Signs of the times?

danger sign

2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Matthew 24:2-8

 

A friend and I were talking about the second coming of Christ. How some of the various signs that we were told to watch for seem to be occurring and that indicates the time is getting close. My grandfather said many years ago that the time was getting close; he talked about all the signs he was seeing that indicated Christ would return soon. Now, I can see that some of the signs that are in the Bible have occurred. Yet, there are a lot of other signs that have not yet occurred.

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

 

25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.                                                                         Luke 21:25-28

 

SO, when will He come? When will the Rapture happen? Well, THAT is something that we just cannot determine. In fact, He tells us that He will come when we don’t expect Him.

But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  Matthew 24:6

Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Revelation 3:3

What is undeniable is that regardless of exactly WHEN, that time is coming and is getting closer by the day. Will it be within a year? Two? Twenty? A hundred? A thousand? Well, as He warns us, we cannot determine when, but we must prepare as it will come. God’s concept of time as to what is soon is vastly different than ours, to God, an immortal, eternal being, time means nothing. A second, hour, day, year, millennia all are the same to Him. But, come He will and He will keep His promises to us.

8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.                                    2 Peter 3:8-10

 

Oh, the times will be difficult, but for those who believe in Him and are following Him we will be spared much of that which is to come. I am not a Biblical Scholar so I didn’t and won’t try to “over interpret” all the signs that we will see before His coming. I will address the Rapture and other aspects of what He tells us will occur when Christ returns in the near future.

 

Lord, Praise Your Name, I thank You for the blessings You give me, for the assuredness that Christ will return. I pray in Jesus name that we be ready that no one need suffer through the tribulation after Your return and that You draw us closer to You. Make us ready for the day that Christ returns and calls us up. Help us to be diligent and faithful until that time. Thank You for the mercy, forgiveness and redemption that Jesus earned for me with His suffering and death on the cross.

Amen.

 

Thanks for the visit today. Another winter storm in our area today, for the rest of you that are also dealing with the snow and cold, I pray He keeps you all safe and blesses you today and everyday. AND, of course that you have a chance to bless others.

Oh, and to those readers in warmer climates, I am jealous and so ready for the warmer weather.

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Sorrow

Emotion-5

 

Have you ever looked at someone and known by the look in their eyes that they were unhappy? I don’t mean not happy at the moment but unhappy with their life and by appearance they are extremely sorrowful and emotionally in, well, pain. Something in their life is not good. Maybe they realize it and know what that is but maybe they don’t. They are just unhappy. Oh, there may be moments of happiness but those are few compared to the hours, days, weeks and months of sadness. It seems to me it would almost be like drowning and managing to get a quick breath of air only to sink underwater again. Sometimes when I have seen people like that they seem to have given up hope for true joy. Many times people in such circumstances start out looking for happiness and joy only to realize once they get what they thought would bring happiness instead brings sorrow. This happens many ways: use of alcohol, drugs, pornography, pursuit of wealth, nicer clothes or nicer home are a few examples. But by trying to find happiness in those things one finds the opposite: health and financial problems from using drugs and alcohol, mental issues and relationship problems from watching pornography, relationship problems from being so motivated by wealth one loses their family, the financial difficulties many face when spending too much on clothes, housing or other things all bring more long lasting pain and suffering than any joy obtained. The shattered self esteem that goes with trying to have one thing but realizing the cost and impact on one’s life is not worth any benefit that can be realized.

Too many people are sad for a variety of reasons and find ways to try to decrease the sadness but the worldly pursuits will never give true joy. Those things cannot fill a void that these people have in themselves. They cannot find joy from outside themselves and if a person is not happy with themselves, they can’t be happy with things. There are many ways to find joy and peace for oneself, but the only way to find true joy and peace is through Christ. I found myself in similar circumstances to many, for a variety of reasons I had a lot of sorrow and pain in my life, some things helped but even the things that helped did not give the true joy I found when I quit fighting against God and came to Him to confess I was a sinner and asked for His forgiveness. And, just like that, He gave it to me. Oh, there are times I am not fully joyful, there are times when I have pain and sorrow for one thing or another. It is part of human existence to have pain and sorrow at times. But now, those are minimal and the joy is the vast, vast majority of the time. When I am facing difficult times I have Christ to help me through the hard times and the joy and peace of knowing what waits for me in eternity with Him.

