or happiness. It does mean that those outward expressions may be for a season, but the attitude of my heart is still rejoicing in Jesus and the hope He gives.
The next challenge is to pray without ceasing. Again, this is an attitude of the heart. This is an attitude of being in constant and continual communication with God. There are times when I pray focused prayers communicating and listening to God. The rest of the time I should be able to be in consistent communication with God, talking to Him throughout the day, listening to Him speak to my heart, and being aware of His presence in my life.
The final challenge is to give thanks in everything. Once again, this is an attitude issue. I must be able to have a grateful heart. I must be able to live my life in gratitude, instead of living my life griping about what I don’t have or complaining about the negative things of my life.
These three things are God’s will for each of us. These three things are only accomplished through Jesus Christ. We may not always feel like rejoicing, praying, or being thankful. But we can always surrender to the One who wants to live out those attitudes through our lives. The key is not our resolve. The key is Jesus. The key is surrendering to Jesus, reading the Bible daily, praying and growing in our faith.
Have you ever been frustrated because of unmet expectations? Maybe someone became angry at you because you did something, or did not do something, that they were expecting. Maybe you have been frustrated at someone because they did not act in a manner that fit your expectations. While this can cause frustrations and anxiety, there is another scenario that is more frustrating.
Undefined expectations. Undefined expectations are expectations on someone that has never been communicated. Someone becomes frustrated with you because you are not acting in a manner the way they thought you should, but they never told you how they expected you to act. That is very difficult and can be extremely difficult as you don’t know what someone expects, so you don’t know how they want a task accomplished.
While you cannot help undefined expectations from people, you can work to act and react in a way that pleases God. In Micah 6, God defines His expectations.
Micah 6:8- He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
God asks us to live every day for Him. We do that in three ways.
- Do Justice – Treat people fairly. Treat people the way we want to be treated. Jesus said we need to “do unto others as we would them do unto us” (Matthew 7:12). This means we are to look for ways to treat people in a way that is fair, caring, and kind.
- Love Kindness – We are to love being kind to others. We can always be kind. Sometimes we have to be firm in our actions and strong in our stand. We can still be kind. We can be kind to people whether we agree with them or not. We treat people with kindness to show the love of Jesus in us and let the love of Jesus flow through us.
- Walk Humbly with God – Walking humbly is the only way we can truly walk with God. We humble ourselves admitting that we need to be saved as we surrender to the Lord in salvation. We humble ourselves daily, acknowledging our 100% dependence on God every day, all day. We humble ourselves to do justice, love kindness, and walk with God every day.
We know what God wants from us. We need to live our lives seeking to honor Him. Let’s lives our lives to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. We can only do that as we look to surrender to Jesus daily.
Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk humbly with God. What a great way to live!
What is the worst sin? As a Pastor, I’ve been asked that before. Often people ask that for two reasons: One reason is that they are feeling guilty, and wonder where their sin is ranked against other sins. They want to feel better about their sin and make sure they are not “too far” from forgiveness. The other reason is that they are seeing where their sin ranks, so they don’t have to feel guilty. They are making sure they are ok and may be trying to justify their own struggles and sin.
Of course, God hates all sin and wants us to flee from even the thought or appearance of sin. But I have a different answer to that question. Recently I was listening to a sermon on a podcast and the preacher challenged that the worst sin someone can commit is to break the greatest commandment. In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest. He did not say “don’t murder”, “don’t lie”, or “don’t commit adultery”. Those are horrible sins and Jesus was certainly not cheapening those sins. His answer was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind.”
If the greatest commandment is to love God, then the greatest sin would be to not love God. Loving God is a heart commitment to Him. One of the ways we show God’s love is to obey His commands. When we disobey God’s commands, it shows a lapse of love for God.
How can I love God? Obey Him. Love Him through worship, obedience, service, and spending intentional, quality time with Him daily. Love Him by loving others and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. Love God by helping other people grow in their faith and learn about God.
If we are a people who consistently love God, then we are a people who will be in relationship with the One who loves us first and gave His Son Jesus to die for us.
God bless you as you learn to love Him more every day!
Keith Cochran, Chaplain
Chaplain’s Corner – Fall 2017
We have a sin problem. For some, their problem is more obvious than others. For each of us, it is a problem. Joshua, the leader of Israel after Moses, faced problems just like you and me. He sought answers the way we should. He sought answers by seeking the Answer.
How do I get through my sin problem? One word – Presence. The presence of God in my life will help me surrender to His will and stop me from trying to live life on my own selfish terms. What would my life be like if I sought to surrender to the presence of God every day? What would my life look like if I focused everything I do – work, personal life, free time, etc. – on being in the presence of God?
Start today. Start today by focusing some time each day praying, reading God’s Word, and listening to Him. Seek His presence. Invite Him into your life. Serve this community better by seeking God’s presence in your life daily. There is no greater way for us to truly follow Jesus than to spend time in His presence, and live each surrendered to His presence in our lives.
Joshua 1:8-9: 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
God bless you as you serve this great community!
This world we live in is changing rapidly. With 2016 being a Presidential election year, and 2017 seeing a new President, the changes will be even greater and more significant. Sometimes these changes can be overwhelming, frustrating, and even discouraging.
I want to give two pictures. One picture is of a thermometer. Whether it is a thermometer for medical purposes, or one in your home or yard, a thermometer has one job. A thermometer reads the temperature. A thermometer reflects what the temperature is. That is all that is expected of a thermometer. It reacts to the environment around it.
