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!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is God Still There?

I started to do a blog by the same title before but I held off and then then couldn't get the title off of there. But now I'm ready to make it happen.

Is God still there?

Absolutely. He's there all the time you just have to "look" for him. How do we look? Pray, read the Bible, and fellowship.

When I got here, there was no Christians to be found. As a matter of fact some guys who were here before made religion a bad word because they were trying to push it on other people. My philosophy is and has always been that if you are truly living for God, then people will seek you out. I have seen this happen many times on my journey.

Today we were supposed to play cards but it turned into a discussion about Jesus, God, the Bible and other things. Guys opened up their hearts and got real. There were different views. Some guys were Catholic. Some Baptist. And some non-denominational. The bottom line is that God will always find a way to bring people together no matter where or what the situation is. Here we are far away from friends and family and we are getting together to fellowship. It was good. It made me feel good. Not as good as being at my church but pretty good for where I am.

Its hard sometimes to feel God when your away from everything familiar. The saying "iron sharpens iron" is definitely true.

We take for granted the creature comforts, family, friends, ice cubes in our drinks, etc. Until you get out of your comfort zone your faith is not truly challenged. Its like a rite of passage. You need to see how you will react when the tables are turned or completely upside down. I am definitely figuring out my faith here. I have to ask God for the grace to get through the days here without losing my cool. He is always there for me.

If you found yourself devoid of anything you know, without creature comforts, without friends or family, there will be only one thing that no one can take away from you.

God......

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Crusades?

I meet alot of "Christians" overseas. Many of them have an idea that its us against them. Meaning the Christians against the Muslims.



I have had the opportunity to sit down at length with Muslims who are far right wing, some of which have fought against the Russians, Americans, basically everybody that was at war with them. I have made it clear that I believe in Jesus Christ, but I havent gone to the point to where I wanted to kill them over it. I have wanted to kill them because of the bad things they did, not hier religeon.



The Muslim religeon is a religion of complete control. Pray five times a day when prayer is called, strict rules etc. Some right wing fundementalists wage war based upon how they have interpreted the koran or misinterpreted as it were.



I have a question....



Whats the difference between a right wing fundementalist muslim car bombing the infedels and a right wing Christian bombing an abortion clinic. In my eyes, nothing. Anytime you kill for a belief SYSTEM, your wrong. You kill for survival.



I didnt join the military to press a certain ideaology on someone else, I joined to protect freedom.

That includes freedom of religion. All religions. I may not believe what they believe, I may not agree, I may not like them but until they give me a good reason, I dont wage war on them.



9/11 was a good reason to wage war, not on muslims but on extremeism, all extremeism. Bottom line is that there are individuals out there who just like to start trouble, they can leave things well enough alone, they have to give their opinion or their ideas or their methodology. Some willing to kill for it.



Did Jesus say,"If someone doesnt believe like you do, kill them"? I never read it that way. I read it as you only get to God through Jesus which includes his teachings.

Now dont get me wrong, I think that people need to be punished for some things. Child molesters, rapists, thieves and most of all, deliberate spillers of innocent blood, especially when its based upon religion. But who does the punishing. You? Me? God? Does God use us as tools to conduct his punishment, I believe so. I believe that our paths are chosen for us. If that path crosses with the path of a terrorist who is out to kill innocents then guess what. Its his time to go. Thats how I feel about it. Do I care what his religion is? Nope. Have I seen terrorists from other religions? Yep. I was in Central America many years ago, and we were attacked by a terrorist element that wasnt muslim. Do I consider Timothy McVeigh a terrorist? Yep.

My point is this. God shows us all who he is in a way that we can understand and hopefully relate too. Man creates his own God when he feels as though he should commit hanous acts against others for Gods sake. Man, thats the problem and each one should be gauged by others based upon his acts with Gods help.

How do we get Gods help? Praying, the Bible, Fellowship.

All the answers are right there.

My new rule is that as long as I dont have "Blood Lust" in my heart, God will use me as his tool when and if the time comes again. I had "Blood Lust" a few years ago in combat but it didnt benefit me. I did some things Im not proud of, I did things for payback, I did things with a lustful heart. God wasnt on my side. Now he is and every day, I put my life in his hands.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Appreciating What We've Already Got

Im now in a place pretty devoid of all color, vegitation, water, basic stimulus that we take for granted back home. I live at the beach so I am used to a certain "surroundings" if you will. Here is the exact opposite. The only similiarities is that the remote beach areas can be relatively harsh in their own way.

This mission isnt as dangerous as others I have been on so I have a different perspective on things this time. I havent been rocketed, IED'd, or taken small arms fire which makes for a more boring trip but everytime I have been shot at, and believe me, many have had it worse than me, I say to myself, "why do I do this shit". There are many answers to that question. Number one, its all I've ever known, Two, Its what Im good at, Three, I need the money, Four, I want to do my part, Five, to protect my loved ones, Six, payback for 9/11, remember that day? Many have forgotten.

I come on these trips for all those reasons. Because I have had a relatively successful career doing this crap, I have accumulated alot of bills. Which means I need alot of money to support that. I want to keep what I already have because I appreciate it, I appreciate the fact that God has given me a good life. I look out at the locals here and if they have a fire at night they think they are on the top of the world.

This lifestyle has afforded me the opportunity to travel and see many different cultures from Europe to Central and South America to the Middle East and basically travel around the world. The poorer cultures of which were always the most interesting. I joined the Special Forces to help the "little guy" when the "big guy" was beating up on him. I would train the "little guy" better than the "big guy" and then fight alongside the "little guy" until we pounded the "big guy" into dust, while assimilating to the "little guys" culture the entire time thus gaining a new perspective on everything, people, war, culture, religion, etc. That was what I thought I was on this earth to do.

Now, as I get older I am attempting to turn those skills into something more positive. I still enjoy working with the underdog, but I'm tired of going to war. I have always had people come up to me and say, you've got the coolest life, I wish I could do all that stuff, and I think to myself,"yeah, I get to do some pretty cool stuff, but why has the spark gone away?" I was a paid professional firearms and tactics instructor for many years, my students would come up to me and say,"man, you've got it all, you get to shoot all day, you get free guns and bullets, you get to be in this environment all the time", I would just think to myself, "I just wanna surf".

Where am I going with all this, its hard sometimes to appreciate what Ive got. The grass is always seems greener, right? I wonder what I would would do in a "Normal" job. I wonder if I would be able to be around "Normal" people, I wonder if I could handle not being in a dangerous environment. I dont know. NORMAL to me IS JUST A CYCLE ON A WASHING MACHINE! What is the normal job, who are the normal people, my grandmother used to say,"everyone is just one act away from being deemed insane", makes you think huh? Made me think.

Finding God and going to church has probably been the only "normal" thing Ive done in the past 20 yrs. and the church I go to isnt exactly your cookie cutter church but thats what I love about it. There is a wide range of people there from business people, to pro surfers, to construction workers, to fisherman, I miss it alot when Im away, it has become a part of who I am because it has brought alot of peace to my life of kaos. It and the people in it have shown me that there is something called unconditional love out there.

