Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rabbit Boxes!


The guys at my church had a great little event for the little guys this week. They helped all the boys build cedar rabbit boxes. A rabbit box is a wooden trap to catch anything that that will crawl into it and try eat whatever bait you have in there. The door stays open until there is a critter caught. I'm in an Army school at FT Bragg until February so I couldn't be there to help but my buddy Jeremy sent these great photos. They used the traps to teach the boys a lesson from proverbs. I talked to my son, Jack, last night and asked him about the trap. He said he was going to catch some squirrels and some rabbits. When asked what he would do with his prey he said, "Well, if I catch some squirrels I'll let them go, but if I catch some rabbits I'll kill them and skin them and make a hat and some stew." I can't wait for that one! I'd like to thank all the men at Cornerstone Baptist church. You have all been instrumental in helping father my son while I am often gone serving our country. I am so grateful that my friends have come along side my son to provide some amazing teaching moments for him. Thanks especially to Gary Mosely who every week takes a few hours to mentor all the little guys in our church. Now all we need to do is catch a few rabbits!
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Friday, November 23, 2007

Not so bad on "Black Friday"


When I was a teenager I swore up and down that I would never ever go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. I have kept that solemn vow until this year. My wife on the other hand has never met a sale she didn't like. She'll be shopping when Jesus returns I'm sure. Now she doesn't spend a lot of money she just enjoys the experience of shopping. I enjoy deer hunting. This year I volunteered to go "hunting" with her very early in the morning on "Black Friday" as they call it. She prepped me by announcing that we'd need to get up a 3:00 am! "Do what!??" Yep, 330 in the morning, 0-darkthrity, up before the chickens. I don't get up near that early to deer hunt and I like to be in the stand way before day break. Tammy has been wanting an upright mixer for about 10 years. I want her to get one, because unlike exercise equipment that doubles for a clothes hanger, this bad boy will get used. It'll get used for cakes and breads and pies and stuff that I like to eat over Christmas. So our alarm interrupted my REM sleep at 0300 and I immediately realized that this was not my area of expertise. I kept saying to her...."why would anyone be there this early, its 0-dark thirty, I mean come on!"

She looked at me and said, "Brad Borders, you have no idea what you are talking about!"

I still didn't believe her, that is until we pulled into the parking lot. I was my usual over confident Army officer self, thinking that I know something about everything. Lo and behold there were cars everywhere at 0355 in the morning. There were people everywhere, standing in line and chatting like it was the middle of the day. The doors opened and everyone rushed in and it was obvious they had done some intel on the store. They ran right to specific spots where they knew that particular product was going to stacked or placed or hanging. I nearly got mowed down in the confusion, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes. I think I might be suffering PTSD from the whole ordeal. Tammy secured the area around her mixer and I carried it to the line to check out which was about 200 people long! Lord have mercy, get me out of here! I was trapped in the web of the idol of materialism! But finally we did make it out and as we moved across the parking lot in the full moon of a late November morning and I heard a voice out of the darkness, "You ain't right!" I looked to my right and there was my pastor, Mack Jarvis, cruising the Kohl's parking lot at 0445 in the morning. I shot back, "You ain't right either!"

We all laughed and carried on for another few minutes. At least he had the brains to stay in his vehicle and wait on his wife who was inside. Tammy and I spent the next 4 hours together trying to get in Best Buy and then finally giving up and heading to Wally World. We had breakfast with Robbie and Kelly our dear friends. I actually love being with my wife even in the hell of "Black Friday" She is hilarious and makes me laugh. After 16 years of marriage I still just enjoy her company and that in itself is a blessing from God. Now, I'll never get her into a tree blind, but I did cross over into her world for a while and even outside of my are of expertise, it wasn't bad at all because we were together. I read these in God's Word and it sums it all up today.

18: 22 Find a good spouse, you find a good life—
and even more: the favor of God!

AND

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Thanks for a great day Tammy....I am thankful for you on Thanksgiving!

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Eph 5:25-28). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stinky Boy and the Scent Rule

The following article was written by my buddy Jeremy Harrill. He's a wildlife officer and founder of Heart of a Sportsman ministries. Enjoy!


Stinky Boy and the Scent Rule


I was sitting in my hunting blind when I heard what I thought was that familiar sound. The crunch of leaves and twigs under the hoof of a deer. I readied my bow and prepared myself to draw. I sat there for several minutes and finally decided that because it was still very early in the season my ears had not yet been fully calibrated to detect the sounds of woodland critters. The curiosity killed me, so I quietly leaned forward to take a peek out the side window of the blind. BUSTED!!! There she was, a big, fat doe peering into the blind where I sat. I don’t know who was more surprised, she or I. I could almost see my reflection in her big, brown glossy eyes. She nearly tripped over her own hooves as she ran away. The last thing I saw was her long white tail waving back and forth. As she faded into the forest, she made a loud blowing noise as if to tell all the other deer that stinky man in the camo tent-thingy was in the woods. I was quickly reminded of one of deer hunting’s biggest rules: the scent rule. I was reminded again a week or so later when I heard another deer blowing after it winded me. As it ran off blowing, reminding all that lived in the forest that “stinky boy” was back; I couldn’t help but drop my head in frustration.

We hunters stink! We literally stink. A deer’s nose is hundreds of times better at detecting scent than a human’s nose is. There are those that say that deer hunting is not fair and I would agree. God gave deer such a good sniffer that it is not at all fair to the hunters that pursue them. All hunters sooner or later learn about the scent rule. The sooner we learn it, and what to do about it, the sooner we can get down to the business of filling our freezers.

Hunters try to pull the wool over the deer’s nose, so to speak, by using a variety of products to eliminate or cover our scent. Each year hunters spend millions of dollars on gels, powders, wafers, drips and sprays containing everything from earth scent to fox pee. We rub on these scents and secretions in our quest to outsmart the nose of a deer and hopefully get within range of a big buck. We wash our bodies in special soaps. We buy dryer sheets that smell like dirt. And it’s of vital importance to wash our hunting attire in a detergent that eliminates our human foulness.

After that second deer winded me, while I was vowing under my breath to get even, I couldn’t help but think about sin and how sin stinks up our lives. Sin hurts us, and others, it wreaks havoc in our lives and our world, and most of all sin’s putrid fragrance taints our lives by separating us from God. However, just like there’s a solution to the scent problem in deer hunting, there’s a solution to the stench of sin in our lives too. Fortunately for us, God loved us so much that he gave us a solution in His son Jesus Christ. Jesus shed his blood to save us from our sins. The Bible tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins,” and I can’t think of any greater love than the love that Jesus displayed for us on the cross. Therefore, to cover up sin’s terrible odor one must accept God’s gift of his son, Jesus. Once someone becomes a believer asking Jesus to be Lord and Savior of their life, God surely smiles when He takes a wiff of their new lives. 2 Corinthians 2:15 even says “for to God we are the fragrance of Christ.”

If you don’t know Him already, become friends with the greatest hunting companion one could ask for – Jesus. If you are already a follower or Christ, thank him the next time you are spraying on some type of cover scent or washing your camo preparing it for the next hunt. I just bet if you think about it long enough, you’ll even hear that old hymn playing in your mind. “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb, are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, are you washed in the blood of the Lamb.” I’ll never hear, or sing that song the same way again.

