Saturday, August 15, 2009


So I have a myriad of stories to tell you from the last month in Iraq, so I'll release them as I have time to type them up.

The last month before we left, we had to make room for our incoming replacements, so we had to vacate our three-man CHUs (Containerized Housing Units, which were boxcars with a door and linoleum flooring) in favor of wooden C-huts approximately three times as big that we managed to fit 30 guys into. If you do real quick math, that means we fit 10 times as many guys in a space 3 times as big. The room as 40' X 30' equaling 1200 square feet divided by 30 guys, meaning 40 square feet per guy... the equivalent to having 8' x 5' of my own personal space. And I had to fit a bed in there.

Also, we had two trailer bathrooms with 8 stalls a piece for 500+ guys to share. That means a big stinky overused undertoiletpapered mess you sometimes had to wait to use to relieve yourself.

So we affectionately called it Auschwitz. And every morning as I'd wake up and hit my face on the exceedingly short bunk above me, and take a big whiff of the smell of men's body oder that had a suspicious dill fragrance, I'd think about how grateful I was to be going home soon.

Well, a problem with living in such close quarters is that people have a tendency to get sick. Especially when you introduce a large group of people from another country. Well, when our replacement unit from Mississippi showed up, our guys started going down with a horrible illness. The warmed into a fever, nausea, massive full body cramps. We had 8 guys in one C-hut that were sick. Soon, it jumped into the my C-hut and two of the guys in my hut got sick.

Our medics took one of the sicker specimens down to the Troop Medical Clinic for evaluation, and they diagnosed him with "the Flu."

Some how that turned into "THE FLU."

And soon, everyone was talking about how Bravo Company had "Swine Flu."

So, an order came out from my First Sergeant that I had to round up everyone in the company who had THE FLU and take them to the TMC for evaluation.

So anyone who had a cough, sneeze, or diarrhea within the last month went into my notebook and down to the TMC.

All but three of the guys in my company were cleared as not having THE FLU.

But later that night, the Camp head Medical Officer decided that it would be better to be safe than sorry, so we were ordered to take anyone who had gone to the TMC for evaluation to be mass exodused (can you use that as a verb?) to a different C-hut for quarantine.

Nearly fifty guys attempted to fit into a C-hut with the max capacity for thirty before they figured out that we didn't have enough room for them all and had to split one of the healthy C-huts into a "sick half and unsick half" to fit the rest.

Unfortunately, because I had gone down to the TMC with all of these soldiers, and conscientiously had gotten FLU tested, I too was quarantined. And as we made our exodus to the other C-hut, I warned the guys that if they tried to force us all to take off our jewelry and force us into the showers together, that we should run away. (I'm not making light of Auschwitz, I'm merely trying to point out in a really silly frustrating situation, that it's actually not that bad.)

But it wasn't so bad. They started bringing us food. And they quarantined one of those to toilet trailers. So 50 of us were sharing one, and the other 450 guys were sharing the other. That was honestly quite pleasant for a night.

The next day, they figured out that the vast majority of us were not actually sick. And only the 8 Soldiers who were genuinely sick were kept there.

So that's my Auschwitz story.

I'm an American!

Well, Friends. I'm an American again. And I really like it.

Some of the things that we have:

1) Beautiful climate. Whether you like sunny, rainy, desert, trees, wind, hot, city or farmland, America's got it.

2) Freedom. I can talk about what I want wherever I want. I can believe what I want, and talk about what I believe. I can protect myself from bad people, and I'm allowed to publish my opinions about any of those things without harassment.

3) I can go running down the street with my iPod in and my shirt off.

Please, please, enjoy your freedom today. There are a lot of people who have given up a lot of things to give it to you. So don't sit in your house and forget today. Do something just because you're free to do it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For six dollars, he'll light your ears on fire.

This entire deployment, I've cut my own hair. My dad always cut my hair growing up, and it just seemed like what we do in our family. It saves money, and the only person I can be mad at in the end is myself. I do a better job than them anyway. I just take my razor into the bathroom and go to town.

Well, I sent my razor home, and it came time for me to get a hair cut, so I ventured out into the wild yonder, and found a little Turkish barber shop on post. What a wild experience. Maybe they do this at all Barber shops. I guess I can't really say, because I never go, but here's what happened.

