Saluting the Brave Army Chaplain Corps

by Sally Matheny

Chaplain candidates praying.
(Photo by Capt. Kristin Mack)
Did you know July 29, 1775 is the official birthday of the American Chaplaincy Corps? 

Although some pastors enlisted or were commissioned as early as April 1775, it wasn’t until July when Congress recognized chaplains as part of the national army. Their rank was equal to that of a Captain.

Chaplains often trained to perform medical procedures in addition to attending to the spiritual needs of the troops. It made sense. While some did fight with weapons, most chaplains were back at camp either praying for those heading to battle, the wounded returning from battle, or over the deceased.

Chaplains gave sacrificially in more than one way. Many of those first army chaplains were required to pay those who were filling in for them at their home churches.

Back in September of 1776, Congress recognized the spiritual need of soldiers, whether the soldiers realized it or not. Congress passed the “Articles of War” which included fines and confinement for soldiers not attending services.

Serving as a chaplain was not for the faint of heart either. Any chaplain bowing out of the stresses of war, by going AWOL, was court-martialed and fined.

Rules and expectations varied within the different branches of service. The Navy Chaplaincy, established in November 1776, required religious services twice a day and a service on Sunday.

According to legend, seamen are typically known for their colorful language. It’s interesting to note one of the early rules for the Navy:

"If any shall be heard to swear, curse, or blaspheme the name of God, the Commander is strictly enjoined to punish them for every offense, by causing them to wear a wooden collar or some other shameful badge of distinction ... Commissioned officers forfeit one shilling for each offense, a warrant or inferior officer, six pence. For drunkenness, a seaman shall be put in irons until sober - if an officer he shall forfeit two days pay." 

Drury, Clifford Merril, The History of the Chaplain Corps, United States Navy - Volume One - 1778-1939, (Washington, DC, US Government Printing Office, 1948).

Take note, Congress ordered 20,000 Bibles for the Army in 1777.


What Do Our Neighbors Do While We Are at Church?

by Sally Matheny

Happiness is temporary. Joy is lasting.
(Pixabay Photo)
If you’ve ever run a few minutes late getting to church, you’ve definitely seen them. Recently, they appeared on my route. Within a quarter of a mile, there they were--three, seemingly happy, families in their front yards.

The first family’s home was surrounded by pink and blue balloons. It had to be a gender reveal party or a baby shower. Someone was setting up a grill as cars pulled in the driveway.

The second home had a nice, fenced yard with beautiful flowers. A middle-aged woman wearing gardening gloves dropped a bag of mulch on the ground. Several other bags leaned against a tree.

A few yards down the street, a truck sat in a driveway, waiting for me to pass. Filled with smiling, teen boys, who appeared eager to get going. A trailer with two four-wheelers was attached to the truck. Behind them was another truck filled with more boys and more ATVs.

All three yards seemed to harbor cheerful people. They all had special plans for the day.

But it was 10:45 on a Sunday morning. Obviously, I’m curious why these happy people don’t go to church.

I know, I know. They could have gone to an early service somewhere. They may have been expecting family from out of town. Heading out for an overdue vacation. Yes, all that may have been true.

But, what if it wasn’t? What if that day was just like every Sunday, except this time, they happened to be outside when I passed by?

They were doing what they wanted, what they enjoyed. It was their day off from work and they were free.

So why do these happy scenes make me feel a twinge of sadness?

I hear one of you laughing now and stating, “Because you’re the preacher’s wife and you have to go to church!”

(hee, hee.) All joking aside, I’m glad I felt a tug on my heart. It’s all too easy to say, “Oh, well, to each his own,” and keep driving by.

In fact, for years, I’ve driven by a house where a man is almost always out in his garden on Sunday morning. I’ve become used to seeing him there.

Sometimes our lives are so busy, it’s easy to glide past and ignore the choices of others. But we’re talking about human lives here.

Do we care enough to make time for a conversation?

It’s not a legalistic thing. It’s not about getting people to do the “right thing” by going to church on Sunday.

Rather, it’s about devoted Christians loving people enough, loving strangers enough, to start a conversation. We should be asking ourselves what our neighbors do while we are at church. Find out if those we’re passing by know the truth about this temporary life and about their eternity.

I wonder if that one family knows all children are gifts from God, that it is He who knits each baby in the womb, and that He even knows how many hairs are on each head.

Does the older woman recognize God as the creator of all things, that it is He who miraculously grows a giant oak out of an acorn, and He is the one who amazingly intertwines all of nature together? Does she know He cares for the flowers, the animals, and even more so, He cares about her?

I wonder if those young guys understand that true joy runs deeper than any ravine and soars higher than any mountain? Are they aware only through a relationship with Jesus Christ will they experience an everlasting joy?

What are these people’s lives like during the rest of the week? Do they sleep with sweet peace or are they tossing and turning with worry? Are their needs being met, or are they constantly in search of something better? Do they know what it feels like to join other believers in worship of the one and only, awesome God?

Right now, I don’t know how those folks would answer these questions. There’s only one question I can answer. “Do I care enough to find out?”

Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to see. Forgive me of my self-centeredness and complacency. Please give me wisdom and discernment on how to reach out to others. Remind me of my limitless joy, the reason for my hope, and give me the desire and the courage to share it.

What’s going on in your neighborhood? Have you seen anyone on your way to church?


3 Crucial Reasons to Attend Your Next Family Reunion

by Sally Matheny
Smushy Kisses at Family Reunions

Is there cringing, wincing, and gnashing of teeth at just the thought of a family reunion? 

Perhaps you had an agonizing experience as a child. A crinkled stranger planted smushy kisses on your cheek. Then, pulling you away from your mom, the stranger weaved you through a chattering sea of unfamiliar faces. Finally, she anchored you both in front of another foreign body and the torture began.

“This is your mother’s great aunt’s, second cousin, Bertha, who first married Joe Schmitt, who was a tire salesman, but then he died, and about ten years ago she married John Brown, who manufactures straight pins in Detroit and he just so happens to be your dad’s podiatrist's first cousin! How about that?”


But you’re an adult now and here are three crucial reasons why you need to attend your next family reunion.


When multiple generations gather, there will always be times of remembering moments from the past. Births, school days, weddings, funerals, and even the embarrassing incidents some wish others would forget. While certain memories mean more to some folks than others, this is your heritage. 

Even if you’re attending your spouse’s family reunion, you can learn a great deal. Maybe listening to your mother-in-law’s childhood memories will give you a better understanding of why his family celebrates Christmas the way they do. What annoyed you in the past, may be perceived differently now.

Too often, an unforgiving spirit
is a person's only legacy.
Pausing to reflect on the past brings joy, knowledge, and healing. Perhaps the reason many people resist a family reunion is due to a past hurt.   

Aunt Bertha said or did something she shouldn’t have five, ten, or fifty years ago and for whatever reason people chose to hold onto that strife rather than letting it go. 

Bitterness was chosen over forgiveness. Pain over joy. Too often, an unforgiving spirit is a person’s only legacy.
What healing might take place if you go to your next family reunion?


If there’s emotional or physical healing in the family, record it! Everybody has a story. A family reunion is a wonderful time to record those stories. Make a scrapbook or journal. Better yet, make a video.

Are there any veterans willing to share their experiences? Those who survived a war may provide fresh perspectives to a younger generation.

Who survived an accident or a disease? A problem at work or their first day of high school? Survivors bring strength and hope to the family.

Ask the older ones to recall interesting tidbits about the family’s ancestry.

Even recording opinions on current events will be an interesting piece of history for the next generation.

Survivors bring strength and hope to the family.
Family reunions are never the same. The dynamics change. People come and go, jobs vary, and events alter our lives.

Most of the time we never submerge past the friendly greetings. Families need to go deeper conveying their life experiences. True stories inspire us and can encourage us to keep pressing onward. Everybody has a story that can affect others. You need to share your story.


If nothing else, family members need to recount God’s blessings to the next generation. How have you seen God working in your life and the lives of others?

Describe times when God answered your prayers, when he brought healing, and when your needs were met.

Share experiences where your faith was tested and God was glorified. Consider the value others could glean from lessons you learned through setbacks and poor decisions.

If you carve out time for your next family reunion and share the love of Christ, what are the possible eternal rewards? 

It is not within our power to fathom how God can use us. He is capable of making transformations we never thought possible.


…which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they, in turn, would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
Psalm 78:5b-7 (NIV)


A Book Review of THIS LIFE I LIVE by Rory Feek and a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

This Life I Live by Rory Feek
“I wish I was doing something important in my life.” Have you ever said these words? Longed for a life, or a love, that was exceptional?

God has the power to press the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Rory Feek can attest to that.

You'll have to forgive me. I’m probably in the 1% of folks who had not heard of Joey and Rory Feek until I saw a clip on Facebook a while back promoting their movie, To Joey with Love. But that one small clip drew me in. I knew I wanted to learn more about this ordinary man, this ordinary woman, and their extraordinary love story.

I’m sure country music fans are aghast that I was unfamiliar with the Feek name, but it is what it is. Perhaps it’s because I rarely listen to the radio, and country music isn’t what I typically listen to when I do.

Nonetheless, this book is not about country music. It’s about love, grace, and redemption. If you’re in the 1% like me and unfamiliar with the Feeks, the book, This Life I Live makes a wonderful introduction.

As the subtitle of the book states, it’s about “one man’s extraordinary, ordinary life and the woman who changed it forever.”


Unite for Life, Liberty, and Love

by Sally Matheny

Unite for Life, Liberty, and Love

This July 4, 2017, my rally cry is for Americans to unite.

It is understandable for those who do not have Christ living within them to be shackled by the ways of the world. But Christian brothers and sisters, we have a higher calling from the Creator of the world.

With a devotion first to God, we can come together as a country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the  Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We are to unite as brothers, regardless of bloodlines, property lines, or political lines. But always speak the truth of God’s word.

“for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. . . that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—“   -Ephesians 4:17-15 (NKJV)

Following the command to love one another also means loving those who are considered our adversaries. Remember the words of Jesus Christ, 
“ You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)