So much of Jesus’ earthly ministry centered around the dining table. He shared meals with His disciples, friends such as Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and even some Pharisees. He also dined with various others, most notably the fringe of society, those tax collectors and sinners who the self-righteous religious leaders looked down upon (Mark 2:15-16).
Against the unapproachable perfection of God, we don’t feel holy. Our words, actions, and attitudes as accomplished sinners speak volumes to that. And we aren’t holy—that is, in our own striving outside of Christ. Holiness is imputed to us only through Christ.
Proverbs 16:3 says to “commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” This is God’s invitation for us to transfer our ideas, plans, and wants to Him so that He can make our plans firm. This is also the essence of OCF’s Pray-Discover-Obey model, which emphasizes prayer first, planning second, and obedient action third.
This year’s annual Colorado Springs OCF community-area picnic was more than just a gathering for food and fellowship; it was also a celebration of OCF’s move from its 40-year residence outside Denver to its new location in Colorado Springs.
One thing is crystal clear from the onset, from Genesis to Revelation and all other 64 books of the Bible in between: pride is the problem, and not one of us is immune from its lofty, lying lure.
When it comes to “freedom” or “liberty,” this definition is usually listed first in collective humanity’s book: the right to be able to do anything I want to do without restraint, expectations—or sometimes even consequences.
If we could see with spiritual eyes what surrounds the unseen of those spiritual commissioning ceremonies, in our humanity we would be aghast and terrified at the spiritual warfare taking place.
We are called to persevere, persist, and keep our eyes on Jesus, “to feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation,” and “to have the full assurance of hope until the end… of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
In Jesus, we receive eternal life because of His complete and total payment to remove the spiritual death sentence awaiting us if we died in our sin. His resurrection also set into motion the final countdown that is still unfolding toward God’s restoration of all things.
Every year, OCF Council members and staff prayerfully gather to set ministry-wide priorities to guide ministry efforts and resourcing for the next fiscal year, which begins 1 June. Below is a snapshot of each of the three priorities, along with ways you might be able to engage with the broader OCF community and get involved.
Through OCF’s Hospitality Homes program, an established yet growing network of OCF members who are passionate about the Biblical mandate to “contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13) have signed up as Hospitality Home hosts, opening their homes to their fellow OCF members as a place to stay, offering a meal as they travel, and connecting in Christian fellowship.
Regardless of denomination, and before we can really celebrate what Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the grave means for each of us, we can never go wrong by taking a contemplative journey of repentance with Christ on His road of suffering.
The fundamentals of God’s Word must be revisited continually to readjust our stance not only for our effectiveness in the game plan Christ has established for us, but especially regarding biblical faith in Him.
It is in Christ alone that we find the identity that He intends us to operate and live in. We are made an entirely new creation, an entirely new person—not just someone refurbished or retooled.
Who am I? This question is foundational for all believers, because when we are saved by Jesus, we become a new person. Understanding the characteristics of our new nature is an ongoing process in living a life that reveals Jesus to the world.
One of the more common misconceptions about retiring from or transitioning out of the military is that “it’s just another PCS” and won’t be that difficult.
We celebrate Christmas because God in mercy and kindness delivered on His promise to send us a Savior in His Son Jesus Christ, who will bring the fullness of salvation to all who will receive Him.
It's amazing to think that thanksgiving was in Jesus’ heart and on His tongue to His Father as He knowingly, steadfastly walked right into what it would cost Him physically, emotionally, and spiritually to procure salvation for sinful humanity. Within moments, those He had dined and worshipped God with—who He had just conferred a special place at His table and on thrones in His coming eternal kingdom (Luke 22:28-30)—would betray, abandon, and deny knowing Him.
Chaplains bear a tremendous weight in caring for the spiritual and moral well-being of service members and their families in a unique lifestyle that includes frequent moves, deployment, and combat stress. There are doors of great opportunity for God to be glorified as OCFers step out to support the chaplaincy by reaching out to their chaplains.
Unless we are focused on God and His truth, alert to the temptations we personally struggle with, and vigilant of worldly lies and lures to kill, steal, and destroy our Christian faith, we are just as vulnerable to slide into compromise and right into God’s judgment.
The lure in humanity’s fallen nature to be able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and without restraint tends to only feed that bent of human nature we all struggle with—the “freedom” of my way.
Ten years ago, Colorado experienced a devastating series of wildfires throughout June, July, and August that included the Waldo Canyon fire on the northwest edge of Colorado Springs. It is the third-most destructive fire in Colorado history, destroying 347 homes.
No matter your age or location, stand up, stand firm, shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters, and say, “Here am I, send me!”
Small group Bible studies have been part of the DNA of OCF since the ministry began in 1943. Within these small groups, there is spiritual growth, an increased understanding of what it means to be a Christian, and a resilience developed for all of life—especially life within the military.
According to the Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying religious beliefs and behavior, as of 2015 only 17% of practicing Christians said they meet regularly with a spiritual mentor.