First I sat down, and in barber speak mixed with TurkEnglish, I got the point across that I want it short on the sides and a two on the top. That's what I always do. And it works out pretty well in the sweltering heat here. Well, he buzzes a neat line with his trimmer all the way around my head. Then he pulled out an old-school horror-flick razor to take it all the way down to the skin. Well... that sure was neat, and an exercise in faith.

Then he cuts the rest like normal, gradually buzzing from nothing to next to nothing to the two on the top. He does a nice job, and when he's don,e he coats me with lemon-smelling aftershave... actually, I smell exactly like Pledge-- the stuff you dust wood furniture with. He then grabs the my jaw and the back of my head, and before I know what's going on, he yanks and cracks my neck. I thought I was murdered right there, and wondered why he didn't just use the razor blade. He goes to grab my head and jaw on the other side to even me out, and I say... uhh... no thanks.

Next he dunks a cotton swab into alcohol and lights in on fire. Then he flicks in on my ears to remove the peach fuzz... I'm not sure what that's all about. Was the peach fuzz really that unattractive? I mean... I've seen some gues with some craaaaaazy ear hair, but I was never self-conscious about mine... until now.

I get done, and ask him how much it costs. Six dollars, sir. Well, I guess it's not so bad to pay six dollars for a story.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A couple of exciting Administrative notes:

1) You can no longer send me letters or packages, because I may be out of here before I can receive them. Yay!

2) I have internet here in transient housing, so if you have Skype, friend me! Mom, Dad, Kari that means you!

3) I've decided that God's direction for the next period in time is for me to head back to Moody to finish my degree. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it. (CCF friends, I will still be around and come back to visit often. You're still my tentative plan for the future.)

I miss you all


Happy 4th of July everyone. Today brings back some good memories of good days, doesn't it? I remember the send off I got one year ago today from my friends at my Church. I really miss you guys.

My friends here and I got to talking the other day, on the 30th of June about how cool it was to be here on that day. For those of you that don't pay much attention to the news, the 30th of June was the day that all of the U.S. Forces pulled out of Iraqi cities. We are now only on our bases outside of their cities. We no longer are responsible for responding to disasters within the metropolitan areas of Iraq. The Iraqis are ruling themselves.

This day was greeted with many mixed feelings. It is a huge step forward in the rebuilding process of this country, and most Iraqis greeted it with enthusiasm, joy, and some relief. Many Iraqis are a little bit nervous about not having Coalition supervision protecting them. Whatever the case, the government declared the 30th day of June, National Sovereignty Day, and there was wide spread celebration. It was cool to be here on a day that marks their Independence Day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's hot and dry here, but I'm hot and refreshed.

Well, after getting to spend two weeks in the wonderfully lush United States, enjoying 60-80 degree weather with mild amounts of mugginess, I'm here in Kuwait, greeted by 110 degree weather about as dry as public bathroom toilet paper. In fact, I've had two random bloody noses due to the mixed heat/dryness' drying out the capillaries in my nostrils. That's annoying.

And, though it's hot and dry, and I'm stuck waiting on the weather to undust so I can fly back to my base, God knew that I needed a couple of days to reflect and relax before continuing on with my mission.

Due to a couple of exhaustingly deep conversations with my friends Jonathan and Alex, and my sister, I came back not quite feeling refreshed, and wondering how I was going to transition back to being an Army Sergeant again. Thankfully, God forced me to sit and think about Him and relax and read the Bible like I haven't done in quite some time. It sure is odd what God will use to get my attention and show me how much He loves me. Thanks, God.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Life in the United States

Well, I just finished my two weeks of Rest and Relaxation (so they call it) in the United States.

I really like the United States. I hopped on an airplane from Atlanta to Chicago, and a lady sat next to me with a small alien on her lap. She called it a "baby." It made odd, loud noises, and a large amount of liquid excreted through every orifice on it's body. It smiled at me randomly, and that made all of the other annoyances worth it.

I was walking with my mom in Target, when I saw several strange creatures. I didn't know what to make of them. They were looking at make-up and giggling. I asked my mom what they were, and she told me they were "girls." It turns out our species has two distinct subcreatures. This other one is more graceful and prettier.

