Monday, October 30, 2006

Final Out!

Well, after 18 months on station at FT Jackson the mission of the 2-485th Unit Ministry team has come to an end. We have seen almost 5000 new soldiers some through here. There have been 30 full 9 week training cycles. In that time we have had about 75 Sunday services. 75 times soldiers gathered together to worship God. 75 times they sang songs together prayed together. We've seen God do some amazing things. We saw one young man literally brought back to life on the floor of his barracks after a cardiac arrest. We have heard countless tales of God healing family members and soldiers. We've seen young soldiers push through difficulty and overcome. We've also seen over 400 of these embrace for the first time in their lives the salvation of Jesus Christ. Many had never been in a church at all. Some were atheists that found the light of Christ brought a freedom that they never dreamed possible. One young soldier last summer came to me after coming to grips with his own mortality on the grenade range of all places. He pleaded with me to give him some hope for beyond this life. He too embraced the life of Christ, the grace and mercy that we all so desperately need.

We've also made some really good friends that we'll never forget. Friendships forged in the Army are hard to beat. The fellowship of warriors is a bond that I wish all could know. It cannot be contrived or made up or bought, it must be experienced and lived and it only comes through difficulty, shared difficulty. 18 months ago I was on a plane headed for a mission to Afghanistan. I had no idea it would end up like this. God's ways are indeed not my ways and His plan is perfect for me and you. Over the next two months I'll taking some time off, going hunting with my boy, eating too much turkey, riding my motorcycle, fly fishing, and getting some sanity back to my household. In January I'll take over as the Chaplain at 1-61 INF and look forward to supporting them for few months before I go home. Thanks to everyone in 2-485th, its been a pleasure and an honor to serve as your Chaplain. Blessings to you as you move on!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The BMW F650 goes to Victory Forge

We were in the field this week and I finally completed the Motorcycle safety Course so I decided try out the off-road capabilities of my new bike. I'm less concerned about the bike now and more concerned with the rider. The bike performed like I thought it would, but the sand here makes for treacherous riding if you aren't used to riding in the really loose stuff. I was able to pack all my field gear on the back and spent several days in the woods with the soldiers. We did two field services where we took communion together, it was a great time of worship. In the picture to the right are my buddies from Echo CO's command team. This week we are all getting together so that the Chaplain can destroy them again in a spirited bout of Halo! More to follow!

Pictures for you!

Just thought I'd put of few pictures of us at work up the web for you, more to follow!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

You have been ransomed!

Got this devotional in my email inbox. Thought it might be a blessing to you today

Jesus of Nazareth was sentenced to death by a vain puppet of the Roman government acting as district governor of Jerusalem. He was nailed to a cross by a handful of Roman soldiers who happened to be on duty, and left there to die. He died sometime around three o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday. Of a broken heart, by the way. And we call it Good Friday, of all strange things, because of what it affected. An innocent man, the Son of God, bleeding for the sins of the world. Standing in for us, as Jack gives his life for Rose in Titanic, as Sydney Carton stands in to die for Charles Darnay in A Tale of Two Cities, or as Aslan dies on the stone table to ransom the traitor Edmund. We rebelled, and the penalty for our rebellion was death. To lose us was too great a pain for God to bear, and so he took it upon himself to rescue us. The Son of God came “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). You have been ransomed by Christ. Your treachery is forgiven. You are entirely pardoned for every wrong thought and desire and deed. This is what the vast majority of Christians understand as the central work of Christ for us. And make no mistake about it— it is a deep and stunning truth, one that will set you free and bring you joy. For a while. But the joy for most of us has proved fleeting, because we find that we need to be forgiven again and again and again. Christ has died for us, but we remain (so we believe) deeply marred. It actually ends up producing a great deal of guilt. “After all that Christ has done for you . . . and now you’re back here asking forgiveness again?” To be destined to a life of repeating the very things that sent our Savior to the cross can hardly be called salvation. Think of it. (Waking the Dead , 61–62)
From The Ransomed Heart, by John Eldredge, reading 292 Ransomed Heart Ministries

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is all this black stuff?

