Items of this media type are derived from a variety of OCF print sources, magazines, and booklets, or online content over the years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We need much wisdom from the Holy Spirit to bear His image faithfully. As an image bearer of God, may your identity in Christ motivate you to be a worthy representative of our Father to all who see Christ in you, the hope of glory.
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.
The purpose of this study is to describe the concept of calling and its relevance to the military professional of the 21st century, preparing to “fight the next war”—especially to the vast majority of American officers who identify themselves as Christians.
You must pursue God and live out your faith while on active duty. It’s easy to get caught up in the cyclical training and deployment grind to where your faith comes out only on Sunday—if at all. Stay engaged. Find a spiritual battle buddy—someone to hold you accountable. Commit to a daily devotional. Be an example in both word and deed.
Who will you meet today in an unexpected encounter, whether in a combat area, passageway, flight line, or on drills and maneuvers? And what will you say—and hear? In your command, how will you show Christ in your servant leadership?
I long to do great and noble things, but God reminds me it’s in the humble things that He can be extraordinary through me. Ultimately, I desire to be like Helen Keller: to do humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
It’s not unusual to hear people ask, “What is OCF?” or “What does OCF do?” They may wonder if OCF is a club of officers like-minded in their Christian faith, or just the local Bible study fellowship they attend.
As a servant leader being the hands and heart of Christ to others in life’s tragedies, TSgt Padgett suggested that helping others is as simple as being aware of the ways you can do so.
How does a faithful walk with Jesus give life, context, and direction to the exercise of military leadership? What opportunities do I have for doing good for others’ welfare and for God’s glory?
So much of today’s culture dwells on victimhood, on wounds that seem resistant to heal. Christ-followers don’t deny the wounds but come alongside the struggling wounded to offer the salve secured by the scarred, yet now Risen Lamb’s victory over sin and death.
For His disciples, God gives direction. Develop a habit of checking your tendency to slide off the course He sets. Seek and find that direction in all parts of life: personal, family, professional, and community.
Every planner for ground tactical combat operations knows the value of seeing the area of operations from above. Looking down on the terrain, you see risks, opportunities, and new ways to achieve your objective that cannot be seen from the ground.
A particularly effective leader sees the ends amidst the overwhelming hubbub of the present. Opposition, complexity, danger, and distracting opportunities threaten to paralyze or draw the leader off course.
One simple request from a platoon leader in one small group at one location on a single evening. But when multiplied over the weeks and miles of hundreds of Christian fellowships, just consider how the Spirit might work!
We all have hitches in our giddy-up. Most are wounds within our soul: bitterness, deceit, fear, shame, guilt, and others. They hinder us; they limit us in our service with and leadership of others.
Jesus taught often through parables. Every listener could garner solid adages for life. Yet there was a special category of those Jesus taught who received the deep and rich gems that would transform them and enable them in fruitful service to the Master.
If you are a leader, perhaps you are the one God appointed to initiate and lead a local fellowship, or you may be the one leader Christ has chosen as His ambassador in a unit or staff.
Men and women of authority, education, and influence are particularly susceptible. Their gifting, potentially so helpful in service and leadership, spills over to coat the heart with ill-placed personal pride and assurance.
No, we cannot redeem this fallen world and its deathly power on our own, but the One who can has asked us to partner in His work with what we can do. He simply asks us to “take away the stone.”
We all could use a Sherpa when facing new and formidable challenges. Junior leaders and young couples with their abundance of zeal and energy, but with limited experience, particularly benefit from a seasoned guide as they break new ground in life.
Also essential for Christian leaders are the daily development of subordinates; team building for unit cohesion and performance; setting of standards of respect and performance; and seasoning the unit culture with the aroma of Christ.
Including stewardship in our leader lexicon may put our responsibility and authority in proper balance. The goal of a Christ-like leader will remain Christ’s goals; the methods, means, and accompanying perks will then better honor Christ in practice
For those who have never led a small group, the prospect of starting such an endeavor might appear daunting and overwhelming given the busy lifestyle of those in the military. Here are tips for the new leader to consider both before and after his or her first meeting.