When I got home, I got out of the car, and there was a foreign substance on the ground. It looks like leaves, but it grows up from the ground individually. It's soft when you walk on it, and when you take off your shoes it sticks between your toes and sort of tickles. My family calls it "grass." I guess it grows all over this country. I rolled in it. Then I got itchy and had to take a shower. Fantastic.

I got to drive where I wanted in a small motorized vehicle. It went very fast, and I got where I wanted by following very strict instructions that were posted on green signs all around the concrete surface along which I rolled. I like that I can travel where I want whenever I want. That sure is slick.

I went to a very fancy museum with my sister Mary. They preserve all sorts of pictures and drawings and paintings and stuff by people from a long time ago. I'm not sure why we like to preserve stuff from the past so much. But I like it. We also went to a fancy pizza restaurant where they baked us a cookie and put ice cream all over it. What a deliciously indulgent experience.

Another sister and I went to this place where they had built big plastic slides and shoved thousands of gallons of water down them, so when you hopped on them, you flowed fast all the way down. My sister giggled deviously when we went down the lazy river and she could beat me jumping from empty raft to empty raft into a giant pool with waves. (I know, I kind of broke character here, but it was fun... and her giggling was awesome... though she was frustratingly fast.)

I spent a lot of time cooking when I wanted, waking up when I wanted, and spending as much time as possible with my family and friends. Thanks God.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Senior year of High School was easy. I mean, I wasn't one of those people who took easy classes like Photograpy and 21st Century Study Hall. I took all real classes, because I like to learn. But being that close to the end was really neat. I could see the end of the tunnel, and on the other side was a world of possibilities. I didn't know what was going to happen when I graduated, but I was excited about it.

Right now, that's where I'm at with this deployment. Just two weeks until I go on leave, and three months until this whole deployment is over. I'm a mixture of excitement at the prospect of leaving, but intensly focused on all the things that I have to accomplish in order to leave. It's a weird balance between looking toward the future, but being wary of the present, and not getting lax. I still need to stay sharp in order to keep my guys and myself safe.

(Quick token spiritual tie: Isn't that how it is with this whole life? We're always looking foward to heaven, knowing it is the reason we live. We will one day live with God without anything filtering out our vision of Him. But we still have to maintain focus on the present in order to accomplish the thing on earth He has left us here to do. Token thought complete.)

We're towards the end of this deployment, and we're going to face the challenges of heading home. Many people's families have been damaged by this deployment, some stregthened. Some people have found God, some have left Him. Some have made good financial decisions and will return to a job. Some have been laid off, and only gotten to pay of debt, so they are returning to a worse situation. Please pray for the soldiers of my company. And for the opportunities God is going to open up over the next three months.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Betrayed by My High Tech Friend

I'm a bit frustrated today.
I was working on my computer doing some editing on the book I've been writing, and my computer decided to die. Like, one second I'm typing, and the next second, the screen is black. The computer is plugged in, so it makes no sense for my computer to just die. Most of you know I'm a die-hard Mac fan, so the fact that my Mac is betraying me is kind of an emotional experience.

For those of you who did not know I'm writing a book, let me let you in a little on that experience. It's something I started without the idea of publishing. I just wanted to us it to think over some of my life experiences and process some unanswered questions. As I progressed through the process, I started to feel like my experiences might really be able to help some other people, so I kind of wanted to try to get it published, though I was very self-conscious about it. It's got a lot of extremely personal thoughts. But as I was talking to God, and venting about this, He told me, "If I put a desire in your heart, it is your responsibility to figure out how to make it happen." And so I've been quite driven to try to get this moving. (I don't like that "responsiblity" word, but God's God... and I'm not... so we know who's word is going to matter.)

Well, I was just about done with my initial edit, and ready to send it off to some of my friends for their opinion and editing, when my computer died today. I have saved the first draft other places, but the second draft... and the last month's worth of work is saved to that computer and nowhere else.

Well, I'm online right now, and I just looked up some trouble-shooting tips, but if you don't mind praying for an inanimate object, could you pray for my computer? And for my book.

Cause God told me that even though my computer is finicky, I'm not off the hook.

I love you guys...

Saturday, April 25, 2009


A couple of days ago, it was hot. Like abnormally sweating as soon as you walk out of an air conditioned room kind of hot. Isn't it April? What kind of place could be this hot in April. Nasty little bugs came out of nowhere and flew into our mouths and eyes.