 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  Revelation 21:4

 

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

 

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.  Proverbs 10:22

 

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  1 Peter 4:13

 

He tells us there will be sorrows, but He also tells us that when we have sorrows, we will have Him there to take our pain, as Christ did on the cross and that all sorrow and pain will be replace with joy, not just joy but exceeding joy. What a magnificent Lord we serve.

 

Lord, I praise You for all You are and thank You for the joy You give me and for giving me hope and comfort in times of sorrow. More than anything I thank You and praise You for the salvation and forgiveness that Christ gave Himself for that I would be able to have that joy and life eternal. I pray that You show all those in pain and sorrow, for whatever reason,  that they do not need to suffer and hurt, no reason for them to be miserable but that instead there is a reason to rejoice and that You offer salvation from whatever situation in their lives that cause the suffering and that You will help them find a way out of those circumstances and that You will give them joy in times of pain and sorrow. I pray in the name of Jesus that anyone going through hard times learn to look to You for their joy and salvation from the sorrows they are enduring. I pray that You draw us all to You and that we learn how to glorify Christ in all we do and show us all the forgiveness and mercy You have for us.

Amen

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and taking time to read my post. I hope all have a blessed and joyful day and that you find a way to spread your joy and to bless someone else today.

 

The Loss

woman-grieving-loss

 

One of my cousins quite recently lost her husband very unexpectedly due to a heart attack. I don’t know all the details, but I do know that she is hurting from the loss and of course, when I heard about it I felt very bad for her and her immediate family and it brings to mind various losses I have dealt with over the years. Each person we lose, whether to death or change in circumstances brings about sadness and mourning. Each time, due to the relationship the pain is different. Then, one considers not only the current loss and the void that is left immediately, but what about the loss of potential, of the future, of the expectations one had for the rest of their life and the impact of the loss on that? There is no doubt that each loss is painful, each loss is devastating in it’s own way, leaving one feeling not only the loss, but lost as well, as they try to adapt to the change in their life. We all have and will face losses of other in our lives. Most will lose many times in our lives, such is inevitable.

I have dealt with losses, parents, family, friends; sometimes to death, other times to changes life brings about which at times have been due to my actions and at other times, due to the actions of others. I have at one point or another dealt with each loss differently. Some I have dealt with in far more graceful manners than I would have ever expected myself capable of doing so. Some, well, some I have dealt with far less gracefully. Sometimes feeling sorry for myself, sometimes feeling angry, sometimes not really feeling anything at all, just numb but when that has happened eventually feelings come out and it seem that those times it is even more difficult to deal with than had I done what I should have and gone to Christ for comfort, peace and giving Him the pain I was feeling rather than trying to cope with things on my own. He is SO MUCH MORE capable of helping me through those trying times than I am able to on my own.

Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

 

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalms 147:3

 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  1 Thessalonians 4:14

 

 

He will heal our broken hearts. Christ will be there to give us peace and comfort.

 

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.   Isaiah  26:3

 

We serve an AMAZING GOD! He will give comfort and peace.

 

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.    Philippians 4:6-7

 

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

 

Yes, we will all suffer loss, that is a fact of human existence but a fact of Christian existence is that we will not suffer the losses alone. No matter what other family members and friends do to try to comfort us, they cannot give the peace and comfort that Christ can give us.

 

Lord, I praise Your holy name. Thank You for the blessings You give me. I pray in Jesus Name that You be with my cousin and the rest of her family during this difficult time. I pray for your loving arms to be wrapped around them to comfort them and give them peace. Replace their sorrows with Your joy. Not only them, but all others that are suffering loss I ask that You comfort. Those who do not know You, draw to You that they may know the peace, comfort and salvation You have for them.

