29 August 2010

Stress

Life's been busy lately, and there's been a lot hanging over my head: GR's (Graded Reviews, USAFA-speak for "test"), scholarship application, honor cases... it piles up. It stresses me out. What if I don't study enough? What if I don't get selected for the scholarship? What if it doesn't work out?

I go to climb and I go to run to reduce stress. But, as Matt Heard talked about at Woodmen Valley Chapel this morning, sometimes we get distracted by painkillers. When Peter denied Jesus, he was always "warming himself by the fire". Am I "warming myself by the fire" of the climbing wall? Of the trail?

But what God's shown me is that He has it under control. I need to do my part and do my best, but I don't need to worry about the future. If I'll need a joint master's degree in public policy and business administration, He'll get me one. If I don't, He won't waste my time.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

25 August 2010

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living 
Just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives.



-Lyrics: Bill and Gloria Gaither

23 August 2010

El niño

There's a little poor kid in Guatemala, praying for me every day.

That just blows my mind. He asked me if I've been healthy.

You know, I've never really had to worry about my health. Sickness passes quickly; strains don't slow me down.

But health is a serious issue in poor Guatemala. And this guy cares about my health.

This guy matters. Jesus loves this guy. I love this guy.

I'm making a difference in his life. But he's making a difference in mine.

You can make a difference in the life of a child. Check it out: Compassion International

17 August 2010

Simple.

It started with hammocks. Now the back-to-basics idea has permeated a lot of my life.

I wear my huaraches nearly everywhere. They're simple, cheap, and comfortable. People have been wearing them for thousands of years. People have been running in them for thousands of years. Who needs EVA foam and Shox and arch support? No one, really. Simple.

I climb. I've been climbing since I was a toddler. It started with the kitchen counter - and I have the scars to prove it. I climbed in trees; my mom yelled at me for getting sap on my clothes. Now, I climb in the base rock gym three times a week, building strength, trying to learn form. Climbing, like running, is a simple, inborn sport. It doesn't take much to get started. All I have is a pair of climbing shoes, and I boulder. Simple.

I check ingredients lists. If the ingredients list is longer than three short lines or has any words I can't pronounce or High Fructose Corn Syrup, I try to avoid it. I go for organic foods, foods with less than ten ingredients, for 100% juice. I make pancakes with heirloom seeds and cornmeal. They're delicious. Simple.

I backpack. I'm becoming a minimalist. I take a hammock, a tarp if it looks like rain, a sleeping bag, and some food. I want to camp, as for night, to avoid settling down on earth and forgetting eternity. Simple.

The truth is, Jesus lived simply. He didn't let society or materialism or anything else get in his way. Now, I'm not saying Jesus was a tree-hugger. Now that I think about it, that's morbid. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and He has much more to teach us than what kind of shoes to wear.

But a simple life is a better life. I want to "learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." - Philippians 4:12

Security

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. - Hellen Keller

15 August 2010

Justice. Mercy. Humility.

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come to him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-8

Risky Business




"Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you."

That's Mr. Beaver, telling the children in Narnia about Aslan, the lion-king.

Today's message at Woodmen Valley Chapel reminded me of that. Jimmy Dodd taught about getting outside your comfort zone, about going and caring. (Sermon will be available here soon. The first sermon in the series is already available.)

He went on a trip to China with his son. As you know, Chinese parents are allowed one child, and they want a boy - if they don't have a boy, there will be no one to care for them when they get old. As a result, many girls are abandoned and wind up in orphanages. Jimmy asked what happens to the girls. "Well, when they get older, they're not so cute, so they don't get adopted." Then what happens? "Some find a job; most wind up in prostitution." So those little girls turn into women, staring at a ceiling.

While some man - who might give them enough food to get through the day - abuses them.

That's heartbreaking. So Jimmy came back, and started looking into adoption. When the approval came, he and his wife dropped everything, flew to China, and came back with their little girl. God was still stirring in their hearts. So they prayed, "Lord, why shouldn't we go back?" Notice the difference - not 'why should we go?' 'Why shouldn't we go?'