Jeremy B. Harrill

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The mythic hero is a character that humans have drawn inspiration, courage, determination and hope from for eons. The mythic hero in all great stories engages life in a cyclical process that reveals all those heroic qualities. We get our heroes in stories, our narratives. It is story that gives context to our lives. It is story in which we all live. Heroes all go through a process of transformation. They begin in an initiation stage where courage is revealed and they are challenged in some type of testing, usually in a training environment. They take this initiation out away in sometimes distant lands where their heroic qualities are not just trained up but put into practice. They face harsh difficulties, confronting death and tragedy. Finally the hero returns to his home or loved ones to retell the story of his triumph and his journey. It has been said we don't have heroes anymore. I disagree. I met one this week. I have recently transferred to Civil Affairs and this week I was at a conference for all Unit Ministry Teams (UMT's) within the Civil Affairs/PSY OPs command. For the last 7 years CH (COL) Sam Birky has lead the UMT's of the most deployed and utilized group of soldiers within the entire reserve command. Sam is a legend in the special ops and chaplain communities.

He is a hero in every sense of the word. He'd probably hate to know that I was even writing this, which makes him all the more special. He joined the Navy in 1968 and became a SEAL in the Navy's Special Operations community. He fought in Viet Nam and was awarded more awards than one can count. He left the Navy in 1973 turning down an opportunity for an amazing career as a SEAL instructor.

He bowed his knee to Jesus in the mid 70's and became a different kind of warrior, a warrior priest and in the early 80's became a Chaplain in the Army. He has served in Special Forces for the Army as well as Civil Affairs. He has a commanding presence and a work ethic that is unmatched. He is an encourager and a truth speaker. When you are around him you want to be like him. I think that is a hallmark of a great man, if you find yourself saying, "In 20 years, I want to be like this guy" I found myself saying just that. He'll leave the military this April and for his final act as an Army Chaplain, he is going to jump out of a WW II era aircraft at FT Bragg and then he'll hang his boots up. I'm going to do everything I can to be there. I say all this to let you know that heroes are still with us and we need them. We need to tell their stories. We need to pass these stories on to our kids so they'll hold these same values. It is a society without heroes that is most lost.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Father's Passion for his son

The article below was in the FT Jackson newspaper. I found it inspiring. Hope you do as well. It's JPEG file so just click on it to enlarge



Saturday, October 13, 2007


It won't be on ESPN or on FOXSports. It won't be written about in Sports Illustrated but something great happened in a small town in NC. For the last 5 years my Alma Mater, Statesville High School has been the butt of jokes and the patsy on everyones schedule. I have been involved with the football team as a volunteer coach and chaplain for the last 6 years, but the last three I've been away on active duty. Now I'm home and I'm getting to see something great happen. Our head coach and one of my closest friends is Randal Gusler. He's a quiet leader but a guy who loves high school kids. He is in just his 2nd year as head coach for Statesville, but he served at least 11 years here as an assistant. He loves Jesus too. His faith is evident by the way he talks to the kids. He's never harsh or degrading. He always tells the truth and he lifts them up when they do well. His attitude carries over to the rest of the coaching staff as well. Last night we played Mooreseville, a town to our South and with whom we have a pretty intense rivalry. Every year the winner of that game gets to take home the Gridiron Cup. We hung on for a 10-7 victory last night and today our cup runneth over. We give thanks to God for the honor of living in this country that is free where we can live our lives and enjoy high school football. I'm thankful to our armed services who stand on the wall for us while we play. The video above is the post game celebration.....enjoy!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Iraq insurgency: People rise against al-Qa'eda - Telegraph

Iraq insurgency: People rise against al-Qa'eda - Telegraph

The hazards of running a Christian Bookstore

Just a reminder that in many places throughout the world, its dangerous just to be a Christian. The problem with murdering Christians for mission work is that it rarely has the desired effect of the perpetrator. Intimidation and threats of violence meant to silence believers many times only fuels our devotion to God and thus fuels His work in and around us. As history has proven the blood of the saints is the seeds of new churches. Keep an eye on Gaza. We pray today and give thanks for this brave follower of Jesus who in the face of numerical superiority chose to follow His God and took the path of most resistance. We pray for his family who at this moment grieve and we pray for the Gospel to spread in Gaza and that many Arabs would find peace in the name of Jesus.

My Way News - Christian Activist Killed in Gaza

Sunday, September 23, 2007

422nd Civil Affairs



The link below (Stories) includes a blurb about the new unit that I am with. It is the 422nd Civil Affairs BN "Centurions".
Today we held our first Chapel service there with about 40 in attendance. I was amazed at the turnout. I preached one of my favorite passages from Matthew entitled "Jesus is amazed at soldiers!"

That passage is about a Roman Centurion who needs the help of Jesus with a sick servant. He demonstrates two qualities, his understanding that he was powerless over his situation and his recognition of Jesus' total authority. Jesus was astonished at his faith.

1SG Winchester told me that our Battalion was named Centurions with that passage in mind, because the soldiers of that unit showed great faithfulness to their mission.

Civil Affairs is a small unit mission that are boots on the ground warriors winning the peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world by reaching out to the community by coordinating and supplying needs.

I'm proud to be a part of this mission and look forward to my service with these fine soldiers. Today we welcomed home a dozen from Iraq of our own in a ceremony, what a blessing!

Stories

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jack's Football game


Little League Football! Gotta love it. My son is the one in the blue jersey with the white helmet. They lost 33-12. We'll get em next week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Time Dove Hunt

Dove Hunting is a great Southern tradition. It’s a good hunting experience for kids too. You don’t have to be still like in a deer stand. The kids can pretty much run around and play to their hearts content. Then when the birds are flying they get to be “bird dogs” and retrieve them. Jack got to retrieve his first dove yesterday. We had a great time and I shot a lot of shells and there were very few birds that were in danger. My shooting skills have diminished; it is indeed a perishable skill. We had Dads and sons and daughters on our hunt. Special thanks to Scott Isley and Jeremy Harrell for setting it up. The weather was perfect and the birds were numerous. All in all a great day!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kathy Griffin and 9-11

FOXNews.com - Kathy Griffin's Emmy Remarks About Jesus to Be Censored - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment

Kathy Griffin was one of my favorite cameo characters on Seinfeld in her role as the obnoxious bar-b-que sauce lady. It was hilarious. She continues to be hilarious. Now I'm not one of those bloggers who rants and raves about what celebrities say or do. I don't really care. But she said something that grabbed my attention. Upon receiving her Emmy she said the following,

"a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."

She went on to hold up her Emmy, make an off-color remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!"

She's right, a lot of celebrities do thank God or Jesus or whatever when they accept awards. I thought about her comment. She's probably right, that Jesus didn't have anything to do with her award. But even trying to be funny, she was probably more honest than anything. She also said that the Emmy was her god now.

I believe she actually meant it. In our day we don't like to think we are a nation of idol worshipers. But we are. We worship the idols of power and fame and money. On this day as I look back at 9-11 I'm confronted with the memories of those days following the attacks. I remember people looking up for help. Psalm 121 says the following:

I look up toward the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Creator of heaven and earth!