Back to appreciating what we've got. I have been attempting to make a career slash lifestyle change. I used to get off by riding my Harley 80 miles an hour, all banged up coming from a bar, with some chick on the back, now I get off by being close to God, surfing, and sticking with one chick, who gives me peace as opposed to kaos. For the first time in 38 yrs, I have learned how to eliminate the kaos somewhat, the only problem is that the only career Ive had and the only jobs I get offered are those in which create kaos for me, and augments the kaos in the world, which creates kaos for those around me.

I had the opportunity to work with someone I respect, a pro surfer, I cant say his name because I dont use places or names in my blog, but those of you reading that know me will know who Im talking about. We were taking people to their physical limits, using God and spirituality as a base, and letting them see their potential, thus showing them what God is all about, hope and love. For the first time in my life I got the same spark without the guns, without the kaos, without the killer instinct, it was all good and positive. I crushed 6 vertebrae on a jump a couple years ago, among other injuries I have sustained from jumping out of airplanes, carrying a heavy rucksack, driving on rugged roads for 18 hrs at a time, playing rugby, football, lacrosse, and basically beating my body to bits for years. But I was accepted for my knowledge and experienced and utilized as a tool for God even being physically limited.

The hard part is that I have seen what life COULD be like, but life isnt that way for me yet and that frustrates me. Im not bitching about it, what Im saying is that, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, whether you want to or not, God has a plan for us all and we need to just appreciate what we already have and rely on God to use us as his tool, whether your a construction worker, a business person, a soldier.

I will ask this of those of you reading this, help me with this prayer, "Lord, I pray for the grace and strength to fulfill and recognize your plan for my life, to see you in everything I do, no matter what it is, keeping me humble to be the person, the lamp on a hill for others to see, bringing positivity, hope and love to those around me by being an example of your power, Amen".

Thanks......

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seeing God in Everything

I know I can be alittle harsh, opinionated etc. but I really do have a positive outlook on life and people in general, even having been in some really crappy places and seen some really crappy things.



I try to see God in everything. Last night I was out looking at the stars and the sky was just blanketed with them and a thought came to me. Do we just see God in the beautiful things or can we see haim in ALL things. A newborn baby, a beautiful sunset, a clean wave, these things are all wonderful but have we programmed ourselves to only see God when we have it good? I think so.



Just as an example. If you crash your car do you see God. Sure because you survived. "Thank the Lord I survived", we say. But let me touch on something which turns into the equivelent of opening a can of worms, isnt it better to be in heaven, so if you die, thats a good thing right? So why would you thank the God your supposed to spend the rest of eternity with for still being here on earth? Because you would miss your friends, family, surfing, whatever things you love, maybe. Is it because you fear the unknown, maybe. Is it because you arent sure if things are going to turn out the way you have been told they would because you may not know anyone who has made the transition and come back, maybe. Does any of these wants and fears affect whether your going or not. Nope.....



Heres how Dave sees it. Take it for what its worth.



I try to see God in everything without going insane. I see him in the sunrises, Ive seen him in good waves, Ive seen him in a combat zone with all the love, brotherhood and sacrifice, Ive seen him at funerals with the honors paid for one by another, ive seen him when I lost my keys, Ive seen him when Ive lost a loved one, Ive seen him when my house flooded, etc. Why? Because I dont expect him to do anything for me good or bad, I just try to roll with it. Is God gonna sell your house? Is God gonna make you win the lottery? Is God going to do anything you want him too? Maybe.



But seeing God in both the good and bad is paramount. Did the early Christians see God even when someone had a boot on their neck, or a sandal as it were. They had too! Read Hebrews and tell me those people didnt have it rough back then. Those are our brothers and sisters not a story from a fairy tale. Some of the stuff in the Bible could be disputed as poetic license for some but the accounts of how these main figures of early Christianity died is bona fide. Didnt mean to rhyme that.



It all comes down to hope and love for me. Its hard some times when your dealing with a complete jackass but you HOPE he comes around by showing him some LOVE. I know alot of people in my Church who have practiced this philiosophy on me from time to time, thats how I learned it, it works.



Hope and love. Without God there would be no hope for me. Without God there would be no unconditional love for me. Without God there would be no.........anything.........for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is Kindness Really Weakness?

For a majority of my life I was the kind of guy you either loved or hated. Maybe I still am but before it was by design. If you didnt rate high enough in my book I didnt care to know you. Having become a Christian and adopted a new way of thinking, I do the best I can to be nice to everybody. The hardest part comes when I deal with people who are just like I used to be. Its like in a movie when a guy runs into his exact double, same look and everything, except I dont have the ability to just kick that special someones ass anymore. Its not because Im getting older, its not because of fear, its not because I cant hand out an ass beating to most of the people I have this special relationship with, its because its not graceful.......

The whole grace thing is huge in the Christian world obviously. We have Jesus as our guide on how we are supposed to live our lives. We will never be perfect but he helps us keep things in perspective by challenging us, giving us fellowship and the Bible to rely on, helping us with prayer. But I also know Jesus as a man who turned over tables at the temple and probably whipped some ass as he drove the people out because they were a disgrace to him. (Mt 21:12 but its in all the gospels)

Jesus can do whatever he wants!

Can we? Or is it a sin to get pissed....

All I know is that I dont get mad as much as I used to for the very reason that I see things in a different way, I fight the battles that need to be fought and I believe that that was exactly what Jesus was doing to teach us that sometimes you gotta get in peoples faces but the Lord comes to us through GRACE.

So....what am I saying?

Being trapped with a bunch of type A, chip on the shoulder havin, know-it-all dudes is hard when you are, or used to be, a type A, chip on the shoulder havin, know-it-all dude. Im learning to deal with it as a new Christian by basically not giving a shit about what they think, applying the principles of the Christian life, reading the Bible and letting it speak to me, and only hanging out with positive vibe people. There arent many positive vibe people here, as a matter of fact I havent met one yet, but I havent met everybody. The best passage I use for dealing with these kind of people is from Mt 10:14, Jesus said flat out "If no one will welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust of your feet when you leave that home or town".

I use this when I try to be nice to someone but they arent having any of it. Basically taking kindness for weakness, or they dont like your brand of clothes, or you just arent cool enough for them, or they are jealous, many reasons. I just forget them as far as needing their attention because the reality of the matter is that the only person in this world who absolutely needs to be your friend is Jesus, everybody else liking you is a luxury not a necessity.

BUT!.......you should never let anyone beat up on you, or bully you etc.

I think people take the whole turn the other cheek thing way to far. Im a Christian not a passifist. I think thats spelled right......

Be nice to everybody, extend your hand in friendship, if they dont take it, if they arent nice to you, shake the dust of your feet and move on!

At least thats my philosophy

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keeping it in Perspective

Last night I was starting to read the book of Acts.

I bought this NIV study Bible and its pretty cool because it explains historically what is being said in the Bible. As I was reading it something occured to me. I was totally feeling sorry for myself about falling prey to the more "non-spiritual" things the world has to offer. I really enjoy the less kaotic, peacful things life has to offer but God has chosen a different path for me I guess.
I wouldnt be who I am today without some of the kaos. I definately wouldnt have a nice house, truck, motorcycle, etc.

