Thursday, February 4, 2016

Keeping My Mouth Shut

Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today.
-Moses, Exodus 14:13

I've been a believer long enough to watch God do amazing things in my life.  Yet, often the joy will eventually wear off.  New obstacles arise, fear and doubt creep back in, and I begin to wonder if God is really going to come through again.

Its hard not to read the account in Exodus of God delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea and wonder why the heck the Israelites ever doubted God again.  How could they?  They witnessed one of the most incredible moments in history!  God parted a sea for them and then sent it crashing back down on their opponents.  However, as we read the rest of the Old Testament, we see how Israel faded away from God, doubted, and forgot His amazing hand.

As I ponder such things I can't help but realize that I am no better.  I have seen God do the amazing.  I have tasted and know that He is good.  I have watched Him do his work of salvation and come through time after time, yet, I still go back to struggling and doubt.  Why?  Am I just that stupid?  Actually, yes.  More than that, I believe its because I have a hard time getting over myself.  I let myself get in the way of seeing God at work and remembering His amazing resume.

If anything, I should do what Moses tells the Israelites to do as they looked back at the Egyptian Army with fear...."God will fight the battle for you.  And you?  You keep your mouths shut!" (Exodus 14:14)

Sometimes, I just need to watch God fight the battle and keep my mouth shut.  My own thoughts, words, and anxieties will only distract me from the goodness and awesomeness of God.  Why do that to myself?  I wouldn't go watch the sequel to one of my favorite movies and blindfold myself and plug my ears as it plays on the big screen.  Why would I do this with God?

Maybe you're missing God's work because you've plugged yourself away in self-pity, doubt, and fear.  Take off the blinders and see the truth!  You don't want to miss this show!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Are We Going to Get Real Candidates?

I'm far from a political junkie.  Truthfully, politics bore and frustrate me.  This post isn't intended to tell you who to vote for.  As a Christian, I believe there should always be careful consideration bathed in prayer.

I guess this post is to simply encourage you to use your brain.  For the last couple of months I keep waiting to wake up out of the dream that has Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the front running candidates for our nation's highest office.  Surely, this is a bad dream.  This has got to be a joke, right?  Is this a cartoon?  Are these the real candidates?  If so, can we get new ones?

Let's set aside liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican, and debates on hot button issues for a second.  Obviously, where we align in all of the above categories can determine where we lean politically and where our vote is headed. 

Let me just ask you....are you seriously thinking about voting for one of these 2 candidates?  Just take both individuals as they are, apart from their political leanings.  I'm going to sum this up very simple......

Donald Trump is clueless.  He's made a bunch of money and lived so far outside of normal society for so long.  He absolutely has no clue how society operates.  Besides that, he's crazy.  Don't believe me?  Just listen to him for 5 minutes.  He makes about as much sense as that crusty old man sipping on his Folgers complaining to his Donut Shop buddies.  Republicans, please don't jump on his bandwagon because he's not Hillary and you think he's the only shot to beat her.  Heck....Kanye West could probably run as a Republican and have a chance to beat Hillary.  Would you cast a vote for him?

Hillary's character is non-existent.  It is fact that she has lied.  She has committed criminal acts that every one else working in a Government or DOD position would have been imprisoned for.  If I were to have done the exact same things that Hillary has done as a member of the United States Army, I would be serving time at Fort Leavenworth right now.  I would have no job! 

It shouldn't be news to you that the media makes up stories and conveniently forgets to report real facts.  Its a business.  Its like the Sham Wow.  The commercial won't tell you that it falls apart after 2 uses and its impossible to clean.  They're trying to sell a product.  They're going to tell you exactly what you want to hear!  News outlets do the exact same thing.

Okay....sorry.  That's my political rant for the year.  I'm not an expert.  I'm not going to pretend that I live, eat, and breath politics.  I'm sure there are many things that I don't know that many of you probably do.  However, I do ask for everyone to make an educated vote.  Christians, make a prayerful vote.  If you love either one of these candidates, please educate me as to why they're worth voting for.  I'd love to know, because honestly, I haven't actually met one person that is a huge supporter of either one. 

For now, I'm going to pray...............and pray.........and pray.  Whoever becomes our next Commander in Chief is going to need God's guidance to lead this country into what's next.

I Don't See God

I decided to do something different this year.  I'm reading chronologically through the bible.  I've read Genesis-Revelation before, but never have I read the actual chronological order.  To be honest, I was a little doubtful of how much I would enjoy the first few weeks of January.  I knew most of this month would encompass the book of Job.  I have nothing against the book of Job.  It's a book I've recommended to many struggling people.  It's a book that's encouraged the heck out of me over the years.  However, I assumed that my encounter with it this time would be like a "been there, done that" type of feeling.

Needless to say, I was wrong.  Job encouraged me in more ways than I can remember.  Interestingly, it has encouraged me at a time in my life when things really are going well.  Never have I gone through anything to completely put myself in Job's shoes.  Even the times of crises in my life can't match Job's misery.  However, I found myself relating to his wrestling with God.

