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.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Big Picture, A Good Cause

In Nov of 2001 I was out of the military. I went up to New York City and saw the World Trade Center remnants. It was still smoking. I then decided that I would go back in the military and do what I knew was right. I remember watching them fall on TV, all those poor people falling out of those windows. My mother, who worked in the financial business, was actually on an open phone call with Canter Fitzgerald when the planes hit. Many people she knew lost their lives.

I joined up with my old unit and went to "war". We did alot of good things, put some guys in Guantanamo, put up with alot of BS from the military, and came home, with alot of unfinished business. Im now going back to the place I was before getting an opportunity to finish some of that business. If that business a destiny with an IED or bullet that didnt get me last time? Dont know and dont care.

Today I went to my storage space to get some desert uniforms and some other stuff and I found some notes I had made from my military deployment jarring old memories. Seeing thos notes gave me an electric feeling. God has given me the opportunity to go back and finish what I started.

When I came back from my combat tour, I was asked what it was like. The way I explained it was, "It was like being excited to go to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz, and then realizing it was just a regular dude working some switches from behind a curtain" . Thats supposed to be funny and its true, at least from my viewpoint. Yeah, we did good stuff, got to see the American military might, and got some payback on those cowardly peices of crap over there.
Was I a hero? Nope. Was I burnt out and pissed off after awhile? Yep. Did I get tired of riding around waiting for an IED to blow me off the face of the earth? Yep. Was it woth it? Absolutely, it was the most important experience of my entire life. Nothing else comes close. Barring finding God of course.

I wouldnt trade those experiences, both good and bad, for the world.

Today, I realized my purpose for going back over. Its to finish some of the things I started, to be able to tell my story, and to put some demons to rest that have been swimming freely in my head for awhile. Just looking at my notes and uniforms made me realize that I love this stuff. Its who I am. Its what Ive always been good at and its what I do. That doesnt mean that when I get back Im not going to build my adventure company, but I am blessed and grateful to God for the opportunity to do what I do.

Everybody was put on this earth for something. Even those who only live a couple of years or die young. Its all part of a big picture. We learn, or are supposed to learn, something from everyone we meet. We are all equal in the eyes of God, which means we should all be equal in our own eyes. None better than the other.

Alot of times we get consumed with our personal lives, problems, little worlds we've created and forget the big picture. Whats the big picture for a Christian man? I think its to let God use us as his tool. Whether its being a good father, a good worker, a good friend, a good Christian, a good soldier. It helps to know who you are in the big picture. You must read the bible, pray to God for the answers and let them come. You must live your life for the big picture. That doesnt mean family doesnt come first or anything like that, it means, think about how you fit into the world and go for it.

Pray, read the Bible, let God use you for his purposes and take it easy! At least thats my opinion.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Staying the Course

A lot of times in life you can say, it was as bad as I thought it would be. Not so, whenever you are dealing with the military. Most of the times they excede your bad expectations. I used to have a saying that I didnt come up with but owned and it goes, "Just when you think things have gotten bad, just wait, they will get worse". I learned this mantra in special forces training when I thought that there was no way we were going to keep going, we are tapped out. Well, thats what that training gives you, a new way of looking at things. Just shut up and drive on.

As I get older I find it harder to just shut up and drive on. Im not a 24 year old hard charger anymore, Im a 37 y/o guy who wants to enjoy his life with the least amount of BS. I dont just take things as they come, I try to change them for the better. Is this the right answer? What is the right answer?

What Im learning is that if you read the bible, and pray it wil give you answers. Staying the course with the answers it gives you is another story. I find it hard sometimes to stay the course because it goes against what I really want to do.

In my younger years, I drank alot, fought, intimidated people, etc. Why? CONTROL. When I was drunk, I didnt care about ANYTHING.....control, starting a fight or fighting.......control, intimidation......control. But do we really ever have control. Nope. We all know that you can be killed or hurt at anytime no matter where you are. Doesnt matter whether your at the beach surfing or in Iraq. What does this have to do with staying the course? Without the bible and God, you really dont know what your course is in a lot of instances. Most people follow the course that their peers give them, or their families give them, or work, when it all it really comes down to is God's plan for us all.

What came first the chicken or the egg? A scientist will come up with some solution that was taught to him by another guy who was taught by another guy, etc, etc, etc. But who really knows? Who's got all the answers? The reason I ask is because I think all of us have a purpose in the world. Finding that pupose and staying the course is key.

The only true way to find your significant place in the world is to trust in God and go to him in prayer referencing the bible. I read a verse last night by John the Baptist to some soldiers he had just baptised asking,"what do we do know?", he said,"do not intimidate anyone, or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages". To me this says, dont be a jerk to people, dont talk about people behind their backs and lie about them and be happy with what you already have.

Staying the course includes grace, faith, trust, acceptance, confidence, strength, and alot of other qualities God gives to us when we trust in him. My advice to you is to pray often, pray long when you can, be humble, and stay the course God gives you eventhough its hard.

If it wasnt hard everyone would be doing it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pumping Up

I found out where I would be going when I go overseas and It's the same place i was last time I was there. Thats a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that I know the area. The bad thing is that I know the area. Sometimes its best to not know what to expect.

I prayed last night and came to a couple of conclusions with God's help. One, this is what I do best. Meaning that I was put on this earth to do what I am going to be doing which is basically teaching and working along side of guys who have volunteered to do a dangerous mission for thier own country. Two, the money is nice. And three, God puts us where he wants us.

I had debated on whether I was going to completely change careers or go on this deployment. I decided to go based upon the facts that it's a good, worth while mission, it's pretty good money and it will give me a chance to document my feelings and how I apply God to my life on this journey to give others insight into what its like.