Maybe Im supposed to be challenged in this way. I've had many challenges in my life from military training, to growing up in a rough neighborhood, to combat, etc. etc. etc. I, like everyone else, hasnt always had it easy, but thats what life is all about. Nobody said it wasnt going to be hard sometimes but you know what? Theres been alot of extraordinary stuff thats happened too. There are some people who were born deaf and blind or worse yet got that way after knowing what it was like to hear and have sight.


I think about these people that started the first church, lost thier lives in ways that are unimaginable in the 20th century even to the most whacked out religeous fanatic ready to give thier lives in a variety of manners. Im talking lions, tigers, bears, Roman colliseums, being crucified, etc.


For me to bitch about letting stupid little things like how people are catty and backstabbing or judgemental bother is a little weak but from what Im finding is that not being a hypocrite is the solution to all that stuff. Not being a part of it, not doing it. Not so you can point the finger at someone else saying they are a backbiter or hypocrite but that in the eyes of God your doing the right thing therefore fullfilling the principles Jesus died on the cross for. Loving one another, being honest, showing grace, compassion, being patient, caring, all that good stuff. To me that doesnt mean that someone may not need thier ass kicked every now and then but you do it from the heart, by doing it from the heart your being the best person you can.

Next time someone is talking bad about someone else or bitching and moaning about something they cant control or making you feel bad remember the saying, "an empty can rattles loudest"!

But make sure yours is full..........of the right stuff.........and dont be a hypocrite!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Calling all Prayers

I need some prayer help. Finding myself back in this environment is hard. Its hard dealing with wierdo personalities, not that I dont have one of my own, its hard dealing with the bloodlust that so accompanies this kind of work, its just hard trying to be a Christian around so much negativity.

I made a concious effort to change my life by going to church, praying and reading the Bible and hanging out with positive people from the church, limiting my drinking, disciplining myself as far as lust goes. Now Im surrounded by people who are more into conflict, conflict on all levels, from creating drama to being bloodthirsty. I like the peaceful world alot more.

I dont feel as though I have to prove myself to anyone therefore I look at life in a different manner, meaning, I think Im enough of a man to think peace is better, sometimes you need to use force but your not "necessarilty" supposed to look for it.

I need prayers from my Church and fellowship. Im here to tell you that having been gone for only 3 days I feel very far away from God. Its wierd, I read the Bible but I dont feel that positive joy here that I normally feel at home, so Im asking all of you to help me get on the right track. On my last mission I was lucky to have gotten out in one piece, this mission is going to be more about being able to keep my grace around pornography, alchohol, back biting, ass kissing, people jockying for position, using others, etc. etc. etc.

So I need your prayers. Thanks.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

On the Road Again

I hope I will be able to blog on this trip. I will have internet access, so I should be good to go.

Well.....back in the saddle again. Im sitting in a hotel room waiting to go into where I will be working for awhile. I flew out of the US yesterday, it takes awhile to get basically to the other side of the earth. Leaving home is bitter sweet. I go from one world that is very spiriual into another that is very intense. My normal world is full of peace, love, happiness and surfing and this world is full of intensity, stress, boredom, and war.

I found myself in a bar at the airport, alot more loaded than I needed to be, making last minute phone calls like I was never going to speak to people again. You develop a comfort zone in life which when you go out of it you have different ways you can deal with it, yesterday, my way of dealing with it was to drink. I wasnt drinking because I was scared. I wasnt drinking because I was nervous, I was drinking because thats what you are supposed to do in this environment. Or at least it used to be.

The drinks definately helped me sleep on the plane but why should I need alchohol to get me through? I'll tell you why, because I broke all of the rules I have been working so hard to implement into my life in the last year. I didnt put everything into God's hands, I had'nt prayed for the grace to get through the trip, I had'nt humbled myself as a servant to God, etc. etc. etc. Basically I fell back into old ways that are kaotic and destructive. Well.....that is going to stop here. I am now going to pray for GOD'S GRACE to have me serve him while on this trip. Yes, I will be making money, yes I will be serving my employer but who will I truly be serving? I choose to serve God.

How can I serve God in this kind of environment? Its simple..... Be kind, be trustworthy, be loyal, be faithful, be humble, be strong, be honest, a straight shooter, take care of your body, pray and read my Bible and ask for God's grace to make it all happen .

I welcome all of you to read. Some of you read my blog on my last trip. Some of you are new. The bottom line is that I need your prayers to stay on the right path. I will say some things that will piss some of you off. I will say things you dont agree with. I will say things you may think are right on. The bottom line is that I write this blog for my Christian brothers and sisters to read to get another perspective on religeon, war zones, the open road, and the mindset of a relatively new Chriastian trying to do the best he can for God.

This blog is a testimony to the power that God gives all of us to change the things we need to change, be better as human beings, and represent ourselves as children of God so that others will look at us and be brought to his message.

Thanks for reading......

Friday, May 23, 2008

Judgementalness

Jesus doesnt give a lot of rules in the Bible. I once heard someone say that if you took eveything Jesus said in the Bible it would add up to about 2 and a half hours of talking. What Jesus said was very powerful though. Two big life rules I got from him were. "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" and "Judge not lest you be judged". These are very simple rules that any human being can follow most of the time.

When we judge others, arent we in effect breaking both of these rules? Do we want to be judged?

What is judging? Why do we do it? Well, I learned in the military that I needed to evaluate threats. I guess this could be a form of judgement, judging wheter something is going to hurt you or not. By why do we judge most of the time. I think it's because of personal insecurities. People need to beat others down to make themselves feel better.

Does it really feel that good to beat someone down? I guess it does for a minute but what does it do in the long run? I know some jack asses will say, it doesnt bother me at all when I judge people but I think most decent people actually do feel it in thier heart when they are judgemental. If you are a Christian, you most definately feel it because Jesus directly told you not to judge. It wasnt a parable, it was a rule in clear plain language. I think you could translate that 1000 times and it would still be the exact same message.

I have felt the judgemental heat from time to time. I have seen very hyper-sensitive judgemental people in all facets of life. Why? Because they are perfect? Because they have all the answers? Nope. It's because they are the most insecure people, the people with the lowest self esteem, the people who feel or have felt the most powerless and need to be prayed for. Maybe they learned to judge and evalute others by a tough standard having been judged by the same standard in thier lives.

All human beings are the same at basic levels. Ive been to Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, the Carribean and Central Asia so I think I have a pretty good idea of what humans are like in other places. In most of the places Ive been the people are so poor and so destitute that they dont have time to worry about what someone is wearing or how offended they got at something someone said. They are worried about thier next meal and will thier children be in danger. Westerners are the only people with the time to worry about nit-noid crap like what kind of shoes someone is wearing. In some places they dont even have shoes let alone worried about a brand name. Do our looks define us? Does our money? Does our car? Does our talent? Does our ability to meet anothers personality standard?

All I know is this. God is real, Jesus was right and you are definately being measured by what you measure others so take Jesus's advice and stay focused on God not your own hypersensitivities and social needs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

God's Plan Realized

Now that I'm getting close to coming home, I hope that God doesn't take me before I get a chance to realize the dream I have envisioned here in the middle of so much kaos. But you know what? If he does I will understand and hope you will too. The bottom line is that God has a plan, and we are all part of it, for better and for worse. It's not all about the individual. It's about the plan.

