Monday, February 9, 2009

Gift from God

I am almost at the end of my journey. I feel as though God once again has brought me to the desert, put me in strange and complex circumstances, and taught me a few things thus helping me grow.

I want to tell you about an experience I had yesterday. Some of you may not understand it but I wanted to document it anyway and figured I would tell everyone reading about it.

I held a Bible study yesterday, it was Sunday here. I started this Bible study when I got here. There was absolutely no "religious" activities here when I came because it was frowned upon. The reason it was frowned upon is because there were one or two pushy Christian types who came out and were cramming their version of how things should be down peoples throats. One of them actually had a pamphlet stating that all Muslims were going to hell and such and it got caught by the wind and blew away in a country that is nothing but Muslim, so I can kind of understand.

I took it upon myself to start a common sense, down to earth, logical, scripture based Bible study that would help Christians get together and fellowship. The philosophy I imparted was that of my Pastor who I believe relates the Bible in the most common sense manner I have ever heard and has proven this by growing a great church.

Anyway, the Bible study started with me and one other guy about 3 months ago and yesterday we had 7 there. This is pretty good because people are coming and going all the time. I would say we have had a total of 20 come and go which is awesome to go from 0 to 20 especially considering I really don't know what I'm doing.

We rotate people giving the subject of study every week. Yesterday was my day. We looked at parts of Beatitudes and I spoke about rising above worldly restraints, figuring out what is of the flesh and what is of the spirit. I wasn't preaching, I was asking opinions. It has been an open forum kind of thing. It went well, lasted an hour, and I definitely took something from it.

About 4 hours later I went to work. It was dark but the moon was full. In the desert when the moon is full its like daytime at night. I was in a place alone with no one around me just staring out at the desert and looking at the night sky, it was beautiful. Then I had a feeling hit me I have never REALLY experienced before. I could definitely tell it was the Holy Spirit but much stronger than I have ever felt before. WHAM! It hit me and I knew it! It's hard to explain how I felt but I will try. I felt drunk with a spirit flowing in and through me like a cool running spring, I felt like running at full speed, yelling the good news that it's real. It being that I really felt as though I was being targeted, in a good way, by God. It was really cool. I even want to say I wanted to speak in tongues and I'm not even like that. People who have spoken in tongues always scared me like they were crazy, possessed but know I can understand where they are coming from even though it's not my style.

I had to control this feeling, channel it. All at once I felt as though time stood still, I was one with the world and past spirits, it was crazy. I was completely aware of my surroundings, as a matter of fact I was hoping no one would come and ruin it. It was really cool. God didn't speak to me, I didn't get hit by a lightning bolt, I didn't flop around on the floor, I didn't want to heal anybody, I didn't prophesize about the future, I just existed on a different plane for awhile. Meaning that I felt what this Christianity is all about. Its about love, feeling good, positivity, something bigger than yourself, meekness, respect, being a part of something, all the good things.

It showed me that no matter what happens, your taken care of as long as you believe and show the love to God. You don't have to hand out pamphlets I don't think. I'm not planning on it. You don't have to speak in tongues and flop around on the floor. I'm not planning on doing that either. But something I could do? Maybe not be afraid to raise my hands at Church because other people might see me, maybe not be afraid to praise the Lord in tough circumstances, maybe not be afraid to pray for my enemies, maybe just flat out freakin believe the Bible and live it.

The bottom line is that God is real, salvation is real, the Holy Spirit is real, this unconditional love is real.

People who are new in their faith or not faithful at all are probably saying one of two things after reading this. One, he's crazy and delusional. Or, two, I want to experience that too.

To the first, I don't really care what you think, if you had all the answers you probably wouldn't be reading this anyway.

To the second, I prayed for it, I beleived, I opened my heart and WAITED for it to happen, I believe that if you do that, God will bless you. He blessed me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Think I May Have Earned a Stripe

My trip here is almost over. Im totally STOKED to get back home with my new found, God inspired outlook on somethings. I'll get right to the new outlooks.

I now praise God for everything he has done for the world and for me when I have an issue with something that has happened. For example, if someone is being a jerk to me, as opposed to letting my emotions take control of my mouth and brain, I let God take control by praising the beauty of where I live, for my church, or the fact Im still in one peice, or for surfing, or my loved ones, etc. This keeps me from lowering myself to that persons level therefore glorifying God that much more keeping me on my level. Ive tried it, it works, but it can be hard. Im not saying Im good at it yet but Im working on it.