I was wondering on a day like today and if an Emmy award is you God what do you do? Do you go and pray to it and say, "Oh Emmy Award, will you please take away the pain?" "Will you bring peace to this troubled world?"

Do you pick it up in all of its glory and wave it int he air and chant an incantation for prosperity?

Where do we go when we remember this day? MSNBC ran minute for minute replays of the events of that day. I remember where I was, I was installing a sliding glass door with my friend Nate. We saw the planes hit through the window on the TV. The first thing we did was pray together. That was the first thing we did. I go to the God who created the heavens and the earth. The God who is there. The God who cannot be contained in a trophy made of metal that will melt when heat is applied. The God who weeps when His children kill each other. The God who sacrificed His own Son out of His great love. The God who overcame death through resurrection. The God who promised to return and right all the wrongs. The God who is there and here.

On this day, 9-11, I look up to the mountains and know where my help, our help comes from. My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Back to Nepal

Barring an involuntary order from the Army I will be joining about 7 other guys to go back to Nepal. I was last there in 2002 and we had a remarkable trip. This view is from Poon Hill just to the southeast (probably 70 miles!) from Annapurna South. It is the 10th highest peak in the world and standing above 8000 meters high, it is impressive to say the least. We are going to bring some good news to out of the way places, doing some medical mission work and building new and some older relationships with some good friends over there. We would appreciate your prayers as we prepare to go and if the Lord prompts you to support us as we go please let me know.

The New York Times > Magazine > Interactive Feature > Turning the Tribes in Iraq

The New York Times > Magazine > Interactive Feature > Turning the Tribes in Iraq

This is an audio production from the realities of the war in Iraq, its successes and its challenges.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

FOX Sports on MSN - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - Michigan-App. St. among worst-ever losses

FOX Sports on MSN - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - Michigan-App. St. among worst-ever losses

Holy Moley! App beats Michigan and Statesville Beats Lake Norman!


Its that most wonderful time of the year....Football season. Today I get to smile really big. Last night my high school Alma Mater and today my college Alma Mater both won last minute games. For Appalachian State, I'm not sure there is a bigger win. They have won the national championship at thier level the last two years, but to beat Michigan at Michigan with 100,000 people watching on a last second field gaol block.....whew!....I'm not sure you get bigger. I am currently in Boone NC and I suppose the scene here tonight might just be a bit rowdy. Even though I'm 41 and far removed from the university, I just might go over there and see what all the fuss is about.

Last night, my beloved Greyhounds of Statesville High won their first game of the season. No it wasn't against a ranked opponent, no it wasn't before 100,000 people, but it was huge for the kids on that team. I've been volunteering with that program off and on for about 5 years. Randall Gussler is their head coach and one of my best friends. Randall calls me the life coach. I kind of like that.

The kids at Statesville are mostly African American and mostly poor. They have had about 4 losing seasons in a row. Now everyone expects to win against them and sometimes I believe our players expect to lose. But last night our kids didn't quit and didn't give up. We won 14-10 with Lake Norman on our 1 yard line ready to score. I thought it was over. I got down one knee on the sidelines, bowed my head and prayed like this, "Lord, I know that this football game is not that big a deal on a worldwide scale, but it means so much to these kids, its all they've got today, would You please help them?" I said "Amen." and then Lake Norman fumbled the ball and we won. The kids at Lake Norman have all the advantages, most of their parents are wealthy, really wealthy. I have a kid at Statesville that went a couple of days without food, literally.

So did God cause the fumble? I don't know...but I do know this that after the game at least 20 players gave glory to God in the win. If that is the result of a win I'll take it!

On to South Iredell this week.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

MONTANA!





I've always been intrigued by explorers. As a kid I used to love to go to places where I thought no one had been. I'd read about people who explored the New World, Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. I also often thought about guys like Lewis and Clark who took off into uncharted lands back in the 1800's. This past week I went with a group of men from my church to Lewsitown MT. Yes its named after Lewis of the explorer duo. Its the geographic center of MT. Its in the vastness of Big Sky country and oh my how big that country is. We saw literally 1000's of deer. I saw a herd of Elk 300 strong coming down out of the mountains to graze on prairie grass. I saw rainbow trout that weighed 6 lbs. I met amazingly kind people that love the creation that God has so generously given us.

Our journey was purposeful. We went out to help int eh construction of a church out there. Central Baptist Church is building a new place of gathering and as you might imagine funds are a bit tight. So they have relied on volunteer help all summer, from the framing all the way to what we did, the sheetrock. I'm not sure if you've ever hung a piece of sheetrock but its 4'x12' and weighs about 96lbs per sheet. We hung walls and most frightening, the ceiling in the main sanctuary. At the top of the cathedral ceiling it was about 22 feet vertically to a very hard concrete floor. We had to use movable lifts that have scissor mechanisms. They are kind of like a portable elevator. The only problem is that they feel very unstable when the reach maximum height. Add a 4x12 piece of sheetrock and 3 men and you have a recipe for trembling legs. The job got finished however and in total 350 boards were installed. I'm very proud of the work that our team did.

I suspect what I'm most proud of is the men from our church. Jeremy Harrell started this group for men who love the outdoors in the last year or so. God gave him a vision for this and the men just keep rolling in. Then this opportunity came up and 13 guys signed up to go. They all took vacation time to go. They sacrificed what could have been a week at the beach with their families to give away. We had a church that supported us all the way helping us pay for the trip, even with a ride to and from the airport. We are relatively young as a group of believers. Reaching out beyond our little NC community has been something that has been hit and miss. But I sense a renewed commitment among our guys to give away their lives. Our trip to Montana will be a great stepping stone for building purpose and confidence in future trips. My dream is to see a church in Cleveland NC that not only cares about the community it serves but the world that is out there. Short term projects like this generate energy for doing more. Ultimately a project like this is about one thing and that is the Kingdom of God. Christ established his church 2000 years ago and the book of Acts chronicles that growth in the 1st century. That first group of believers was made up of people just like us just like you, regular folks that had been changed by the love of a risen Savior. At the end of the book of Acts if you read it, you'll notice there's no real ending point, its kind of a cliffhanger. There are 28 chapters in that book. I like to think our trip was part of the 29th chapter of Acts and we are still writing today. And tomorrow's section still needs to written.
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Working

It has been almost 2.5 years since I strapped on my tool belt and headed off to work in a truck early in the morning. Its mid summer here, its humid and its hot. The morning air is really thick and sticky. The dew is so heavy on the grass like it rained. I've been working this week with my friends Eric and Hank. We've been building a deck and doing some remodeling for some folks. The one thing I've noticed is that with all the training I did in the Army, the running, the road marching, the push ups and the sit ups, I have found that those exercises do not translate very well with doing carpentry labor. My back is screaming! It could be that I'm getting old too. I've noticed that my legs fatigue faster than they used to as well. Climbing up ladders all day takes the spring out of my step. I remember learning how to work from my dad and grandfather. I hated splitting wood and mowing grass and cleaning up job sites when I was a kid. But one thing I have rediscovered is the joy of a hard days work, where you are just physically spent after accomplishing something productive. I suspect its part of that creative nature that God has fingerprinted on us. I looked it up and the word "work" or some form of it is used in 513 verses in the Bible. From Genesis to James the Bible speaks of God's creative work in Creation to His his creative work in His people. It speaks of the work of craftsmen. It proclaims that the work of people glorify God. So could it be that building a deck that someone enjoys or putting up a piece of crown moulding is in essence a creative act that glorifies God? I believe it is. I believe we are also walking in the image of our creator when we rest and look at what has been accomplished. When we are tired and say, "I'm glad that's over, but it sure does look good." The Bible is clear on one point that in all things that we do we are to glorify God by the excellence of our work and the excellence of our rest in what has been accomplished.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cowboy Church





