LUP031 – Military Ministry: Chaplain Joe Willis, Part 2

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 31:

  • Update: Second-guessing a decision; then first-guessing it again.
  • Encouragement: Hear the conclusion of Chaplain Joe Willis’s story of giving up his dream of a career as an officer in the U.S. military to serve in gospel ministry.
  • Tech. Tip: When you say, “I’ll pray for you,” make sure you mean it. Keep your prayer list up to date on your Android or iPhone.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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  • Make a decision, and circumstances make you second-guess.
    • Last week, I decided to let my developer create the system for other developers to use.
    • This week, I had to intervene to deal with system issues
      • Runaway disk space
      • Runaway server load
      • Errors logging on
      • Responding to support requests
    • Developer was in class or otherwise unavailable to help.
    • This weekend – and next – unavailable again; serving as counselor at a Christian camp.
  • Had an invitation to be a guest on another missions-focused podcast to talk about website builder
    • Had to turn it down for now.
    • Current slow growth is working. Promotion could bring people faster than I can handle.
    • Must get development environment project completed
  • Actually – reinforces decision. I need more people who understand. That demands bringing in others.
  • Confirmed decision – not second-guess it.


Last week, we met Chaplain Joe Willis, whose childhood dream was to be an officer in the military. Years later, just as that dream was being realized, he felt the call of God to go into ministry, completely disrupting his life. In case you missed last week’s episode, here’s a quick reminder of how he got to this point.

Chaplain Joe Willis
Chaplain Joe Willis

Oh, what a completely understandable response from his commander! But I’m sure that didn’t set Brother Willis’s mind at ease. Keep listening to hear the rest of the surprising journey for Chaplain Joe Willis.

So – which will it be? Your lifelong dream of a career as a military officer, or your new calling to ministry serving as a preacher of the gospel? Isn’t it amazing how God’s answer to Brother Willis was, “Both.”

Now, if you surrender your dreams to God to follow and obey Him, I can’t promise you that He will restore your dream to you like He did for Chaplain Willis. He might, and sometimes He does. But even if He doesn’t, when you delight yourself in Him, He will give you a new dream and a new desire that will be even more fulfilling and even more satisfying than the dream you gave up.

Now, maybe Brother Willis’s testimony got your head spinning. Maybe you’re thinking, “Hey, I never thought of that. What an amazing way to serve God as a minister of the gospel to the military! I might be interested in doing that.” If that’s you, then why not contact Chaplain Joe Willis at

There are U.S. Military personnel stationed around the world, facing one of the most taxing, stressful, and soul-searching jobs there is. When they first realize that they need some spiritual help, where will they turn? Might God be calling you or someone you know to be that chaplain who can actually give them the truth of the gospel?

It’s something to think about.

Tech. Tip

Here’s something we say a lot: “I’ll pray for you.” But when our regular prayer time comes, how often do we actually remember to pray for them?

One prayer card in PrayerMate

One solution is to stop promising that we will pray for someone, but to pray for them right then and there. But what about those long-running issues, and we really do want to be consistent in praying over a long time? As our prayer list grows and changes over time, how do we make sure we keep it up to date?

I’ve used paper lists and notebooks, but I don’t always have them with me. And when things change, they’re hard to keep up to date.

I also used Evernote for a while, and my article on how to use Evernote as a prayer list is still one of the most popular posts on Using Evernote on my phone was a convenient way to keep my prayer list convenient. But when I’m praying, navigating through all of the different screens on Evernote became extremely distracting.

Now, I use a mobile phone app called PrayerMate.

With PrayerMate, I set up different categories of prayer requests, such as my church, my family, missionaries, etc. Then, I add people or topics to each of those categories. Every day, PrayerMate will collect a set of these requests on cards and present them to me, one at a time, to remind me of the things I want to pray for about each person. If I want to, I can control details such as how often each person comes on my list, or exactly what day or days they show up, or how many cards from each category. Or I can just let PrayerMate choose from the least-recently prayed-for requests and just build the same sized list every day. I’ve chosen to do a mix of each.

So every morning, I can launch PrayerMate and see the list of topics I’ll be praying for. Then I simply swipe across the screen to see the first card. After praying about that topic, I swipe again to move to the next card. PrayerMate just gets out of my way so I can concentrate on thinking about what I’m praying for, instead of tap-tap-tapping around to move from request to request.

PrayerMate is available for both iOS and Android devices, and it’s completely free, though there are some add-ons you can get if you become a patron.

So if you’re looking for a way to keep your prayer list organized and always with you, why not check out PrayerMate.


Today, you’ve learned about PrayerMate, which is the app I use to keep my prayer list organized. You also heard the conclusion of Chaplain Joe Willis’s story of being called out of the military into seminary to preach the gospel. And you heard my mind go full-circle, from doubting a decision to re-affirming it again.  Now if I can just get some time to take action on that decision!

Do you have a dream that you fear God may be calling you to give up in order to serve Him? Please don’t be afraid. No matter what we give up, the satisfaction and fulfillment of following God’s plan will be so much greater than what we expected to get from following our dreams. And who knows, maybe God will give you back the opportunity to fulfill that dream with His blessing – like he did for Chaplain Willis.

Take Action

Maybe you know someone who is struggling with a decision to follow Christ. Maybe they’re having a hard time surrendering a dream. Why not share the story of Chaplain Willis with them. When you do, you can follow the challenge of Hebrews 12:12. So, how about it? Who will you lift up today?

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