I woke this morning at the usual 0450, headed to the bathroom for the first thing and after finishing the next thing I remember is waking up on the floor with my face in a pool of black liquid. For a minute I thought I was dreaming. I thought, what is all this black stuff everywhere? I noticed my face felt a bit weird so I pulled my hand close and notice the black stuff was dripping, running in fact, out of my face. I knew then that this wasn't black but red, it was just dark in my bedroom. I had very little situational awareness. The first thing out of my mouth was, "Jesus, help me!" I gathered myself up back to the bathroom and turned on the light and saw what looked like a cross between a horror movie and a Ric Flair/Harley Race wrestling match. There was blood everywhere, on me, on the floor on the door. I thought at first that I had aneurysm, but then noticed the blood gushing from a gash above my left eye. "Whew!" I thought, that was a close one, I'm not dying I'm just cut! I called a couple of my buddies and got Mike on the horn, told him what happened and he came and took me to the hospital. The Docs patched me up with 13 stitches. Then we had to figure out what happened. They ran all the tests, blood work, CT scan, EKG and the like...Nothing. They asked me a battery of questions....Nothing. I'm wearing a heart monitor now, but the Doc says there's nothing wrong with my heart. So what am I left with. Well without getting too spooky, I'm convinced as many of you are that this world is not only physical but spiritual as well. In the past few weeks I have been praying more, seeking God more, bending my will more to His. All in all I've been being blessed by the presence of Jesus. He is restoring my heart for His Kingdom and the mission He called me to. We are in a world at war, and our enemy, mankind and God's enemy, desires our downfall. Without monkeying with the sovereignty of God, which I can't anyway, I just believe I came under attack. But the kindness of God, of Jesus, rescued me when I asked Him, "Jesus help me!" And help me He did. My fellow soldiers have called and wished me well and many came to see me at the emergency room. Jesus helped me by surrounding me with warriors. He helped me with a praying wife who loves me dearly. Today I'm resting and praying and watching a really bad Jean Claude Van Damm movie. Tomorrow it'll be back to the fight, stitches and all!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wild Men Campout

That's my boy! Dad's are mighty proud critters and I'm no exception. I've been mobilized away from my family since March of 2005. That is a long time for a dad to be away from his kids. I get precious few opportunities to be with my children. Little boys especially need their dads. Last week was a horribly busy week. I had been planning this campout with little Jack for several months. Wouldn't you know it, life got complicated at the end of last week. I became discouraged at the level of busyness I faced. Problems just kept coming up. Undoubtedly it was warfare to keep me from building into the life of my little man. I vowed I would make it a good weekend. My wife also reminded me of the crucial nature of this. She's wise like that. I made it home and we camped, we fished, we shot BB guns, we shot bows and arrows, we sat around a fire with other dads and sons and told stories, we ate hotdogs cooked on coat hangers and we built into the lives of our sons. We were cold in our tents, but I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else that night. Those two days cannot be bought or rented. They are irreplaceable. My son is 8 now. He thinks I am a superhero. I have about 5 years where he is attentive at this stage of being a boy. I plan on making the most of it and making more memories. I want him to know that his dad placed value on this most precious of relationships. My thanks to Jeremy and Robbie and the Harkey family for their hard work in a great weekend. Miss Kelly also made some great food for us! There's nothing like a hot sausage biscuit on a 30 degree morning!

Monday, October 09, 2006

10 miler is done!

