PT Military

WELS Special Ministries

Listen to devotions to lift and encourage those serving in the military or supporting families and friends.

  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    Military Devotion – Your Shepherd Gives Rest – July 19, 2024




    Mark 6:30-34; Isaiah 41:10; 1 John 3:1; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:24,25; Romans 8:1



    Are you tired? I’m sure that you are, because I know that your vocation requires you to be gone many hours. And sometimes those hours turn into days and weeks and months where you are apart from family and friends, and that makes you tired.

    Others of you have 9 to 5 jobs, but it still leaves you tired, and you need rest. Some of you are husbands and wives, others of you are fathers and mothers, and some of you are children. All of you have friends.

    And marriage takes work and parenting takes work and loving your parents takes work and being a friend takes work. And if you’re like me, if you look at all of these relationships that you have, you may feel that you’re lacking a little bit or maybe a lot in those relationships. And it makes you tired.

    And maybe for some of you, you’re feeling tired because there’s this addiction that you’re struggling with, and you’re just tired from fighting it.

    And maybe for others of you, you have this guilt that hangs over your body like a drill sergeant and reminds you how worthless you are.

    There were crowds of people who were coming to Jesus in Mark’s gospel in chapter 6 in our reading today. There were those among the crowd who struggled with addiction and those who felt the burden of their guilt. There were some who were tired because of their marriages, and those who were tired because of their parenting. There were children who were tired because they were trying very hard to love their parents. And all of them had friends and found themselves lacking. They needed rest—not just physical rest but spiritual rest. And Mark records, “When Jesus . . . saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).

    That was true. When the people went to the local synagogues, it was kind of like a house church where people gathered to hear the Word of God and to have it explained to them. Those synagogue rulers didn’t give the people what they needed. Many of them left feeling malnourished and starved spiritually.

    Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you attended a church and there was a pastor and a church family that left you feeling malnourished and spiritually starved. If that’s happened to you, I am sincerely sorry. Or maybe you’re someone who finds yourself without a pastor or a church home right now.

    What Jesus wants you to know today is this: You have a Good Shepherd who sees you and a Good Shepherd who knows how tired you are. He knows how best to give you what you desperately need. He saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he began teaching them many things. That’s how Jesus our Good Shepherd provides the rest that we need.

    Jesus opens his mouth and begins to teach us many things. For our vocations, which leave us feeling run down, he says this: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He will be your strength.

    For those of us who feel tired and run down because of our relationships, our Good Shepherd reminds us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). In spite of the way you may feel about yourself in relation to others, you are a child of your Father in heaven. That’s how he sees you.

    And not only does he give us rest, but he also gives us the strength to love those who are in our lives and to be a good neighbor to them. He says this: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

    And for those of you who struggle with addiction, and it just leaves you feeling tired, go and listen to your Good Shepherd’s voice as he speaks through the apostle Paul in Romans 7. Read how Paul struggled with sin. And then go to the end of the chapter. Paul says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25). Your victory is secure in Christ Jesus.

    And for all of us who have guilt that hangs over us, like a drill sergeant who reminds us just how worthless we are, let your Good Shepherd lead you by the hand to that very next verse in Romans. The apostle Paul says this: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Yes, you are set free from your guilt.

    So go to him, your Good Shepherd, in your personal devotion time. Go and gather with other believers to hear his voice and know that he has compassion on you and sees you. He knows just how tired you are, you tired lambs and you tired sheep. He knows how best to grant you the rest that you seek.

    Prayer:
    O God, the strength of all who trust in you, mercifully hear our prayers. Be gracious to us in our weakness and give us strength to keep your commandments in all that we say and do. Today we ask that you be with those who work at the Pentagon—the staffers and the officers, the administrators and assistants. We pray that you raise up good and faithful leaders in our nation’s military so that through their decisions, their planning and missions are carried out with success so that we might live peaceful lives. In your name we pray. Amen.



    Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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    19 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    Military Devotion – Qualified – July 12, 2024




    Based on Titus 1:5-9



    Qualification. It’s a word that can strike fear and anxiety in the hearts of both officer and enlisted alike. Phrases like go or no go, pass or fail. Did you qualify?

    Well, what qualifies you to share Jesus with others? Do you need to be called as a pastor or teacher or staff minister in one of our Lutheran schools or churches? Do you need a diploma from a college or a seminary hanging on your wall that states, “Yes, I am qualified to do this”?

    In our reading today, the apostle Paul talks about qualifications—not for a PFT or a gunnery—but what qualifies us to serve as those who share Jesus with others. And specifically in this part of his letter, he’s referring to those who are called workers like pastors and teachers and staff ministers. And in his letter to Pastor Titus, he lists those characteristics and attitudes and actions that God would want to see in called workers.