The next day a dust storm hit us. And when I mean storm, it was unlike anything most people have ever seen. If you've ever seen the movie, The Mummy, you might have a decent idea. A wall of dust could be seen rolling over the horizon. You could see it from several miles away. Moving at about 20 miles per hour, it ate the earth underneath it. As it came over us in our trucks, the world went from a sunshiney day one second, to complete brown out the next. We couldn't see more than 15 feet in front of us. The fine particles clogged our lungs. It was altogether one of the most disgusting experiences.

The day after that, a rainshower came and coated all of the land, turning everything into mud. A couple of hours into the shower, though, everything began to rinse clean. The air smelled good and felt good to breath in. You could see some red flowers begin to pop out of the brown landscape. And for just a minute, I got a reminder that... yeah, this place is desolate, and yeah, it pretty much suck here, and there is no reasonable explaination for why dust was a necessary part of creation, but I got the reminder that God still cares about this place. He is willing to water it.

Cool thought, huh?

Monday, April 20, 2009

God Stoops

I got this image in my mind the other day of Father. I don't know if it was a flashback, vision, dream or what, but this was the thought that hit me:

I was a little boy playing in a playhouse, and Father came out to play with me. He went down to His knees and still had to bend over to barely fit through the door of the playhouse. Once inside, He took up so much room that I could barely get around Him to show him all my toys. The table, the stove, and all of the fake food that me and my friends played with.

The image faded into a bigger picture of God stooping to fit under the sky. It may make His back hurt, but He stoops because He wants to see what I'm doing and because He cares about my activities.

Isn't God a great Father?

Monday, April 6, 2009

I know this might be the most confusing thing you've ever read, but I hope it's worth it.

"Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" Hebrews 10:25.

I want to admit that I missed church this week, mostly cause I was lazy. And I immediately regret my decision. (That's kind of a weird side thought. Cause it wasn't really a decision, more of a forgetfulness that turned into passively neglecting to make a decision. But even the neglect to make a decision is a decision to not do what I should have done.) And once you figure out what I wrote in those parentheses, you can join me for the real topic.

I've been reading a book that makes the point that our major job as Christians is to praise God by delighting in Him. That's a good point, and I thought further that I like to praise God, so it's a nice set up that God gets praise out of something I like anyway. But then I thought further, lately, I haven't been praising God as much, or thinking about Him as much, or pursuing Him as much as I'd like. That frustrated me. Why am I having a hard time praising Someone Who is so praiseworthy, Who set up such a good system? (Still following?)

Then I thought to myself selfishly, that I couldn't wait to get home and be in a youth ministry again because it's so much easier to follow God when you are socially expected to follow God. This branched into two thoughts that are the point of this blog:

1) Being around Christians is important. We have the ability to excite each other about God. Fire breeds more fire. When I missed church due to neglect, I cheated myself out of an opportunity to be excited about God, and I stole an opportunity for God to be praised by me in a corporate setting. I don't get to go to church every week, why did I have to waste this opportinity? So pleases don't get used to it, or take for granted your ability to go to church. Not everybody can go to church, and seriously, you need to realize that it is a priviledge and go with the desire to be lit on fire and to light others on fire. Go to church.

2) I cannot wait to be home to be delighting in God. When someone loves something, they can't help but talk about it. Let's take drugs for instance. Drug addicts lie to their friends, steal, beg, or anything else undignified to get their fix. Is God not a delight way more pleasurable? It's simply that I let other stuff get in the way, and forget that God is more desireable than anything else. And that's dumb. And I need to get over it. I need to stop talking like any regular Soldier, and love God enough to stand up for Him. It's about love and passion for Him, and not guilt.

Just brainstorming. I know this might be the most confusing thing you've ever read, but I hope it's worth it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm distracted.

Though it is easy to get distracted, I just want to pause and remind myself that this is the season to remember Jesus' passion for us.

There is often a lot of drama in my life. Maybe you have a boring life, but I think there is a lot of drama in everybodies lives, so I'm going to make this blanket statement just as a reminder for me and for you.

Let's remember Jesus again. Remember why He came to earth, and remember how He came to earth. This very earth, walked the dirt not very far from where I am. Probably got the same dust in his eyes, and accidentally swallowed one or two of the same the little gnats that fly into my face and I eat. Saw the same sunsets and the same clouds. And put on an aching and paining human body every day so that He could identify with us. So that He could be the best possible sacrifice for us.

