Moving: from mikemilton.org to michaelmilton.org

“For everything there is a season, and la time for every matter under heaven…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3.1, 7 ESV).

With the roll out of our new RTS page, my own homepage and blogs has shifted from mikemilton.org tohttp://michaelmilton.org

I hope you will make your bookmarks and come on over. If you subscribe, then typing in mikemilton.org will redirect to michaelmilton.org

The archives are now loaded and all older posts are there. There are also new links and resources.

Thank you for your continued interest in reading and hopefully praying and sharing from this “theological reflection on faith, life and more.”

Links:

BLOG: http://michaelmilton.org

RTS: http://rts.edu

FAITH FOR LIVING: http://michaelmilton.org/faithforliving/

MUSIC: http://michaelmilton.org/music/

BOOKS: http://michaelmilton.org/books/

SERMON ARCHIVES: http://michaelmilton.org/sermon-archives/

PUBLICATIONS: http://www.rts.edu/site/chancellor/miltonpublications.aspx

The Lord bless you and keep you in every season of life.

Yours Faithfully,

Michael Milton

Chancellor/CEO Elect
Reformed Theological Seminary
Advertisements
Posted in Reformed faith

Meditations on Roses, Dante and Psalm 40, while sick and rocking on the front porch of “the Rest Home for Confederate Soldiers”

Barbara Bush, Pope John Paul II, and Olympiad are bursting forth in magnificent color before my very eyes. I sit on our front porch, seeing my reflection in the iPad screen where I also barely see the words I am writing, because of glare, and feel jealous of the hybrid roses in their first spring bloom. The effects of the winter pruning and the Mill’s Magic rose food are fantastic. I had pruned these hybrids down to their root after allowing the remaining chlorophyll from last year to settle back down into the unseen places where life began. They were cut with severe grace and then given strong food to begin the seasonal passage to where they are this day: alive, strong, colorful, pleasing to the eye, helpful for the rest of the garden as they “do their bit” to tie it all together.

I am jealous of them because I feel anything but alive and strong and colorful. I am surely not pleasing to the eye. I just told my wife, who has now become my nurse, that I look and feel like an old man sitting on the front porch of the Rest Home for Confederate Soldiers. My khakis feel baggy, my eyes appear dark, and countenance seems to be fixed on something, perhaps a foggy battle that happened long ago when I was younger. I am writing out of this condition so guess I am not dead. I just feel like it. I have been diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope. This condition of low heart rate, loss of energy, and propensity to either faint or get close to it, apparently stalked me for years, with panther-like stealth, before suddenly leaping out of nowhere to maul me without mercy. Wounded and seeking recovery, I have read the words of the Psalmist and understood them better than I ever have,

“…may those who love your salvation always say, ‘The LORD be exalted!’ Yet I am poor and needy; may the LORD think of me” (Psalm 40.16,17).

“Yet I am poor and needy…” Me? I, who could preach twelve sermons in a week, work on three books at a time, write an article, and “be there” for my son, my wife, and our students, am now needing a nap of three hours to get through a day? Oh yes, “I ampoor and needy; may the LORD think of me!”  I am jealous of John Paul II and Barbara  Bush, who pontificate with fragrant confidence and laugh in the North Carolina breeze with cultured elegance while I shrink from life like I am in a different season. And I am. I have not been this sick in my life. The attempts to regulate the condition have not yet succeeded. I suppose that I am being pruned. But there is no Mills Magic rose food to perk me up, though the physician has tried several cures. But if I am a man of faith then whatever chlorophyll of authentic religion that is remaining will surely return to the root source of my life and strengthen my soul for whatever lies ahead. I don’t want to sound like I am dying. I don’t think I am. I just feel like it. And I must use this time, an out-of-season time, to rediscover the source of my faith in Christ.