Amen

 

Thank you all for your time. Please, remember that no matter how dark things look, God is there for you. Look to Him and He will bless you. When He does, please, be a blessing to someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The eyes have it?

eyes

34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.

35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Luke 11:34-36  (NIV)

 

This morning I stopped at a convenience store to get coffee and as I got out my money to pay and looked up at the cashier she said, “OH MY THOSE EYES! YOU HAVE THE MOST GORGEOUS EYES! I bet any women just fall in love with you with one look into your eyes.”

I really didn’t know how to respond other than say thank you as it was a nice compliment. She responded, “ its everything about your eyes, the color is amazing, the shape, a little slanted looking but still wide, your eye lashes are amazing too.” I replied “Thank you.” Again but as I started to turn she said, “You can tell a lot about people by their eyes. There is something about you, you seem to have a little sadness in yours, but you have a love and joy that just, I dunno just shines like a fire, no, that’s not right, they shine but not harsh. Some sort of radiance and glow, happy and peaceful no matter what sadness is there. You just have such amazing eyes. I don’t tell people things like that, I don’t know why I told you. I’m not flirting or anything but I have never seen anybody with eyes like yours. If my boyfriend had eyes like that, so full of love and I dunno maybe peace that it just, wow, makes me feel happier too, but if he had eyes like yours I would be afraid to let him out of my sight besides, I’d want to just look into them all the time. They are piercing, like they could cut right through but still soft and gentle, kind, intoxicating. I feel like I could dive into them.”

Once again, I thanked her. She then said, “How can they have the sadness but still so much, happiness, no more than happy, Joy, like everything is wonderful in your life?”

I said, “Jesus puts the joy there, the love, the contentment and bliss. I have things that I am sad about, all of us do. But He puts far more love than I have sadness.”

She commented that her mom said similar things at times. We talked a little about church, her mom goes, but she doesn’t but her mom nags her to go. I said I thought her mom was right and she should go with her. She said, “Yeah, I think I will.” Hopefully, she follows through.”

I said thank you again and left. But, the interaction made me a little uncomfortable, I could tell she wasn’t trying to flirt and was being nice and it was flattering to hear but for some reason I have never been comfortable receiving compliments. Maybe because I have had instances where I have been complimented and then found the compliments were hollow. Maybe it’s because I have never enjoyed being the center of attention, preferring to be giving attention than receiving it. Perhaps because of prior life and military experience where it’s critical to not be noticed, many of the military operations and missions I participated in required we fit in with the civilian population in various countries with individuals selected, in part, due to physical appearance and language abilities in addition to other capabilities. But, I digress, sorry for the deviation from the intended discussion. But a reasonable side note about attention and either seeking attention or trying to avoid it. Maybe I’ll talk on that on a future post. OH, WAIT, I think I already did, OOPS.   AND….. back to the matter at hand.

Eyes, we all have them, well other than extremely rare exceptions and once upon a time I believed, as strongly as humanly possible, that one’s don’t lie. I still believe it. Maybe it’s a gift of the Holy  Spirit to see more than what is said, maybe we can all do it to one extent or another. But, I have always been able to look into a person’s eyes and KNOW if they were telling the truth or not. If the said they were happy and I looked, I could tell if that was or wasn’t true, at times I have pushed the matter and found out they did have some significant issues going on making them extremely sad and depressed and if nothing else let them talk through things, giving advise if appropriate, but usually just lending an ear. Sometimes I have seen people in pain, physical or emotional, that denied having any sort of pain, but I could see suffering in their eyes and after they admitted it, I would do what I could to help them.

I have seen joy, sorrow, anger, pain, rejoicing, love, hate, emptiness and many other things. And I was never wrong……or I should say that I do not believe I have ever been really wrong, but there have been a few times I questioned if I was right. Did I misread someone’s eyes? I have to say I really don’t think so but sometimes, their actions later seem to say differently than I thought.  So, that leaves me confused, did I misread or are they that good of a liar their eyes don’t even give them away?  Or, was I correct but for some reason their actions are not as they should be at whatever time it caused me to have the doubt?