    But as you listen to this list as I read it, you’d have to admit that this is a list not just for called workers, but characteristics and attitudes and actions that God would want to see in all believers in Christ.

    Listen to the list. Paul says that he should not be “overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined” (Titus 1:7,8).

    I have a confession to make. I don’t always qualify. When I hold my life and my actions and my attitudes up to this list, I fall far short.

    And I know that you would have to humbly agree with me. You don’t always qualify. But thank God that pastors and teachers and staff ministers and chaplains and all of God’s people, members of churches, all Christians, we live in the shadow of the cross where we stand forgiven.

    So, what is it that qualifies us to share Jesus with other people? Well, Paul adds this at the end of that list of qualifications: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught” (Titus 1:9). No matter what our vocation, it’s that trustworthy message, that well-known good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners and was raised from the dead to give us the sure hope of eternal life.

    It’s that trustworthy message that qualifies each and every one of us. Because that message has affected us, and it moves us to be salt and light in this world.

    Just a couple of weeks ago I was FaceTiming with two of our war fighters who are stationed in the Middle East. They’re both officers. And the gentleman was talking about the other officer who was on the call with me, and he said about her, “You know, she just lives differently from everybody else in our squadron. And the way that she lives, it just makes you go up to her and say to her, ‘What is it that makes you different?’ And that’s what I did. And I’m glad that I did, because she shared Jesus with me. She gave me her extra copy of this devotion book that you and your ministry hand out to war fighters, and I’m so glad that she did.”

    So, did she go to school to learn how to share Jesus with other people? Does she have a special patch on her uniform that tells everybody, “Hey, I’m an ambassador for Christ”?

    No. But she has been living in that trustworthy message as it has been taught to her and continues to be taught to her, and so she can’t help it. She can’t help but live as salt and light in this dark world. So also you and I—we are qualified. We are qualified by that trustworthy message as it has been taught to us.

    My encouragement to you is this. Go. Go and live that qualified life as you read and study and pray on the words of your God. Go and live that qualified status as you live as salt and light. Because you are qualified through Christ.

    Prayer:
    Lord Jesus, it is by your authority that you send us out to share that trustworthy message about you. Grant us confidence as we use the relationships that we already have with people to build bridges to you. Today we ask for your special blessing on all who serve as medics and corpsmen in our nation’s military. Guide their hands. Give them hearts filled with compassion and care. Protect them as they use their skills and gifts to save and preserve life. In your name I pray. Amen.



    Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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    12 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    Military Devotion – Serve as a Good Soldier of Christ Jesus – July 5, 2024




    Based on 2 Timothy 2:1-13



    In our devotion today, the apostle Paul uses a military illustration to teach a pastor named Timothy and us what it means to engage in meaningful ministry as Christians.

    In verse 3 of his second letter to Pastor Timothy, Paul writes this: “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather he tries to please his commanding officer.”

    Paul’s point is this: That just like a faithful warfighter, you have a single purpose as a Christian—to please your commanding officer. That single purpose is to obey the command of the commander-in-chief, which is Jesus himself. The commands of Jesus are not burdensome, as Paul will write in other letters. But he does say that obeying Jesus’ commands may include enduring hardship, just like the apostle Paul was enduring.

    The apostle Paul wrote this letter to Pastor Timothy while Paul was sitting in prison, enchained, because he had shared the gospel with other people. His government arrested him and had thrown him into prison and had chained him. And that specific message that Paul references here is that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.

    Now that’s a little bit of a headscratcher because we might wonder, Well, how in the world could anybody oppose that message? And why would they be so adamantly opposed to that message that they would take someone like the apostle Paul, throw him into prison, and chain him so he wouldn’t be able to share that message anymore?

    We know the answer to that. It is because the sinful heart is just naturally opposed to anything good that God would give us. In spite of the reality of where the apostle Paul was, his encouragement to Pastor Timothy and to you and me is this: Focus on the commanding officer’s orders and share the gospel. Endure any hardship that may come as a result of sharing that message.

    And even though not everyone will be receptive to that message, Paul says it’s okay. It’s okay because even though sinful people and wicked people had chained Paul in prison, Paul says in this letter that God’s Word is not chained. Even though the enemies of God’s Word succeeded in locking Paul up in prison, there were a whole host of other people who had the Word of God, so they could not keep God’s Word chained up.

    You and I are those people who are free right now to share the good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. When we share that Word of God, it sets people free from being imprisoned by their sin, by their guilt, and from their fear of death. It sets them free to live for Jesus and to live with him forever. And, finally, that’s why Paul says it’s worth it.

