Wrong Side of Heaven (a reflection)

When deployed to Iraq a few years ago.  I was driving past a concert after a day of Chapel services.  I stopped to see what was going on.  The music was different from what I was used to and I asked one of the Soldiers, “Who is this band?”  They looked at me like I was so uncool and said, “It’s 5 Finger Death Punch!” I replied, “oh thanks”.  When I headed back to my compound and told some of my friends, they said “no way” and were mad that I saw them.

They recently posted a music video that has been popular through social media entitled,

Wrong Side of Heaven. It is worth your attention and reflection.

The videos communicates on various levels.

The words to the song (below), with various images of war on the homefront and battlefront, and messages about the needs that Veterans have.

I spoke to god today, and she said that she’s ashamed.
What have I become, what have I done?
I spoke to the devil today, and he swears he’s not to blame.
And I understood, cuz I feel the same.Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I’m no hero, and I’m not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, righteous side of hell.I heard from god today, and she sounded just like me.
What have I done, and who have I become.
I saw the devil today, and he looked a lot like me.
I looked away, I turned away!Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I’m no hero, and I’m not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.I’m not defending, downward descending,
falling further and further away!
I’m closer EVERYDAY!I’m getting closer every day, to the end.
The end, The end, the end,
I’m getting closer EVERYDAY!Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I’m no hero, and I’m not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
I’m on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.
What feeling do you have from watching the video and reading the lyrics to this song?
-Admittedly mine are mixed, but I am provoked and challenged.
We must connect, care, and communicate in deeper and more profound ways.
The song, Wrong Side of Heaven gives voice to the feelings many have.
The truth is that it is a reality that many are living, now.
Reflect on the needs of those we serve and question the most effective way to respond as we prepare and preach.
       *Use some of these questions to get you started and add some of your own:
  • As a Chaplain and/or preacher how will you respond?
  • How will your sermon help bridge the gap between how one feels about God and the truth of how God feels about them?
  • Will your message listen to and/or answer one’s cry for help?
  • Will what say help heal the broken heart or the weary soul?
  • Is there hope?  Do you care?  Does God Care?

As Chaplains we must understand those we serve and seek to connect them to the ONE whom we serve!

In a recent Tedx talk, Dr. Mike Haynie discuss “The Moral Obligation To Know Our Veterans.”  He tells a story of a conversation on a plane where a Vet “Tim” says he feels anonymous.  Dr. Haynie asks, “Why is Tim anonymous?” and responds “We have disconnected the cost and consequences of war from all of you (referring to his audience).”  He continues by explaining that many Veterans feel anonymous because the burden of 12 years of ways has fallen on .5% of the population.    Check out a great article from Blue Star Families.

As Chaplains, it is important to know those whom we serve and hear their stories.

It is important to understand their hurts, hopes, and dreams.

As Chaplains, we are called to connect the many “Tim’s” who we encounter with a God who knows him or her.

  • How will we as Chaplains help to heal the soul our our Military?

Many Soldiers, Families and Veterans feel anonymous.
Find a way to know them, love them, and help them: It’s our Moral Obligation!

It Worked For Me by Colin Powell

it worked for me audio Colin Powell spoke at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this year and after hearing him speak, I picked up his book and accompanying audio version. Listening to It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership read by the author felt like I was sitting down with with Colin Powell talking about life over a cup of coffee.   The book starts with Powell’s 13 Rules and then moves through various personal reflective stories that teach, encourage, and inspire one to be a better leader.  Powell tells his formational stories in a humble, lighthearted way that entertains yet mentors one to be a better person and leader.

As a military leader, anyone of the forty-four chapters are worth the price of the book and the time it takes to go through it.  This book will stretch and encourage you to become a better leader.  If you have not reflected on Powell’s 13 rules they are worth thinking about.  Check out the video below as he explains the importance of rule #1 and #13.

The book is divided into 6 parts.

Part 1:  The Rules Powell discusses his 13 rules, how they came to be and a story or antidote associated each.

Part 2: Know Yourself, Be Yourself is autobiographical as Powell reflects on his life and personal experiences.

Part 3: Take Care of the Troops is about how leaders must care for their followers and set a positive example.

Part 4:  Fast Times in the Digital World is reflections of technology and media in government.  There is a very helpful chapter on doing new interviews.

Part 5:  Getting to 150 Percent Powell highlights principles of working with a team and the need for rest and perspective.

Part 6:  Reflections Powell concludes by discussing some events that are well known, some mistakes that he has made, things he would do different and various misc. encouraging stories.

 Check Colin Powell’s It Worked For Me out today.  You will be glad you did!

  • After you read the 13 rules which one stood out to you?
  • What are somethings you have learned from Colin Powell from this book or from other things you have heard or read?