Let's dismiss the distractions for just one minute. Even if we can't get rid of them all day, let's give Him one minute right now to remember His sacrifice and his love for us.

How amazing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sustainer's Challenge

So it's been a minute since I've written here, and let me tell you why.

I was voluntold that I was going to try out for a competition here. I was talking with my Commander one day, and he was telling me about this competition called the "Sustainer's Challenge." Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, he said in passing, "Since you and your LT are trying out, we should have a good chance of making the team." So... when you Commander says "since," it pretty much means you're going to do it. Well, the tryout was basically a test to see who could be tortured the longest and survive. That may be a slight exaggeration, but here's what the competition included. You start by completing a six mile ruck run. You wear all your gear, and run/walk as fast as you can to the finish line. The finish line is at a weapons qualification range, where you get forty rounds to fire as many as possible into the targets. Shortly after that, your team, changes a tire on a Humvee in full body armor as fast as possible. Then you had to carry a litter with a person on it 500 meters while completing various medical tasks. All of those human fitness feats are followed by the Army's Physical Fitness test. In which you do as many push-ups as possible in two minutes, as many sit-ups as possible in two minutes, and run two miles as fast as your already ground up legs can handle. All of that is followed on the second day by a combatives tournament (which is the Army's slightly safer version of UFC fighting). So, during the tryouts, we skipped the tire change and medical tasks (because they were team events) and jammed all the others onto a hot afternoon day-- thus the torture comment.

So I tried out after having been sick for three days, and just barely made the five person team. (I will spare the sickness details, but it was a light case of Saddam's Revenge, which is kinda sucky before a competition.) One of the requirements was for one person to be an officer, one to be over 30, and one to be female. The other two of us were the young PT studs. We took the five most fit people from our very large battalion to send to this competition, and we trained for two weeks.

We went down to the biggest base in Iraq for the competition. Hundreds of people showed up to watch including our commanding General. It was an intense couple of days. We realized when we got down there, that all the other teams had been practicing for this even for months. So we were a bit behind the bell curve, and we got totally whipped. Out of 22 teams, we placed 12th.

One of our highlights was the ruck march. The rule on the ruck run were that the whole team had to finish within 25 meters of each other, but you could share gear. This event that many other teams had been practicing for months, we were at a severe disadvantage.

We realized early on that our female was going to have a hard time with this. The gear we carried weight about half of what she did, so that's a tough task to ask. So right at the beginning of the race, we took her ruck, and I threw it on top of mine and carried it for her. Later on, some of our other guys took her other gear to free her up to pump her arms and just run as fast as she could. At the end of the race, we gave it all back to her so she could cross the line all geared up. We took third place. One of the other females complained that our female didn't carry all of her stuff, and our female responded, "It's not my fault that your team didn't have enough hooah guys on it to help you out. I just had an awesome team."

And you know what? That is an awesome answer. I was thinking about how in our Christian walk, we're all going to finish together. And you know what? The Bible commands us to carry each others burdens. It's not a problem that some people are going to have a hard time with someting, it's a blessing to get to work together and finish well. Regardless of how you have to do it. I like her response because there was no shame. She didn't feel like less of a team member because she hadn't carried her own load, she had done the best she could and was a good enough team member to realize that she could probably finish if she carried it by herself, but to finish well, she had to pass her burden off. Have you ever thought about strategically passing your burdens off on your Christian friends in order to finish well?

Anyway, sorry for dropping off the edge of the world for a while. That's where I was and that's what I was doing.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the Light of the World."

So, what if I feel like a penlight instead of a headlight?

The other day I realized a little bit about some of those Bible analogies of light. We had gotten a new truck, and one thing about Army trucks is that the headlights that come with them are super lame. This truck happened to be at the front of our convoy, and while we were on a base, we got totally lost. This truck took a turn down the wrong road, because the crew couldn't see very well. They curved down a road that bottle-necked, and suddenly the truck got stuck in a position where the whole convoy had to somehow back up. It took forty minutes to extract all our trucks out of the bottleneck.

When we got back, we immediately installed a whole bunch of more powerful brighter lights, so that would never happen again.