One thing is happening to me in this time is that I am humbled by a power that is greater than my will. I was scheduled to be at a gathering with the leaders of our seminary. A significant milestone in the succession plan to become the next chancellor of our seminary was to occur at this meeting. Yet I am grounded by the doctor. No flying. No driving for now. “Could we rewrite the script beginning at the place where I give the speech at the Hilton Hotel” joked President Reagan near death at the ER at George Washington University hospital. And I say, ” Could we rewrite the script beginning just before I got that fever on Christmas Eve?” But no. The gavel of Providence has been pounded and the deed is done. The bullet seems to be lodged and must be removed. I cannot be with my colleagues now. I find it exhausting to imagine that, at this moment, I could even join in by telephone and participate in any kind of truly meaningful conversation. I can take three hours to write these words, with great difficulty, and then I will be ready for bed. “Grounded” I say. So what does one do?

My son, who is discovering himself and his gifts and his freedom to question his old man, at seventeen, and who has been a kind and patient attendant to me as well, spoke to me, “Dad, we can thank God for our sicknesses too. Do you believe that?” He was kindly testing me, reminding me, and really encouraging me from the sermons he had heard from his father’s lips about how “God sanctifies our sorrows.” My son was like Jesus asking Martha about the resurrection at the tomb of Lazarus, “Do you believe this?” Faith had to be affirmed before mystery then and now. I smiled and replied to my son, “I do.” So I have set out, in my syncope-sick mind, to find out the meaning of my affirmation. I gather enough energy to rock in the chair on the front porch (how great are our small successes when we are beset by unyielding weaknesses) and turn again to Psalm 40; but I miss it and end up in Psalm 41 (all for the better):

“The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health” (Psalm 41.3).

The answer is altogether clear and altogether mysterious. The answer is that the processes of life and dormancy and rebirth are outside of my control. It is the Lord who oversees the severe grace of pruning. It is the work of the LORD, that covenant name of God employed by the Psalmist, providing freely what He requires from me, and He is my only hope. I am where I am because of a fallen world inflicting its cruel vengeance upon my sinful flesh, so filled with the nature of Adam. Yet in Christ who is redeeming all of creation is also using that which would destroy me to bring about a new leaf; and perhaps even a new bloom.

I have had time to read in this time. I ordinarily whiz with ease through three or four books a week as well as endless emails and journal articles and newspapers. Now I read three or four lines a day and wonder at the structure of the sentences, as a child’s curious eye might follow a single ant in an ant farm teaming with millions of the little creatures. The blessing in the bane is that I now see nuances I likely missed in healthier days. It was so, just now, when I read Dante’s Paradiso, book one, line a 24-25:

“O holy power, if you but lend me of yourself enough that I may show the merest shadow of the blessed kingdom stamped within my mind, you shall find me at the foot of your beloved tree, crowning myself with the very leaves of which my theme and you make me worthy.”

Oh “blessed kingdom stamped within my mind,” I have missed you before. Oh “beloved tree” how I have longed to return to that cross in the deepest part of my soul!

I thus content myself on our front porch, sickly before the resplendent hybrid roses, that there is a power at work within me so that I shall also bloom. I (and the doctors) expect that this illness slowing me down will be regulated and I will bloom forth again soon with renewed energy. Yet the out-of-season dormancy has led me to see that there shall come a most severe pruning of that which is seen in order to discover that which is unseen. I am saying that this condition is but a taste of a time known only to God when I shall be gone from view in this world yet shine like the sun in another. I write the Wednesday after Easter and so I cannot but thank this covenant God of Psalms 40 and 41 for the Mediator of a better Covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has risen from the grave, blooming out of season and thereby re-ordering the old seasons with new ones that has never been seen before. The “Eighth Day,” is now my hope. So tired am I of this weakness and yet so pleased with its lessons I find myself crying out with my heart, though my preaching voice is muted,

“I desire to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.  I do not [want] to conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly” (from Psalm 40.8,9).

Here, then, my jealousy of the strutting roses finds infused contentment: that I shall bloom again according to the same providence that has attended my pruning. John Paul II, Barbara Bush and Olympiad are lovely in their spring debutant ball; but soon I shall join them again as Christ who creates their beauty also sends His redemptive sap through my parts and I rise to proclaim in the assembly, in the seminary, and in my heart,

“You are my help and my deliver” (Psalm 40.17);

Yet I also recite the final line,

“O my God, do not delay.”

