Friday, December 30, 2011

New Blog Post: CH (LTC) Dave Spears

Dave and his lovely wife Wanda  

Hi folks and happy New Year

Yesterday Tammy and I went Sanford NC for the funeral of my friend CH (LTC) Dave Spears. I worked with Dave at FT Bragg on my last assignment. He entered heaven on Christmas Day after a yearlong fight with brain cancer.

At the funeral there was a host of friends, colleagues and even a general or two paying tribute to a life well lived but more importantly to a God who saves. 

Dave loved to hunt, fish and make knives. He was not a touchy feely type at all! Probably why he made a great chaplain to the hardened men of Special Forces. 

Dave surrendered his life to Jesus in the late 70's and not long after that gave his life to the ministry, bible college and seminary.

He worked his way through both undergrad and his master’s degree with the ultimate goal of becoming a chaplain in the Army. He did so 16 years ago at the age of 36.

Dave led countless soldiers to Christ, deployed 3 times both to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Special Forces Chaplain. Dave was a gifted counselor and was a straight shooter.

If he didn’t like you, you knew it and if he did like you he gave you a hard time. He was no one’s “Yes man”. Strong and deliberate and a man of few words, when he said something it was important and you had better listen. He could be ornery and gruff, but tender in the same breath.

He taught me much about ministry and life.

We had long talks about Jesus, people and ultiamtely his facing death. We had a CMD SGT MAJ in our office one day, a warrior’s warrior. His name was Jeff. Jeff has taken many a life on the battlefield and has faced death numerous times. He’s seen his friends killed as well.

Jeff was getting ready to leave for another assignment and was making his rounds saying goodbye. I think he knew that this would be the last time he would see Dave. After a lot of joking around Jeff got serious and asked Dave how he was making it through this.

Dave very coolly said, “Jeff, I’m dying but 32 years ago I put my faith in Jesus Christ, and that sealed the deal for me. 
After that Jeff said something to Dave that I’ll never forget. He said “Chaplain, I’ve met a lot of men in my time in the Army, but I have never seen anyone face what you are facing with as much strength and faith as you have, you are an inspiration to me!”

After Jeff left the office Dave and I sat and thanked God for the privilege of that previous moment. Dave never picked up a rifle on the battlefield or kicked a door in, but he made a lasting impact not through exploits in combat, but through the way he held firm with reckless abandon his faith in a crucified, resurrected Savior.

I will never forget the testimony that Dave displayed as he was living out his final months. My prayer is that I will be able to live well and finish well too!

At 12:40 on Christmas day, Dave crossed over the valley of the shadow of death and said “Happy Birthday Jesus!” and he did it in person, completely healed,….finishing well!

Thanks Dave, keep the lines tight in the river of Life for me, I'll see you someday

But not yet....but not yet

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Blog Post: From Grinch to Santa in 4 hours, all it takes is a little light in your life!

So today at 4:00 I was the Grinch.

Seriously. Sometimes during this time of the year I get frustrated. I get frustrated with obligatory visits, the pressure to buy gifts, the disruption to life's normal rhythm and to be quite honest I'm not sure what any of this stuff at Christmas has to do with Christ. Don't you? Then I start thinking about it and I get mad, really mad. Your probably thinking, "Brad that never happens to me", well God bless are freed from having to endure this post. But for the rest of you, hang on it gets better.

My mom wanted me and the kids to roll down to Belmont to visit with our cousins Betsy and Lisa. Betsy lives in my Uncle Bill's old house on the same farm where my Granddaddy grew up and became the man we all knew and loved. I love going there. It conjures up so many sweet memories for me about being helped along in life by a great man.

But today, I didn't want to go. It was just one of those days. I did want to honor my mother. I did want to see my cousins. But as my son says, "I'll do it, but why do I have to like it!"

Well today I didn't like it. I was the Grinch. We packed in Tori's car, headed out through Hickory. That is a longer route but the traffic through the Charlotte area is horrible. The Hickory route took forever. The more we rode the madder I got. It was raining too and I was getting seasonal effective disorder in a big way.

Tammy was doing her best to cheer me up...but failing miserably...not her fault...for what is a faithful wife to do with a Grinchy old husband?

I think I became a complete atheist again for a few minutes!

Well the GPS took us to Mcadenville NC. Mcadenville is known around here as Christmas Town and the whole place is like one great big Christmas tree. The city decorates public buildings with incredible flair and the citizens are just as flamboyant. People from miles around drive there to gander at the lights. And they are spectacular. BUT, people from miles around come to cruise at 5 MPH to GANDER! Hundreds of cars inching through a small Carolina town.

And we were stuck, late, in the rain and Tammy and the kids had the Grinch with them in a slow moving car, oh and did I mention we were late and I was Grinchy?

But something about those lights, something about the people hollering out of their cars "Merry Christmas!"
Something about us as a family together, not talking over skype thousands of miles from one another...there was something about all that that "de-grinch-ified" me.

The lights were amazing. One house, pictured here... featured in bright lights a blatant emphasis on CHRIST in their greeting to passers by. We stopped the car and I just looked at it....and took a picture.

I realized then that if Santa's sleigh ran on Christmas Spirit, then I had officially grounded the old guy. The lights shone through the darkness. I was reminded and stunned again by God's love and the beauty of the moment. The wonder of Emmanuel, God coming to be with us, one of save His people.

More De-Grinch-ification!

We were late, but Betsy and Lisa didn't care. We told stories about our family. We laughed alot too. There was joy and fellowship. Grinch was fading!

On the way back to top it all off, because God really really is good, we met this guy in Chik-Fil-A! And who doesn't love Chik-Fil-A?

He gave me his card that read simply.... "SANTA".

He told me I was on his list and he said, "I love you man!"

So long Grinch.....Merry CHRISTmas everybody!

More to follow.....

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