I can today with great thankfulness to all you that prayed that I and my team finished the Army 10 miler! What an incredible feeling to finish a race like that. I wish you all could have been there. My wife, kids, mother-n-law and my mom all went with me. Also there were Drill SGTS and other soldiers from FT Jackson. In that group included, Scott, Mitch, Jason, Glenn, Mark G, "Chewy", Mark J and 24,000 other fine folks. It was a beautiful day about 65 degrees at the start. The course wound from the Pentagon through downtown DC, by the Washington monument, the Mall and the capital. We then ran back across the Potomac and finished at the Pentagon. It was amazing! All along the way people cheered for us and bands played. I had no idea I was even tired till the last mile or so. Inspiring soldiers that had lost limbs in our current conflict ran the race despite their missing parts. In fact that was the name of their team, "Missing Parts in Action". Eccentric folks ran too. I saw one guy juggle 4 hackey sacks the whole way. I got my picture with two ladies that dressed as wonder woman and super woman. But for me the coolest part was coming in the last 1/10 of a mile. I came down off 395 and heard screams of delight, "Daddy!" There at the bottom behind the barricades was my family screaming for their old slow daddy. I finished 10650th out of 24,000 people. Not exactly on the medal stand. But it was as if I had won. My kids think I am a superhero! I imagined as I ran through the last part of the course that heaven must be a lot like that. Having run the race to completion surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on we strain for the finish line. It is not lost on me that soldiers ran this race, soldiers who have fought and bleed and seen their friends killed. As we run that last 100 meters to our final finish line I can't help but think that the scene will be similar. We are all warriors in life. Its a war for our hearts and our souls. All those who have finished the race will cheer. They know how hard the miles are, they cheer also because they know the joy of finishing and finishing well. At the end of that race instead of a timer measuring the minutes it took, there will be a King waiting. Our King of Kings and Lord of Lords to say the words that we long to hear, "Well done good and faithful servant, enter your reward!"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Look ma, I'm OK!

To the left is a picture of one of my soldiers from C-CO. He just got through with qulaification. He's good to go! He wanted to tell his mom that he's doing great, so here he is mom! He's doing great! After seeing over 5000 of these guys come through here I still get thrilled when they approach graduation. I get to see such an amazing transformation take place in these young people. When they leave they really are different. And they keep on coming. In spite of what the political climate is, these young men and women keep coming to serve. Keep that thought close today.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

All boys

Normally I write short posts. I know your time is valuable. Bear with me on this one. I got carried away in the past! The picture to the left is my son (on the right) and his buddy Daniel