What parables has God given to you through the simple circumstances of your life that you can share with others? Too often Christians do not share with others what God is teaching them and doing in their lives, things that can encourage other believers and make them sensitive to God’s moving in the world—and even in their own lives.
The following stories are not just accounts of people who endured the process of rediscovering their identity in Christ, but they are also stories of a heavenly Father who loves his children enough to show them a far more abundant life.
Consider that our leadership role is not always one of preventing another from his determined path. In some cases, the correction or consequence that follows will have the greater impact on a person’s decision to walk with integrity.
Have you made an error in judgment by insisting things go your way? Perhaps you are presently in the midst of unintended consequences from a rash decision. If so, follow David’s example.
Whether in a personal relationship or in the workplace, Jesus’ admonition to forgive remains. As servant leaders, how we forgive and restore is a mark of obedience to Christ’s commands.
Little by little, in God’s time He performs His purposes. Some leaders, thrust into positions of greater responsibility as a reward for a job well done, fizzle in their performance because they lack the wisdom that seasoning and time bring.
How does one keep focus when distractions and discouragement come? Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Keep focus on the big picture and ask His help. Remind yourself that what you do is for His glory.
God does not abandon us in the face of weighty circumstances and pressures. Consider God’s prevailing truth and rely on His presence during your times of need for deliverance from nagging circumstances.
Paul’s admonition to “show tolerance for one another in love” is not a call to disregard others’ immoral practices, but to be ready to show compassion and to sow seeds of right thinking and being.
Are you seeking clarity from God on a matter but are uncertain that you are hearing correctly? Do not ask for something for yourself but ask that His will in that situation be done and earnestly desire to be part of the answer.
What is God speaking to your heart regarding the application of justice, loving kindness, and humility? God’s preferred sacrifice is a “broken spirit and a contrite heart.” He rejects self-justification but embraces compassion.
We can know pure joy in our struggles when we allow God to do His work in us. He gives and takes away as He works in and through us and this broken world that we may know and trust Him.
Hollywood squares. Brady Bunch. Tic-tac-toe. Whatever you call it, OCF largely is doing fellowship in a virtual box so far in 2020 because of COVID-19. This digital frontier has not been without its share of challenges and disappointments, but amid the uncertainty, there are stories of opportunities found and unexpected blessings received from among the membership.
Christians worship God through every transition that He brings into our lives, both in and out of the military. Some are painful transitions, others are exciting and fun, but each one comes from the hand of God.
Cleansing and restoration has everything to do with the integrity of who God is. As God completes His refining process, we must be mindful that if we want God to forgive us, we must be willing to forgive and help restore others.
The unexpected need not derail us as we lean on Him, for it is God who guides and helps. The one whose confidence is in the Lord has no weakness a foe can take advantage of. May the Lord be our guide in all circumstances, and may He daily strengthen us to be suited for whatever comes our way.
Cornelius seamlessly integrated his faith with his profession and availed himself for God’s use. This “devout man” pleased the Lord and received His commendation. What about you? How are you consistently availing yourself for Christ’s service?
Does God really exist? Our answer to that question shapes how we think about freedom. After all, if He does not exist, then we are free to pursue as much self-gratification as possible before death. However, Christians recognize that freedom means we have freedom from fear of judgment as we seek to glorify Him and gladly submit as servants of Christ.
What does Jesus want from you? That your faith not fail, that you keep turning to Him, and finally, that you lead by encouraging and strengthening others who face similar circumstances. Be encouraged, Jesus stands by you.
“God will supply every need of yours” whether it is a financial concern, effective time management, or dealing with disgruntled people. Jesus is the resource for all our needs. As faithful followers, ours is to approach Him confidently for grace and help.
Faith and leadership are more appropriately modeled through keeping sight of how to achieve God’s purposes in and out of the workplace through godly influence, using softer tones, quieter approaches and direct resolve to see the mission through. Simply acting or reacting is not necessarily an effective leadership quality.
Are you discerning God’s voice when you find yourself speaking to many, a few, or one on one? Just as Jesus spent much time in prayer and solitude with God, the basis of our responses may be proportional to the time we spend with God in study of the Scriptures.
Positive influence on others requires full obedience. I am impressed that Noah’s influence over his sons was greater than the negative influences around them. Noah honored God, and his sons followed suit.
When faced with matters that seem insurmountable, revisit the full text of God’s mission for Moses, move ahead in faith, and walk confidently in the assurance of God’s presence in demanding circumstances. Courageously strive to fulfill His intent.
Jesus said He “did not come to destroy lives but to save them.” If one’s tendency is to write people off when there is disagreement, might this have the same effect as “commanding fire” or wishing another dead, spiritually dead that is. The gospel message is for all people and the servant leader does not withhold the message at the first sign of personal rejection.
Faith, like any muscle, requires exercise. Faith enlarges our leadership effectiveness, enables us to achieve the mission, and makes us more capable of serving others. Those who follow your lead will note your faith in action and prayerfully glorify God.