I look forward to coming home and taking Christian men to the next level through adventure. I want to introduce Christian men to that God given right to burn for something positive. Whether it's surfing, climbing, diving, whatever, we need to tap into that source of incredible courage, confidence, discipline and faith that only a loving God could give us.

I want to lead Christian men to reach out and touch the face of God through brotherhood and higher conciousness and pure adrenaline. This blog is the beginning of my new mission.

This blog is my heart on paper. It's for freaking real. I have been shot at here, contracted a bacteria thats eating a hole in my intestines and stomach, poured my inner thoughts out to complete strangers, why? Because I want to be closer to my Christian brothers and sisters, be a part of something bigger than myself. If that means I have to drop my guard, so be it. If that means that I make this entry tonight and die tomorrow, so be it. If it means that this blog is what I leave on this earth, right on! The bottom line is this. Until you have truly appreciated what can be taken from you or had something precious taken from you, you dont know what you've already got.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt

There really isnt much more to say. God bless all of you reading this and keep the prayers coming.

Dave

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Still in One Piece

I apologize to those of you who have worried about me because I havent had a chance to write in awhile. Thank you for the prayers and concerns.

I was in a very remote site for a month and a half where I couldnt get an internet connection. Now I'm in a remote site but we actually have internet. The wonders of modern technology.

The last couple months has been relatively interesting. Nothing sexy, just normal combat zone stuff.

I pray probably 3 times a day, compared to the Muslim 5, but my prayer hasn't been robotic, because I have to prayers, they have been real, spending time with God prayers. This trip has shown me what prayer is all about. Last time I was here I wasn't as serious as I am now about my faith. Now, without it, I would just be a weak excuse for a man. I depend on it. I think God led me here to teach me the way to truly be balanced, and to write my thoughts down so others could relate.

I would just like to say that, for me, I am closer to God when I am out of my comfort zone. Why? Because he is our father, and I'm his son. It's just that simple. I truly believe that and it makes me feel good nomatter what the circumstance is. Makes me feel as though I'm part of a bigger picture and I like that.

I know some of the things I've written have been over dramatic or raw or hardcore for some of you. As I look back on what I wrote I can only say that I had the Holy Spirit pumping through my vains. As a "new" Christian, it's hard to manage sometimes. When a baby rattle snake is born, it pretty much has the same size venom sacs as a full grown rattler, from what I hear, and if a baby snake bites you he will give you all he's got. He hasn't learned from time and experience that you dont blast all your venom out at one time you need to conserve some or you wont have any left for multiple strikes. The difference between me and a baby snake is that my venom is the Holy Spirit. If I got alittle over the top for some you, I apologize but it's all part of my growth as a Christian. I want as many people to read this as possible because I've put alot of energy into it but if it's not your trip, that's okay too.

I should be coming home soon. I contracted a bacteria here called, H Pylori. I went to the Army doctor here and they did a bunch of test's and said basically that I had to go home right now because they think it ate a hole in my stomach or intestines. That was 2 weeks ago and I'm staying for another 2 weeks. There's a fine line between being hard and stupid, but I'm staying because I want to finish something that I started here.

I miss my church, the beach, family and friends. Thank you for the prayers and keep them coming because I dont want to be the guy in the war movie who was on his trip home and got bumped off, but if it happens, I will get to meet Jesus.......I hope he's not pissed at me.

Talk to you all soon.

Dave

Friday, February 29, 2008

My Lord Savior and Protector

You gauge the days here in what a guy termed to me as “exposure”. Climbers use the term when they are at a dangerous part of a climb where they don’t have much security with their ropes, pitons, etc. Here “exposure” is utilized as being in a dangerous situation surrounded by uncertain dangerous events people and circumstances. This morning I was exposed. The job I’m doing requires me to work “exposed” with the local nationals. Meaning that I don’t necessarily have the American military might to fall back on.

This morning I found myself riding in an area where a suicide bomber had just killed 40 people about 5 days ago and there is information there are more targeting westerners, in an unarmored vehicle, with two guys I’ve never met, who don’t speak my language, who don’t really like Americans and lets say are into some bad stuff. I knew I would be going today, so last night I consulted my Bible. I read Ecclesiastes and some Psalms of David. Ecclesiastes because someone told me it was a very down to earth lesson on life and the Psalms of David where he talks about his faithfulness in god to protect and deliver him from his enemies. The guys I was riding with were alittle shady but I was more concerned about another suicide bomber targeting me. If you know me, you know I stick out like a sore thumb, especially here.

The point of this blog is this. I find myself moving away from God some days, using foul language, not feeling sorry for those in distress, ready and willing to take life, and overall not being a Christian. I need God, I fear God, I love God, but I don’t practice what has been preached to me, and what I know is right.

Why?

Because I let the ways of the world control me. Here in this environment you must be willing to do things that are very much against what Jesus preached. Guys here rationalize it by saying things like,”I’m doing God’s work” or “I’m a tool for God to use against evil”. I’ve said all these things myself but I’m really trying to figure out why Im here and why I do what I do. It changes all the time. Today, I believe I am here because being here actually brings me closer to God. I sin, I don’t pay homage enough, I use foul language but in the end I MUST rely on him. I never used to read the Bible. Lord knows I would have never made a blog like this. Letting people know my thoughts, but, the bar has been raised as far as my faith goes. I know whats right and wrong now where as I didn’t before. I had never read that users manual called the Bible. Have I seen the Light? Yep, but I don’t always dwell in it, because of my own doing. Meaning that in all circumstances you can apply the principles of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. I believe that’s why he spoke in parables. Does that mean I wont screw up? Nope. But it means I will work on myself.

Some people may read this and say,”Dave just likes talking about himself” or “he’s just being dramatic”.

Well, maybe that’s true but if the God hadn’t raised the bar in my life, and maybe yours, you wouldn’t be reading this and I definitely wouldn’t be writing it……………..

Friday, February 22, 2008

Finding Time for God?

Im finding it hard to find time for God as crazy as that sounds. Surrounded by issues such as suicide bombers, IED’s, and being in an area surrounded by “bad guys”, you would think God would be foremost in my mind but I don’t feel in my heart like he is. Not his fault but mine.

I was in this place years ago when I was on active duty. It has changed a lot in some ways and stayed the same in others. The culture here will probably not change but the firebase I remember in my minds eye is not the same. The old place where I lived is now like old roman ruins occupied by locals. The mortar pit that we launched rounds out of is now broken down and old. The Bible talks about how everything you have is only temporary and I definitely believe it. When we leave this earth, everything becomes property of another or just turns to dust. What stays with you whether you are rich or poor? Faith. God.
You could go to the far reaches of outer space, kind of where I am now, and still take him with you because whether you feel it in your heart or not he is still with you and loves you.

Its one part laziness, one part uneasiness to show my faith, and one part peer pressure that keeps me from God. The laziness comes from the fact that I don’t want to come across as a Bible thumper, which is augmented by the fact that I don’t know how to demonstrate my faith, driven by peer pressure to be like everybody else. Most people believe in God but dont show it outwardly. Some people don’t believe at all and some don’t know what to believe. Should that change me? Not in a perfect world but it does in some ways, that’s my personal weakness, prayer helps.

