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OCF Crosspoint Podcast
33 minutes | Jul 19, 2021
7. Grant Johnson: “Your identity is not wrapped up in the aircraft that you're flying.”
Think about something in your life that you really, really wanted. It was always on your mind, and when you had the chance to finally grab hold of whatever it was you were wanting or striving toward, you came up short. As we continue this multi-episode focus on the topic of identity, you’re going to hear from LT Grant Johnson, USN, as he shares his story of dreaming to be a jet pilot, only to come up short. If you subscribe to OCF’s COMMAND magazine, then you might have seen the article on identity in the Fall of 2020 that featured both Grant, and his wife, LT Hannah Johnson, USN. You’ll hear from Hannah in the next podcast episode. Today, Grant’s going to unpack his story from that article in a bit more detail. You’ll hear about how that experience of coming up short shook his faith and his identity, and also what he’s still learning about his himself. As you listen to Grant’s story, here are a few questions to ponder: Has there been a time in your life where you found yourself willing to ignore personal relationships, even your faith, to achieve a deeply held dream? How does mourning the loss of falling short of a goal or no longer being able to do it help you to accept what God wants to do differently in your life? Or does it? Think of a difficult time or circumstance in your life. What are some things from that experience that have made it possible to thank God or even be joyful about? Why is it important to recognize exactly what your identity is rooted in? How does what you deem as the priorities in your life negatively or positively shape your identity? How does processing your ambitions, goals, and dreams with God and trusted mentors or peers help you assess the condition of your heart concerning your identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
30 minutes | Jul 5, 2021
6. Lynda Johnson: “I no longer see myself as the star of my movie”
In this episode, OCF Communications Intern Joshua Schumacher interviews MAJ Lynda Johnson, USA (Ret.). Who am I? That was the big question behind the article that I wrote for COMMAND magazine in the fall of 2020. The article, which focused on the topic of identity, briefly included the story of Lynda Johnson and how her identity was shaken after she was told she couldn’t run anymore unless she wanted to risk more damage to her health. As it turns out, there is a whole lot more to her story than what we covered in COMMAND. Today, you’ll hear both her life story and the story of how she found her identity in Christ as she shares her testimony of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. As you listen to Lynda’s story, here are four questions to consider: Lacking her Christ-centered identity, Lynda’s self-described work ethic was a “dream for bosses” but a “nightmare for subordinates and peers.” How would those you lead describe your treatment of them? What do you think Lynda means when it comes to identifying in Christ that “I longer see myself as the star of my movie that God had already seen before”? “Embracing powerlessness in self” is an important aspect of developing our identity in Christ. How does the restraint of our power in our professional, personal, and societal relationships allow others to benefit? Meekness is fully grasping God’s grace, to receive what we’re undeserving of, such as eternal life. How does having our identity in Christ help us model the meekness He demonstrated in a world that scorns meekness as weakness? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
40 minutes | Jun 21, 2021
5. Aaron Zimmerman: Finding peace when our identity is in Christ
Christian athlete and Marine aviator are two things first lieutenant Aaron Zimmerman wanted to be known for. Aaron comes from a family that absolutely loves lacrosse, and he says, “if my family had its own crest, it would include a lacrosse stick.” Aaron’s story is one that deals not only with the struggles of how we want to define ourselves, but also how God is continually working in our lives, chipping away at the rough edges, molding us, shaping us, and ultimately crushing our idols of identity. For Aaron, that meant going from high school All American in lacrosse, to playing from the bench as a backup at the Naval Academy. Then as a Marine, a medical diagnosis would ground his aspirations of being a Marine aviator. As you listen to his story, here a few questions to ponder: Aaron says his lacrosse dreams slipped into an obsession that had “too much power and became an idol.” Is there an activity, aspiration, or relationship that has crossed into something you idolize? He acknowledges “not allowing people to speak into my life as would have been beneficial.” Do you allow trusted loved ones or those in a good Christian community to speak into your life? If not, why? Aaron initially asked God, “If I wasn’t making flight school and my Marine Corps career an idol like I had lacrosse, then why did you take it away from me?” How does a right relationship with Christ help counter feelings of disappointment or loss? Once officers and enlisted leave the military, there can be a struggle over a lost sense of identity. As a leader, how would you encourage those you lead to not make their military service their identity? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
37 minutes | Jun 7, 2021
4. Chris Thompson, Gold Star Mother: “God wants you to keep on living”
On the evening of Jan. 23, 2015, Marine Corps Maj Elizabeth Betsy Kealey and Capt Adam Satterfield were piloting their helicopter above the high desert landscape of Twentynine Palms, Calif., when a catastrophic malfunction caused the Huey to plummet to the ground. Both Marines died in the crash. Kealey graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with honors in 2005, and she received her pilot's wings in September of 2007. She deployed twice with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and once in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Kealey's mother, Chris Thompson, said Betsy was remembered by many as a woman devoted to her faith, to her family, and to her friends. Chris shared a couple of entries from Betsy's journal: “This quote is from Betsy's journal when she was on the trek during Rocky Mountain High at Spring Canyon. She said, ‘I pray that my focus on this trek is hearing from you and loving all of your people. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ “Another quotation from her journal was how to witness, and this was later that same year, 2005. She was asking questions in her journal: ‘How can I witness. How can I be more than just righteous? I can look for opportunities to talk about the Lord, have faith in the Lord's plan for my life, let others see me spending time with the Word.’” In this episode, Chris shares her story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession by telling Betsy’s story and offering insights on life as a Gold Star Mother. As you listen to her story, here are a few questions to ponder: Based on her journal entry, Betsy endeavored to do three things as a Christian serving in the military: “I can look for opportunities to talk about the Lord, have faith in the Lord's plan for my life, let others see me spending time in the Word.” How about you? What things define your witness as you serve in uniform? Betsy left a legacy of living out her faith everywhere that she went and allowing her faith to affect those around her. What would your legacy be? If you’re a Gold Star Mother, have you seen God at work? How has he revealed himself to you? If you know a Gold Star Mother, when’s the last time you reached out to them just to talk or pray? If it’s been a while, consider contacting them today. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
40 minutes | May 24, 2021
3. Rico Lane: “I just didn't have that loving relationship with a father”
Capt Rico Lane, USAF, shares his story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. His “blessedtimony” (that’s a nod to his ministry, Blessedtimony) includes three primary themes. First, a big part of his story revolves around fatherhood: how our earthly fathers can often influence what we think about our Heavenly Father. Faith is a second theme in his story. You’ll hear about his two tours in Iraq and how witnessing the devotion of the Muslims in the area really caused him to question Christianity and what it means to be a follower of Christ. Then there’s family, and specifically how God used the Bible verse text messages of a grandfather to begin changing Rico’s life. Also, take a closer look at Rico’s ministry: https://linktr.ee/Blessedtimony%C3%82%C2%A0 As you listen to Rico’s story, here are three questions to ponder: Think about your relationship with your earthly father. How has it shaped your interactions and beliefs about your Heavenly Father? Rico talks about how seeing the religious devotions of Muslims (specifically, Muslim fathers) shook his own faith and belief in God when he wasn’t yet a believer. What has shaken your faith, and how did you respond? How are you using your story, or “blessedtimony,” to point others to Christ? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
45 minutes | May 10, 2021
2. Becky Haggerty: “God, why don’t you care?”
Today, Capt Becky Haggerty, USAF, shares her story of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. This episode starts with an original composition from Becky called “I Speak.” She wrote the song in 2015 and says it’s about praying to God and feeling like He’s just not hearing you. That’s a theme that she says would become more applicable in the coming years. You see, Becky’s story is one of battling through anxiety and self-worth. It’s a story that tells of her journey to be in a right relationship with her Heavenly Father even when it seems like life sometimes has more valleys than mountaintops, even when it seems like God just doesn’t care. As you listen to Becky’s story, here are four questions to ponder: In her song, Becky sings about speaking to God and feeling as if He isn’t hearing her. Can you recall a time in your military career (or life) when you wondered the same thing? What was your response? Are you struggling with a mentality of perfectionism, or some of the attributes that often accompany it—inadequacy, self-worth, and self-hate? What do you think drives you to strive for being perfect? How do you cope with the stresses of military life? What spiritual support systems do you have in place? When you face trials and tribulations, and life just isn’t going as planned, do you find yourself wanting to rush to the mountaintop and focus on being only optimistic, or do you take time to rest in your struggles and see how God might be trying to grow you—even if it’s uncomfortable? Why? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can listen to her song in its entirety at the end of the episode, starting at 40:27. Here are the lyrics to “I Speak”: I speak. I speak, can you hear me? Lord, can you hear me? And I speak, Cause they tell me you’re near. So I speak. And I speak. But I don’t know where we’re headed, or where we’ll go. And I can’t see in the distance what you already know. And I can’t feel your redemption washing me as white as snow. So I let go, Give you control, And I speak, on my knees. Lord, teach me to trust you. Cause you’re all I have. I’m alive through you. So with this breath in my lungs, these scars on my heart… I’m here, nowhere to start, So I speak. And I speak. Cause you hear me. You’re near; hear my prayers. Yes, you’re near; hear my prayers. (repeats twice) God, I can’t see beyond me. I can’t let go. At times I feel so hopeless. Why is this so? Help me to hand to you my heart, my mind, my soul. Jesus, let’s go… we’ll walk this road. Jesus, you know… mine eyes please show. When I speak.
25 minutes | Apr 26, 2021
1: Chipu Chu: “I was broken. I needed a savior.”
In this episode, you’ll hear the story of 2nd Lt Chip Chu, USAF. When I interviewed Chip over a year ago, he was still a Firstie at the Air Force Academy. COVID-19 wasn’t exactly a household word yet. There was no point of reference or context for things like “flatten the curve,” “social distancing,” “wear your mask”… or who could forget the “8pm howl” for first responders and medical personnel in the early days of the pandemic? As you listen to Chip’s story, here are some questions to ponder: Think of your own story. When was the first time you recall hearing about God, Jesus, and the concepts of sin, grace, and salvation? How did you respond? Chip described OCF as his “family.” If you’re involved in OCF, how would you describe it? If you are not involved in OCF, do you have a body of believers to come alongside you? What did you think about the three challenges Chip talked about—figuring out the future; struggling with competition and identity; and properly using our time and resources? How have you struggled with these in your military career? What was your key takeaway from Chip’s story? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. About Chip Second Lieutenant Chipu Chu is a Master’s of Asian International Affairs candidate at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Originally from Princeton, N.J., Chip earned his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2020 and will serve as a logistics readiness officer upon completing his master’s program. Chip joined OCF in 2016 after basic cadet training and served as the cadet-in-charge at OCF USAFA during his Firstie (senior) year. He currently resides in Honolulu, HI.