Traditionally, Christian small-group activities are more positive, edifying, less contentious, and less confrontational than their secular or non-Christian counterparts.
Small groups and Bible study may take place in a variety of settings, from foxholes to comfortable homes. Only one book is essential to the study—the Bible.
While we may be accustomed to defining the essence of our Christian faith in other ways, Christianity involves not only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but also an entirely different outlook on life that is grounded in the hope we have for all that God has promised.
By surrendering their spring break of relaxation to instead labor for the impoverished, the mission field experiences help cadets and midshipmen hone skills of selflessness and sacrifice that are essential to becoming effective Christ-like military leaders.
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.
What does that look like today? How are you courageously standing firm personally and in your family? Are you modeling an integrated life of faith, family, and profession to your family, those around you personally, and in the workplace?
To be a leader God can use, three things must happen: We must have faith in something that is worthy of our faith; we must know who we are in Christ; and we must be prepared to fight the good fight, as we engage in spiritual warfare.
The world desperately needs to hear about Jesus, and we’ve been called to share Him. I encourage you to become competent in your knowledge of Him. Draw people through your professional excellence. Be prepared through your life and words to shine His life-saving light.
Those who have laced up boots or buttoned an Armed Forces uniform in service to our nation know all-too-well the difficult and tough terrain of the transitional military life they lead.
COMMAND asked a trio of chaplains—LT Jon Uyboco, CHC, USN; CH(MAJ) Todd Cheney, USA, and CH(COL) Marc Gauthier, USA—to share some insights and experiences of serving military men and women for Christ.
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.
As our culture continues drifting further into a post-Christian neo-pagan worldview, Christ-followers may be tempted to spiritual panic attacks. Especially for those of us striving to integrate faith and biblical worldview into our military profession, how can we remain faithful to our call when policies and programs appear to oppose higher principles and priorities?
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.
Life in general is complicated. Life in the military is extremely difficult and challenging and carries with it an increasing amount of angst with the operations tempo, separations, threats to life and limb, and the increasing challenges from within our own nation.
Take time to examine your own support system, or if you do not have one, get started now. The health of a marriage can often hinge upon the strength of the support system that has been established.
We reached out to two OCF small group leaders, LTC Tom Matelski, USA, and Lt Col Jim Wamhoff, USAF, and asked them to share their insights on starting and effectively leading a small group.
The term “servant leadership” evokes a varied range of impressions as to what that really means, looks like, and how it plays out in real life. At first glance, the seemingly incongruous servant leadership concept appears especially contrary in business settings or military circles where typically bosses lead, employees serve.
Transformational leaders help people understand the purpose, objectives and values of an organization by articulating a clear and appealing vision. From both a practical and biblical perspective, transformational leadership inspires, develops and empowers followers; it also hones our leadership skills so we become better leaders.
In my thirty years on active duty, I witnessed phenomenal leaders who inspired, encouraged, and built teams that accomplished great things. Sad to say, I’ve also seen those who used their positions to advance their own agendas, bully others, and feed their own egos—always at the cost of those around them.
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.
As a relational ministry where genuine biblical fellowship is essential for spiritual growth and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, the very heart of the ministry of Officers’ Christian Fellowship remains small group fellowships.
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.
We live in a hurting world of people desperate for answers. As a Christian, you already have the answer—Christ in your heart. If you have successfully guarded your face, heart and mind, when uncertainty strikes those you lead will look to you and find comfort and confidence. And they will also be curious about the source of your peace.
Army CWO2 Sheldon Duffy and his wife, Salena, share their story of Sheldon’s near-death experience with leukemia and how they endured the trials and uncertainties of not knowing if he would survive.
Like you, my husband, Steve, and I know what it’s like for our marriage to have to go into survival mode during extended periods of separation. We know the pressure of caring for children in the midst of huge transitions. We know the challenge of supporting each other when our own personal resources are depleted.
When PCSing, the most common strategies teens use with one another involve simple avoidance, picking a fight to create distance so it’s easier to leave, disconnecting through moodiness or hyperactivity, or adopting the “It’s all cool” act. This is why we need to build a RAFT.