There is a small church here, believe it or not, and some Christian guys here who hold services on Sundays but I feel as though I have a reputation to uphold. Sucks but its true. Im supposed to be a tough guy. Well, the reality of the issue is that tough guys can love and worship God too. How do men maintain that tough exterior? Basically by not giving a crap about what other people think. We live our lives for God, whether its good for us or bad, right? How do we do this? We suck up our pride, bow down to our lord, be humble and submit, allowing the only influence to be Gods. Its hard because other guys will call you a sissy or say you cant stand up on your own two feet, you have to rely on a quite possibly non-existent God. Do they really say stuff like that or is in your own mind. If its in your own mind you can control it. If its them actually saying stuff, heres my opinion.

If they have all the answers and think they can disprove what I know in my head and my heart to be real, then bring it on. I make this challenge to anyone, prove he doesn’t exist. If people could, then they would but they haven’t so they cant. All they can come up with are theories and excuses. Again, what came first the chicken or the egg? It’s a running joke in our society because no one knows the answer except Christians. Ask me I will tell you the chicken. Christians have gone to their deaths knowing there is a God. Jesus is the most wonderful example. He knew and had the guts to prove it by putting himself through a lot of pain and humiliation, WITH GRACE, to save us all and make us better human beings.

Next time someone gives you crap for being a Christian, you have two options, smile, walk away and pray for them, or sit down with them and talk about it rationally.

In the end they will wish they had the strength, grace, faith and confidence you do and if they don’t kick their ass!

Just kidding……….kind of.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Response and Obligation

I got kind of a chastising type of email from someone reading my blog saying that I was alittle harsh with some of the things I say. Im snowed in and cant go anywhere so I have nothing but time right now to respond.


Heres the deal. Anyone can write about how wonderful life is and how happy they are. What does that give anybody except the feeling that they are missing out on something. "Why arent I as fortunate as they are?". Everyday I see children digging in trashcans, women in burkas with small children in thier arms looking for handouts, bombed out buildings that homeless people wouldnt even live in in our country where smiling people live in this one.


In our country we live in a bubble. Maybe seeing poverty once a year to make ourselves feel better saying, "I feel sorry for those people" when in reality your just glad it isnt you. People go to church for thier own personal reasons. Am I wrong or are we supposed to praise God in church. Go there for him.

You got to get down and dirty to see what its all about. If you stay in a bubble and live your life relying on God to keep you in a nice house and car and job. Your wrong. If you sit back and say, "I went to church today, now I can be a dick all week" your wrong. If you say I can talk about people behind thier backs and screw people in business justifying it as "Business" your wrong.

We are tools for God to use, living our lives for him.

Jesus got down and dirty with the throw-aways of society to bring them up why shouldnt you?

There's alot of negative crap going on around us everyday. Does that mean we run up with a Bible and thump people on the head saying your not doing things right? No. It means you lead by example. Let them figure out what is making you tick, making them want to ask about your faith.

God bless you if you have a happy pristine life but God help you if you think that nothing is going to ever happen to you. Do we just rely on God in the bad times or do we rely on him always.

Basically what I am saying is make a difference, dont just stand static and do nothing except enjoy the fact that you have it easy. John the Baptist didnt have it easy, the Disciples didnt have it easy, Jesus deffinately didnt have it easy but alot of Christians today have it easy because they dont stick it out there, they live for themselves.

Reality bites, but its our world and we have to attempt to make it better. Go to Appalacia and help those people, go to jail and help those people, go to the ghetto and help those people, dont just sit in a bubble and say, "thank you Lord for making my life easy", say " thank you Lord for making my life easy, now Im gonna help someone else, WHO NEEDS IT, asking for nothing in return".

If Im too harsh dont read this blog. If I think that every human has the God given right and obligation to make a difference and you dont agree, I dont care. You cant make everybody happy all the time.

Make a difference with grace, by helping someone with an alchohol problem, drug problem, lust addiction, adultery issues, faith issues, etc. without being judgemental or overbearing. Be human to them. And bring them up to the level you think your at.

Dont just bitch and moan because you think you have all the answers in your bubble, do something about it and if that means you dont read this blog, so what, it isnt for just you anyway.

But know this, Im just as guilty of all the above as some of you are.

Rules of Engagement

Ive had the chance since Ive been here to meet a guy who did the same thing I did in the military, had similiar experiences, is a Christian and is from where I live now. It was weird how we got on the conversation of God and Christianity, it just happened. I beleive God is putting people in my life that I can relate too. Sometimes in the weirdest places.

Im not a holy roller, or God-squader and more and more Im meeting guys who are the same. We believe in God, follow Jesus, and go about our faith with a realistic attitude meaning, we dont think that you should impose our views on anybody, kind of let them ask you first. Guys have seen my Bible on my rack and were amazed that I actually read it. I learned from my Pastor and the guys in my church what a powerful book it is. It holds the secrets of the universe and is a living breathing thing sent by God. If you want to find out for yourself, just pray for an answer from the heart and read what Jesus says. It will jump out at you and come chrystal clear.

The changes in myself are really amazing and scary at the same time. I'll give you an example. We were riding down the road the other day and we saw two locals taking pictures of the american vehicles riding by. You may ask why this is an issue. Well, bad guys will take the pictures of the american vehicles and target them for IED's (improvised explosive devices) along the road, or VBIED's (vehicle born explosive devices) where the basically drive up next to you and blow themselves up taking you with them. Anyway, a guy in the car saw them doing this so we decided to "jack them up". We turned around pulled up to them and myself and the Christian guy I met over here got out and pulled them up. I had my pistol in my jacket pocket so I was motioning with my other hand for them to raise thiers. They both did and I searched them and found the cell phone. it was a broken old cell phone that the guy was just mimicking taking pictures. he probably saw someone doin it and immitated them. I searched him made it clear that he shouldnt do that and we moved on.

I wanted to beat the guy just for stupidity and wasting our time but I didnt. One because he was stupid, two, because I dont have those violent feelings as much as I used to. The scary part is that, that used to be my defense mechanism, violence. Its hard for me to get a grasp on this whole Christian thing. Am I supposed to be violent? How do you make that decision to turn it on and turn it off when you are a Christian? Are we fighting a holy war? Us against them. Does this guy deserve a beating or worse for being ignorant. In my youth I would have said yes to all the above but its not that simple anymore.

I was a bailbondsman years ago and we took pride in intimidating, sometimes hands on counseling, and basically being enforcers. It gets old. Being a tough guy is hard. Here, so is being a nice guy. The bottom line is this. Dont put yourself in dangerous situations unless you are prepared to go full on. I pray to God that he will have me make the right decisions here. Thou shalt not kill. Well guess what? In my opinion some people need to be killed. Does that mean Im blood thirsty? Nope, tried that and it just made me frustrated and my heart black and hard.

I cant operate effectively in this environment without being willing to kill people. Sorry, but its the reality of the situation.

If God sees us all the same, what makes me more special than them? Better training? More aggressiveness. The fact that Im a Christian? What?