Why shouldn't you go?

None of us were born into God's family. We were adopted. All of us. "Church is a gathering of rescued children." Why don't we give back? There are one hundred orphans in Colorado Springs - according to some, this city is the evangelical capital of the world. So why are there 100 orphans?

Every Christian must be involved in orphan care. It's part of the job description. Is there a risk? Of course there's a risk. To go outside your comfort zone, to go after the heart of God, there's a risk. But my friends, safety is an illusion. We don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Mike Fox, a successful businessman who gave up his fortune to help orphans, also spoke. Great man. "When you're in God's will for your life, risk avoidance is not an option." He runs The Global Orphan Project - check it out. Get involved. I'm exploring options for a mission trip with them.

As for Aslan? As for Jesus? 'Course He's not safe. But He's good.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27

12 August 2010

The part they left out in the admissions brochure

According to Princeton Review, the US Air Force Academy ranks:

#1 Most Accessible Professors
#8 "Is it food?"
#13 Least happy students

Although I've heard Academy leadership tout the first ranking on many occasions, I've never heard them mention the other two. Strange.

Cynicism is a big problem here - and stuff like this will cause it. I'm a pretty happy camper here at Camp USAFA, as we affectionately call it sometimes, but there are a lot of unhappy cadets.

I think it has to due mostly with a lack of communication from leadership: why are we doing weekly reveille formations? Why was our group commander not there? Why can't we get the music and the commands coordinated, so everyone can actually salute when the flag goes up?

My dad sent me an article last year about how important it is for leadership to communicate policies and the reasons for those policies. If workers understand the reasons, they'll be more happy about the policy. If they feel they have a say in deciding policy, they'll be even happier.

But here, we don't know the reasons and we don't have a say.

Don't get me wrong - the Academy is a great place. Like I said, I'm a happy camper: usually because I can walk into the mountains and camp. But there's always room for improvement.

06 August 2010

Profess

"Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live." - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It's the second day of class, and those words wouldn't stop running through my head. I don't want to sit in a class and listen to an instructor who hasn't lived. One who's spent his whole life in academia.

For the most part, I won't. My GeoPolitics instructor spent his summer travelling literally around the world. My thermodynamics instructor worked on kill vehicles as part of the missile defense system. My lab instructor has six kids. In my history class, we'll read The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig Mullaney: West Point Grad, Rhodes Scholar and US Army Ranger.

It should be a good semester. Another quote running through my head in Ethics class, talking about the morality of war:

"Many that live deserve death. And many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so quick to deal out death in judgement." - Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

04 August 2010

A Man of substantial character

"I was at a small Air Force Base in Germany, flying OV-10's, keeping the east Germans out of the west. On December 24th, my wife and I had a serious issue: our daughter had been lethargic for four or five days. It was 17 kilometers to the base clinic. It was snowing cats and dogs.

"We got there, and the flight doc didn't care. I was a forceful 2nd Lt, and I got my daughter to the emergency room doctor. He looked her over for thirty seconds and said, "She has spinal meningitis. And he said it like he didn't care. The world stopped spinning. My wife and I stared at each other: we couldn't say anything. And right then, LT tapped me on the shoulder and said, Magoo, what do you need? And I said, I just need a hug.

"I don't know where I'd be without LT, a member of the class of 1982. A man of substantial character.

"A few years later, I'd done pretty well in the flying world, and I got to take the squadron I'd been serving in over to Operation Desert Storm. One day, I was mission lead, and we had a rough day: two aircraft down. It was a three-hour jaunt back to base. I got there, and walked over to base ops in the 150 degree heat, shoulders slumped - it was a sad day. And I thought, whoever the commander of these forces is must be feeling terrible right now. And then someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to an old gray-haired man, the commander of those forces. And he had a huge smile on his face, and he put his arm around me, and he said, Magoo, how ya doin'? And I said, Right now I'm fantastic, sir. Brigadier General Bethurem was a member of the class of 1966.