The other picture is a thermostat. A thermostat is also related to temperature, but it has a completely different task. A thermostat controls the temperature. A thermostat in your home or business sets the temperature. It controls when the air or heat turns on or off. A thermostat is used to actually change the temperature in a room.
Which will you be this year? Will you be a person and leader who reflects the temperature of the situation, meeting, or people around you? Will you simply react to what is going on around you? Or will you determine to be a thermostat and change the temperature around you? You can be a change agent in your division, with the people you work with, in a meeting, with your family, or on a call. You can change and set the temperature around you through your attitude, tone, and with what you say.
The Bible teaches us about this. In Galatians 5:22-23 we see a listing of the fruit of the Spirit. This listing is not a cafeteria to pick from, but an expectation of those who are surrendered to the Holy Spirit in their lives. Only through Jesus can we be surrendered to the control of the Holy Spirit. But when we are surrendered, then we can be a thermostat that controls the atmosphere around us. We will then be a people who reflect the fruit of the Spirit. Let’s strive to be men and women who are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Thank you for serving this great community. You are appreciated and prayed for!
Keith Cochran, Chaplain
In our last article we began looking at a series of leadership qualities called “habitudes”. This is a word that Dr. Tim Elmore created to talk about leadership attitudes that should be habits. We each have a circle of influence and people we lead. Last time we talked about the iceberg. In an iceberg only about 10% is above the water. The dangerous part is the 90% below the surface. As a leader the 10% is our visible life. The 90% is our true character. This can either wreck us if we have poor character, or it will sustain us and keep us afloat if we have strong character.
Today I want to give the next habitude. This habitude revolves around the story of the starving baker. There is story told about a baker. He was a very good baker. His baked goods were known around the countryside and throughout the villages. As his fame spread, more people wanted his baked goods. As he worked harder and harder to fill the orders, more orders came pouring in. Eventually the baker became very ill. As the townspeople came to check on him, they discovered a very ironic and sad story. The baker had become so consumed with cooking for others he had forsaken himself. He had not eaten. Here he was in the midst of a store packed with delicious baked goods, and he was starving himself.
Does this sound familiar? Sometimes we are the baker. Sometimes we tend to get so busy in our lives working hard to serve others that we forsake ourselves. This is not saying that people should be selfish. But it is a reminder that each of us need to be sure that we are taking proper time to prepare and grow in our craft.
For example, if you are in good physical shape, you know that you must continue to take time to get in the gym and stay working out. This is maintenance. Personal maintenance and growth is essential for each of us.
As a pastor I can only imagine the difficult days each of you deal with in the Lee County Sheriff Office. I am sure you see, hear, and experience people in their worst and on their worst days. As you walk through these difficult days, it is easy to become a little numb to it all. But this is not healthy. You need to be sharpened, encouraged, and refreshed. As your chaplain I am happy to help, listen, talk, and counsel with any one of you who may need to just have a friend and be encouraged. But the best One who wants to encourage, strengthen, and refresh us is Jesus.
Can I make a suggestion? Get into God’s Word. Open up His Word and let Him speak to you in your time of need. Read about Jesus, redemption, salvation, praise, God’s love, and more. Let His Word teach you about right and wrong, reprove you when you fail, correct you to show you how to live right, and teach you to live for Him.
What happens when we stay rooted in God’s Word? Instead of being the starving baker we become a thriving, strong, and healthy person. The Psalmist compares this person to a tree. Psalm 1:3: He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Thank you serving the wonderful people of Lee County. If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact me.
August 7, 2015
What is a habitude? Several years ago I read a book by Dr. Tim Elmore. The book was titled Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. This book gave certain attitudes that every leader should possess. These attitudes should become part of our daily routine, becoming a habit. So Dr. Elmore created a new word – habitude.
As the new Chaplain for the Lee County Sheriff office I thought I would share one of these leadership images periodically and try to encourage each of us. Whether you lead many or a few, these are great leadership qualities each of us need to possess.
The first image is the image of the iceberg (nothing better than thinking of icebergs when it is 100 degrees outside!). Scientists tell us that only about 10% of an iceberg is visible above water. The other 90% is below the surface. A person, like an iceberg, is visible in certain elements of their lives. But there is much more than meets the eye. The Titanic sank because it hit an iceberg. It did not sink because of the visible portion, but because of the large mass below the surface.
What makes up the 90% below the surface for us?
1. Self-discipline – This is the ability to do what is right, even when you don’t feel like it.
2. Core values – These are the principles you live by that enable you to take a moral stand for right and wrong.
3. Sense of Identity – This is having a realistic self-image based on God’s love for you, view of you, and purpose in your life.
4. Emotional security – This is the capacity to be emotionally stable and consistent.
How in the world can you put all this together? It begins on the inside. Jesus talks about this in Luke 6:43-45: 43 For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
Jesus knows that the visible portion of man, the part that is happening on the outside, is a direct result of the inside of man, what is happening on the inside. Jesus came to change us from the inside out. He desires to give us a new heart and renew our minds. As our inside begins to look more like Jesus, then our visible life reflects Him.
My prayer for each of you is that you will pursue Jesus with all your heart. Let Him change you. Seek Him always. Let Jesus change your inside, so that your outside will be a picture of Him.
Thank you for serving this great community. My prayers are with you.