Heres what I think the answers are. As long as you dont go looking for it for some sick, perverse reason, you can protect yourself and those you care about. To me, every american here is my brother or sister and if it means bumping off some guy who is going to kill americans or the coalition forces its okay.

When I die, and I stand before Jesus, and he asks me why I have done the things I have done, I will answer this. Before I was a Christian, I did the things I did because I was bloodthirsty and ignorant, now that Im a Christian, I do the things I do because I love rightousness and hate evil.

Those guys were stupid and they got away with it but there are alot of guys here that arent stupid and would like nothing better than to see me or any american and coalition troops die.

We have rules of engagement over here which I will follow to the letter. They dont. We do things rightously. They dont. They use children and mosques as sheilds. We dont. They are cowardly weasles that place mines in the road. We dont. We help people. They dont. If we wound one of thier guys in combat we treat them. They mutilate our wounded. I can go on and on. How can we turn the other cheek when they dont turn thiers.

If we turned the other cheek everytime, there would be none of us left to fullfill Gods plans on earth.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Testing Faith

I got over here because I feel as though God was leading me by the hand. That whole blind faith thing, which Im stoked about because it puts you at ease. Its a new concept to me but it is definately one that I agree with. For me it really has shown me that God is with me. It has helped me with alot of doubts Ive had.

Being in an environment where so much is out of your control gives you the opportunity to see things for what they are. It gives you the insight to really put things in God's hands. Do some people think its a cop-out, purely psychological, if God didnt exsist man would have to create him thing? Sure. Do some people think that professional wrestling is real? Sure.

All I can say is this. I have had an inner voice lead me to do things I would have never done before. Like this blog, sharing my experiences. I have prayed about things, then looked in the bible and the answer has come crystal clear. I feel this presence with me, a light inside of me and it makes me feel good.

The world isnt a rosey place all the time but that doesnt mean that all of the above things arent true. People are still going to get horrible diseases, houses will burn down, car crashes and murders will happen but this is only temporary. I truly believe that there is more out there. Heres why. In 1997 my father and I were on a freefall demonstration team for the Maryland Naional Guard. We'd go out and do jumps into stadiums, air shows, military bases, etc. We got free jumps and a free parachute and it was fun so why not. My father was 51 years old and loosing some of his timing. Well, to make a long story short he was killed in a freefall accident in Delaware. It pretty much crushed me. We hadnt had the best realtionship when he died and the last words we ever spoke were harsh.

We were very close, more like bro's than father and son and when he died a huge chunk of me died with him. I went on a drunken rampage for awhile, tried going to church but got turned off, I'll tell that story later, and went off the deep end. Those were some very, very, dark self destructive days. Basically, I was slowly killing myself because the last words I said to him were '"F*** you". (I'll keep in PG-13 for Pastor Winfield)

I quit drinking for a month, vowed I would change, all that stuff. Obviously it didnt happen overnight but I think I have my plans and God has his.

My father would visit me in my dreams, which would carry over when I was awake. They were very vivid dreams. Now, somewhere in the Bible it talks about how God doesnt come to you in your dreams or something. Thats not what I mean. It was like Pop was sitting there saying,"Its alright, your life is just a test, theres so much more, the entire universe and all its answers are waiting for you". Thats the best way I can explain it. It was comforting. Did I think it was my mind playing tricks on me? Sure I did, but I didnt care. I figured he was giving me a final gift so am I a fool for allowing it to make me feel better? I dont care.

Why does everything have to be put into the too good to be true catagory. Or the wish in one hand, Sh** in the other and see which one comes true. It such a cynical world. Do you walk around with blinders on if you believe in stuff like that? Have you ever talked to an atheist? Or a heroin addict that think they have all the answers? You can look in their eyes and see they have lost that spark. They have given up hope. Without hope, we are all doomed.

I shared that story about the mountain pass for these reasons. If you have been reading this blog from the beginning you will remember a story about a guy who couldnt see very well explaining faith by having people in his congregation lead him around the room. As I sat there on that mountain pass high up in the air, in a strange environment, with dangerous people around me, and I prayed, not out of fear but out of respect for my loving God, he led me by the hand where he wanted me to go. That one 5 hour trip has burned into my mental hard drive images that will stay with me forever. My God loves me and wants me to show him I love him too and believe in him by being his son and having faith.

I often think about people who have died in horrid ways. Coal miners stuck deep down, scuba divers left out in the ocean, horrible diseases that take years to take someone. These are tests of faith. Maybe one of the miners was a Christian. Once again, its faith. There is a plan, you have to beleive that. Maybe those coal miners got stuck to test all of our faith and now they are sitting with Jesus, and after he explained why they were put through so much pain, saying," I see, now I know the plan". Hopefully some of them had the opportunity to go back and ease the pain of the ones they left behind. Just like Pop did for me.

God bless and keep the faith!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mountain Pass

You all are probably looking for some interesting stories as opposed to my boring writing about how God has changed my life so here goes.

We travelled from a major city into huge mountains getting to where we needed to be via a very Indiana Jones looking mountain pass. I wish I could say that I had pictures but I screwed up and didnt have enough space on my digital cam, plus I was busy during the ride with other things.

I have been through this mountain pass many times, and it sucked every time. It has been improved 100 fold since the last time I was here but it is still a force to be reckoned with. Its very beutiful, sketchy, and mesmorizing all at the same time. There is a road about 15 feet wide starting at about 9000 ft. winding down the shear mountain face with intermittant tunnels along the way.

As we were coming down the mountain we heard two "explosion like" sounds behind our vehicle. I was in the last of a 5 vehicle group. We heard the first sound behind us then looked at each other asking,"what the **** was that". We just shrugged it off and continued down the mountain. To us the noise could have be a rock busting off the mountain, ice cracking, avalanche, etc. but actually it sounded like a mortar round or an RPG exploding. We drove for about another 30 seconds and we heard another "explosion". Now our interest was really peaked. I looked behind us to see if anybody was shooting in our general direction but didnt see any smoke, etc. All I saw was a four door toyota corolla with about 10 people in it screaming past us at about 50 mph on this mountain road at about 8000 ft so we figured something had happened. The people here are really good about getting away from danger. They cant drive worth a crap until someonestarts shooting at them, then they are richard freakin petty.

We continued to our destination. All of us have had enough stuff shot at us to not be too phased by it unless it gets close. We didnt even know if anyone was shooting anyway. Probably was something natural.

On the way back it was just me and my buddy John. We left the other guys in their new location and returned to the major city via the same pass. Being that there was only the two of us travelling this time, we had to be extra alert for "bad guys". As we climbed up the mountain we started encountering what we call "jingle trucks". Beutifully painted trucks with all kinds of crap hanging off of them. They jingle, hence the name. There must have been 100 of them waiting to get through the pass, all in a line. We blasted by them because the last thing you want is to be caught in traffic, on a road 15 ft. wide with 2 way traffic, in a mountain pass, far from any other Americans, 6000 ft in the air, after you potentially got shot at there the day before, with only 2 dudes, half a flat front left tire, 2 pistols, 2 crappy AK 47's , only about 5 mags a piece, on a road with black ice, in a country full of dudes that would love to put the video of you being beheaded on you tube. Well guess what? We did.