I now pray before I make a decision that isnt clear right off the bat and wait for answer. Im learning that God's voice isnt necesarily a vocal thing. I was sitting here in the desert one night looking at the stars when I saw a cloud moving in front of the star I was looking at. God's voice kindof made sense to me then. It can be a gradual thing, a gut feeling, a conviction as well as a lightning bolt kind of thing. For me, I praise God, I pray about it and wait. It takes alot of stress off of some decisions and also re-affirms your faith. Dont get me wrong, you cant do this for everything but I dont think there is any harms in consulting your heavenly father on issues you have, just dont become a bum and say, "well, God hasn't given me the answer yet so I will just sit around and do nothing". Thats definately the wrong answer.

I have also realized that being a Christian isnt all about me. "Lord, please help me", or "Lord, I cant stop smoking". I 'm gathering that God wants our love, period. We have free will but the bottom line is that he wants to be loved and appreciated like everybody else. STOP WHINING!
The closer you draw to God the more negative things he will replace with his love. Wanna stop drinking, draw closer to God. Wanna stop looking at porn draw closer to God. Conviction ios not a dirty word. With Gods love, the most powerful love you can have, he will make you not want to do these things. If all you ever say is,"Help me, its all about me", which I have done, he wont move. He wants to know you love him, respect him, then he will bless you. Next time you fell down and out, try praising the Lord for the good things, what do you have to lose.

These are just a few things I have found that work.

I say I gained a stripe because these things are making my life with God that much sweeter!

This ones for Blankenbooty

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gifts from Home

I received a package to day from my girlfriend Cheryl. I have been expecting it for a month now. It's funny how the little things in life are so important and sweet when you are without the creature comforts and security of home.

There were various things in the package. Surfer magazine with an elder form my church on the cover, some Hurley stuff from a man I admire for his faith and family life, Noah S., some stuff from Puerto Rico where Cheryl went on a surf trip in December, some other miscellaneous items and last there were the sermons from my church on homemade cd.

I had resigned to the fact that the package was probably lost and was very happy when guys told me I had a package waiting on me when we got resupplied. I took it back to my room and tore into it. After putting on the Hurley hat, reading a card or two, eating some of the treats in there, I got to the messages on cd.

We take for granted the ability to go to church and worship with fellow Christians. I started a Bible study out here and that has kept me going in the right direction but there is nothing like your home Church. As I listened to the music at the beginning of one of the cd's my heart started to beat again in a way it hasnt in 3 months. I could feel my church. I could feel Jesus. I could feel the message my pastor was giving, I could feel the appreciation for my church, I could feel the appreciation I got a package and I could feel it all in my heart. It was as if my heart had been a stone for the last couple months and the messages reignited it. I am extremely grateful to have people who care about me by sending me their heart for lack of a better way to put it.

I spend a lot of nights staring up at the night sky. Here you can see every star, some galaxies, a shooting star every couple seconds. It really lets you see how the world is alive, God is always working even though we may not be paying attention. Part of his works is letting us know we aren't alone through the Bible studies here, to the packages received, to the messages in those packages and through the heart felt love received form others.

I have learned alot here. Most of what I have learned I cant put into words. I have spent countless hours staring up into the night sky thinking about God, praying, envisioning the future, being thankful for what I have back at home.

Thank all of you for the gifts, prayers, and love felt from home.

Don't feel bad if you didn't send anything your thoughts and fellowship are enough for me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Backbiting

One of the things I am learning out here, and I think its one of the reasons the Lord brought me here, is to learn that backbiting and creating drama does no good. Its not good for yourself, others and the overall goal of caring for one another and treating eachother with respect.

A friend of mine gave me some rules to live by that someone had given him.

Shoot Straight!

Do PT! (physical trining)

Dont Lie!

These are rules to live by given to me, a former Green Beret by a former Navy Seal, who got them from another Active Duty Navy Seal. Special Operations units have always prided themselves on being able to complete any mission they are tasked with. Some dont go as well as others but for the most part, we always get the job done and at least give it the full effort.

I will break them down for daily living.

Shoot Straight - Always say things like they are, you dont have to create drama with criticism, just speak plainly for the betterment of people and the common goal. If you dont understand the goals, ask.

Do PT - Take care of your body clearing your mind so that you will be more in tune with life. Eating bad, not getting rid of nervous energy, and not taking care of yourself takes its toll. By feeling as though you are taking care of yourself you will feel more confident to take care of others.

Dont Lie - Lies get you nowhere. If you cant say it honestly dont say it. A person perspective or opinions on things isnt always right, its just one persons opinion, we all have them and usually they are all alittle different because we are different.