We live by our ability to see. The more we can see, the more we can prevent bad things from being able to happen. In the military, even when it's dark, we use night vision, so that we are never blind.

It makes me think about whether I am really a 1,000,000,000 candle super-powered city on a hill type light like I want to be , or a pen light. I want to be able to make people wear sunglasses because I am so in love with God, and it just radiates like no-body's business.

Lately I've been frustrated with myself because I'm not sure that I'm any different from nice non-Christians. I want to be different.

I suppose the key to that is the other light analogy God uses in Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

So God and His word is my light, and I am everybody else's light. I don't want to be the one to break the chain on either side. I've got to get my light word, and reflect it so that the people around me have light.

God, please be the light to my path, and help me light up the world. Sometimes it is really hard to keep Your standard. I constantly fail, and disgust myself. Help me to not get too hung up on stomping on the snake of my sin, and forget to look the path you've lit, trip and fall, and fail to light the path for others. I don't want to distract myself. I want to love You too much to fail You.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I know how to abound. Philippians 4:12

I love this idea. Spurgeon once wrote, "Many... when they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall." Naturally, when I am suffering, I now go to God with my problems, but when He blesses me, I forget Him and drive on to do whatever I want to do.

In the Army, we are taught to perform Battle Drills. These are certain actions that we rehearse to do in certain common situations so that without communicating, we all do the right thing. Everyone knows what everyone else is going to do. So very often, we are taught to not think on our own. So, we joke around about people who "do whatever they want." "Oh... you want to be an individual." "Do your own thing." On second thought, that's probably not very funny if you're not here. Well, anyway, it's to make a point. So just go ahead and believe me, it's funny. Anyway, the point is that very often a Christian's Battle Drill is to go straight to God when there is a problem, praying fervently that God will bless him. But we forget our Battle Drills and just do our own thing when we are blessed, unstressed and successful.

Friday, February 13, 2009

We free.

I got the opportunity to hang out with an interpreter this week. I'll code name him Butch. He is the biggest Iraqi I've ever met. He could easily be a bouncer. But he is quiet unless you ask him a question.

He told us all about Iraq. He explained the difference between Shiite and Sunni. He told us the difference between Arabic and Kurdish. He showed us the difference between different cities, who was friendly and who was hostile. He was fantastic.

Well, I was asking him questions, and something that he said really stood out to me. He was explaining to me the difference between Iraq now and what it was before the Americans came. He said to me, "The Iraqi government sucks. I say Iraqi government sucks. We free. When Saddam is in charge, I don't talk about the government. If I say government is bad, two days later, I gone. Nobody asks where I go or they get in trouble. Now I say the government is bad. We free." Probably twenty times this week, he said, "We free." It was ironic because he didn't care about how bad the government was, all he cared about was how he was free.

He was the best interpreter I have ever had. When we needed him, he jumped out of the car enthusiastically. He helped us every chance we get.  He was absolutely fantastic.

He understood what freedom was.

Freedom is not easy life. It's just freedom. I'll let you do your own interpretation.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Something I learned at New Direction from their most-wise owner is that a talented person can be good at many things, but someone who wants to be great at something can only do one thing. I've been talking with God lately, and I realized that He is worthy of greatness. I want to be great for Him.

So here are some thoughts about the future going on in my head. Though I have a multitude of options in my head, I realize that there is one passion that rules them all. I want to work with students. And in that, I want to provide for them male role models to help them grow, and I want to help students make a difference in the world. That is a multiple part single desire.

Now the question that is leftover is "How?" I have no idea. So for this week, could you comment on what kinds of suggestions you've got. Any ideas?

Picture Perfect Prayer

How does prayer work?

This question has baffled me for years, and remains the most confusing, yet important question in my life. I have gone back and forth hundreds of times and continue to struggle with this seemingly simple question. God even gave us an instructional video of what a prayer is supposed to look like to "Our Father in heaven" in Matthew 6. But I still don't get it. Check out these promises: "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you" Matthew 7:7. "He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you'" Matthew 17:20.

How does a Christian take ahold of these promises?

Here's a clip of a message I sent to Kayla about what I know about prayer.