I sometimes wonder if it just a few that are able to do so or if all can. My mother was really good at it. She could see people and even if smiling and laughing she knew they were covering up something, usually some sort of sadness. She would see someone and comment they had some sort of emotional or spiritual pain or conflict and then tell me or us, depending on who else was there, that she was going to go talk with them and when I was younger I’d get dragged along. She would start talking to them, sometimes they were total strangers at Kmart or Woolco or the mall, it could be anywhere. At first the smiling continued and almost always the person would shake their head and try to smile, but it was never as much. She’d continue talking with them often about random things and eventually say “Are you sure there is nothing bothering you?” They’d again shake their head sometimes more aggressively, trying harder to say no and she would talk a little more and this would go on a couple minutes or longer but eventually when she asked they would finally say, “I do have something upsetting me.” Or another phrase along those lines and proceed to tell her. Man, some of the things they would tell her were shocking. They were in legal trouble, looking at divorce, a girl might be pregnant, someone close died, on and on the list of things goes. So many people I saw this with, so many different problems. She definitely had a gift. After they talked some she made suggestions about lawyers, counselors, etc. the people always seemed relieved and that someone cared enough to actually see the sorrow and listen to them. She impacted tons of people that way. She could even see it in pictures of people she knew, the better she knew them, the more she could see things. I had photos from Iraq, some I had taken, some I had others take with my camera, some that people had taken and emailed me that I was showing my parents. I had the, ummm shall we say, less family friendly photos from combat and medically related photos, etc in separate file because I know that would have upset them, but as I showed them the photos, there was one that was taken shortly after we returned to camp after several hours of intense combat, that was kind of a close up of me and another guy. They had already seen a couple from the same time, we were all unwinding so to speak, laughing and joking about this or that and, nothing close enough for my mother to see me closely and they all looked like we were just a bunch of guys, hanging out, having fun. She actually commented that we must have been having a good time because everyone was smiling and you could tell a couple were laughing. I did at times while we were hanging out. But, when she saw the one picture that was pretty close up, she said, “WHAT WAS WRONG?” I asked what she meant. She said, “Your eyes, there was something wrong that day, something happened, something very bad. What was wrong? Did you get hurt or something? Was someone you know killed? Something happened, something very, very bad.” Well, I gave her a vague answer that, yes, we had been in contact that day for several hours and ye, there were people killed. She said, “I knew as soon as I saw your eyes in the picture, I knew. But, there was more wasn’t there?” Well, I was not going to burden them with other details, as I had killed people that day, seen others killed, some Americans, some Iraqis. I had some close calls, it was the day my back got broken and such as well. She could tell I was reluctant to say more, but said, “I know there was more, but I understand if there are things you don’t want to talk about. I just knew something was wrong.”

It was a gift she had, God gave her the ability to see more in a person’s eyes, not the color, shape, eyelashes or other things like that, but something deeper in the eyes. She used that to minister to people at times and was able to help them, at least a little. As I mentioned, I am able to do it as well, I don’t think as well as she could, but I can. I have, as I mentioned, seen more than people say in their eyes. I have seen the opposite of what people say, I have seen hate, love, joy and sorrow as well. What troubles me is when I see people I know well smiling, whether in person or a photo, but see their eyes and see sadness, guilt, pain, suffering of some kind. Perhaps they or someone close lost someone, or has health issues but there is some kind of suffering. No matter what they say, or how much they deny it, I know what I see, just as my mom could see the same in peoples’ eyes. Sometimes, I can reach out to the people, other times I cannot, but whether I can talk with them or not, I pray for them. Pray that God will help them with whatever it is bothering them, help the pain, sorrow, guilt, whatever they feel, help them address the cause and make things right for themselves and more importantly, with God. Perhaps that is due to the need to spend more time praying, reading the Bible, confess something to God, or whatever other issue may be the cause. I just pray that God help comfort them, show them what He wants them to see and know and they allow Him to work in their lives.