4 minutes | Apr 18, 2021
Season 2 Introduction
OCF Crosspoint returns April 26 with a new season and new stories of military life at the intersection of faith, family, and profession. In some of the episodes coming up this season, you’ll find that struggling through adversity is at least one common thread as guests tell their stories. They all went through their own type of liminal space: They all struggled with the loss of what was, and they all faced the uncertainty, maybe even anxiety of what was next. As you wait for this next season of OCF Crosspoint to launch, take some time to catch up on previous episodes of the podcast, and be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts so that you’ll always get the latest episodes of OCF Crosspoint when they’re released. If you have an idea for a topic that should be considered, or if you know of a story that needs to be told, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
55. MIDN Isaiah Walker: Finding community can be challenging
Today, you’re going to hear the story of Midshipman Isaiah Walker, he’s a senior in the ROTC program at Ole Miss who has struggled with isolation and the challenges of integrating faith and profession. I first heard about Isaiah from Lt Col Tom Falconer, USAF (Ret.). Tom’s a longtime OCF member, and he’s also a local leader and area coordinator in the Colorado Springs area. What caught my attention about Isaiah’s story is how he found out about OCF in the first place—it was through this podcast. A key takeaway from Isaiah’s story comes from his struggle to integrate faith and profession, which largely is a result of isolation and feeling alone. As Isaiah shares his story, you’ll hear how important community is in the life of the Christian serving in the military. And if you find yourself relating to Isaiah in this regard, then I hope you’ll be encouraged by his story. If you’re in need of community with other Christians serving in the military, check out the OCF Directory to see if there’s a group near you, or contact me directly at email@example.com. This episode also includes a special appearance by CPT Lindsey Bowen, USA, who was my guest in episode 54, along with her husband, CPT Joshua Bowen, USA. There are also references to three previous Crosspoint podcasts: Episode 54: The Importance of Small Group Fellowship Episode 5: Thriving in the Unbalance Episode 2: Navigating the Storms of Life // Quotes from this episode: “I probably took ROTC a little too seriously the first three years—freshman, sophomore, junior year—you know, prepping for officer candidate school that we go to after our junior year. And I can count on one hand how many times that I went out and hung out with friends during those three years” (Isaiah Walker on neglecting community). “You know, my church friends, they understood my spiritual life, what's going on there and everything. But anytime I tried to bring up the military, they had no idea what was going on. They didn't know how to address it or anything like that” (Isaiah Walker on the struggle of finding indigenous fellowship). “I can say the support I've received from OCF has been absolutely insane. Ever since I kind of listed myself as the local leader/member [at Ole Miss], I've gotten email after email, phone call after phone call, and meeting after meeting from the OCF community and OCF members. You just really find out how tight knit a community it is” (Isaiah Walker on finding fellowship within OCF). “God wants to be involved in every single aspect of your military career because he is the reason you're there and he's the reason you're serving. So in everything you do, whether it's leading an infantry unit in combat or it's waking up and going over logistics for a mission to come about or getting up and going to PT, you know, God wants to be there. He wants you to acknowledge him. So I would just say to anyone listening—ROTC or officer Corps or military period—make sure you're including Christ and every ounce of your military specialty” (Isaiah Walker’s key takeaway from the conversation). “When a new person shows up to your group, it may be such a big leap for them to show up or to have even come at all to even contacted you. So be there for them. Take interest in them as much as you can with how many people you're already taken care of. When people feel that you care about them, that's when they'll continue to show up for you” (Lindsey Bowen on making new people feel welcome to your small group).
27 minutes | Feb 24, 2020
54. Josh and Lindsey Bowen: The importance of small group fellowship
If you've been around OCF long enough, then you've no doubt heard about the importance that OCF places on small group fellowships—after all, fellowship is one of our spiritual pillars and it's even in our name. Well, today you're going to hear the story of Joshua and Lindsey Bowen, both captains in the Army. And, while their story contains a few themes, such as mentoring, leadership, and spiritual growth, the one common thread throughout their story is the small group fellowship and the importance that fellowship has played in their lives...going all the way back to when they first met. Josh is an Army engineer officer, who graduated from West Point in 2010 and served as a combat engineer at Fort Bragg and Fort Carson. His wife, Lindsey, is a medical service corps officer and currently a company commander. She graduated from Baylor University out of the ROTC program back in 2014. In this episode I also mentioned a couple of resources from OCF. First, if you're new to OCF or in case you didn't know, we have an online directory to help you find a small group or an OCF contact in your area. Just point your browser to ocfusa.org/directory. And for our small group leaders, or maybe if you're thinking about one day becoming a small group leader, be sure to download our popular booklet called "Leading Effective Small Groups."