    God uses your voice and mind to share that unchained gospel to gather his elect, to gather souls, to be with him for eternity.

    Now, you might be wondering, Well, how do I do this exactly? Where do I start? Especially in an environment where you must carefully choose what you say and how you say it, because the military does have rules about these kinds of things, and you’re absolutely right. My first encouragement to you is this: Build on the relationships that you already have with people.

    Secondly, seek first to understand their religious background. When you engage in conversations about religion and spirituality and the Bible and other religions, ask questions like, “Can you tell me more?” “Why is it that you believe this?” “When did you first come to believe this, and what led to you believing this?”

    Thirdly, because you have this relationship with them, and when they share with you the difficulties that they’re having in their life—whether it’s with work or home or their health—you get to share with them the hope that has strengthened you when you went through those same difficulties. You get to say to them, “Hey, I’ve been there. I get it. I’ve felt that way before too, but here’s what’s helped me—these promises from God’s Word.”

    And finally, it can be a simple invitation to come and see and hear more at your church for worship or Bible study or maybe at an event that’s being hosted by your church. Or maybe you can start a small group Bible study and fellowship in your own home. If you’re wondering about how to start something like that and what that might look like, shoot me a message at [email protected] and we can chat about it.

    In the end, follow the command of your commanding officer, Christ Jesus. Know that his gospel message is unchained and can do some pretty amazing things in the hearts of people.

    God be with you as you join with me and all Christians in serving as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

    Prayer:
    Almighty, eternal, and righteous God, you revealed your divine Word to teach us what we should do and what we should avoid. Strengthen and lead us by your Holy Spirit that we serve you in new obedience here until we come to complete holiness before you in that life to come. Today we also ask you to guide and direct all who serve in our nation’s military as NCOs and POs. Continue to raise up faithful men and women to be leaders, to serve as mentors and models for the junior enlisted service members under their charge. May they find their strength and faithfulness and service-mindedness in you, so they continue to be the backbone of the armed forces. In your name I pray. Amen.



    Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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    5 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    Military Devotion – Your God Is Compassionate and Loving – June 28, 2024




    Based on Lamentations 3:19-33



    Do you ever feel like the difficult times that you have in your life are because of you? Maybe because of a poor choice that you made, or a string of poor choices?

    Or maybe it’s apathy or laziness—doing just enough to get by in all of your vocations, whether that’s at work or at home or at your church or in your relationships. And because of the things that you’ve left undone, some or many of the people in your life suffer because of you.

    I know that some of you feel that way because we’ve had that discussion. We’ve talked about it. You know that you’re not alone, because I sometimes feel that way too—that the sufferings and the hardships that I’m going through are because of things I’ve done or things I’ve left undone.

    And then I come across a Scripture passage like the one we are looking at today. It is from the book of Lamentations, which was written by the prophet Jeremiah. In chapter 3, verses 32 and 33, he writes this: “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.” The phrase that Jeremiah writes—that God does not willingly bring affliction or grief—is interesting. In the Hebrew it literally says, “From the heart, he does not grieve or afflict anyone.”

    What Jeremiah is trying to say is that it is not in God’s nature to be vindictive or take pleasure in someone’s pain because they’ve sinned. But sometimes, in God’s wisdom, he allows us to suffer because it is necessary for us so that we repent. That we repent of our poor choices. That we repent of our apathy and our laziness in our love of our neighbor and turn to God and see that that his love outweighs our suffering. That his compassion is so much greater than the consequences of our sin. That we turn from our sin in repentance. That we turn to God and see his forgiveness in Christ Jesus and see that it is greater than our sins and our suffering because of them.

    Listen to the way Jeremiah describes it: “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:19-26).

    So repent. Turn to the Lord—the God of unfailing love, the God of compassion, the God who faithfully forgives your sin every single day. Rest quietly in that forgiveness every single day. And then, my friends, go. Go and live in that forgiveness and compassion and love, and God will bring blessings to you through all of it. He promises it.