My Buddy Tommy Cheatham pastors a small church for Cowboys in Love Valley NC. You've probably never heard of it. Its a little out of the way place in the foothills. The neat thing about Love Valley is that it is for Cowboys. Now don't go thinking its a tourist place it isn't. There are real cowboys there. There are no cars allowed in downtown Love Valley. Only horses! There are hitching posts, a saloon and a general store. There used to be a jail, but now the jail is the church where Tommy pastors. He asked me to come preach today and I did. And people rode their horses to church. I met Willie there. He's the bearded guy pictured above. He's about 5' tall but as you can see he wears a .45 revolver on his side. He takes it off before coming into worship. Its loaded too. He wears a Bowie knife thats about a foot and half long. He has a .444 lever action in a scabbard strapped to his horse. I had lunch with Tommy and Willie today. I asked Willie where he lived. He said "Oh about an hour and a half north of here." I replied, "Up above Wilksboro?" He looked at me kind of funny, "No about an hour and a half north." Then it dawned on me that he meant an hour and a half by horseback. He doesn't have a car! He just rides everywhere. I realized at that point there are lot of things in this world that people get worried about, you know bills and money and schedules. I ride by Wal-Marts and our cookie cutter shopping complexes and Willie rides by the river and up the mountain. He shoes horses. He loves Jesus. And guess what, he's just fine with that. Willie invited me to come back to church, to take my kids horseback riding and to spend a quiet Sunday with him. I'm going to do that.

By the way notice the rule board at the entrance to Love Valley. No discharging of firearms in the city limits, didn't say anything about just outside. Tommy told me the rule board used to read: NO UNLOADED FIREARMS ALLOWED! How about that. If you want to go to love Valley its pretty easy. Just go to Statesville NC, take the HWY 115n exit off of I-40. Go about 15 miles and follow the sign on your left. You can't miss it. And you won't want to.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Boss

Congratulations to COL George Cone who made the rank of 06 on Monday July 2nd, 2007. To make COL in the Army is no small feat. You must be a quality leader and have demonstrated that the Army can entrust you with the responsibility of commanding large numbers of people. COL Cone was my boss at 1-61. We spent a lot of time together, mostly late in the evenings after the days work was supposed to have been done. We developed a good and close relationship during those times. I could always tell when he had had a difficult day. He'd have his face buried in his computer screen and look up as I rapped lightly on his door frame, "Come on in and sit down Chaplain". He'd rub both hands into his forehead, put his feet up on the desk and begin to tell me all of the days issues. He's a good man and a good leader and I miss working for him. He's relinquished command and to be honest I think it was a difficult day for him. He's heading to an overseas post. He'll have different responsibilities there. But he'll do well. He's a veteran of the 1st Gulf War and and experienced tactician. He is hard, but fair. He also cares deeply for those in his command. He'll fight for you as well. I was in limbo about whether I was going to be extended as a Chaplain with 1-61. I had no job back home and have two hungry kids to feed. Also our BN would have been left without a Chaplain for at least 6 months. He called up to the Pentagon and wrangled with another COL up there slamming his hand on his desk and screaming "Victory starts here! I need my Chaplain!" Needless to say I was extended. Unfortunately he's an SEC and GA fan, no conversions are hoped for. But I continue to pray for him to see the light and the virtue of being a UNC fan. You are already missed sir and I'd work for you anywhere anytime. God Speed!

Joshua 9....out
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Angel

I’ve been in ministry in one form or another for over 12 years now. In that time I’ve met some amazing people. One of the most precious gifts that anyone can do for you is a commitment to prayer. I know that I pray for people and I also know that I need prayer. I need people to pray for me. The Bible is full of this encouragement. Paul states in Philippians 1 this: 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in amy every prayer for you all, in view of your 1aparticipation in the bgospel cfrom the first day until now.

Paul on several occasions announces to his readers that he has been praying for them. Jesus also talks of praying for Peter. Peter gets prayed out of jail in the book of Acts. There is just something that in God’s economy that make prayer special. No matter your theological bent no Christian can argue that prayer is of little value.

That brings me to Angel. Last year I spoke at a church in Cherryville NC for a Sportsman’s banquet. It’s a great way to reach big tough outdoorsy folks. I shared briefly about how the Lord Jesus had rocked my world some 13 years ago. I’m never sure how my testimony will go over in churches because I came from a pretty unchurchy lifestyle for most of my life.

I finished speaking and sat down at a the nearest table, self critiquing every misspoken word when I felt a had on my shoulder. It was an older lady, probably around 70. She began to thank God for me! I don’t like it at all when people thank God for me. Its embarrassing and I rarely feel worthy of being thought of as a blessing. But she kept on, but not in a religious way, a very honest way.

I sensed that I could talk to her and we shared openly and honestly at that table for over an hour. I found out she was a nurse and everyone called her Angel. There’s a good reason for that. She could be one. She told me something remarkable. She said, “Chaplain, I’m going to pray for you every day till the day I go to be with Jesus.”

I’ve had people tell me they’d be praying for me. In the church it’s sort of our way of saying “So long, I’ll be praying for you.” But I always wonder if anybody means it. I wonder if I mean it when I say it. But she wasn’t kidding. She asked for my address so she could send me a letter from time to time. From time to time turned out to be a faithful commitment of encouragement. I got my first letter from her about a week later. It was a simple note card with scripture hand written on it. It was from Jeremiah 29. It had in the bottom right corner the date and the time she was praying for me. I was blessed by it. Well they kept coming. Some weeks she’d send two, some four and some weeks I’d get books in the mail, devotional books with my name engraved on them. Every week for the last 20 months that Angel has remembered to pray for me and remembered to let me know. Now I know why Paul wrote that he had been praying for people. Because it is an unbelievable encouragement to know that someone is talking to God for you. Especially when you are so busy that you barely have time to sleep.