37 minutes | Feb 10, 2020
53. Carlos and Sara Estevez: Purpose and perspective in the face of tragedy
Have you ever been invited to do something only to wonder…why did I agree to that? My guest today went through something like that, and ultimately, it might have saved her life and the lives of her children. Today, I’m going to share with you the story of CDR Carlos and Sara Estevez, USCG. Carlos is a medical officer assigned to the US Coast Guard Academy. He and Sara arrived at the academy in 2016, and almost immediately got plugged into OCF through Carl Crabtree, the OCF field staff rep based in New London, CT. As for Sara, she homeschools their three kids, and like Carlos, helps teach Bible studies to the cadets. For Sara, being a mentor is an important part of their ministry. Sara was approached by then-cadet Deb King, whom she had been mentoring, who asked her to sign up for a Spartan Race. Deb is an Ensign now, serving as the support officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Active. Little did Sara know that the role she began as a mentor to Deb in 2016 would come to have a profound impact on her life and the lives of her children a few years later. On the afternoon of April 12, 2019, Sara and the kids packed up, arranged for the neighbors to watch their two dogs Nellie and Moose, and headed for New York City, where Carlos would join them as Sara planned to compete in the Spartan Race the next day. However, in the early morning hours of April 13 while the Estevez family was away, their house was destroyed in a blaze that also claimed the lives of their beloved dogs. In this episode, the Estevezes share the details of their story in the weeks leading up to the devastating fire, how they responded when they received word of the fire, and some of the things they’ve learned about their faith in the aftermath of the fire. You’ll also hear about how God miraculously spared some love letters and other personal items from the fire, and how Deb King rallied the USCG Cadets to help out the Estevez family. And in the middle of everything, Sara was wrapping up a Bible study she had written on the life of Jeremiah—it’s a 10-week inductive study—and as Sara pointed out to me, Jeremiah also knows a thing or two about loss since his entire book was burned by King Jehoiakim. If you want more information about the Bible study, it’s called “Born to Lead: From Complacency to Calling.” And be sure to check out Sara’s website for more resources. Finally, there’s also a mention of two previous guests to Crosspoint: Michelle Qureshi from episode 41 Brigit Jogan from episode 44
27 minutes | Jan 27, 2020
52. Stu McRae: How would you handle not being promoted?
Episode 52 show notes Have you ever known anyone who’s been passed over for promotion? Maybe it’s your name that wasn’t on the promotion list. Today you’re going to hear from COL Stu McRae, USA (Ret). When the 1997 promotion list was due to be officially released, a friend called him to say, “Stu, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m sorry, but your name isn’t on the list.” It was a lynchpin moment for Stu, as he began examining what it meant to be a successful officer in the eyes of God, where he was placing his identity and self-worth, and why was he wanting to be the best at his job—what were his motives? Stu McRae was raised in Montana where he was part of a multi-racial family, born to parents who loved God and humbly lived a life reflecting His love for others. In addition to Stu and his oldest sister who was born to his parents, his mother and father adopted 11 other children (mostly Native American). This played a significant role in teaching Stu about the love and acceptance of God. In 1987, Stu was commissioned as a lieutenant in Military Intelligence and branch transferred to Aviation in 1990. Stu went on to command the 224th Military Intelligence Battalion, which was a fixed-wing aviation battalion, and then was the rear detachment commander for the 3rd Infantry Division in 2010. After graduating from the U.S. Army War College in 2011, Stu was selected to command the garrison of Fort Rucker, Alabama. He retired from the Army as a colonel in 2017 and now resides in Wyoming where he works developing business opportunities for Kennon Products, as well as continuing to fly airplanes as a contractor in Afghanistan. // What we talked about Introducing COL McRae, His anticipation of promotion, and the reality of being passed over for promotion. Learning more about who COL McRae is. COL McRae explains what he meant by “A young officer works long hours characterized by daily, rigid discipline… ever-expecting that his branch of service will recognize his dedicated labors and reward them with promotion to the next rank. He lives and breathes his service culture, often putting the military before self and family. After all, isn’t that what is expected of a successful officer?” From the article “So You’ve Been Passed Over” COL McRae points out two questions as he reflects on what it means to be a successful officer: Where is your identity? How close is your relationship with Christ? COL McRae explains what is expected, not of a successful officer, but a Christian officer. COL McRae looks back on his military career, and how his idea of what a successful officer looks like has changed. COL McRae explains what he meant when he wrote, “My whole identity was so wrapped up in the Army that it dictated how I felt about myself. If I did something well or was commended, I felt good about myself; if I was not commended or worse, was reprimanded, I was devastated.” COL McRae explains how he learned to put things in their proper perspectives and place his identity in Christ. We talk about motives. Why do we want to do the best we can do in our jobs, and other area of our lives, and what are some ways we can test our motives? Col McRae shares the story of a note on a bathroom mirror that changed his perspective. COL McRae examines motives by asking these 5 questions: Am I willing to surrender all areas of my life to God? If not, what specific areas of my life have I not yet surrendered to Him? From where or whom do I derive my identity? Who am I trying to please? What is the order of my priorities with regard to God, family, and my career? Psalm 37:4, says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” COL McRae wrote, “From the start of my career to now, God has steadily changed my desires to be more in line with His by eliminating unnecessary baggage. As we willingly submit to His authority, He is faithful to refine us and help us to find our complete fulfillment in Him.” Col McRae updates us on where God is using him now, and how his view on identity has changed so drastically. Col McRae gives his final recommendations for others struggling with the question of identity. John Bevere: The Bait of Satan Col McRae’s final thoughts “One, if you go through and come out the other end and everything seems to be rosy again, the changes that you have put in place because God has worked you through things, just know that you are going to be tested on that! Two, God does want to bless you. Three, our identity in Christ is what will get us through the challenges, no matter what that challenge is.”