Here then is my answer. Here then is my lesson. Here then is my hope, now and forevermore. Soon I will rise, I pray, from this porch, and this affliction, to join brothers in the battle. But for now, I ponder the glory of the resurrection in a body of sickness, before the roses in bloom, in a rocking chair, like some old withering soldier, with a heart rate too low, but with a Christ who is in full control of all of His creation. Amen.


Posted in Charlotte, Christian, Christian faith, Christian ministers, Christianity, Christians, neurocardiogenic syncope, Preacher, Preaching on Aging, Presbyterian Church in America, Psalm 40, Psalm 41, Reformed faith, Reformed Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte Mike Milton, Reformed Theological Seminary Charlotte NC, Reformed Theology, Reformed Worldview, Suffering, Suffering and the Gospel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am the Living Legacy of My Fathers in the Faith

Two of my old seminary professors are sick; quite sick, apparently. I am thinking of their influence in my life. I first learned to read from the original New Testament text from one of them. I first learned to think about the depth of the knowledge and love and the revealed interior life of the Triune God from the other. Even more, I learned how to be a pastor from both of them. They were not practical theology professors, but in their illustrations and applications in their respective lectures, they invariably related their subjects to their experiences in the pastorate. When I was ordained as an evangelist in the Heartland Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, they were both there to lay hands upon me. So today I am thinking of Drs. George W. Knight III and Robert L. Reymond, Sr. May they both know the healing of Christ in this season of life. May they know that their labors are not in vain, for they have multiplied ministry to the degree that many others through me have come to know the Christ whom they taught and exalted. And I am only one of thousands of students, and thus hundreds of thousands of souls who have been blessed by their ministries. And that makes me think that you who read this have fathers in the faith, and mothers too as I think of my Aunt Eva, who taught you the Word. Remember them in your prayers. Honor them with your heart. And take what you have received and give it away to the world. How did the writer to the Hebrews put it?

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13.7 ESV).

The late, great singer/songwriter, Dan Fogelberg, wrote a song for his father, Lawrence Fogelberg, a high school band leader and he called it “The Leader of the Band.” In it he wrote a line that sticks in my head,

“I am the living legacy of the leader of the band.”

Well, that is the way I feel about my teachers in the faith from seminary. I think it is that way for all of us as we do what the Bible says and “remember” our leaders who spoke the Word into our lives. One day, like me, I am sure you will come to say, “I am just the living legacy of my fathers in the faith.”

Posted in Heroes, III, Professors, Sr. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grace in the Trenches: Chaplains on the Front Lines of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The senior chaplain came to me for counseling, struggling with how he would face the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). I put my hand on his shoulder and looked him square in the eyes, “Chaplain, this nation needs you to stand strong for your convictions now more than ever. It is not time to retreat, but to minister as the pastor to our military that God has called you to be.”
While budget battles rage in DC, radiation leaks in Japan, and the Middle East rumbles with uncertainty, the U.S. military has quietly but dutifully began following orders to train for the probable repeal of DADT, the policy which disallows military service to avowed homosexuals. 
The repeal of DADT (which cannot be initiated until 60 days after the President, Defense Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt the military’s ability to fight) remains a decisive story. But the 24-hour news cycle on this one is up. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardsmen are on their own. Yet this story is not over. At the center of the story are now chaplains.

Chaplains are the unheralded heroes of the military. They are, to use Army language, “force multipliers.” Providing religious services is only one important task they do. Chaplains are there to counsel all military members, guide the commander about world religions, and ensure that all have the opportunity to follow their religion, even when it is different from their own.

Asking chaplains to minister biblical truth to what the Bible condemns is nothing new. Asking chaplains to keep quiet about what the Bible condemns is. So far no agency is trying to stop chaplains from preaching the doctrines their denominations ordained them to teach, or obstructing them from counseling homosexuals (or adulterous heterosexuals, for that matter) according to their confessions. Yet will there be pressure applied tomorrow by militant homosexual activists to change that?