So I’m giving thanks today for Angel whose example of faithfulness has encouraged me, lifted me and strengthened me through difficult times. I give thanks to God for allowing me to know her. She’ll never be famous or rich or on TV. She’ll probably just keep riding her bicycle and telling people about Jesus in Cherryville NC, till one day she’ll go home. All the fan fair of this world will never compare to the reception she’ll get as she walks through a crowd of cheering witnesses. She’ll see everyone there and she’ll see Jesus. He’ll say, “Well done Angel, welcome home and now we can get the party started!”



a Rom 1:9

1 Or sharing in the preaching of the gospel

a Acts 2:42; Phil 4:15

b Phil 1:7; 2:22; 4:3, 15

c Acts 16:12–40; Phil 2:12; 4:15

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Can God find a Catalytic Converter

Its been more than a week since I’ve been on here. Since then I’ve come off active duty and am back home with the family, jobless and restless in a lot of ways. Had a wonderful blessing in my life over the past two weeks. My dad, Jack SR, got a new vehicle and needed to get rid of his Ford Sport-track. He new I needed a new car and offered me his. It’s exactly what I need. Last weekend we went to Sunset Beach, NC where he lives, ate some fish, played some golf and picked up the car. About 50 miles out of town the thing just died… no power. I had no idea what was wrong. It was hot and we were stuck in Sparky’s Truck stop on the way to Myrtle Beach SC. We waited on the tow truck for three hours…we were miserable, the kids were hot and whiny…so was Tammy and maybe me too. My military experience of hurry up and wait became a distinct advantage. We prayed, for the tow truck to get there, for help with the truck and for us to get our attitudes right. Eddie, the tow truck drive finally showed up. He had hair like Conway Twitty, you know that poofy, swooped back, stiff as a board, big hair…fitting! He towed it up to Florence SC where we dropped it at the Ford dealership there. My hope was that they could fix it the next day. That was Sunday June 10. Today is Tuesday June 19; I still don’t have a car. I called back the next day and found out a piece of the catalytic converter at the manifold had broken up and destroyed the rest of the converter and stopped up the exhaust. Your car will not run with it like that. So, I said get the part and fix it. Well then it gets interesting. Ford doesn’t make the parts anymore and only one vendor has them. Somehow in this day of modern technology, computers, ipods, the space shuttle, high speed automation this part is incredibly hard to find. Every day I’d call back and get the same response, “Nope, it ain’t here, check back tomorrow!” I am so sick of hearing that line. Well come to find out that that part will not be available until August 15! So the service manger checked the parts data base that searches parts from 3800 Ford dealerships and they found exactly one of these things in Denver! Amazing. So the Denver guys shipped us the one part in existence at this time and it is currently being installed on that truck. All that to say this, that little prayer I said in the hot at the truck stop….it got answered…not in my timing, but in God’s. There are a lot of folks that think God is too big to involve Himself in the mundane of our lives, but I think not. I think God not only heals, and saves and raises the dead but can even find a catalytic converter that doesn’t exist.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Graduation....Finally

Today was my final graduation ceremony. I guess after 11 nine week cycles I finally got it right and they let me go. I have seen over 7000 of these kids come through over the last 27 months. It seems like a long time. It has been. It has been good though. I've included my final prayer for these soldiers. It was a bitter sweet moment. But then I thought about being able to come home every day to my wife and my children and thought about the last 800+ days being away from them and the moment just turned sweet. Closing another chapter and beginning a new one.

You are magnificent God! You have made all that we see here. The world around us, the sky above us, the ground under our feet. You set the stars in motion, built up the mountains high and gave breath to every living thing. Lord God you have made us too. We didn’t do it. All we have has come from you, our children, our wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, our friends; our very existence we owe to You and You alone. You have blessed us with a nation that is free, where we can worship in freedom; live and work in freedom. It is a gift. Today we look out at young men and women who believe that this nation is worth defending. They have sweat and toiled and learned and overcome. They have been lead by the tireless efforts of their drill sgts and cadre. And we just stop right now and give thanks that our nation, our freedom is worth it, it demands our best and so does serving You. We send them out today and I ask Almighty God that you would do an awesome work in this troubled world through these standing before us. Give us the strength and courage to serve You and our nation with a greater devotion than we can muster on our own. Be exalted Oh God today in us and through us. Amen.


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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Where's the Prayer?

In the last few days things have ratcheted up in Iraq. We've seen another 3 of our brothers kidnapped by insurgents. The political fight is on here and the coffins keep coming home. The 24 hour news cycle keeps ramming the news down our throats non-stop. Everybody has an idea about what to do.

I'm a Chaplain, not exactly a tactical genius. But one thing that have heard precious little about is prayer concerning this war. In the Army we pray constantly about it and for it, but I hear very little coming from the pulpits of America. I turn on the TV and read the web pages hear pastors teaching how we can have more meaningful lives, better relationships, a deeper walk with God, but I hear very little commentary coming out about prayer and this conflict.

Our history is littered with wars that demanded the prayer of the people of this nation. And yet where is the outcry from God's people to God Himself to intervene and bring resolution? Maybe I'm missing it, but I don't see alot of shared sacrifice around the nation. I see affluence and wealth like I've never seen(not that wealth is bad). I don't sense a common burden when I go get my groceries at Wal-Mart. In fact I don't even get the sense that people even think we are fighting a war.

Yet, when my Drill Sgts talk they know full well it is on. They live with the memories of places like Haifa St and Ramadi. They live with the images of their friend's dying in their arms. They hear about death in Iraq and they know those people; its not just a line of text rolling under their TV screen. Its real and its awful. Amid all the political discussions and the strategic planning I would love to see a ground swell of prayer in local churches. Instead of debates about whether the Republicans or Democrats have the right plan for the Mideast, I'd love to hear of church sanctuary's and small groups staying late because people were too engaged in prayer, talking to God the Father about all this mess.

I suppose what I'm saying is that we need God and I believe more desperately than we ever have. So if you are reading this I would like to encourage you now to stop what you are doing and pray...pray for God's intervention in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, His intervention in this broken world...for the Kingdom to rise...for a great tide of His Spirit to move over this planet as we need it so and need it now. Encourage others to pray! History has seen great movements of God, the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings, the laymans prayer revival of the 1850's, the World revival of the early 1900's. We need God, we need our hearts to be broken. We need to turn ourselves back to him. I'm beginning with myself right now. Please join me.


Jesus asked His disciples after a mass exodus of followers one time, "Will you leave me too?" They replied to him, "Lord, where else are we to go, You are the one who has the words of eternal life." I don't think there is a political solution. But I do believe in the One who holds the words of eternal life. With a Word He spoke this universe into existence. With a Word He humbles nations and heals lepers. With a Word He topples mountains and restores sight to the blind. With a Word He causes the earth to shake and heals the broken heart of a wounded child. His Words are eternal life! He's our hope and our prayer. He's our rock and our shield, our strong tower in times of trouble. Let us all bend our knees and turn our hearts towards the One with the Words of eternal life.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Serendipity

Encarta's dictionary defines serendipity as this: a natural gift for making useful discoveries by accident. I sort of disagree with that definition but to that in a moment. We just never know what each day holds. I was at my desk working away and at trying organize my messy world when a gentleman appeared at my door. He asked, "Is there a Chaplain around?" I said, "Right in front of you!" He asked if I had a moment and I agreed. He sat down on my couch and immediately began to cry. He was in his late 40's I suspect. Turns out he was retired from the Army and on this day had no where else to go. He's a carpenter and just drove onto Ft Jackson looking for some help.

He looked me square in the eye and said, "I'm feeling like killing myself" He shared his story with me, one of betrayal and pain and loss. Turns out he tried to kill himself three years ago and was in a coma for 10 days, but lived. His story was heartbreaking. I prayed to God, "Lord help me help this man, give me the right words here." We sat and chatted about our lives, God, mistakes, regret, pain and suffering.