31 minutes | Jan 13, 2020
51. Col Darren Duke: Examining a life transformed
Happy New Year and thanks for joining me for the first Crosspoint podcast of 2020. Today, we’re focusing on the topic of personal transformation with my guest, Col Darren Duke, United States Marine Corps. Col Duke is the Deputy Director of Operations at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in Washington, DC. He is a career intelligence and special operations officer and has commanded Marine and Joint special operations in garrison and abroad. Col Duke he will be speaking on the topic of personal transformation at the upcoming Northeast Academy & ROTC Retreat, on 7-9 February at the Toah Nipi Retreat Center in New Hampshire. And for those of you in ROTC, there are upwards of 9 different events you can take part in between now and April. Click here for details. Let’s jump into my conversation with Col Darren Duke as we talk about personal transformation and what a life transformed by God might look like for believers serving in the military. // What we talked about Col Duke expresses about his gratitude for the heritage of faith from his family, making that faith his own through USNA OCF, led by Cal & Linda Dunlap, and the influences from his roommate and many others helping him see “the prevailing unbelief in my life.” "Through the pages of the Bible I met a God who was utterly holy, completely powerful and sovereign, yet who extended mercy to sinners like me." Q: Tell me about the OCF conference you're speaking at and the topic for the conference. Col Duke talks about really enjoying the ROTC conference he spoke at last year at WSS, and how important weekend conferences were to him as an USNA midshipman both in his walk with Christ and to be with other believers to study God’s Word. To him, there’s not a better topic than personal transformation “because the gospel of Jesus Christ is at its core about transformation.” "Come be transformed from a rebel against the sovereign King of the cosmos to a son of the Living God. Come, and look at Jesus Christ, and you will be changed. Life from death is the height of transformation." Col Duke discusses the importance of personal transformation, particularly to the audience he’s speaking to. Col Duke talks about trusting God in His promises and obeying His commands, faith and repentance, and the necessity for new Christians growing in their faith to live it out. "Faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin, distinct, but inseparable attributes of living faith in Jesus. You can’t have one without the other." "Young Christians who are growing in their faith need to understand what it is to walk in Christ in the way they live, not just in what they believe in inside their minds and hearts." Col Duke talks about the influences of the American culture that offers transforming philosophies or transforming programs to try teach others how to transform themselves, and he also discusses “heady” theological words that can be difficult concepts to grasp and that transformative changes comes from “faith in Jesus, where He changes us from the inside out.” "A life changed by God is one where a believer acts on new affections, that is, the inclination of the will of the heart. One law of human worship is that you become like what you worship (Psalm 115). Thankfully, the opposite is also true: the more we behold the perfections of Christ and rejoice in them, the more we will become like Him (1 Corinthians 3:18)." Col Duke talks further about the concepts of justification and sanctification, the danger of “pseudo-holiness” because of our sin nature, false alternatives for true transformation, and the false sense of personal transformation in thinking God loves us less or more depending on our performance. Q: What should be our standard of measure when it comes to personal transformation? Seems like it could be pretty easy to compare ourselves to others and either come away with a bad case of imposter syndrome or walk away thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. Col Duke says the standard for measuring personal transformation rests in the vital necessity of using God’s Word “to see what God says about both our heart and actions.” "Comparison with others is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. It’s difficult to love someone if you’re comparing yourself with them. You’ll either idolize those you uphold as the standard or look down at those you deem as inferior." Col Duke talks about the specific applications and implications of personal transformation for Christians serving in the military. Col Duke’s conversation touches upon the “affections” based on Christ’s promises and how they show themselves in our responses to our fears, family life, and careers. He also talks about how military Christians will appear differently, because of the way their hearts are oriented toward God. "In combat, Christians will remember that even our enemies are created in God’s image, which is the basis for humane treatment of prisoners of war. We will pray for our enemies even as we do our combat duties, to include use of lethal force for righteous ends." Col Duke discusses the “very serious business” that the profession of arms is when asked about the most important thing for newly commissioned officers to keep in mind as they transition into their careers. He also talks about the challenges nonbelievers face in combat in trying to “measure the violence they’re seeing around them,” and the ways they try to put value on what they’ve seen and experienced “that persists beyond the memorial service after the deployment is over.” "Norse paganism has become the symbols of what many young soldiers or Marines use because the culture is questioning the value of war itself right now, and yet they need some framework to place the loss of their friends, and all the death and destruction they’ve seen around them. In Norse mythology…you can have merit, and the sacrifice in combat, and hope beyond that death—even for the person you killed in combat." Col Duke and Josh discuss young Christian officers’ opportunities to demonstrate the hope they have in Christ, the portrayal of war in today’s video games or movies, Global War on Terror “brov-ets,” and books Col Duke recommends on personal transformation. // Resources God is the Gospel by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/books/god-is-the-gospel Future Grace by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/books/future-grace Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray https://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Accomplished-Applied-John-Murray/dp/080287309X The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie https://www.amazon.com/Christians-Great-Interest-Puritan-Paperbacks/dp/0851513549 // Final Point Col Duke’s one key takeaway for listeners today "The Bible is clear that we are transformed, our lives are changed not by self-help books and gurus—even by Christian ones—but by seeing Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Scriptures, resting in His promises to be the righteousness and peace with God that we need. He will do what He has promised. He will bring us to God, and we will marvel and delight forever." // Special Announcement We just launched a separate podcast called “Leader, Draw Near.” It’s a weekly podcast devotional, and if the title of that podcast sounds familiar to you, it’s because the podcast is based on the book by the same name, written by COL Larry and Bobbie Simpson, United States Air Force, retired. The Simpsons published the book a few years ago, and since then, we’ve recorded each weekly devotional using several different narrators from all branches of service, and now we’re distributing the audio content as a weekly podcast. Each podcast episode averages around 4 minutes, so it’s a quick and simple way to get your day started with a great leadership devotional centered on God’s Word. Just go into your favorite podcast app and search for “Leader, Draw Near" or click here.