If challenged, evangelical chaplains I know will not capitulate. They will preach the truth in love. They will minister to homosexuals in the same way they minister to all, in the love and grace of Jesus Christ whose commands are life. However they will call sin a sin, and offer forgiveness and salvation. Let’s pray that the chaplains’ freedoms continue, for our freedoms rest on the moral foundations they seek to build.

Let’s pray they stand strong. For if ever we needed our chaplains, it is now.

Posted in chaplain, Chaplaincy, Chaplains, Christian, Dr. Michael A. Milton, Homosexuality and the Church, Michael Milton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Public Face of Ministry and the Private Heart of the Pastor: Are they the same?

The semester is winding down. The calls are being processed for our seniors. The first year is coming to a close to our beginning students and self-assessment is need. Our middlers face the reality that they are now stepping up to the plate as the senior class. The old long season is coming to an end and spring has arrived. It is, yet, another time of change that is here and that is on its way again.

Yet the constancy of God is our stronghold throughout all of life. This is what the Psalmist prayed:

“But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge” (Psalms 94.22).

If we join in this Psalm, we are refreshed to see how David, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, reflected on how the  LORD, the covenant God,

“has become my stronghold (misgab) and my God the rock of my refuge.”

Such language reveals this man’s life, his hidden life, and we might understand also his public life, being formed, against all of the prevailing winds blown by the devil, the flesh and the world, as he secures himself in the storm on the truths of God. He does this, over and over throughout all of life,  to the degree that God “has become,” his stronghold, that is, God, through the process of sanctification, has now formed in him. He may now write his Psalm to others. For God has written His covenant love in him. His private life is shaping his public face.

It is easy to begin to have a personality or self-identity as “seminary student” or “clergyman” so that our identities are formed through our public persona. We preach, we teach, we minister to others, and their response further shapes that public person. But is that how we should be formed? The man or woman who depends on the world’s approval will meet with sorrow. Calvin thus wrote of this text:

“The world’s comforts give little delight to the soul, when hurried with melancholy thoughts; but God’s comforts bring that peace and pleasure which the smiles of the world cannot give, and which the frowns of the world cannot take away” (Commentary on the Psalms, Psalm 94).

Depending on the world’s accolades and approval (or supposing, like the little donkey on Palm Sunday might have mistakenly thought, that the genuine “Hosannas!” of the saints are for you, and not for their Lord) will lead to spiritual malignancies in the man or woman of God, and particularly the pastor of God’s flock. The results of this malignancy of the soul are many and are destructive. We need to be shaped (for the text says that the LORD “has become”) over time, even over a lifetime, of walking with God in private devotions. I pray that you know that covenant love of Christ, implanted in God’s very name, as you seek God in secret, adoring Him, confessing your sins, thanking Him, and lifting up the Church and the World of sinners before Him. In this way, our Savior and our Lord becomes our stronghold and rock of refuge in every season, in every change. Then, through this sanctifying process, are we able to stand and say, “thus sayeth the Lord.” And our lives will be formed by the Cross; and our public and private face of ministry will be the same.

May the Lord bless you and keep you now and throughout all of the days of your life and may you know God as your stronghold and the rock of your refuge.


Posted in Christian, Dr. Michael A. Milton, Jesus Christ, Mike Milton, PCA, Presbyterian, Reformed, seminary life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are You Called to be a Military Chaplain?

Frequently I am asked to share my experience of the call to the chaplain ministry. In my case, I have served and continue to serve as a US Army Reserve chaplain, not an active duty chaplain. Yet the call to give one’s life to the work of the Lord in this specialized mission field called the military is, I believe, the same, whether active or reserve. So I offer a recent letter I wrote to a young man. His identity is not shared, but my words to him are, with a prayer that this will be of help to another. May Christ Jesus raise up a new generation of godly, cross-clinging, Christ-centered, Bible-loving, and soul-winning chaplain-shepherds to serve God and Country.