 

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:16

 

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:1-14

 

23 And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
24 For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Luke 10:23-24

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:13

 

22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23

 

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

 

He tells us to look inward at people, that the eyes are truly the window to the soul, I can see far more than people say, I can see hurt when they smile, I do not think that I am unique and I believe that there are many that can see the same as I see in others’ eyes. If it is not as common as I think it is, then it is a gift from God and all glory goes to God for any good for anyone that may come out of my seeing things and helping others if I am able to do so.

Lord, I thank You for your mercy and praise Your Holy Name. I ask in Jesus name that I be able to see into others’ souls even better than I feel I do now and that You help me know when and how to help those who are hiding pain and suffering. Give me the words to minister to their needs. I thank You for my salvation and the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus that gave me my deliverance. I pray You continue to work in my life to help me serve Christ better and to be a better example of Him.  I ask that You help me bring family and loved ones, as well as others, to you.

Amen

 

Thank you for the time it takes to wade through my posts. I hope that something helps someone, either because they are hiding pain, or that it helps someone try harder to see the pain in others eyes and that they are able to help them somehow. I hope all have a blessed day today, and as always, ask you try to be a blessing to at least one other person.

 

 

Some wounds are hard to heal.

 

 

Today, my daughter’s dog died. I feel bad for her because she loved her dog. My daughter is upset that she wasn’t home, she had taken a short trip and was due back this evening. My wife was crying while on phone with her talking about it. Hurting for her child, because that is what a parent does. But, as I saw her crying and telling my daughter how she wished she could be there with her right now to comfort her, it ripped into a wound, one that had, as much as it could, had healed. Oh, the wound, when it occurred was deep, extremely so, and in some ways, I am not sure it ever will completely heal. I have given that situation to God, and He has given me comfort, but at a time of extreme need, facing devastating loss, I was abandoned by those who one expects to be there for them at such times. I think I may have mentioned it before, but my father was dying, I was trying to do what I could for emotional support for my mother, siblings and father. But, my wife and some other family members had a trip planned, it was almost time for the trip and someone mentioned the trip in my dad’s hospital room. He was the type that didn’t like being fussed over and he told them all not to cancel their trip for him. They didn’t. They took the trip. Several times over the next few days while talking to my wife I would say how my dad was dying. Not that he was sick, not that he wasn’t doing well, it was obvious he was dying. Sometimes, she seemed not to hear, or maybe ignored it. Eventually I would say it again, her responses crushed me. She asked, “what do you want me to do?” I was hurt that she did not realize that her place should have been there to try and help comfort me and help me, as well as some other family members during that difficult time. I told her it was up to her but I did think she should be there. For the next 3 days when the subject was discussed, for some reason there were absolutely no flights available to get home. Whether she thought I was exaggerating, or that I was just being too emotional and that there was time left yet, I don’t know. But when I finally called to tell her he had died. They were all able to get flights home scheduled within a couple hours. But, I was confused, suddenly now, flights are available? Well, obviously there was not much effort until that point to try to get home. Knowing that added to the devastation of losing my father. Realizing that those who should have been there for me, were more concerned about going somewhere to have fun.

I was hurt, angry, devastated, furious, I can’t even describe the emotions. At that time, I did pray, but I was not following Christ and even though God gave me some comfort, I did not get all the comfort I could have gotten. Primarily because, even though I asked Him for comfort, and He gave it, I tried to cope with it the best I could.

Well, back to today, as I saw my wife, and heard my daughter crying and being upset about the dog, it ripped open that wound from when my father died. My wife willing to do anything to help comfort my daughter. My daughter upset at her loss. Yet, both of them had seemed callous when my dad died and I talked about the pain that I was caused because of others actions. They made excuses because of what my dad said, they justified not losing the money for the plane tickets, and not disappointing other people. Wow, the fact that it is more important to comfort someone about a dog that died than it was to be there for me not only tore open that wound, it actually made it deeper.