28 minutes | Dec 16, 2019
50. Encore with Todd Plotner: 4 lessons for young warriors
As 2019 comes to an end—with several weeks of travel in my future plus the Christmas holidays—I'm taking a break from the podcast and sharing a series of encore episodes with you. Starting in January, you'll get to hear some fresh, new interviews. As a reminder: encore episodes are episodes that I selected from among the early days of the podcast, and each encore episode will feature only a portion of the original interview, so I encourage you to go back to that episode if you want to hear all of it. The third and final encore episode I want to share with you comes from episode 27, when I got to chat with LTC Todd Plotner about leadership lessons for young warriors. Our conversation was based on an article he wrote for Command magazine back in 2013 when he was the Army ROTC Professor of Military Science at Washington State University. One of the cool things that's happened since that interview is that LTC Plotner and his wife, Andrea, are moving to Buena Vista, CO, where he will assume the role of Director of Operations at OCF's Spring Canyon Conference Center—in fact, they're supposed to start mid-December, which means they're probably already there getting settled in right now as you listen to this. Let me tell you a little about Todd and Andrea: Todd is a 1993 West Point graduate and served in a variety of command and staff positions in the Army Corps of Engineers and he's is also a strategic planner as a graduate of the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies. His final Army assignment was serving as ROTC Professor of Military Science. His wife, Andrea, is no stranger to military ministry, either, as she was the final PWOC International President before the chaplaincy decentralized that ministry. OK, this is another great podcast episode for young officers, so if you know a young officer, tell them about this episode. // Four lessons in leadership for young warriors Find strength in fellowship: We can’t go it alone. When you arrive at your first assignment, promptly find a Christian small group fellowship. If there is no small group fellowship, start one. Be faithful and competent: Humbly recognize that the “so help me God” in your commissioning oath is a solemn appeal to God, acknowledging Him as the source of your competence and authority. Honor God with your effort: You have a responsibility to give 100 percent to accomplish the mission and care for your people. Your work is a very real facet of worshipping God, but do not worship your work. Resist the temptation to become a workaholic. Know that you will experience failures. Whether because of moral shortcomings, unexpected circumstances or enemy action, you and your people will not always succeed as intended. Don’t complain: The leader who perseveres amid difficulty without complaint, argument or profanity is uncommon. Complaining or criticizing your peers, superiors or subordinates behind their backs will strip your credibility and moral authority.
29 minutes | Dec 2, 2019
49. Encore with Ryan Menicucci: Are you a leader that God can use?
As 2019 comes to an end, with several weeks of travel in my future plus the Christmas holidays, I'm taking a break from the podcast and sharing a series of encore episodes with you. Starting in January, you'll get to hear some fresh, new interviews. In case you're wondering: encore episodes are episodes that I selected from among the early days of the podcast because I think they have a great message for you. Each encore episode will feature only a portion of the original interview, so I encourage you to go back to that episode if you want to hear all of it. The second encore episode I want to share with you comes from episode 9, and in that episode, I interviewed First Lieutenant Ryan Menicucci—who I believe now is a captain in the US Army. There were three things that he shared during that episode: first, we must have faith in something that is worthy of our faith; second, we must know who we are in Christ; and third, we must be prepared to fight the good fight, as we engage in spiritual warfare. This was an excellent conversation I had with LT Menicucci, and while the message is relevant to anyone who is serving or who has served in the US Armed Forces, do me a favor: if you know someone at one of the academies or who's just getting started in their military calling, share this episode with them. There are a lot of good points that might be especially helpful to young officers. Three questions as you listen: Do you have faith in something that is worthy of your faith? Do you know who you are in Christ? Are you aware of and prepared for spiritual warfare?