My Dearest Friend in the Gospel Ministry of Jesus:

What a blessing to hear from you! I remember well how the Lord led you to go to seminary—through earnest struggle about an inward and outward calling of the Lord—; and now you are in the pastorate of a great congregation! Oh how good the Lord is. We, back at your seminary, are rightfully proud of you in the Lord, as I am sure your wife and parents are as well. I also remember speaking at your graduation from seminary! I recall with great joy the sight of you crossing that chancel platform to receive your degree from me! Even though those were great times, along with your years of ministry preparation and study here at Reformed Theological Seminary, which will remain and even grow as cherished memories, yet the best is yet to come!

Well, now. You have written me about another possible “call within a call” brewing in your heart: “Am I being called to the military chaplaincy?” It is always good in inquire into the ways of God but especially necessary to inquire into His ways in one’s own heart! How well I recall my own thinking through that very question. I would say, first of all, that you are, my dear friend, thinking towards a good thing. I am truly honored that you have written to me about this for I consider this particular call one of the greatest acts of Christ-like service in all of the ministry. You have asked me to give some of my thoughts on discerning the call to the chaplaincy ministry and so I shall.

My beloved friend, I have always found that there are two great divinely placed motivators or sources of inspiration present in a minister who has been called to military chaplaincy:

I.  The one who is called to military chaplaincy has a sense of, what I have come to call, the “heroic.”

This can be an internal calling that comes from love of country born out of one’s uniquely patriotic values learned in one’s own family. Perhaps the dinner table was a place where one’s mother or father or both placed the love of country deep in the child’s heart. This sense of the heroic—this deeply ingrained gallantry or chivalry—may emerge in the soul from even the presence of a venerable photograph of a father or grandfather in uniform from World War Two. As a child you would pass this black and white image each day as you bounded down the stairs for school and it always caused you to pause and look at it. Such images can be most powerful and even used of the Lord to arrest the attention of one He is calling to serve. This sense of patriotic valor and love of the military could, also, be the happy result of one’s positive experience in The Boy Scouts or in Junior ROTC or ROTC at university. Such a commitment in the soul could come from readings in the Pilgrims, or the Founders, or even reading a modern patriot like William F. Buckley, Jr. or reading the speeches of a great American statesman-hero like President Ronald Reagan or Theodore Roosevelt. However this chivalrous instinct is cultivated by the Lord, it at length emerges and then it comes upon a man, like Francis Thompson’s Hound of Heaven. This sense of the heroic won’t let you go. It grabs him in his heart; it grabs him and presses him to confess, “I love this nation with my life. I love her so much that I would give my years, my life, my all to this ‘City on a Hill’ shine for a generation yet born.” In the case of a man called to preach this undeniable sense of the heroic is then injected into that call and shapes the call that becomes a holy burden on the soul to declare, “I must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my own nation and for my own nation. I must declare the faith of our fathers, the guiding light of our Pilgrim founders, and the Good News that has shaped generations of Americans—not just to a congregation of those who will come through the doors of the church—but to soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, or guardsmen who cannot pass through the doors of the Church. I want to be where they are. I want to bring Christ to them. I want to pass through the doors of their experiences—the gates of their military posts, the hatches of their ship’s compartments—and speak Jesus Christ into their lives and into the lives of their families.”

That, dear friend, is the growing conviction of one who is called to be a chaplain: one who takes the Gospel to those who cannot come to a civilian ministry. You take the Church to them. In that regard, you are a missionary, but because of your love of this country, your love of the military institution, and your love of service to men and women and their families, you choose to be a missionary to the military.

I chose to answer that call through the United States Army Reserve. I have loved my ministry so much with the military, and I love soldiers and military personnel, as individuals and as a group, that I would not only do the balancing act of civilian ministry and “drills” and “AT” all over again (I still have a few years left and look forward to serving as long as they will let me), but would ask that God would have given me a better medical profile (I had a debilitating physical condition that prevented me from going into “the box” to serve), so that I could have shepherded soldiers or Marines or guardsmen or airmen or sailors on the battle field or the air strip or the destroyer. Yet I bless God for my humble role in the Army Reserves, whether in the continental United States or in Europe (where I was privileged to serve on several occasions), to support the Army and Army families (and other services as well) so that better and more able soldiers could serve in the harder places. They are heroes to me and my gift of service cannot compare to theirs.