Spiritually, I am in a better place than I have ever been. I pray ,spend time talking to God, reading the Bible, working to get closer to Him. He has made so many differences in me. I have felt relief from burdens I had carried for a long time. But, this emotional wound revolving around that abandonment has taken a long time to even start to heal, and even though there was still hurt, like some physical wounds, there was more of a numbness than pain finally. But, oh, how it hurt to realize my value to some people. That they would have no hesitation to withdraw their love and support for selfish reasons. Obviously, I need to spend more time in prayer on this issue. I need to look to God and the scripture. I need His comfort, His support, His healing hand on me. Now, I will tell you that the abandonment at the time of my father’s illness and death destroyed my marriage. It has not been right since then, and I cannot ever see it returning to a reasonable marriage. I don’t know if I can get myself willing to even try to make it work. The wound was that deep, and the impact that severe. She made promises that she did not keep, she placed herself and others before me. That is far from what I thought love was meant to be for us. I thought love was putting the other before us, that it should be God first, spouse second, others third and self last.

But as I took some time to pray something occurred to me that relates to this situation, the Lord laid it on my heart to write about and how it is a sad commentary on society in general and Christians in particular that so many seem to quickly forget promises they make and have little hesitation to break those promises if they have something to gain by doing so. Maybe it’s a chance to take a trip or some other opportunity, there are many reasons and ways of gain that could be listed. There are many types of promises: legal in the form of a written contract; verbal when the contract is spoken; implied such as when one confides in clergy that what is discussed is private and confidential; between a lawyer and his client or doctors and their patients. There are many more that could be listed. Some promises have established penalties such as a house loan where if one doesn’t make the payments the loaner can foreclose And take possession of the house. Verbal contracts and implied contracts sometimes have established penalties as well. Physicians that improperly disclose patient information can be fined or sued. Some verbal contracts can be enforced in court as well. But what about the other promises one makes? There may not be a financial or physical penalty but there is a moral penalty, for Christians it is a sin, a form of lying.

Breaking promises can have significant impact on others as well as the guilt the one breaking the promise should feel. That applies to Christians and others. I remember being promised a trip to Disney as a child that ended up not happening.  Other things come up that prevented us from going. But to me I had been lied to and cheated out of something I was supposed to receive. I felt betrayed. Just as I felt betrayed when my wife felt a vacation was more important than being there for me. Sometimes it is unavoidable I realize that now. But I have seen so many Christians fall into situations of breaking  promises because they have more to gain if they break it.

I am not judging people that do or don’t keep promises. I consider myself to be honorable, that I am honest and that I keep my word, yet there are times I have failed but those are few thanks to how I was raised. I am sure I will hear from some that will make some sort of harsh statements and attack my characters and call me any number of things. But those that have done so know the truth, even if they speak falsely about me.

Its as I said though, a sad commentary about the willingness and ease of many Christians to  break their word. How would we feel if God broke His promises to us? He won’t because God is faithful and true. We as Christians should strive for the same thing, that we not break promises for if we are Christians we are trying to be Christ like and should do anything and everything to maintain that attitude and the actions we expect of Christ. We all fail at times, with Jesus those times should be fewer and if we are humble and earnestly repent, He will forgive our failures.

I will hope for the forgiveness of those to whom promises I made that were broken and I have forgiven and will pray for those who broke promises to me.

 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5

 

(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. Deuteronomy 4:31

 

These are but two of the MANY promises that He will not forsake us. He will not abandon, betray, break promises. He is, and always will be, faithful and true to us.

 

Lord, I praise You and thank You for Your promises, that I can know that Christ will always be there for me. I ask you to comfort me when I am feeling the pain and hurt of being betrayed and help me forgive they who have done so. I ask that You give those I have betrayed by breaking promises the heart to forgive me. I ask You continue to work in my heart to make it more like the heart of Christ and continue to show me how to fulfill Your plan for my life. I ask you to draw loved ones to You, those that don’t know You, please put the conviction in their hearts that they come ready to seek salvation. Those who do know You, work in their hearts to draw them even closer to You and that You give them the guidance for their lives and Your plan for their service to You.

Amen

 

Thanks for bearing with me as I vent, make observations and continue to grow in Christ. I hope all strive to keep all promises.

I died in the desert.