As we sat there watching the people stare at eachother and us grid locked on this road, I thought, how many times had I been in stupid situations like this and how many times I had vowed not to be in stupid situations like this but always find myself there. All I could do was laugh, take it easy, and wait for the situation to work itself out. Did I say a prayer? Yep. I prayed, while keeping my eyes on the sketchy people around me, "Lord, this is all in your hands, just please be with us and give us grace under pressure". At one point I got out of the vehicle to direct traffic. Something about having a gun in this country that makes people listen. Want people to listen? Carry an AK. It reminded me of a few years ago when I was in a similiar situation in the same pass. Last time I pointed my M-4 at the people and used force to agressivelly make them get out of the way. This time I just got them out of the way. We drove about a Km. and hit more grid lock. This time it was really bad. We literally thought we would be there for hours or days. I then said another prayer. "Lord, please get us out of this grid lock". About 5 minutes later we here a siren. Its the police. Them and the military were in the pass because there was a major threat on the tunnels and bridges there. We flashed our ID's showing we were Americans, and to make a long story short, they moved all the traffic, all the way up the mountain through the pass. We literally passed hundreds of jingle trucks, buses, cars, etc. It took about 3 hours but we made it.

Thanks God.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Dont Be Afraid to Ask

If you have been keeping up with this blog you know that I had a slight dilemma with what my mission was and how much was getting paid, etc. Well, it seems to have been worked out. Not by me but by God. Its that whole putting it in God's hands thing.

Basically, I asked God for a solution to my problem. Usually when I pray it involves thanking him and praying for others. This time I actually asked for something. I've always felt weird asking for stuff in prayer. "Lord.......please send me a new Custom V Twin with the biggest rear tire out there", "Or, Lord.......I really need that 72'' flatscreen". I never asked because I have felt as though if it is God's will it will happen. Well, let me tell you that prayer is part of God's will, if it comes from the right place, the heart.

I have always thought of myself as a martyr when it comes to religeon. I got that term from a testimony of a guy named Steve from my church where he said he has always felt like that, kind of like he wasnt supposed to receive anything, just suffer somewhat.

I have felt the same way. I have felt as though life is supposed to suck, deal with it. I think this comes from growing up in a broken home and all that kind of stuff. If you grow up in a broken home or lose someone dear to you before you have time to develop coping skills, it kind of "sets you up for failure" from the very beginning and that is hard to recover from once you get used to it.

I have had some pretty bad things happen in my life, as have many of you have. Some people have never had anything bad happen to them. I think life deals out an equal share of misery to everybody in the long run. Some get it alittle at a time, some get it all at once, some get it in chunks. Ive always been a little at a time with chunks all at once kind of guy, meaning that like everyone else Im on lifes rollercoaster.

Saying all that to say this. Ive been asking for a change in my life. Part of my lifes rollercoaster is that I need to come to a combat zone to get my mind right, to appreciate what I already have. Last night I prayed to God to give me the answer to exactly what I am supposed to do over here. I asked him to use me for his AND my benefit. I asked him to bless me with a direction and definate path.

I originally came over here as a martyr. As far as I was concerned, I wanted the most dangerous, raw, down and dirty mission there is with a slight touch of doing something for humanity. I basically, didnt care if I was killed. I cared if I got maimed or something because then I couldnt surf, but fully ready to be a martyr. Saying to myself ,"I'll go over there and just let God do with me what he will, no questions asked".

They have a word here used for this attitude, Enshallah (pron. N-shahlla). Well, thats probably why they still live in adobe homes, kill eachother like its normal, and dont have anything but bomb craters. What Im trying to say is this. Part of our closeness with God comes from asking from the heart for both his will and your benefit, with the overall betterment of yourself in mind, making you a better Christian, making you a better man, making you a better parent, husband, etc. Basically, focused and content.

Its a chain reaction. I asked the lord if I was supposed to be here as a martyr, a killing tool, a pipe hitter, having my life here be chunks of bad events or am I supposed to actually accomplish something here. There is a part of me that wants to go down in the blaze of glory, but, is that helping others or myself? Is that benefitting both God and myself? Going down in the blaze of glory with reckless abandon is a pretty selfish thing to do. Your basically saying Im not worth being around and my friends and family arent worth having me around. Thats not the answer. Ill tell you what the answer God gave me is.

God doesnt need martyrs, believe me, Im living ina world full of crazy religeous martyrs and thats not the answer. God Needs happy, full of life, productive, useful people to represent him, not depressed martyrs. Are we closer to God when we think we are martyrs or when we are living for him? What makes you happy? Does God want you to be happy? These are questions you need to ask yourself and pray about and have God give you the answers.

Ive been asked to do a "managerial" job over here. Not so much of a hunter/hunted job. I will be serving a purpose, doing something I like, for the betterment of the big picture and I wont have to feel like a martyr. That doesnt mean it isnt somewhat dangerous, two of my local national brethren performing the same job were killed in december, thats why they need an american, we definately last longer, we dont play the whole Enshallah thing the way they do. We are much more "clicked on"with the ballistic counseling aspect of things, basically better shots and more situationally aware.

Within that risk, is closeness to God. In my prayers, I realized God wasnt out to get me. He wants me to be his son and live for him, walk the walk. Does that mean Im going to put on a robe, walk the desert, baptising people? Nope, its been done. All of those hard dudes form the old and new testament. David, John the Baptist, Paul laid the ground work for us with their lives so we wouldnt have to reinvent the wheel.

God doesnt want martyrs he wants you to be happy. You dont know when, where, and how God is going to take you home so you may as well be happy, productive and smiling til that moment comes.

Its all in Gods hands.........

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Caveat to Chaplain Story

I sometimes forget to elaborate on some of the things I say about the military.

Military Chaplains have an obligation to set a certain standard meaning that when he puts on his body armor, in a way he is mentoring younger soldiers who may not know better. They think to themselves,"If the Chaplain is putting on his body armor, I better put on mine". The Army are sticklers about making conventional troops wear their body armor.

Im not passing judgement on him, I was merely using the story to get people to think. I just thought it was funny..........

P.S. My Pastor is a lean, mean, DO IT, kind of guy.

Thoughts

I appreciate everyone writing me the notes of encouragement. Its hard for me to respond because this blog stuff is new but I will do a group response and say I have a wonderful commuity of awesome people around me.

Ive been "in country" for 24 hours now. We flew in at night, over high mountains, into one of the poorest nations in the world.

There was an air force Chaplain on my flight. He had his body armor, helmet, etc. Alot of people put on thier body armor for landing in case the plane starts taking fire. It used to be a requirement but now its your choice because the planes dont get shot at as much. I looked over and he was the only one putting on his body armoron on the whole plane, I didnt even have any, but if I did I wouldnt have put it on in that instance because I just didnt feel the need. I looked at him and said,"If anyone doesnt need to put on thier armor, its you". He laughed and said,"better safe than sorry". I just smiled and kept eating my soggy sandwich the air force gave me as we landed.

Im not knocking the Chaplain, it was his choice but to be honest, if I was a Chaplain, I would want to be a source of strength, not the only one wearing his body armor.