In the Bible Jesus gives us rules to live by they are very simple and I think simple is key.

Dont Judge!

Treat Others as You WANT to be treated!

Let Your Yes be Yes and Your No be No!

Dont Judge - There was only one perfect person to walk the face of the earth and that was Jesus.
"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". By judging we only create contraversy, drama, etc.

Treat others like you want to be treated - Dont do or say anything you wouldnt want done or said to you. If you dish it out you better be ready to take it and then some. It's all about respect.

Let your yes be yes and your no be no - Grey areas create drama, clearly defined goals, relationships, etc. make a smoother trail to walk. Everybody fears the unknown so ask about what you dont know from someone you trust like your Pastor, they will be able to explain it to you based upon scripture.

The bottom line is that we need to keep it simple. Dont complain unless you have a solution, dont talk bad about people, not only will they probably do the same to you but their judgement day will come by someone more powerful than you. Treat eachother with respect, if that respect isnt given back shake the dust off of your feet, dont throw pearls to pigs, stay away from that person and by not showing that you are needy for their attention, chances are they will come to you and wonder why.......respectfully!

For Dave R.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Writers Block, So Here's a Story

I have been out here for about 2 months now and have been focusing alot on my faith, how it applys to my world, what I will do back home, staying positive about the future.

My blog entries come when I feel as though I need something to say. It doesnt happen everyday, is usually spurred by something signifigant that has either pissed me off, or made me happy. Lately, I havent really had a whole lot to say, I have been reflecting alot and making my gameplan for the future but some people enjoy the blog so I will write something.

Im not really into telling war stories becuase you always feel stupid after telling them to people who have never been there. You want to tell but some stuff you either just cant explain because you dont understand yourself or some things stir up bad emotions to relive, for me I get pissed off. Ive seen people die, been there when people were killed in combat, been hunted, hunted, and experienced the full gammit of emotions attached to the combat experience. The only emotion I choose to focus on now relating to the combat experience is thankfulness. Thankful I got to serve, thankful I dint get maimed, thankful I have those experiences to reflect on. Was I a war hero? Nope. Just a guy who felt we neede payback for 9/11 and went over there to give to them. Period.

Here's a war story though for those of you faithful readers. It's a funny one though, at least to me. It takes place in Afghanistan in 2003. Those of you reading who have been to Afghanistan will say to yourself,"Yep, thats the stan". Those of you who havent, I really dont know what you will say but here goes.

My team went down to a mountainous place to attempt to capture a highly wanted bad guy. There was one way in and one way out of this location and about an 8 hour ride on bumpy, in an IED Heavy(improvised explosive device) area, totally in bad guy country with basically no back up except close air support which could take up to an hour to get to you. Anyone who has been shot at will tell you, 5 seconds is a long time, not to think of an hour. Anyway, we travelled to this location. On the way we foiled an ambush that was poorly laid in and the guys ran away without firing a shot. We then proceeded to our destination.

When we got there we realized the mission was going to be alot harder than we thought. The mountains were high, we were few, the terrain wasn't easily defendable, basically we were sitting ducks. In special ops in remote areas your a sitting duck alot believe it or not, It would take me a long time to explain that one, anyway. We set up our gun jeeps in a perimeter and launched out a search element to clear some caves and set up a position to do surveillance. On the way to their position one of our guys fell off of a cliff and fell 40 feet into a gully. The rest of our guys got to him and he was alive but needed to be medevac's. Now some of you maybe saying,"Thats stupid, how could he fall off of a cliff?". Well the guys were carrying about 80 lbs each because water, radios, ammo is heavy and they would be cut-off for a couple days and the trails are about 2 feet wide on the wide part with sometimes a 1000 ft drop on one side.

Anyway, we called a medevac (helicopter ambulance) to pick the guy up. Then an Apache attack helicopter showed up to provide security while we hoisted the guy up. We used the Apache to look up in the mountain crevices to see if there was any movement but the pilot said he didnt see anything. The medevac and attack helicopter left and night time started to fall. The guys who had moved down the trail came back to where the rest of us were because the guy who fell off of the cliff was the only medic they had and they were sure to need him. After that group got back to our perimeter we started seeing fires being lit up in the valley, looked like they would be drawing people straight to us. We figured there would be an ambush, some of us did anyway, some guys are always in denile, another one that would take a while to explain.

Anyway, we stayed there that night, nothing happpened. The next day we were told to leave that area, so we decided to go and hunt another guy down the road. As we were packing our stuff up to leave this huge cloud came rolling over the mountains and engulfed us. It was wild, I have it on video. It engulfed us and we figured that would be a good time to leave because the bad guys wouldnt see where we went and we would have a better chance of catching the other bad guy. So we left. We hit the other guys compound but we dint get him. Sorry, combat isnt always sexy.