26 minutes | Nov 17, 2019
48. Encore: Navigating the storms of life, with James Rader
As 2019 comes to an end, I'm taking a break from the podcast. So, between now and the end of the year, you're going to hear a series of encore episodes. These are episodes that I selected from among the early days of the podcast because I think they have a great message for you—an evergreen message you might call it. Each encore episode will feature only a portion of the original interview, so I encourage you to go back to that episode if you want to hear all of it. The first encore episode I want to share with you comes from episode 2, and in that episode, Managing Editor Karen Fliedner interviewed Lieutenant James Rader, who flew multiple search-and-rescue missions in the Houston area during Hurricane Harvey. In fact, Lt. Rader was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on Oct. 9, 2019, for extraordinary achievement while participating in life-saving rescue operations during the hurricane as he flew under 200-foot cloud ceilings, navigated unlit towers and exhaust stacks in near-zero visibility to conduct multiple search and rescue missions including medivacing a two-year old girl, as well as a patient who required specialized medical care due to their injuries. And while the stories that Lt. Rader recounts are pretty awesome, I found two other points he made during the podcast even more profound. First, he shares his thoughts on where is God during the middle of both our literal and figurative storms of life. And second, he talks about his identity in Christ being foremost in his life—even above his profession. // Two questions as you listen: 1. Where is God during the storms of your life? 2. Where do you put your identity—career or Christ? For the full interview, go check out episode 2, which we titled "Navigating the Storms of Life."
29 minutes | Nov 4, 2019
47. Kristin Goodrich: Building community in the military sisterhood
What do you think of when I say, “Military Sisterhood”? That was the question Kristin Goodrich posed to about 50 women at the beginning of a weekend retreat last March at OCF's White Sulphur Springs Conference Center. One West Point cadet’s response stood out amid the varied responses, "Sisterhood? What sisterhood?" Today you’re going to hear from Kristin, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who is now the Executive Officer for Planting Roots, a ministry for Christian military women. She will talk about the importance of building community among women within OCF, the importance of friendships, and will zero in on a couple points of author Peter Scazzero’s list of the “Top 10 Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.” You can also read more from Scazzero in his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” A second Leading Women Retreat is scheduled in 2020 from March 26-29 at White Sulphur Springs Conference Center in Pennsylvania. So mark your calendars now. Check out the OCF and White Sulphur Springs websites for more information about the retreat. Those sites will be updated as details and registration become available. You can also join the Leading Women private Facebook group by clicking here (or by sending an email to Kristin if you have trouble accessing the group). // WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT Introducing Kristin Goodrich, her involvement in USNA OCF and later OCF Council, and her calling to military women ministry. What was the purpose behind the Leading Women Retreat at WSS? More about the question “What do you think of when I say Military Sisterhood?” and why you asked it. What sorts of answers did you get, and what did those answers tell you? How did others respond, and then how did you follow up to continue that discussion? You said friendship in an art, not a science. How so? What is a key takeaway for listeners regarding friendship? Peter Scazzero’s “Top 10 Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.” Kristin talks about two of the ten points: Dying to the wrong things, and doing for God rather than being with God. “We have become human ‘doings’ rather than human ‘beings.’ We work for God rather than with God.” How does emotionally unhealthy spiritually tie back into military sisterhood? What kind of questions were generated by going through that Top 10 list? Kristin talks about the military community largely being Type-A, mathematical, with strategic mindsets leaning towards a “science mindset.” But the art of friendship is subjective on how to make it happen. Any books you recommend? One book used during the retreat last year: John Ortberg book “Soul Keeping.” Kristin recommends “Free to Be Brave: Moments with God for Military Life” and “Flourish Wherever the Military Sends You” for those wanting resources that point women to Christ so they thrive in military life. More information can be found at the Planting Roots website. You can hear from Planting Roots Director Kori Yates in Episode 25, when she appeared as a guest on Crosspoint. What’s the takeaway for listeners from our conversation? Kristin’s final thought: That Christian military women accept the challenge to develop a healthy sisterhood, to view each other as a sisterhood—encouraging, exhorting each other, telling the family stories where we can poke at each other, and yet we are all for each other.
33 minutes | Oct 21, 2019
46. May a Christian serve in the military?
May a Christian serve in the military? When it comes to taking the life of an enemy combatant, how does someone reconcile that with Jesus’s command to love your enemy and to pray for him? This past August in Pensacola, Fla., a group of military men and women came together for a panel discussion that addressed a topic they titled “Can you be a Christian and serve in the military?” About 40 to 50 people attended the event, and you can watch the full 90 minutes of the discussion here. One of the members of the panel was COL Chet Arnold, USMC (Ret). He and his wife, Michelle, are the OCF field staff reps in Pensacola. Today, you’re going to hear from Chet as he addresses the topic of not only being a Christian and serving in the military, but also being a Christian and killing while serving in the military. Chet will also talk about what it means to live a distinct life within the military culture, biblical truths about serving in the military, and other questions that came up during the panel discussion. What we talked about Introducing COL Chet Arnold and how he got involved with OCF Pensacola. How did the panel discussion come together, and what were some overall thoughts and impressions on how well it was received? Is this topic one that you hear about frequently? What truths do we find in the Bible with regards to serving in the military? Is the military focused on taking human life, as some like to suggest? How can a Christian see someone on the battlefield as an image-bearer of God and still carry out an order that will end up in the death of that enemy combatant? How can a Christian follow Jesus’ commands to love our enemies and to pray for them, and then go out and kill them? One of the chaplains, Chris Terrell, raised this question: How do we as Christians live distinct within the military culture? Chet weighs in with his thoughts. 10 Commandments: Some versions say “thou shalt not kill” and others say “thou shalt not murder.” How can we know which one is correct? Chet talks about the difference between killing and murder in the context of the larger topic. A young Marine in the audience asked this question: “How can I better relate to my parents who are pacifists and don’t understand how I can reconcile serving in the military and being a Christian?” How can one handle those difficult questions from any friend, family member, or loved one? From the article “May A Christian Serve” on the OCF website, Chet addresses this question: “What are your thoughts about putting ourselves as Christians in situations where others are telling us to take live for reasons that may be unclear—or perhaps even unjust? How do we know those giving orders are doing what is right?” One final, key takeaway from the discussion this episode.