I was then picked up by some guys I may be working with and went on what I like to call a "white knuckler". Its a ride on a road where there is the potential to get IED'd or ambushed. They brought me body armor, weapon and radio. To be honest, I didnt even want to wear the body armor but I did because I didnt want them to think I was crazy. Saying something like, "Im wearing the armor of light of the Lord". They would literally crap thier pants hearing that come from me, even though its true. You have to play the game, not to mention it may save your life.

My question now is. Do you rely on God to save you and take care of you or do you wear that body armor? Im a little confused.

I also have another question.

What if I'm not down with killing anybody anymore? Ive seen the britalness of war first hand, and Im here to tell you, its beyond your expectations. The absolute worst thing people can do to eachother is tear them apart with weapons. It sounds cool when your a kid or a young man like I was at one time, but once you experience it, it changes you. Your innocent until you see someone die for someone elses benefit.

Had this whole conflict started when I was 24, I would have fought every war you had, killed everyone you wanted me to, done it for free, etc. But know that I enjoy God, surfing, and peace, its different. More of an evalutaion of ones self because you've been there. Dont get me wrong, I dont have aproblem dropping the hammer on someone in the right instance, but what is the right instance? Is being a contractor for the government brought in because you will do things "normal" people wouldnt. Did God bring me here or did I?

Following the Lord is softening my heart. Ive said and done some things in my life that are worthy of harsh judgement by the Lord and Im not sure anymore whether I am effective in some of the envoronments I used to be.

The bottom line is that I will ask those who are like me, meaning Christians. I will pray to the Lord, and I will read my Bible to find the answers.

Thank all of you who are reading this for being human and God Bless our Troops!

Friday, February 1, 2008

It Aint Easy

Im here to say it aint easy giving it up to God. Right now Im in the midst of a dilemma. My mission overseas has changed in the fact that we will not be doing exactly what I thought we would and also it looks like I will be making less money for the same risk.

I laid in bed tonight pissed off trying to envision the future and working myself into a frenzy. Its 4 am here.

As I laid there, mind going a thousand miles an hour, wanting to put my hands around somebody's neck, I suddenly had a thought. Why dont I give it all to God to work out. Now this is definately easier said than done. It almost makes you feel good to be pissed at somebody but I think it just hurts YOU in the long run. Worrying, stewing, pacing, punching walls, kicking somebodys ass, may feel good for a few minutes but then what? Heart attacks, strokes, jail, lawsuits, home improvement, etc..

Does it really make you feel better to give it all to God? Yep. Do I have to keep reminding myself that I gave it all to God? Yep. Is it hard not to lose your cool? Absolutley. But Im here to tell you that losing your cool over and over again will eat you up. Does that mean you will never lose your cool? No, but with enough practice you can get better. Im not at that point yet. Id like to be able to say to myself,"what would Jesus do" but Im not even close to being as perfect as he is, plus my response sometimes would be, "he'd kick his ass", but we know that isnt true. I dont pack the gear Jesus does so I will give it to him. Does that mean I will never kick anybody's ass? Hope not but there are no guarentees in life. That wouldnt be the right answer and Id feel good for a minute but then what.

Ive made so many mistakes in my life Im starting to be able to see the future in some instances, so now what I do is I project myself to the aftermath of what Im about to do and decide whether its worth it or not. A good example of this is drinking when Im pissed. If I was having a bad day my solution was to get hammered. After about a thousand hangovers, cops, blackeyes (mine and thiers), and wasted days of sleeping it off, I try not to do that now. It didnt get me anywhere, neither does losing your grace.

Remember 2+2=4

Pissed off+Losing your cool=Jackass

Give it all to God, let Jesus lead you where he wants you to go, take it easy, and be thankful for what you already have.

At least thats my opinion.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Being Called

I feel the need to explain exactly where Im going with this blog. I dont want people to think Im preaching to them or imposing my will or trying to make it seem as though I have all the anwers. Being a new Christian and making huge changes in my life has been somewhat of a struggle. I've done most of it alone it seems because there arent many men out there with my background, who feel the way I do, that I can connect with. Does that mean I cant connect with a Christian man who is different than me? No, but it helps to have someone who speaks the same language and can relate to your experiences.

The church I go to is wonderful. There is a very ecclectic group of people who are on the same sheet of music and are there for eachother. The reason why I started a blog was to tell the men in my church the feelings and thoughts I am having on my journey so they can see things from a different point of view. Whether guys like to admit it or not, they are interested in military/combat stuff. Im giving real insights into the mindset of someone going over to a combat zone and how God is helping me keep it in perspective and real.

Its not too often in this world where someone will tell you exactly what they are thinking or how they feel. People tend to put on fake faces, which is fine in some instances but I want people to learn from my experiences. People cant get educated unless you keep it real. Im following Jesus's lead, he wasnt the kind of guy to keep things to himself. In my opinion he wanted to give people his heart and make them better, more human.

I want people to read this blog and say to themselves, you know what? We are all human, no matter how "macho" the lifestyle someone has, they are still human. I have used a term throughout my life that I created for myself in combat. Its called False Bravado. My definition is this. When someone is scared but refuses to admit it and walks around like a God and think that no one can tell, but everyone can. A stubborness to just be real. Ive seen it a million times. Guys who have never been in so much as a fistfight, but think they are ultimate warriors. Deep down inside they are scared shitless. Yes I wrote Shit.

If you bottle everything up and dont come to grips with it, when your worst fears are realized you arent going to perform the way you thought you would. Most of the time clowns like that dont ever get into anything real because God knows they cant handle it and when they do, you can see an immediate and signifigant change, like a pee stain. They are no longer God's of war they become HUMAN.

Theres only one God and I believe in his son Jesus as my lord and savior, neither one of them are movie stars, film makers, soldiers, cops, etc. , or any of the jobs or titles that makes one think they are a god.

Dont take yourself to seriously, no one else does.

Keep it real!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blind Faith

Im now in a country int he Middle East called Qatar. I will be here for a few days and the into where I will start my mission. I have gotten more information on what I will be doing but the details change by day. What does it all come down to? Blind faith.

I had the opportunity to meet a guy on the way to the airport that gave me a great definition of faith. He told me a story about a guy who came into his church during a bible study asking the same questions we all ask, such as "what is faith, how do I have faith in something I cant see?". A member of his congregation with very, very bad eyesight, meaning he literally cant see anything more than 8 inches away from his faith, said he could answer the question. He asked one of the parisheners to come over to him and lead him by the hand around the room. The parishener led him around the room without him bumping into anything and then led him back tohis chair. He then picked another parishener and he did the same. The man with the poor eyesight then liiked at the man asking the question about faith and said,"Notice how they didnt lead me to fall down and took care of me, thats the faith you need to have in the lord Jesus".

The man asking the questions sat down and listened to what was going on. He said,"now I understand".

I thought that was one of the best examples of faith I have ever heard of. I was changed by that story alittle. It gave me a visual of Jesus leading me by the hand through life and it was comforting.

God is always with me leading me and I know when I vere of the path. Since I have free will to do what I want, I get off that path a lot. I know immediately when I get off that path because I feel out of balance, and obviously i know when Im on it because I feel balanced. The only way for me to stay on that path is to read the bible, pray, and have faith.

I firmly beleive that conversation and story came straight from God to reassure me.