The leader whose commander is the Lord knows who controls his destiny. The tug of fleshly desires is weakened when I take my mind off my own interests and focus on God’s interests. When I do that, I am, in effect, denying myself.
When I am suddenly arrested by God’s word, it becomes immediately apparent that God is commanding my attention. He is redirecting my swayed focus to sharpen or to compel me to obedience. God sometimes invades my private world because I have lost sight of Him.
How do you respond to shaping? I mean the kind of shaping that causes you to conform fully to the one doing the shaping. As leaders, do you reflect the positive image you desire to see in your followers?
While our salvation is a one-time occurrence, the work of sanctification (or being set apart and refined to be more Christlike) is an ongoing process that we experience our entire life on Earth.
Where do we, in our leadership zeal, draw the line when it comes to pushing our own agenda or totally acquiescing to God’s divine plan? Are we convinced that God has a plan, or do we “head fake” God by developing our plan then devoutly asking His blessing?
Who around you needs your tutelage and encouragement? Let’s imitate what Paul did for Timothy. Don’t ask for volunteers, but encourage others to fulfill their calling or act of service.
So should we question God’s authority? Regardless of how righteous the question might seem, we would be wise to consider the Holy Scriptures and to pattern our questions and concerns after Jesus’ response while here on earth.
What brings leaders to the point of task overload—the belief that only we know what’s best, perhaps distrust of others, or possibly personal ownership? How are you doing in your pursuit to invite others with similar heart and vision into your area of responsibility?
From a leadership perspective, I must ask: What enables Christian leaders to maintain the charge when all around us say, “Give up?” Oaths, contracts, and legal agreements bind some to the task, but that which binds the Christian and Christian leader is God’s demonstrated faithfulness.
By what do we choose to be mastered? Men and women who have committed to serve in the military might easily, if jokingly, identify the military as their master. Do Christian military personnel see this in a different light?
As Christ followers one of the questions we must consider is “Do we find it hard to show mercy?” In striving to live out one’s faith in one’s profession, Christian leaders must rightly handle this issue.
Introducing "Leader, Draw Near," a weekly podcast devotional for your pursuit of God. Each episode is fashioned to prompt reflection on a specific topic, and ends with a few Points to Ponder, which are perfect for personal reflection, or for use with a mentor or in a small group setting.
Louisa Buxton, widow of the then-Officers’ Christian Union’s first general secretary (executive director), Cleo “Buck” Buxton, who as her family said, “helped shepherd Buck’s dreams into reality,” joined her husband in heaven in the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ on 14 June. Louisa was 96 years old.
As they Experience, Serve, and Lead at White Sulphur Springs, the EXSEL Discipleship interns are helping military members and their families realize the restoration needed in these challenging times.
Now in its second year, the EXSEL (experience, service, leadership) discipleship program at OCF’s White Sulphur Springs Conference Center is a yearlong, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young men and women ages 18-24.
When he was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, Mike says he worked through the usual questions and doubt—why me? what did I do?—but it was the continued struggle through multiple rounds of chemo, radiation, and surgeries that caused him to take a deeper look at the testimony God was preparing him for.
Just like the silly banana-eating Minions, each of us was created with an innate desire to belong to a community in fellowship. It’s not just a group of people with similar interests, but a body of believers united for a common purpose.
OCF has provided transitory military Christians with two static places—Spring Canyon in Colorado and White Sulphur Springs in Pennsylvania—for abundant opportunities of Christ-centered fellowship, programs and fun. The ideal end result: being equipped to reach others for Christ throughout the military society—and form lifetime friendships.
In preparation for our move, I found myself wondering what our new neighbors would be like. OK, I was obsessing over it. We have grown to love the people we live next to, and trying to imagine unfriendly neighbors peering at us while grilling out on the deck was making my stomach hurt.
We leaders often cope with stress by trying to survive our wounding rather than allow God to heal and refresh us to fully live. God doesn’t want us to simply survive. God’s mission field, after all, is your heart and mine.
Only by trusting God and His plan for our lives can we lead courageously in our duty as both officers and Christians. It’s time to build a strategy that calculates the risks of leadership minefields and faces them with a moral courage that matches the bravery of those we lead on the battlefield.
The adage of a church not being a building, but rather its people also applies to the ministry of Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Click a story below to get a snapshot of the vast entirety of ministry work that has gone on over the years through OCF, now entering its seventy-second year. The people and stories featured here represent all those who have sacrificially given of their time, talents and treasure—standing on the shoulders of giants while declaring God’s “power to the next generation” (Psalm 71:18).
Exceptionally demanding—that is the four-year journey through one of our nation’s military service academies, deliberately designed as such to forge finely tuned military leaders from out of the fires of continual challenge. Cadets and midshipmen juggle jam-packed schedules that stretch them beyond the max physically, emotionally, mentally. And spiritually.