31 minutes | Oct 7, 2019
45. Nick Koza: Was blind, but now I see
The story of Captain Nick Koza, USMC, has a few striking similarities with that of the apostle Paul when he was converted on the road to Damascus. However, that’s not to imply Captain Koza was going around persecuting and arresting Christians—because he wasn’t—but the fact that he wasn’t a believer, then was blinded and cared for by some guys he hardly knew, and through that process became a follower of Christ... well, the resemblance to parts of Paul’s story is pretty remarkable. As you listen to the conversation with Captain Koza, pay close attention to not only the similarities with the story of Paul, but also to the themes of fellowship, friendship, and faith through his interactions with Matt Haskins and Kory Defore. I’d like to hear from you—tell me what you think about Captain Koza’s story, or maybe you have a story of your own you’d like share. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. // What we talked about Capt. Koza talks about his background, growing up in a Catholic family, and why he signed up with the Marines. When he first arrived in Pensacola, he wasn’t a believer. Capt. Koza answers this question: What was Nick Koza like then…spiritually speaking, friends, etc.? October 8, 2013: Capt. Koza recounts the events surrounding his blindness, as well as how a couple members of OCF Pensacola stepped up to help him in his time of need. Regarding his friend and fellow Marine Matt Haskins: “What he needed to be doing was studying for his first flight the next day. He took a lot of time out of his day to take me to the hospital.” Capt. Koza talks about a variety of things: What’s going through his mind at this point? What impact did the actions of Matt and Kory have on your life? How did God speak to you during this time and transform your life? // “It blew me away. What are you guys drinking? What is the Kool-Aid? I need it. It was awesome to see the amount of respect and caring that somebody would have for someone else they’d never known.”// What did the experience teach you about the value of fellowship? How do people usually react or respond when they hear your story? If listeners took away only one thing from your story, what would you hope that it would be? //“Don’t be afraid to invite people out to church. Don’t be afraid to talk about your faith. You will definitely get pushback. They will give you a decent amount of crap for it initially but eventually they’ll grow to respect you.”//
19 minutes | Sep 23, 2019
44. Brigit Jogan: Experiencing God on the mountaintop
// Episode 44 show notes What comes to mind when you hear that someone had a “mountaintop experience”? Maybe you think about Moses, who hiked back down the mountainside literally glowing because he had been in the presence of God. Or Peter, James, and John—the inner circle of Jesus—who saw Jesus in His true, divine nature as he was transfigured right in front of them. You might recall that was an event that impacted Peter so deeply that he wanted to camp out and build a few memorials for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. The point is this, we regard mountaintop experiences as those moments when God moves in such a mighty and unexpected way, that, at least figuratively, we come back glowing like Moses or wanting to build a memorial like Peter. And while a mountaintop experience can take place anywhere, for some people, such an event actually takes place on a mountaintop. Take for example my guest today—First Class Cadet Brigit Jogan, a senior at the United States Coast Guard Academy. During her time at Rocky Mountain High this past summer, Brigit hiked the summit of Mount Antero in Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks, and it was during that physical climb to the mountaintop that she experienced the Spirit of God moving in a mighty way. Today, Brigit is going to talk about that experience as she shares her story. // What we talked about Here’s an outline of the questions Brigit answered this episode: Tell me about where you’re from, and why the Coast Guard? As you look back over your time at the Coast Guard Academy, what’s academy life been like for you? What are some things you’ve learned about yourself, and what are some challenges you’ve faced? Share a little about your spiritual journey. When did you accept Jesus and begin following Him? What’s it like being a Cadet and also being a Christian? Are there difficulties you’ve experienced when it comes to integrating your faith into your life in the Coast Guard? Talk about your involvement in OCF at the Coast Guard Academy—how you first heard about OCF and why you decided to give it a try and then stay involved? Talk more about what it is you do with the ministry team. Tell me more about your Rocky Mountain High experience. What was it like? What sorts of things would best equip you to live out your calling as someone who is very early in her military career? If listeners were going to take away only one thing from our conversation today, what would you hope that it would be? // About my guest Originally from Grosse Pointe Park, MI, Brigit Jogan is currently a 1/c cadet (senior) at the United States Coast Guard Academy. She participates actively in OCF as cadet president, studies electrical engineering, swims distance freestyle, and frequently shares terrible jokes with those unfortunate enough to be in earshot. Her other hobbies include completing adult coloring books and looking at pictures of her beautiful dog, Phinn. In the future, she hopes to continue her education through the Coast Guard and to continue to stay very involved with ministry, with whatever adventures that entails.
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