"Ok... Prayer... definitely something that we learn and get better at. I think it's one of the neatest things we do because it's a mixture of talking to someone who wants to be your best friend and your Creator. You can be both intimate and yet scared of Him. It's really cool! I don't think you need to worry about which "way" to pray. Just pray like He's your best friend, but remember He could kill you at a moments notice if He wanted. He's the greatest person in the universe, but loves you like a daughter! It's awesome that way.

"As for "doing things you enjoy" together. Think of some of the things you enjoy... How bout in this scenario we'll talk about something I do for fun. I love to run down a hill as fast as I can and feel the wind hit my whole body. I love that feeling, and when I do it, I can't help but get excited about the sun, the wind, the laws of physics that God set in place, the feeling in my gut as I go down, all things He created. I think about the feeling of joy that I get and know that God created joy so that I could feel it. He made joy for my pleasure. How cool is He? You can do anything with Him. Anything that you think is fun, just draw it back to Him. I like to play basketball, and I think about how God made me so that I could play. He allowed us to invent basketball. I also do the things I'm not good at with him. I'm terrible at chess, so when I play chess, and lose, I think that God made people who are good at this stupid game. I don't know why... it's such a stupid and frustrating game, but God made people with a mind that works this way, that can do this math and plan their moves out in advance. What a cool gift to have. God made people that way. So no matter what I do, I can do it with Him if I intentionally draw a line to Him. And when I do that, I grow to love Him more. Does that make sense?"

Prayer is the most amazing privelege we have as Christians. There is so much intimacy and realness.

But then there is still those pesky promises. I want to believe them, but I don't know how. God answers and doesn't answer. He is absolutely unpredictable. It's so frustrating. I'm tired of all the standard answers. How does a person really connect with God and take hold of His promises. That is my question for today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sense of Urgency

Somebody asked me the other day what it was like to wake-up every morning thinking someone wanted to blow me up. I generally avoid topics like this, but today I'm going to manipulate the emotion involved with my current situation to make a point.

Don't get me wrong, being in Iraq most of the time is no different from living in downtown Chicago. You know the places to not go and what type of people to avoid, and the rest is "up to God."

I've only had one real experience where I thought I was just about to get blown up. It was really odd feeling, really. I knew that I needed to take ownership of the situation, because it was either me, or four of my guys if this was to go bad. I got a funky feeling in my whole body and froze for about 5 seconds, and when I unfroze, I sized up the situation, walked over and just did what was supposed to be done. Nothing physical ended up coming out of it. But it made me think.

It's really neat to be in a position where you physically know that God could take your life. Whoever you are, wherever you are, you could die at any moment. It's nice to be in a spot where I am reminded of how short our time on earth is, and how important it is to seize the day and make the most of it.

Have you thought about that lately? You could die today, right now. What should you be doing? What are the most valuable things in the world to you? What can you change about yourself right now in case Jesus comes back tomorrow? Living with eternity in mind is an awesome way to live! God is the God of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. But we are the people only guaranteed today and eternity. What are you going to do with today!?

Fear is a powerful motivator, and I don't want you to get this idea confused with "be scared and do right." And I don't want you to feel bad for Bobby. But please, for the love of God, utilize your fear to bring about a sense of urgency and change!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Noticing the unnoticed.

I was reading a book by C.H. Spurgeon this week called "Morning and Evening."

Wait, that is a really bad way to start this post. I'm pretty sure that if a person starts off their post by telling how they read a book, that half of the readers just now clicked the X on the top corner.

Oh well, I have something I want to share, and reading a book is how it started. So suck it up.

The first morning, the verse that Spurgeon picked out was Joshua 5:12 "and that year the people ate of the land of Canaan." He pointed out how big of a verse that is for the people of Israel, and how that verse was the fulfillment of a thousand years of promises.

You know what stuck out to me? Spurgeon had a great point (like he always does), but I was struck by the fact that I've read that verse before a bunch of times and never noticed it. How can I read the Bible and not notice the verse that points out that God fulfilled His promise!?

More importantly, how often do I miss what God has done in my life? Do my doubts really come from God not moving, or do they come from my not paying attention to God moving.

I don't make a lot of New Year's Resolutions, because Resolutions are just made to be broken. But this year my prayer is to notice God. I want to be roasted, ground, brewed, and stimulated by a cup of God coffee every day.

I love you guys, thanks for sticking it through my book reading message.