For me, I am certain that the sense of the heroic came from my Naval officer father, who died when I was just a little boy, leaving me an orphan. Though I did not get to know him, of course, yet I grew up looking at a photograph of this young pre World War Two Merchant Marine officer who was brought into the U.S. Navy when the war with Germany commenced. His sisters, my aunts who reared me, told me the stories of his experiences with German U Boats around Greenland, his adventurous and yet compassionate wires back home to them, and how he served with not only distinction but with joy. To command troop carriers through the North Atlantic, through a thicket of enemies who sunk many of our Merchant Marine ships, was heroic indeed. I am proud of my father. He made many of these voyages from America to Great Britain during the War, and who stayed and made the sea services a career. Through that picture and those stories, I always knew that I wanted to serve this nation in uniform in some way if God would allow me. That is my own story of how God planted a love of this nation, and a love of the military who defends her, deep into my heart.

Son, the other great thing I see in one who is called to military chaplaincy is this:

II.  The one who is called to military chaplaincy has been given a burden for souls to be saved and lives transformed by the Gospel in the military.

There are many people who have the sense of the heroic. They join the military and serve with distinction and honor. The question before us is not just that we might posses acsense of the heroic, though I believe that must be present, but how that fits with a calling as a minister of Christ Jesusl. I would say, without hesitation, that the one who is serving as a chaplain successfully and with great vocational satisfaction is the one who wants to minister Christ in the military environment. In a similar way that Amy Carmichael had a love for India or David Livingstone had a passion for Africa, the man called to the chaplaincy should have a desire for the armed forces of our nation. The missionary to Kenya loves Kenya and the missionary to the military loves soldiers or Marines or or airmen or guardsmen. It is that simple. It is that profound. Thus, just like any other missionary, there is a compelling charge from God Himself that burns like a undying fire inside of the chaplain’s bones—Jeremiah-like—to lead lost souls in that mission field to Jesus Christ and to shepherd His flock there. The sense of the heroic and the burden for souls in the military is a powerful combination and together it equals an undeniable call to the military chaplaincy. This blessed burden to share Christ with members of the Armed Services can be addressed from the pulpit of an Air Force base chapel in Germany, or on the dangerous flight deck of an air craft carrier out to the China sea, or with a Marine unit about to go on midnight patrol in Kandahar, or with an Army battalion on exercises in the desert. This hallowed open door to speak forth the Word of the Lord often happens when the chaplain is exercising what we call “a ministry of presence;” just being there where the troops are. In the military, chaplains not only go to soldiers, but also soldiers (and sailors, Marines, and guardsmen) come to the chaplain. It is, in many ways, more refreshing and satisfying than civilian ministry (to me) in that they have no built in social networks or inward (false) expectations that would hinder them from coming to their own minister (e.g., “If I go to the pastor with this problem, I may not become deacon or he may think ill of me from here on out”). The military as an institution advocates for the serviceman or woman—enlisted or officer— to come to their chaplain. “Take it to the chaplain, son!” says the crusty old Navy chief to the young seaman. And they do! I was once the “Chaplain of the Day” while on annual training, at an active duty Army installation. When I relieved the previous chaplain I learned that I had inherited a full day’s worth (and more) of soldiers and family members who wanted to see me about their needs. And then there the emergencies on top of those! I shared Jesus Christ to everyone of those divine appointments and God allowed me to lead many of those who came that day to the Lord. That was an unforgettable annual training! I will always remember how I called home to Mae to say, “Honey, you know how we prayed that I would get to share the Gospel while on duty? Well, I have never been ‘tired’ of sharing the Gospel, but I must say, I feel tied right now!” Indeed, my first day on that particular duty time ended with reuniting a military couple in counseling by having them recommit to their marriage vows, right there in the chaplain’s office. They stood next to each other, in their work day Army uniforms, and looked into each other’s eyes. I pronounced them “Man and wife—STILL!” and even said, “You may kiss the bride!” He did. Even more wonderful, though, is that they invited me to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them . Thus, as the Holy Spirit moved in them to repent and believe, I prayed with them to follow the Lord. I could not sleep that night! To do what God has called you to do is an awesome thing: whether it is stepping into the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church to unburden my soul of the message God had given me for that week, or preaching today to a congregation to encourage them in the Word of the Lord as a servant of Reformed Theological Seminary, or, always for me, sharing Christ with a soldier or a family member in need.