    Prayer:
    God our Father, you work all things for the good of those who love you. Do not be deaf to our cry for mercy, but rather turn our sorrow into joy when we hear the announcement “You are forgiven!” so that our hearts may sing your praise. Today we pray for all of the young men and women who are starting basic training this summer. Calm their fears and anxieties; grant them the physical, mental, and spiritual strength to persevere; and for all of the basic trainees who are seeking something, provide a faithful Christian chaplain or local civilian pastor to answer their questions and to point them to the truth of your Holy Scriptures. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



    Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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    28 June 2024, 6:00 am
  • 9 minutes 52 seconds
    Military Devotion – Jesus Is in the Boat – June 21, 2024




    Based on Mark 4:35-41



    Their 28-foot boat overturned and began to capsize, but they did everything they were supposed to do. They sent out a distress signal. They activated the emergency position indicating radio beacon. They put on their life jackets. They grabbed their strobe lights and homing signals and jumped into the ocean waters. That emergency signal reached the Coast Guard Sector Clearwater in Florida, and soon a Jayhawk was dispatched with her aircrew, and they flew the 36 miles out into the ocean past Boca Grande, Florida, zeroed in on that homing signal, and found seven adults and one child floating in the ocean, clinging to a cooler. They hoisted them up into the Jayhawk and brought them back to the mainland, where no injuries were reported.

    I’ve never had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. I’ve never been out that far into the ocean where the waves were so gigantic that they were crashing over the bow of my boat, and I was afraid for my life. Maybe you’ve been in that position, but I haven’t. But there are many days in my life that it feels that way, like the waves have crashed over the bow of my ship, and I am taking on water and the boat is about to capsize.

    Does your life feel that way from time to time? June is national PTSD Awareness Month, and some of you who are reading this devotion may have felt that way. Because of the traumatic experiences that you have had serving our nation’s military, there were times that you felt that your ship was sinking. And maybe as those memories flood back into your mind, you have that sinking feeling.

    Or it could just be the stressors of everyday life. The relationships with your commander, your parents, your children, your bunkmates, your spouse—maybe you feel like a ship that is just rising and falling with the ebbs and flows of relationships, and you just think, Can’t we just all get along?

    Or maybe you are in such a tight financial situation that it feels like you’re drowning in debt. Or maybe because it’s PCS season, that means another move to another duty station, another community, making new friends, and you’ve rocked the boat for you and your household with this PCS move.

    And at times it gets to be overwhelming because wave after wave comes in from the starboard side and water fills the boat, and you feel like it’s going to capsize, and you just ask God, “Why? Why does this keep happening to me?” Even as Christians we begin to ask the question, “Lord Jesus, don’t you even care?”

    You’re not alone. The disciples found themselves in a similar situation. At one time there was a small flotilla of boats crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was in one of those boats with some of his disciples, and he fell fast asleep. He was so tired from preaching and teaching and healing and just dealing with people that he fell asleep as they were sailing across the Sea of Galilee.

    Then all of a sudden—and this happens often on the Sea of Galilee—a furious storm, Mark tells us, began to pound that flotilla of boats. Even the disciples, who were expert fishermen, were afraid for their lives.

    Because of the amount of water that was coming into the boats and the fact that the boats were sinking, the disciples sent out a distress signal. But it wasn’t to the Coast Guard because ancient Galilee did not have a Coast Guard. They sent that distress signal out to Jesus, who was sleeping on that cushion in the stern. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are drowning?” Jesus woke up and addressed the wind and the waves and said, “Quiet! Be still!” And immediately there was a great calm.

    What Jesus wants you to know from this story is this: When you are weathering the storms of life, know that Jesus is in the boat with you. That is enough for us to know when it feels as if the waves are coming in from the port and the starboard and they’re filling the boat and our ship is sinking. That all we need to do is to set the oars aside, stop bailing water, stop tending to the sail, and send the distress signal out to Jesus. We know that even though there are times that it feels that Jesus is sleeping at the stern, it is enough to know that Jesus is with us in the boat.

    And remember who Jesus is. He is the one who created the wind and waves and seas. He is the one who, with the power of just his voice, calms the wind and the waves. And he may do that for you in your life, and he may not. And it could happen that the waves and the wind keep coming and causing your ship to feel like it’s sinking, and it seems like Jesus is doing nothing and you cry out, “Why?”

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but Jesus does. But I do know that sometimes he allows these things to happen and continue to happen so that we cling to him—cling to his will and his reason and his purpose and his Word and his power to save. We cling to him and him alone.

    And it is enough for us to know that Jesus is in the boat with us.

    Prayer:
    O Lord our God, govern the nations on earth and direct the affairs of this world so that your Church may worship you in peace and joy. Help us to cling to your promises, even when the storms of life threaten to capsize us. It is enough for us to know that you are in the boat with us. Today we celebrate with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which celebrates its 85th birthday on June 23rd. Since the time of the Second World War, civilians have volunteered to assist in the mission of the Coast Guard to make boating, seafaring, and waterway use as safe as possible. Lord, continue to bless the men and women who volunteer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. May their selfless service advance the mission of the United States Coast Guard. Amen.



    Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

    All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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    21 June 2024, 6:00 am
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