About 2 days later myself and another guy, who gathered intelligence for our team, got info that there was a guy who wanted to give us important information so we brought him in. He proceeded to tell us that we went down to this certain location, when we went there, how many vehicles, and that there was a huge attack planned for us. He said there was 70 bad guys, we numbered 30, with mortars, rocket propelled grenades, machineguns, everything, on their turf, it would have been ugly. When asked why they didnt ambush us he said that there was a wedding and all the bad guys didnt want to leave because there was an argument over who would pay the band. So picture a bunch of Osama Bin Ladens sitting around putting of an attack because they wanted to figure out who was going to pay the check. Crazy. Anyway, they never came. So we were like,"whatever, this is Afghanistan", shrugged it off and dropped it.

The next day an old mujuhadeen fighter who had helped us kick the Russians out came to talk to us. He liked us because we had given them the Stinger Missile (anti-aircraft missile) years ago to help defeat the Russians so he loved American special ops guys. Not to mention, he was a tribal elder in his village and he came to us because bad guys had put drug labs in his village dambing up all the water and we went and took those drug labs down, blew them up, and gave the people back their water. So this guy loved us.

He proceeded to tell us that we went down to that certain location, what day we went, how many vehicles, same stuff the othe informant told us. He said the same number of guys with the same wepaons were coming for us, etc. We asked him why they didnt come to get us. He said that his group of guys, pro-american, old mujuhadeen who fought the Russians, and the Alquaeda/Taliban guys were at a wedding. When the Taliban guys heard we were in the area they ran and got their wepaons refusing to pay half the bill, including the band, because they werent going to stay.

This pissed of the "pro-american" guys and as the Taliban guys moved in to ambush us the "pro-american" mujuhadeen went and got their weapons and went to ambush the Taliban guys coming to ambush us. Basically, the Taliban guys were moving into position to get a good attack on us, the "pro-american" guys were moving to get a good ambush position on them, the Taliban got scared when the Apache helicopter was hunting any bad guys so they hid. One the Apache was gone it was too dark for them to see, so the Taliban waited til it got to be morning. The "pro-american"guys waited for the Taliban guys to cross their path all night, but they never did, they stayed hidden. In the morning we were told to move out of that area and go and hunt htis other guy. A big cloud rolled in and cover our movement out of there.

We heard that the Taliban guys were like,"One minute they were there, the next minute they were gone". I think they thought we were magic. I think God took care of us. I wasnt a true Christian back then but, man, even I had to admit it was divine intervention.

I hope you get something out of that. At least a good laugh.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why Dont We Believe

I started this blog because I wanted to document my journey with God in a combat zone. I really cant explain it, I just kind of thought it was the right thing to do. When I read back on it many times I think to myself, "Man, I cant believe I said that!" some of it is really cool, some of it not so cool. I have always hoped as though it was inspired by God, but mainly I thought it was just my dramatic ramblings trying to figure things out. Until, I have people come up to me or send me messages where they get something out of it, then I believe its inspired by God.

Hang on Im going somewhere with this.....

Last night I was staring out into the desert, alone but not out in the desert alone, just had some alone time. I was thinking to myself, is all this stuff real? God, the story of Jesus, eternal life, light of the world, I'm forgiven, etc. Do I just talk out into outerspace or is someone listening. Am I just a wishful, naive fool, who cant handle the world, so I need to create God? All these things, and more, were running through my head. I really started to get down, feeling as though I am wasting my time. I could elaborate more but I think you all know what I'm talking about, it's called DOUBT.

So I went back to my room, pulled out my Bible, flipped to the gospel of John because he was a known Apostle, and decided to read the entire thing. The main thing I got out of it was that there was this special guy named Jesus, who walked around trying to convince everyone he was the son of God and no one really believed him until he died and rose again. They thought they did, but deep inside they probably didnt. They doubted as we do. People are people.

Lets think about this. He was trying to convince people to believe in love, hope, fellowship, a higher power, forgiveness, patience, giving, helping, all the good things in life people want and need and people just said,"oh he's just another crazy trying to say he's the son of God again". Let's kill him.

So basically the Gospel of John is just Jesus trying to get people to believe in him, he gets crucufied for teaching a message of love and togetherness, then he rises again and people say WOW! I guess he really was the "Word", God, Son of Man.