Dear friend, I will let you in on a little secret: I am a chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves to reach a seventeen-year-old sailor boy who was lost and had joined the Navy to “find his way.” The Navy gave him his start in education and did indeed help to give him direction. And I am here as a chaplain for an aging Naval officer, who had sailed the seven seas from the time he left home as a boy, and who could navigate his way across the earth by the stars, but who had lost his way with God. You see, I am that young man who joined the Navy. And that alcoholic Naval officer? He was my father. Both were claimed by Christ, thank God. Since I was saved and called to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, I have always wanted to give my life to finding them, for they are always out there, lost and in need, and leading them to the Savior.

So to answer your question about a calling to the military chaplaincy, I have always seen a sense of the heroic, and a burden for souls present in the finest chaplains I have known. I can honestly say that the finest professional men and women I have ever known have been those who wore, and who wear today, the uniforms of our nation’s military. I can also say that some of the finest and most dedicated ministers of the Gospel that I have ever known were and are chaplains in the Armed Services. I am humbled and moved each time I get to put that uniform on myself. It has been and is today my honor to serve with them as a minister of the Gospel.

The founding president of Reformed Theological Seminary, The Reverend Sam Patterson, was a Navy chaplain in the Second World War. The first president of Covenant College and Seminary, Robert Rayburn, was a Chaplain in the Army in that same war. Since then there have been many to follow them as chaplains in our Presbyterian and Reformed faith.  We need many more. But I would guess that if you read my words about the sense of the heroic, and the burden to reach the lost and shephe rd the flock of Jesus who are serving in the millitary, and your heart began beating faster and you said, “I am that man!” then you will soon be pinning on the cross. If not, then remember that God gave you an insight into the calling of a military chaplain; and therefore pray for them.

 

Posted in Dr. Michael A. Milton, Jesus Christ, Mike Milton, PCA, Preaching, Presbyterian, Reformed faith | Tagged , , , ,

Death and Taxes

Tax time is upon us. Opinions concerning taxation range from Coolidge’s estimation that “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery;” to FDR’s remark that “Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.” Will Rogers said, “The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”
Yale historian, Dr. Harry S. Stout, wrote that the American system of government was enormously influenced by biblical sermons on political thought, including taxes. Stout wrote inThe New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England:
    “The seventeenth-century founders of New England set out to create a unique and self-perpetuating ‘people of the Word,’ and by extending the sermon to all significant facts of life — social and political, as well as religious…”
Jesus paid taxes, albeit in a most miraculous way, out of the mouth of a fish! Christ told his disciples that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God’s what is God’s. St. Paul urged believers in the very capital of a tax-burdened empire,
    “For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.”
The Mosaic Law legislated taxes to support the Levitical priesthood. There were abuses and the prophets denounced them. In New Testament cases tax collectors were converted. Matthew not only became a disciple but also wrote the first book of the New Testament. Undergirding all of this is the fact that a representative government is the ideal that is urged, whether in Israel with elected elders, or in the early Church with deacons and elders. “No taxation without representation” is a biblical concept that like all biblical precepts creates freedom and blessing.
In taxes as in every other area of life, following God’s Word brings a new way of life that doesn’t make liars out of people, but better citizens, freer people, and a more honest government. In every season, the Church must declare the truth of God into the arena of human government.
For the Bible does speak about death…and taxes.
Posted in Bible and Government, God and Government, Jesus and Government, Reformed faith, Taxes | Tagged , , , ,