During my prayer time last night I was basically told that this was an important mission on many different levels. I cant really go into detail,only because it hasnt begun yet, but I can say that it will have a direct effect on how the "bad guys" support their terrorist activities. Therefore, its God's work on one level or another as long as its done professionally and with grace.

After last nights hour long prayer session, I was so pumped. I was finally mentally ready for my new mission because of God's help. I was reading the book of Romans and read a verse that just got me totally psyched to do God's work. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light" . (Romans 13:12)

Right on! Lets do this thing I thought. God has basically cleard me hot to be his tool for the betterment of the world. Awesome!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Preparation

I'm preparing for my trip by packing and mailing my equipment, to meet me over there, and by tieing up loose ends such as bills, mail forwarding, etc.

I'm basically motivating myself right now because I dont NEED to get up early, I dont NEED to to not wait until the last minute, but we all know that waiting until the last minute makes things worse.

How do I stay motivated? By asking God to give me the strength to make sure I do things right. Basically I say to myself, "what would God want me to do today" and "will he help me keep focused". It works. It gives you the feeling of "letting go and letting God", to use a coined statement.

By letting God take control, you are free to be truly at ease, the stress level goes down big time.

Right now it's stressful for me because I dont have a wife or any family where I live to help me get my affairs in order, so I rely on my father, God.

I have also been getting my mind right for my upcoming trip. Basically, remembering what it was like before and getting ready for it again. I dont want to make the same mistakes I have made, I dont want the feelings of a combat zone to take me by surprise. Eventhough nothing is ever as bad as you think it will be, you still have to mentally prepare for an environment where you are going to be in constant danger.

There is a gauge out there called the Cooper Color Code. It was created to gauge an individuals level of awareness in life, it goes from White to Black.

White - Relaxed, at ease, no worries.
Yellow - Somewhat aware of your surroundings and potential threats
Orange - Fully aware there is a threat and ready to fight or react
Red- Fighting and reacting full on

and then theres Black - where you go completely catatonic, basically curl up in the fetal position, rock back and forth and suck your thumb.

I have been in all conditions except Black many times. When you are in a high threat environment you are always in at least yellow. Thats what burns guys out. That "thousand yard stare" doesnt necessarily come from killing people but from always looking for potential threats.

Imagine climbing or surfing huge dangerous waves every day, all day long ,for months on end, far away from home, when other people who you know are getting killed, maimed and wounded around you, and now your coming close to what guys and gals are going through in Iraq and Afghanistan everyday, some for 15 months on end, and then go back another year later for the same.

Most of these people rely on God to get them through. Once again the term "there are no athiests in fox holes comes into play". I can tell you from personal experience that I did and still do. I am way more of a Christian now than when I was over there last time, and I still relied hugely on him. Was it because i was scared? Sure, but fear is natural, it depends on what you do with it. There is a coward and hero in every man, it can just depend on the day. Some days you feel like superman, other days like your gonna buy it. I'm not worried about getting killed, to me I will just be going home, but being maimed, blinded, etc., is a concern but you know what? I have put my life in God's hands and he loves me which means he will do what he see's fit.

Saying all that to say this. A man is capable of the most wonderful life once he gives it over to God. All your worries are taken care of. You can only have this life if you stay a friend of God through prayer, faith and trust in what the bible tells you. This philosophy translates into all facets of life. From work, to adventure, to relationships. If you just submit to God all the answers will come clear and you will live with grace, thus living for God, and people will see it and respect it. That doesnt mean you become judgemental, like you know something everyone else doesnt, it means you draw people to God by your grace and "walk the walk, not just talk the talk". You become real and dont have to be who others want you to be which makes you truly FREE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Finding Strength Through God

Welcome to my Blog. This blog is set up for Christian men, young men and boys. This is my take on how to find strength through God in life. I will be deploying overseas for the next few months and I figured I would use this blog to document my trip.

I'm not going to post exactly where I am going, what I am doing, and any operational details, but, I am going to give a real time look into how God fits into our lives when we are "living on the edge". This can mean, surfing big waves, diving on a deep wreck, climbing a mountain, going to a combat zone, how ever it needs to apply to get you closer to God.

I want to help Christian men to realize that a man who believes in God and puts his life in God's hands and relinqheshes control, is probably the strongest kind of man there is no matter what his background is. Bravery comes in many different forms. The best way I've heard it defined is when you are REALLY scared to do something but do it anyway. I like to think that everyone has the ability to be brave, but everyone has to realize that sometimes you aren't going to be as brave as you thought you would be. Thats where God can help you. Who was the most "graceful under pressure" person we know of? That's right, Jesus. He knew he was going into danger but his faith kept him going so he could change the world. That and the fact he was the son of God.

Guess what? We are sons of God too. God is our father and he loves us and wants us to live for him. Does that mean we will ever be as perfect as Jesus? Nope, but now we at least have a template to work from in our lives. Think of Jesus as giving us a sort of User's Manual for Humans. Does this mean that we aren't going to sin? I dont think so but I do think that it means that we understand the sin and try not to make the same mistake twice. I guess this all goes along the lines of losing your grace (i.e. how you are perceived, how you perceive yourself, and how god see's you). God loves us therefore he understands that we will screw up sometimes but it's what in our heart that matters.

Will I lose my grace? Not under fire, meaning, will I be able to keep my relationship with God solid and will I be able to represent him and still fit in. The answer is, only God knows, but if you talk to God and let him speak to your heart you will be given the answers to these questions.

I believe that we get closer to God when we are out of our comfort zone. The farther out of our comfort zone we are the more we need God. Hence the term, "there are no atheists in foxholes". This philosophy translates over to any adventure a man, or soon to be man, goes on where he will be challenged mentally and physically. During my journey I will be honest with how things are. I probably wont be able to go into the details of times, places, and people but you will get the jist of whats going on.