I could tell he was hopeless, and I was worried that he would succeed in his desperation. But God had other ideas in mind. I shared with him my story and about how I had intended to kill myself on a number of occasions 20 years ago. I shared how if that had happened how different the world would be, no wife named Tammy, no kids named Tori and Jack. I thought about all the people that God had allowed me to help over the past 20 years. I thought that if I had pulled the trigger on my .357 in the spring of 1987 that I wouldn't be here helping this man today.

It was serendipitous. But I don't believe it was by accident at all. Our God is not only a loving God, but He is sovereign, He rules and reigns and He orders events. Long story short my new friend turned from his pain today and gave it to Jesus Christ. He left his failures with the Savior.
We prayed together and he is coming back to meet with me tomorrow and any day that he needs to. He promised me eye to eye that he wasn't going to hurt himself. I spoke with his girlfriend on the phone and she is taking care of him today. I heard him say this to her, "I going to be alright and I love you!"

There are a lot of what if's in life. If I had done this and if I had done that. Today I have no what if's. I was right where I was supposed to be, because God set it up that way. Getting out of bed this morning, I had no idea this would happen, but following God is anything but routine and and anything but boring. Now my new buddy has entered into that kind of life too. And this was a gift today, but it was no accident.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Walk with me!


Had to add this picture, too precious to leave out!

Turkey Day



After 2 years of promising I finally came through for my son. Thanks to my boss LTC George Cone for some days off in the middle of a cycle and one of my brothers in Christ and hunting buddy Jeremy Harrell it finally happened!

I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day, the weather was awesome. It is turkey season in NC. The population of wild turkeys in the south has skyrocketed in the last few years. As a boy I never even saw one, but thanks to wildlife management these magnificent birds are once again thriving in our area.

Jack and I have been talking about it for while. We got up early yesterday morning and Jeremy picked us up at home. We made our way over to eastern Iredell county to a piece of beautiful land that a friend lets us hunt. We were running a little late but we just quickened our pace down to the wood line where Jeremy suspected the turkeys would roost. It was about a ½ mile down in there. It was a bit cool and Jack had his winter coveralls on that I noticed were fitting better than last year. Man he’s getting big!

At the power lines we heard a gobble down in the trees and Jeremy called back with his slate call. Off in the distance we heard him gobble back. My heart stated racing then. It was mine and Jack’s first Turkey hunt. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was prepared for disappointment just like my deer hunting escapades.

Jeremy said that we needed to close the distance on the bird because they’d be coming out of the tree soon to begin their day. If a turkey sees you its pretty much over. They have keen eyesight and can spot humans a long way off. We picked up the pace as the sun rose over the NC countryside.

We came to a barbed wire fence, Jeremy jumped it like a rabbit, but little Jack looking like Randy, the little brother in a Christmas Story, got hung in the barbs. He panicked for minute. I looked at him and with all the fatherly wisdom I could muster said, “calm down buddy and lift your leg and crawl under.” He was crying now, because he was frustrated with himself, I suspect afraid he’d disappoint me. No chance of that happening.

We got over and under the fence and Jeremy came running back from a small ridge. We were in thick undergrowth now. A big open field lay off the east about 100 meters away. In a hushed but excited voice, Jeremy said “He’s coming, get down by this tree now!”

2 minutes later there he came. I was using my brother's 20 year old 870 12 gauge. I was a bit worried the thing would fire. I had a terrible shot, so many saplings between me and him. He was way out there too about 50 yards away. Jeremy gobbled and the Tom answered. He came into a small lane between me and him, raised his head and the sun touched that little red floppy deal hanging from his neck (my scientific description)…and I fired….and he went down!

Jeremy took off running. I was sort of shocked and just sat there, but regained my senses grabbed Jack in tow and made a bee line for the bird. There he was. Jeremy hollered and jumped on me like a monkey hugging a tree, every part of his body off the ground. That sort of shocked me too! He was a good bird, 9.5 inch beard and about 18 pounds or so. We took a minute to thank God for the privilege of being able to do this. Jeremy told me his prayers were answered and I’m grateful they were. Jack was pumped up and is ready for the next hunt.

I sit this morning writing this and am reminded that moments and memories are so precious. No amount of money will ever buy what we experienced yesterday as a father and son and a friend. My buddy Keith helped us dress it out and tonight we’ll eat food that we brought in ourselves that God provided.

Thanks again t everyone who made it possible, my wife Tammy who never looks at hunting as a waste of time but as something that is intrinsic to being a man and father, Jeremy for your skill in the woods, Keith and Robbie for your continued selfless service to my family, LTC Cone for your friendship and for a couple of days off and finally to Jack my little man who is growing up, thanks for being my son.

God thank you for the many blessings of this life and for the greatest gift of all just knowing You.


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Saturday, April 28, 2007



I rode in a large group of motorcycles one time about 20 years ago, but I was 21 and stupid and we almost got killed going too fast. I did it again today, older and wiser and less young and somewhat less stupid. There is a group of soldiers that gets together to ride once a month, all from FT Jackson. It’s a wide variety of folks, some officers, retirees, Drill Sgts, NCO’s and even a SGT Major or two.


We met this morning in memory of our fiend Bob, who died on his bike last spring. He loved to ride wo we celebrated his life by riding as friends. Most of the time I ride alone, just me and the road and a destination in mind. Today was different, we just rode to ride. It was a blessing. We took a lap around lake Murray (I couldn’t finish the whole thing had to get back to work) but it was truly glorious. The weather was perfect. We had a mix of Harleys and assorted cruisers.


There were amped up super bikes and even one Big Dog Chopper and it was unbelievably loud. We rode tight and staggered. We had road guards blocking traffic at lights to keep the group in tact. Its funny how people just stop and watch as 30 bikes roll through town! Its like we were the circus.


It was very cool and a great break just to get away. Met some new friends like this fiery little woman named “Speedy”. Now that’s a great name for a biker! Saw some of my old friends from 2-485th, CSM Rossi riding a hog (that was awesome), Mike, DS Giffen, Craig, MSG Rivera, SFC Sanchez, DS Jackson, SSG Flynn and others. It was good to catch up and laugh for a while. Posted a couple of pictures…enjoy! By the way I was going to take a picture while we were riding in the group but I didn't think that would be very safe...you see I am wiser!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Change of Mission

We had a death in our Battalion this week. It has been hard. Death is never easy. I've been so busy with ministry that I haven't had time to put things in perspective.
The following was written by my friend and colleague CPT Ken Quimby and has a great ring to it. Hope you enjoy it.


Change of Mission.

This has been a difficult week. We lost a Soldier suddenly and unexpectedly. 1SG Gerry Spivey suffered a deep brain aneurysm and essentially dropped dead. It is interesting that this happened on the weekend and even the day that we were honoring our regimental veterans that had been assigned to 1/61 in years past. Many of the veterans were Vietnam Veterans who witnessed a great deal of death. Many of the current cadre have seen far too much death in their tours in Iraq in recent years. We are dealing with a Drill SGT and his severe struggle with PTSD and delusional visions and flashbacks and trauma from his experiences in Iraq. Currently he is in the hospital where they are trying to stabilize him and regain his perception of reality.