"The General. A man of fantastic character.

"I was the commander, and my squadron had just returned from the sandbox. I was with my wife and the members of my squadron, my group, my wing. It was about 2000, and something dropped inside me. I told me wife, let's get out of here, let's go home. That wasn't normal for me. About 0200, I got a call. I knew it was bad. My mom was hysteric. My dad was dying.

"I made a few phone calls and got a 0600 flight from Dover to Colorado Springs. I had to leave base at 0400 to get there. When I walked out to my care, two men were waiting for me: LtCol and LtCol. They asked, Magoo, what do you need? I said, right now, all I need is a hug. Those men were from the class of 1981 and 1983.

"Men of outstanding character.

"I look around this room, having been in your shoes. And I've already spoken too long, but I want to leave you with this. I see 2500 eyeballs looking back at me. You've all volunteered to serve during a time of war. And I know the enemy had better be afraid.

"God bless you all."

Brigadier General Tod Walters is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a member of the class of 1982. He has over 4900 hours in the F-22, F-15, OV-10 and T-38. He spoke at the class of 2012 Commitment Dinner tonight.

Commit

Tonight, I commit to at least seven more years in the Air Force: two more at USAFA, five on active duty.

It means I'll have a job for at least seven years.

It means, if I leave tomorrow, I owe the Air Force at least $200,000.

It means I could wind up in combat in three years.

I'm ready for it. Just like when I started dating my girlfriend, my overall commitment won't change: I'm still committed to God, and I'll do whatever His will is. All other commitments are subject to that one.

And that's a good place to be.

03 August 2010

BCT: Things I learned

Consistency.
It looks simple on paper: leaders have to be consistent. But it's not that simple, especially in an environment like BCT. It's hard to be hard all the time, and it's hard to find the middle ground between hard and soft, but closer to hard.

BCT's not supposed to be easy: there's gotta be yelling, there's gotta be lots of PT, there's gotta be early mornings. Sometimes, we do things just to stress out the basics, see if they can handle it. But they're only gonna follow if they know you care. So they have to know you care, without you coming off as a softie. And you have to stay in the same spot - the hard-but-caring cadre spot - the whole time.

One way to do this is simply to serve your suboordinates.

Service.
Give them the tools to do their job: in this situation, mainly water and food, and even PT. If they're legitamately injured, take care of them. The USAFA Command Chief told us today that "sergeant" means "servant". It's who you gotta be. Love the ones you serve. Love the ones you lead.

Presence.
I never knew a command voice could earn you respect. But if you're loud, clear, and confident, people listen and people act, whether or marching a flight or getting in someone's face.

Cadre don't make mistakes. They have to be that perfect example, that shining cadet who never screws up. they have to stay on top of things. Who wants to follow a screw-up?

Or, worse, who wants to follow someone who screws up but doesn't do anything about it? I was texting my brother at the BCT graduation dinner. Stupid. A major came up and asked if the dinner was boring me. In front of the basics - that was embarassing. I knew I screwed up. She took my phone.

Knowing I screwed up, I apologized to my basics for my poor leadership and the bad example I set. They left, and the major was waiting for me. She told me she wouldn't normally correct cadre in front of basics, but what I was doing was agregious. She was right. She talked about setting an example and have pride in all we do. Taught me a good lesson.

The next day, one of my basics told me he thought the way I handled the situation was very honorable. Today, I found out that kid asked me to pin on a shoulderboard for him.

So, don't screw up. But if you do, own up to it.

Respect.
"He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them respect for himself..." - Major General John M. Schofield, 1879 graduation address at West Point.

It's true. If you respect your subordinates, they will respect you. And when BCT is over, they just might ask you to pin on their shoulderboards.

I think it feels better to pin on shoulderboards than to have them pinned on yourself.

01 August 2010

Hands

My left hand in yours
My right, lifted high
Worshipping You
Worshipping with you
And I never thought
I'd find myself here
But it's a good place to be.

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