The Prophetic Voice of the Chaplain

Recently there have been a few news outlets that have highlighted the prayers of the Senate Chaplain, Barry Black.

The first (above) is from “The Racheal Maddow Show” on MSNBC.

Here is another from CNN Newsroom (link here)

  • What do you think about the news highlighting the prophetic voice of the Senate prayers?
  • Do you think they are prophetic or inappropriate?

As a Chaplain in the Army, my job is to provide free exercise of religion, as well as to advise the command in various areas regarding religion, ethics, morals and morale.

  • In our ministry of presence there is a clear pastoral role, but where does the prophetic role fit?

Currently I am enrolled in a class at Boston University entitled “Prophetic Preaching“.  The syllabus explains, “This course is designed to help students wrestle with several central issues around prophetic preaching in contemporary Christian churches: the relationships of prophetic preaching to the gospel, to the Bible, to the social-political context, and to pastoral ministry generally.”  In the class we have discussed forming a theology of Prophetic Preaching, read and discussed various books and sermons dealing with the topics of prophetic, pastoral, and social change and the interconnectedness of these ideas.   We have even looked at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role as a preacher and civil rights leader in Lischer’s book, Preacher King.

The class has given me a lot to think about and caused me to reflect on the role of the prophetic voice of the Chaplain.

As I write this post, the government is shut down due to Congress’s inability to agree on a spending bill.

  • But what is the role of the Chaplain?
  • Do we have a role to speak truth to power?  If so in what way and how?
  • Is there a way to speak truth that transcends partisan politics and look to the greater good?

I think the answer is contextual and each Chaplain must examine his or her own calling, role and sphere of influence.

However each Chaplain has a word to speak into their context.  We must find our voice!

Maybe you, like Esther, are in your unit and location in this moment in time for a reason.

“. . .And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

My prayer is that if a fire is burning in your bones and a word is on your heart you will speak!

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”  (Jeremiah 20:9)

Find Your Voice. . . Make Your Point!

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Chap Talk is about encouraging better preaching.  Have you read a book, heard a quote, seen a resource, attended a conference or class, seen a site or blog and learned something that might help me or others in our preaching?  Let us know!  Comment below or send a note so that we can continue to help each other in this preaching journey.  Also if you would like to write a post see the section Write for ChapTalk.com.  If you are learning something or have resources that you would like to share let me know.  We can get better together.


I am over half way through with my Th.M in Preaching at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.  I will finish up in December 2013.  It has been a fantastic year of learning, study, and preparation.  This time of  continuing education has helped me tremendously as I prepare for my role as Homiletics instructor at the United States Army Chaplain Center and School.  The Army has the Advanced Civilian Schooling (ACS) program and there are various opportunities for further education.  I have several friends who have gone for Ethics, World Religions, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), and Family Life counseling.  Look into the various options to further your education.

I encourage you to never stop learning. Find a program that will equip you for the future, take a class, go to a workshop,  or read a book that will help you get better.  Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary has both Th.M and D.Min programs that would benefit Chaplains in their ministries.  Always look for ways to sharpen your craft in preaching and look for ways to encourages others along the way!

Welcome to ChapTalk.com


Chaplains In WWII

I am excited about launching this site dedicated to encouraging Chaplains in preaching and communication.  I often get asked this question by Soldiers, “Who do you go to when you need help?”  or “Hey Chaplain, who do you talk to when you need a Chaplain?  The question is usually posed by a Soldier after dealing with a difficult situation in the unit.  It is generally directed in a caring way and my answer varies depending on the situation.

Chaplains need to care for, encourage, and share resources with each other.

There are a lot of great resources out there for help that support ministry leaders.  I would like to share things that have been helpful to me that I think might be helpful to you aswell.   However the primary purpose of  this site is to encourage and strengthen Chaplain’s preaching.

ChapTalk.com is committed to encouraging and helping Chaplains communicate more effectively.  In order to be an effective preacher you must be yourself and you must be clear.  Each of us has been created with a unique calling, personality, and giftedness and you must lean into these and speak the truth you have to share.  In communication and preaching it is important not to copy another’s style, but to be yourself.  Phillip Brooks famously defines preaching as “Truth through personality.”  Preaching is an oral and communal act.  God uses an individual to speak a word from the Lord through the speaker’s unique situation, experience and context to that of the hearer’s.  My challenge is that you would find your voice.

Once you have found your voice, you must then, make your point.  Present your message with clarity.  Determine your central idea and support it.  Then create your message and present it.

My goal is to provide support, encouragement, and tools to foster more effective sermons.  Through blogs, links, podcasts, audio and video sermons and other resources.  ChapTalk.com’s goal is to provide help for the preaching journey.

My hope and prayer is that this site will be an encouragement to you in your preaching as you, Find your voice and make your point!

Keep Preaching,

Chaplain Brandon Moore