As I prepare to start this, I pause, as it is with much trepidation that I even begin. This is something that is deeply painful for me. It seems that for a very long time I had no feelings. A lot I hope will be explained in this post. But, despite the paucity of emotions, which is still one way or another a part of me, better now, thanks to Jesus, but still not where I need to be. It is odd in one regard that I feel as anxious as I do about this, and that I feel sorrow to the extent I am now feeling. I have very much become accustomed to the lack of emotions and some aspects of the return of any emotion is both puzzling and awkward. Thanks for reading it. I hope He uses me to help someone else in the process of me getting the help from God that I desperately need.

 

soldiers

Well, not literally, at least my body didn’t, what died was my soul, or at least a huge part of it. I have to give a bit of a back story to help put things in context to the events leading to that point. Please, bear with me. Understand, there may be somewhat graphic information but I will do my best to avoid going into some details that don’t help illustrate the distance Christ has carried me and the many blessings He has given. And, to help understand part of this, you need to know I am in health care. That is how I help people. Exact job doesn’t matter, but it will be relevant to understand the dramatic effect things had on me. I don’t tell this for sympathy, to attempt to depict myself as heroic or to glamorize war. I explain this, to put in context my state then, my prolonged dealing with it and most importantly, how Jesus has helped with the impact on me of that year in the desert. Part of what brings this topic up is a discussion with someone that I have always been close to, we grew up together, known each other our entire lives. While discussing other things he commented, “I miss the you that you used to be.” well, that got me thinking about how I had changed. Yes, we all grow and change as we age, but there is almost always a core of that person’s soul still there. Mine was not intact at all. Thoughts about what lead to that occurring, and some changes since then bring this topic up, well, that and the fact it is that time of year. An anniversary date that I don’t enjoy celebrating.

 

I have mentioned I was in the military. During the course of that I was sent to Iraq in 2003. My unit was located in the heart of the Sunni Triangle and we conducted operations (a military way of saying missions or battles) in and around Baghdad, Fallujah and Ar Ramadi. At the time the last two in particular were hot beds for insurgent activity. Through the earlier part of the deployment I would go out with different units during patrols and other operations. Part of my job, while not directly requiring me to do so, there were parts of planning my piece of missions that made it necessary to have a strong working knowledge of the area to know where to designate what we call casualty collection points and landing zones for those needing transported by helicopter. There are things that one cannot fully understand and appreciate from looking at maps. Even the good terrain maps and satellite images don’t sufficiently show all the needed information. Plus, my job also required making sure the medics were doing their jobs correctly and to see what additional training might be required to best care for the wounded. During the course of those patrols I occasionally was involved in attacks with the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or small arms like the AK 47. Vehicles were damaged, my ears would ring if we were too close, but I wasn’t wounded any of those times. (read a praying parent if you haven’t, it fits in with this) I had close calls, EXTREMELY close calls. Many times, but again, no wounds, rather no physical wounds. Those events, living with a certain amount of fear and stress, starts to weigh on a person. Without Christ in my life at that time I dealt with it in a mentally unhealthy way. I started to shut down emotionally. Not just the fear was getting turned down, but almost all feelings.

In addition to the occurrences during patrols I was often at the main medical treatment area of our main camp. Doing my part to help take care of wounded. Now, we have all seen war movies, the sounds, the chaos, the visual impact is pretty close to real, but there are other sensory clues present as well. The exact sound of someone fighting for each breath, the moans of the injured cannot be recreated. The odor, of blood, body fluids, and burned human flesh. Even the visual, for seeing in a movie does not completely depict the image of someone’s limb torn off or flesh shredded or accurately convey the look someone has when, despite your words that you are doing all you can and they will be fine, they know they are dying. We often tell people in those circumstances things will be ok, we will fix them, etc and part of the reason is to help calm the casualty (yes, we often use generic terms to help avoid thinking of them as Joe or John) and, to help ourselves believe we are going to do what we are there for and save these people. But, no matter what you say, no matter how hard you try, people know they are dying, and the expression from the eyes speaks volumes. I can’t explain it. I can see it right now in my mind and can’t even explain the sensation I felt when I saw it. The look in their eyes carried a sorrow so deep it defies my ability to explain. The days like this weren’t everyday, thank God, but they were common enough. These experiences added to my emotional shut down. The war was taking its toll on me.

