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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