Anyway, back to me. So, Im reading this and Im thinking well I guess it isnt real because if this guy Jesus was all that, people would have just known and believed, it would have been easy. Typical, flesh driven, face value, easy, instant gratification answer we have become so accustomed too. So....I went to bed feeling as though I was wasting my time, yet, not as depressed as I should have been figuring out that the most important thing in my life had just been proven to be wrong.

At about 5 am, I woke up froma strange dream. There was a guy in my dream who was a really nice Christian guy, the kind of guy thats never drank or cussed, and he was walking down a street and all of the sudden he got hit by an "evil spirit". He fell on the ground and started to flop around and move his arms really wierd. Some bystanders walked by and said, "This guy is really drunk, lets help him". They stood him up and at that moment, a strange booming evil voice came out of him saying, "Are all of your children not inside of me?" It was like I was above it looking down but the voice was talking to me and everyone there. Remember this is just a dream. It was like an evil spirit was attacking. So then, I found myself on the street, going for the door of this strange building where I felt the eveil spirit had run to and I ran up saying,"the son of man is with me" kind of thing and I kicked the door open to get to this evil spirit and I encountered another door but it wouldnt open, the spirit was either afraid or I was being protected because he was stronger than I was but I was in the fight ready to fight! :)

Then it was like I was half awake. I knew I was in my room but was in that wierd half sleep mode, my body was tingling like I have never felt before in my 38 years, as though I had an armor of light on, it was amazing. And I felt something I dont recall ever feeling. I felt childlike, like I had someone with me, protecting me, giving me strength, backing me up, not necessarily making me want to kick ass, but fueled with a grace based energy on the side of rightousness, and I said to myself, "It was just a dream but I like it", "I like having this guy on my side". Then I completely woke up to a huge breathe of air as though something was breathed into me, feeling as though I had just been saved and reborn back into my beliefs. Then I got up and started writing this account.

All I have to say is this. If God didnt exsist would man need to create him? Maybe. Do we talk into outer space, to ourselves sometimes, trying to get to God? Maybe. Do we hope that God real but feel doubt? Absolutely. Do we sometimes feel as though God isnt there for us? Yes. Do we feel as though maybe we are delusional and all the non-believers are on to something we arent? Yes. Do we feel that we are weak because we have to be believe in something we cant see to feel better? Yes. Do we feel like we sacrifice earthly things for no reason? Yes.

Can we live without God now that we have given our life to him? Nope.

We cannot live without God now that Jesus knows who we are. We dont want to, we shouldnt, it sucks without him, doubting sucks, and he will always call us back to him one way or another.

Why did Jesus go around trying to convince us he was "the Word", because he loves us and he wants us to feel comforted by him. We just sometimes cant handle the fact that in a cruel world there is someone, something bigger than us, that wants to be good to us unconditionally.

Everything in life has conditions and the only condition of this is that we accept the love, fellowship, hope, forgiveness, protection and that we believe that Jesus has our backs in the fight.............

We will always doubt, we will always wrestle, one day we will feel as though we walk in the light of the Lord, the next we wont feel him hardly at all. Thats just how it is. If we felt good all the time, if we didnt have issues, if we didnt need a higher power, chances are, we would just forget Jesus died for us. I seem to think that someone out here is alot smarter than we are. Its hard to admit because we know everything but I believe its all true.

Thanks Jesus, I appreciate you in my life, my heart belongs to you I couldnt live without you, I dont want to live without you and I believe you are who you say you are. I will take you with me to my grave whenever that may be. You didnt get ridiculed, beaten and crucified for nothing. You did it all for US and we love you too................

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Leading by Example

I have had the pleasure of meeting, worshipping, and fellowshipping with some extraordinary people in my walk with the Lord. I would like to take the oportunity to talk about a man who doesnt talk about himself very often if ever.

That mans name is Jesse H.. I received a message that he had a great honor, definately not the first one, bestowed on him by being on the cover of surfer magazine. I dont believe its his first time but the point is this....

Jesse is one of those humble, faithful, guys who leads by example. He comes to church every sunday, sings with the band, worships the Lord in a down to earth way, sets up the church and tears it down with no complaining, at least none that Ive ever heard, and is a church elder. He has been an inspiration to myself and many others.

Leading by example is key in your walk with the lord and I recommend to all of you that you use Jesse as an example of the possibilites one has when he walks with the Lord in a committed and humble way, I know I will. Im proud to have met him, proud he is a Christin brother, and look to him as an example of a STRONG Christian leader.

Way to go Jesse! Your an inspiration. It definately made my week!

Awesome Stuff!