Job 9:11 says, "Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him."

Job says this as a man who knows God intimately.  He trusts God.  He has faith in God.  He understands God's character.  Yet, even with an extensive knowledge of the LORD, he admits that He misses God.  He doesn't see Him.  He admits that God makes decisions that are outside of his understanding.

This is a problem for me too.  Its not that I don't know God.  I know God.  However, I'm still human and when I allow myself to consider things through the flesh, I miss God too.  I don't see Him!

Right now, I'm waiting on God's timing for something.  In my human flesh, I don't understand why I'm still waiting.  However, as I examine the issue spiritually, I realize that God is moving in such a way not to provide my flesh with understanding, but to keep my focus on what's right in front of me.

God is moving as we take every step of our lives.  If you walk too fast and don't consider Him, you may miss it! 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Best Star Wars Ever

I've now seen Episode 7, The Force Awakens three times.  Yes.....three!  After, chewing on it a bit myself and with family and friends, I believe this episode belongs right up there with the best of them.  After Empire and ROTJ, Awakens is probably my third favorite.  

It's hard to compare it to the old ones, because the time at which all these movies were made involved completely different contexts and capabilities.  With that said, here is what I like about Episode 7.....(warning! Spoilers ahead)

-it left me thirsty for more! Already starting my countdown for episode 8.

-J.J. Abrams didn't go CGI-crazy!  George Lucas overdid it with the prequels.  I like the retro look mixed with a healthy dose of modern special effects and CGI.

-the acting and dialogue was WAAAYYY better.  The script didn't drag. The movie kept a quick pace, and the newcomers (Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaacs) were excellent and likable.

-Kylo Ren is the most intriguing Star Wars villain since Vader.  He's not on Vader's level yet, but his story is intriguing.  I like the direction they decided to take with him that he is not a complete villain.  He's still learning, growing darker, and struggling to find his place. And now we hate him because he killed Han!  He's an interesting villain, not a Count Dooku, General Grevious, or Hayden.

-I like that the incorporation of the old characters wasn't real awkward. It felt natural, even though they look ancient!

-I like the concept of a strong female Jedi because it's something different. We haven't seen this before. I'm excited to see where Rey's character ends up.

-Awakens used a good balance of humor.  I think the prequels were lacking this.  Jar Jar Binks just made people angry.

-I love the spiritual parallels and teachable moments this movie provides. (Finn doing the right thing and leaving the First Order. Kylo's spiritual warfare between the light and dark.  The light calling Rey to follow)

Now, I don't believe Awakens was perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There were things that left questions and didn't match up.


-How were Kylo Ren and Rey doing things with the force that we've never seen before? How did Rey get so powerful with no prior training? Will she be the most powerful Jedi ever?

-I wanted to hear from Luke Skywalker! At least give him a line before you roll credits!

-the story had good similarities to the old ones but a few of the concepts have been done and redone (i.e. A giant death moon that destroys planets) 

-How did Kylo get Darth's helmet and how did Luke's lightsaber pop back up after being lost in Cloud City.  Hope future episodes will address these questions.  And of course, where did Rey come from?!

Those are my thoughts. What about you?

What Does 2016 Look Like for You?

Happy New Year 2016!  What are you looking forward to most in 2016? How can I pray for you as we begin this new year? Please respond, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Today I Make My Resolution

I began my 2015 at the fabulous Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. I'm wrapping it up at home, my childhood home.  My journey this year has come full circle from being the farthest I could be from home to being nestled with my family.

Every January 1 the resolutions are declared.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm always reminded about how a resolution can start at any moment.  It doesn't take a new year to make those happen.  I like the old O.C. Supertones song, Resolution.  The line "today, I make my resolution" rings out during the old ska tune.  I like that line. A resolution can start today. In fact, if you fail in your attempt at a resolution, you can restart in February. There's no need to wait.

Where God takes us, there is always need for resolution and change throughout the year.  Just in 2015, I have been brought through all kinds of adventures, trials, joyous moments, and challenges.  My best bet is to always be ready to make a resolution and embrace the day that God has set before me, ready to do His work.

This is where my focus lies, not on a New Year's resolution, but on being ready to go wherever God takes me.  No doubt, 2016 will have moments in which its best for me to make a personal resolution.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

Ephesians 4:22-24

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas! I Love You!

If you're reading this....I want you to know that you're loved!  No matter what your Christmas looks like today, (hurt, pain, joy, family, solidarity), I love you!

This thought was one that helped me find joy away from my family last year.  I had an unconventional Christmas, wearing a uniform, living in a war zone.  However, I felt loved.  I had a great battle buddy to hang with, I shared phone calls with my family back home, and I had prayer warriors reminding me that I wasn't forgotten.

Christmas should be filled with joy, no matter what.  But I know sometimes that joy can be tough to come by when circumstances are difficult.  Christ truly does fill us with peace when we find Him.  However, we often need reminding.

I want to remind everyone of how great it is to live in Christ.  I want to also remind you that you are loved!  I love you! I hope you have a Merry Christmas! 

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