I am rather removed from this situation with 1SG Spivey, and I did not know his personal family, but as a member of his military family, I cannot write this without tears and significant emotion. For those familiar with the military we know that everything is based on a Mission. We don’t utilize the latrine without it being a mission with contingencies and security, etc.

Well, I think God has a Mission for us as well. We are where we are as part of the mission God has for our lives. We are doing what we need to do as our part of that mission. It may be part of the training phase of the mission. As I have read and often think of; “every person we meet and every experience we have is part of the perfect preparation for the future [mission] that only God knows.”

In my career both personally and professionally I see this very clearly. I was an “LT” for 15 years. Why? Yes, the system of the Army messed up, and I didn’t know I could question it, but was it really for some preparation, something that I hadn’t learned yet, and had to know before I would be fully ready for my mission? In my personal life, I have long struggled with my ex-wife and how to handle a blended family, 5 kids, a bunch of life transitions, etc. My wife and I have talked frequently about how God is preparing us for a new “mission”.

I know that we don’t like to think about death. We feel that we want to live a full and rich life. But, if God has a plan for our lives, what a pleasure and honor it would be to know that we have finished our current mission and are ready for the next. Or even more honored it would be that we have shown that we are ready early and selected by GOD for a new mission. I believe that is what God has done with 1SG Spivey. He has been called home and selected for a new mission. I can only imagine what a Glorious mission that must be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mr Robbie and Bekah on Victory tower



It was Army day today. May friends Robbie and Kelly were here visiting this week with their three kids. My family was also here so that means 9 people in my apartment. We are getting close! Today we spent all day at Ft Jackson. It began with Victory Tower. I hooked up with the range NCO and arranged for Robbie and Bekah (their oldest) to go down the rappelling tower. We got there along with about 180 soldiers in training. We tied up our harnesses and hooked up our D rings and made our way to the top. The Drill SGTs from Echo 1-34 hung out for a few minutes extra to make sure we got down the wall safely. Bekah jumped off and flew down the rope like a pro, except for the part where her hair got caught in the figure 8 ring! It was traumatic for a moment, no need for scissors though, she got herself undone! Robbie went down like an Airborne Ranger and his belay man held him tight in the air to get some good photos. Tammy and Kelly stood safely away from any danger while Jack, Tori, Daniel and Emilee cheered us on. It was very cool. We then went to the gas chamber to watch newbie soldiers puke up their lunch and we ended the day with the Night Infiltration Course this evening. Flares, live fire and 133 soldiers crawling through dusty sand, it doesn’t get any better. Except for the fact that I had Italian Sausage for dinner and nearly threw up 5 times on the course. All in all good fun for an April day. Enjoy the photos!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Army Strong

Read an article today in Time Magazine about the Army being broken. I agree. I agree that there are soldiers hearts being broken becasue God is bringing them back to Himself. And when He brings a warrior back the strength of God is revealed.


The following link is way too cool. Hope you enjoy it!

http://www.benningnavs.com/Navideo/armynavs.wmv

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

PVT S

I just got off the phone with a parent of one of my soldiers. She’ll be referred to as PVT S. PVT S came to us back in January in our first cycle of the year. We get so many soldiers with so many stories. Many times I just get brief snippets of their lives, other times I get more information than I want! PVT S is older, probably in her 30’s. I met her through a request she put in through her Drill SGT. My first meeting with her I remembered thinking “Man!; What is this person doing in the Army?” She was struggling both physically and emotionally.

One Sunday at church she came forward at the invitation to receive the grace and mercy we all so desperately need. She was overcome emotionally at the thought of God’s forgiveness. I knew she had been on the rough side of things, but I never pried. Her physical difficulties continued. She missed some crucial training and did not graduate with her company. This was a heart breaker for her. But to her credit she pressed on. She refused to give up.

She joined another training company and started basically all over again. She is finally going to finish this week. All she has to do is chuck a couple of grenades and then she moves on. Her platoon has been bad so they have lost their phone privileges. So she asked me to give her parents a call so they wouldn’t make plane reservations for a graduation ceremony that she’ll not attend.

I spoke with her mom and found out some remarkable stuff. Before PVT S joined the Army she spent 12 years basically estranged from her family. Her mom tells me that her family cared deeply for her. I believe her. We are all free will beings able to choose one path from another no matter our upbringing. Believe me, I know that first hand. She lost her way for a long time. Her mom found her about 6 months ago on a curb, literally. They went directly to the recruiting center. That middle aged soldier displayed some remarkable courage. She came from over a decade of wandering to relationship with her maker and a life turned in a new direction. I continue even after 26 months of this stuff to be amazed!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Greetings!

All groups that try to be exclusive have them. Fraternities have secret handshakes. Gangs have the signs of twisted contorted fingers that display who they are. When we know each other we wave. In the south if you are in the country there is the hand on the steering wheel finger raise. Not the middle finger, but either the index finger or a combination of two or three as you pass another. You don’t even have to know the other guy, its just considered common courtesy in the country.

In the past few months I’ve purchased a BMW motorcycle. I rode years ago when I was 19 or 20, I went too fast, wrecked and sold my bike. I bought that bike for cool guy points. But latest purchase was for a number of reasons, good gas mileage with stupid high fuel prices, an outlet for forgetting whiny soldiers, and just kind of longing to be a part of a community of riders. One of my first days riding I noticed another bike approaching and the oddest thing happened. As he drove by, and I had no idea who he was, he waved. Now it wasn’t an elbow up awkward sign, but a hand extended toward the ground at about a 45 degree angle. It was real casual. I returned the greeting.

I realized that I had become a part of a community. We had something in common, two wheels, wind in the face, the world around us not dampened by steel, glass and insulation. The wave is subtle, yet powerful. It’s an acknowledgement of the other guy saying, “Hey dude you are part of my world, you are in my community, my club.” It was so cool. Now I look for other riders to give the sign to. I see another single headlight approach, waiting for just the right moment, casually extend my clutch hand down and point at the ground. They always return the salute. I love it.

The church should be more like that. I meet guys on Ducati’s, Harley’s, Moto Guzzi’s, other Beemers, Triumphs, even rice rockets, it doesn’t matter. If you are in the wind the sign does down. The church misses that subtle identification and acknowledgement of each other’s value. We are the body of Christ. We have so much in common, the love of a good God, the great gift of forgiveness, the calling to something greater than our selves and not to mention our eternal destiny. Maybe we can learn from a bunch of idiots balancing on two wheels about the power of affirmation in a simple gesture.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Drink it in!