I grew up on a street with all boys. There’s just something about a group of wild untamed boys to make life interesting. I guess that is the way we were. It was glorious. My brother Steve and I had tons of friends on our road and I’m grateful for the experience of coming up where I did. There were the Rumple boys, Ricky and Jeff and their dad Mutt. Mutt was a small engine genius; he could fix anything. The Boggs boys lived on Edgewood Rd. too. Chet, David and Joe were their names. Chet was like 7 years older than us. I always remember him picking on us and making crude jokes about our genitals. Half the time I didn’t understand what he was talking about, but I laughed anyhow. David was just two years older than us, he was a part of our group, until he got older and started hanging out with girls. Joe and I were the same age and remain good friends to this day. Their dad was named Charlie. I’ll have a word to say in another story about Charlie-isms and the time he said and incantation over a wart that I had on my arm. There was Andy Rice and his sister Kim who felt out of place around all the boys. There was that Wilfong kid, but he moved away. The Penland boys, Randy (everybody called him Piggy) and Chris (Everybody called him Cricket) lived between Joe and me. Their dad had lots of money and we could never figure out whether they were into the mafia or what. They had lots of parties and lots of cars would be there, real late at night. I actually believe that when Mr. and Mrs. Penland were getting their divorce that the kids lived there with no supervision for a year at least. I saw lots of cops that year. Jose Rafols lived down the street and came to play with us all the time. He was Cuban and we thought it was really cool that he spoke Spanish at his house. There were other boys that lived up the street like Scott Beacham who hit me in the eye one time and called me a faggot. By the way, Scott’s a good friend now. Its funny how time changes stuff. There was Jeff Bunton who I really liked a lot, but didn’t know very well. There was Lyn Cleary. Everybody was scared of Lyn. He was older. He had the baddest bike on the street. He had a candy apple red 3 speed Apple Crate Schwin Stingray bicycle. He could ride a wheelie on that thing for days it seemed. It was with effortless precision that he did it too. It was incredible to watch. He would ride that thing from one end of the street to the other. We were all just green with envy.
Behind our house was the world as I knew it. Between our house and Joe Boggs’ for ½ a mile stood 150 acres of hardwood trees. It was the “woods” as we called it. I lived out most of my childhood among the oaks and the poplars. Great fierce wars were fought there. Battles that were full of heroes and great escapes. One of my best friends, Dirk and I used to ramble through those woods with reckless abandon knocking down all the older dead trees. It made us feels so powerful to send them crashing down. Dirk and I had gotten involved in fantasy games and my role, being a bigger kid was to always play the Viking or the muscle of the group. Dirk was always the sorcerer or the elf. Elves as described in fantasy realms were not the wimpy little creatures that we think of, they were majestic and wonderfully talented with swords.
The “woods” also were used for our off road tracks. Joe’s older brother David built the world’s most awesome go-kart. These were the days before the advent of 4 wheelers and three wheelers. David had this double welded square tube frame go-kart made. I remember the day that it arrived. We all stood around it like it was a Winston Cup machine. We oohed and ahhed over the thing for hours dreaming of the times that we’d be free to ride that thing. There was tons of work to be done on it. It should be noted that we were huge race car fans, although I never even saw a race until I was in my twenties. On Sunday afternoons we used sit in Charlie Boggs’ 63 TR3 and listen to am radio coverage of the races. We all used to want to be Buddy Baker. I think I liked him because he had the same initials as me.
We got a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton lawnmower motor and a David bought a torque converter from some magazine. It was one of those magazines that had all black and white pictures of parts and cool stuff that boys knew that they really wanted. We dreamed and worked, but mostly dreamed. In our minds we had visions of the little Hot Wheels cars that we played with; visions of Hemi engines and Holly 4 barrel carburetors. We made car noises and mimic how our cars would sound and how fast they’d go as we’d rebuild the motors in them to make them burn rubber. I remember the first day that the go cart rolled under power the first time. David put some golf cart tires on that thing. It looked different than anything around. Most go karts were low to the ground, but this sat up high. It was awesome and fast, I mean dangerous fast. It was so fast that mom banned me and Stevie from riding the thing. That never stopped us, we just did it out of sight of our house.
Those days were some of the best of my life. I remember the hope and the excitement with each new day. Life’s harsh realities had not crashed in on me. Just the other night I sat with Thomas, one of my oldest and dearest friends, and we laughed and carried on about childhood. We remembered people as children. The people we know today, whose lives are now marred by alcoholism, divorce, sickness and unhappiness. We are not the people that we used to be. John Eldredge in his book “The Sacred Romance” shares from his heart about being free in his childhood. As you who read this, maybe a teenager, maybe an adult, think of your childhood. Maybe your childhood never happened due to death or maybe you had one, but the “arrows” of life have just inflicted so much scar tissue on your heart that to feel again would be too dangerous. I want to encourage you to search back now. It may be like Indiana Jones creeping through an old mausoleum full of cob-webs and God knows what, but the treasure waits through here. I’m convinced of that.
I took a short run tonight through the woods. It was a hard day today, not anything particularly hard, just a day that I was engaged in warfare of the spirit. I was drained. I needed to be in the woods today. I’ve got a State Park across the street from my apartment. It may be the only thing that has kept me connected while being deployed here. I saw a young boy, red haired playing in the woods by himself. He was kicking trees and defeating some menace I’m sure of it. I looked at him right in the eye as I ran past. God reminded me right then and there, that was me. And in many ways, still is. I’m still the red headed kid that God gave dreams to. I’ve seen many of them fulfilled, but many are still to go. But I still dream, longing for the closeness of God and His power and glory to be displayed. I still long to be a part of something bigger than me and my orbit. I’m grateful this is the life that God has called me to. I’m grateful for a run in the woods that brought the memory back.

The songs of life- Thanks to mom

My home was filled with music and people growing up. Mom loved music and can play an assortment of instruments but her favorites are th...