As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.[1] Luke 5:16

As often as possible, Jesus went to be alone. Ministry is exhausting. Everyone wants something from you. Now think about it for a second, Jesus was and is God. When He walked this earth filled with God’s power, He healed, comforted, waged war against the Devil and the religious establishment. He loved, and lavished Himself on others. He also knew that three years after He began His ministry he’d be betrayed and tortured and maligned and killed in the most painful way we can imagine. As I think of it I am amazed, humbled, and disgusted with my complaining. Jesus would withdraw, when He had time, to pray and seek solitude. As someone in ministry I cannot express how valuable my time of solitude is. Just to be still is so glorious sometimes. I got up this morning and headed out to the woods for a run as I do at least once a week. It was a beautiful SC morning. Spring is coming, a bit chilly but wow what a morning. The woods are alive now. Birds are declaring the start of the day, squirrels are dashing about here and there. The forest here is so quiet too. The long leaf pine needles thatch a shag carpet every where. Its soft and quiet and it amplifies all the sounds around you, the air droning through the pine boughs, the distant sounds of 100’s of song birds it was glorious. In the distance though, I could hear the rifles at FT Jackson. It reminded me of all the soldiers that are there training, all the ones who I minister to. As I walked I began to think of how tired I get just listening to the same story over and over again. But then God reminded me of why I was in the woods. I looked up through those trees and heard Him say, “Behold, My Glory!” That was it and that was all I needed. In the midst of God’s Creation I heard Him speak, “Behold, my glory”. I stopped dead in my tracks, drank every precious second in of God making Himself known to me. I stopped, because those moments are fleeting and we need them. Because after coming out of the woods it’s back to the Matrix, back to the world of cell phones blaring and emails and the day to day grind. But just to behold the glory of God, to sense His power, His approval, His anointing was more than enough for today.
[1]Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Lk 5:16). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Final Training


Sorry for the delay in posting. I've been out in the field for 5 days hanging out with soldiers. It all started last Saturday with a 9 mile road march that was relentlessly attacked by our OP FOR (opposition forces). Then about 16 hours later I road marched another 10 miles with another company. It seems I forgot that I'm 41 years old and that rucking almost 20 miles in less than 24 hours would do horrible things to my feet and back. But its all good to go. Our young soldiers performed well in their final exercise before graduation. They showed initiative and adapted to many different situations that they will inevitably face in the combat zone. I'm awefully proud of our soldiers and our cadre who trained them. Keep praying for them. I've got one more cycle of training till I come home. I'm ready! Its time for the Chaplain to graduate finally after 2 years here. Here's a cool picture I took while we were out on Victory Forge.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Jesus Tomb

I suppose by now you've heard that James Cameron has made the claim that he has found the grave of Jesus and his family. Think about the implications for a minute. Paul said in 1 Cor 15 that if Jesus is not raised then we above all men are to be most pitied. He's right! If Jesus did not ovecome the grave everything I base my life on is gone, my worldview, my vocation, how I approach my family, my dreams, and my eternal destiny. It also means that Jesus is a liar and a fraud. It means that whatever good things He said are no good, because its all built on a lie. So with that in mind think about it for a second before you dismiss this claim. What would it mean to you, to the world if Jesus was just a really good dead man?

Before you lose all faith, this claim by James Cameron can be answered. I've compiled a couple of webistes for your viewing pleasure that could point you in the right direction. Be a critical thinker, examine the evidence. Truth has a funny way of coming out. More to follow I'm sure
www.garyhabermas.com
http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dashing!


How does one place value on a life lived. At our end lies a 2 foot high piece of granite with a name, two dates and a few words scribbled on it. Between the dates lies a most profound symbol….a dash. It’s a small black line that spans the time between our birth and our death. Contained on that dash are our first steps, our first words, our first bicycle ride, our first day at school, our first recognition of beauty. It will contain our loves and our jobs. It’ll hold our weddings and the birth our kids. It’ll bear the pain of separations and wars. That little black line will represent all we did in life for passers by. Every person we ever had an impact on will ride that line. Our recognition of God is there. Our hurts our failures our achievements all sit right on that little line, that dash. Today a dear friend lost her grandfather. As she shared stories of him, his smile, his hard work, his profound impact on her life, I thought “How could a little dash hold a life like that?” Well it can’t. Through her grief I saw a life of a grandfather well lived. Just on Valentines day marked the 20th year since my own grandfather passed away. I cannot explain his impact on me. I am a product of him in many ways. When I get back home I’ll cruise by Oakwood Cemetery and sit by his grave. Buried there with my grandmother I look at those dashes and think how much I appreciate that life lived. Time is a respecter of no man and that dash seems so insignificant as we look at those grave stones, but that dash is so much more. I’ll never look at a grave stone the same way again. I can’t help but think of Jesus’ words from the Gospels. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mark 8:35-38) There’s something lost in translation there. Jesus says don’t lose your life. The funny thing is that the word soul and life in the original language are the same word! What will we give in exchange for our life? It’s basically this; we don’t get our lives back. There are no do overs. And we can give them over to whatever we want to. We can give our lives to self or we can sing the doxology with it. It’s our dash to live. And when it’s all said and done we’ll have how people remembered us and how God sees us. That is what it boils down to. My prayer is that one day, my children or even should I be blessed with grandchildren, that they sit by my gravestone and say, “My daddy’s dash was so much more than a little black line!”
Hope yours will be too!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

PVT E

Bill Hybels in one of his books says that after two years of becoming a Christian most church going folks have no friends outside the church. None! That is so contradictory to what the Bible says for believers to do. I'm not sure what it is that drives Christians within the confines of the church. Maybe its that we came from lives that were not pleasing to God and we don't want to go back to that. Maybe its that get comfortable with our Christian friends. Maybe as my friend Alvin Reid used to say, "We got saved and we got over it". I think its probably a combination of all. As a Chaplain in the Army I am surrounded every day by people that believe differently from me. Its kind of like reverse missionary work. The world comes to me. One such example I'll tell you is for your encouragement today. PVT E from one of my companies requested to see me one day a few weeks ago. Many of my counseling requests are whiny soldiers who just want out of the Army. This one was different. As soon as I met him he started spilling his guts. He grew in a Celtic Pagan household. I had never heard of someone being raised that way. Most young people who embrace Wicca and Paganism do so in response to pain or being and outcast. People have a spiritual void and they are looking. looking for relief. But this kid was raised in a home where everyone was a Pagan. He was well versed in his beliefs, a trait I find lacking in most with alternative belief systems.
I asked him why he wanted to see me. He went on to tell me of some difficulty he'd been going through, a broken relationship and a death in the family. Then he said a remarkable thing...it went something like this, "Chaplain, my pagan beliefs are not meeting my needs, it doesn't answer the questions I have, it doesn't fill me" (that's the best I can remember it). SO I asked him again, "Why do you want to see me?" He said that he was looking for something but he didn't know what it was. Amazing! I asked his permission to share what I believed, he agreed and we spoke in the cold wind at a picnic table for about an hour. I shared about my former atheistic beliefs, my encounter with the risen Jesus. We talked of resurrection and life and if Jesus really did rise from the dead, what would that mean. It truly was God orientated and God arranged. I gave him a short book called, "More than a Carpenter" and prayed that God would open his eyes and show him the truth. Last week God did. He came to me prior to our service and said, "Chaplain, I'd like to convert today" I love it. And convert he did, he received Christ as his savior and two more came along with him. He prayed a real prayer to a real God for the first time in his life. I saw him this morning. He said, "My heart is filled with joy Chaplain!" My heart is filled with joy too. I hope by reading this yours will be as well. Remember, there are people out there that want to know. What are we doing to put ourselves in proximity to them? Don't hide out in the pews, get out there and mingle with them, get to know them, shine the light!

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...