Today, April 6th,  is an anniversary of sorts for me, it truly is the anniversary of when what little humanity I had left at the time died. My soul died that day, and the worst part is I didn’t even realize it for so very long. The day started like many others there, morning briefings, writing orders for various operations, reviewing and answering emails and then a short trip to one of the other camps near by where we had soldiers. We went and returned without incident, eerily quiet that day as a matter of fact. We could all tell something wasn’t right, but did not know what. We returned to the main camp, as I was preparing to go to grab chow (food) with a couple buddies we were interrupted as within the 4-5 minutes since I had left the command area with the radios there had been multiple ambushes throughout the city. One of the soldiers in the Commanders Security detachment hollered, said they were rolling out and asked if I was coming or not, but the Old Man (how we often refer to the commander) had asked that I come along. So, I grabbed my gear, body armor, etc and climbed in. Within 10 minutes of leaving camp we began to receive small arms fire. However, we had about 5 or so minutes to get to a particular unit that was in most extreme danger, pinned down by machine gun, AK47, and Rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire. We drove further and finally, had to get out of the vehicles and go on foot for a few blocks. The small arms (AK47) fire continued. As we approached to within 100 meters (a bit over 100 yards) we began to receive fire from heavy/large caliber machine guns and RPGs as well. We continued and finally reached the unit we were trying to rescue. There were several wounded and 2 dead. Somehow, we managed to reach them, provide some treatment and then evacuate casualties (dead and wounded)  from that position to 50 meters away.

As we regrouped, I did what I could for the wounded, tried to cover the dead, and wait for evacuation. It was longer getting there than expected and while waiting, the insurgents had shifted position such that we had little to no cover. But, at least they didn’t move the machine guns. Regardless of that, the fire from the AK47s and RPG’s continued, there were several from my unit that had them brush their legs. RPGs make a distinctive sound when fired, I heard one and looked, to see it headed towards me.  I heard 2 more fire within seconds and saw them headed in my direction as well. The first one went by, less than a yard away, I could feel the heat of the rocket and smell the propellant burn. It smells very similar to gun powder burning, but more acrid, more acidic. It went past me and past the building I was standing by at the time. I took a step forward, really for no reason, maybe to try to see if that RPG hit anything. Then an explosion maybe 10 feet above me and debris from the building falling down. I tried to cover the casualties with my body, well, started to move to do so and the third RPG went inches behind me and exploded. By this time I was next to the building and the blast knocked me to the ground. Some month later I found out, that despite thinking I had never been wounded, I fractured my spine at the time.

Eventually, most of the insurgents were killed or captured. While still waiting for evacuation for the wounded I happened to see an insurgent come out of a building a half block away and start moving towards us. I didn’t really think about it, no conscious effort at all, but I picked on one of the wounded men’s M16 and fired. I watched as the insurgent stopped, looked at me and then fell to the ground. Now, I wish I could say that was the moment that my soul, or the biggest part of it, died. But, there was no emotion, ZERO. I felt totally ambivalent. That was the point where I thought, that is odd, shouldn’t I feel something? But, I didn’t feel about it. I wasn’t glad I had killed him, wasn’t sad, wasn’t upset. I felt nothing. Was that the moment I died inside. I don’t really know, maybe all that was mostly dead by this point anyway and rather than being a single event, it was the cumulative effect. I just know that is when I realized it. I didn’t celebrate, I didn’t mourn. I mentally noted as that was when I “made my bones,” “Ghosted someone,” “smoked” or whatever term that people use to help decrease the emotions of taking a human life. The day continued, more wounded, more deaths. I did my part. I am not proud, nor ashamed of doing my job. I am ashamed that I did so with no emotion or remorse what so ever. Even now, I feel remorseful that I didn’t feel anything then. Eventually we were able to gain control and stop the attacks that day. I had a small part in the big picture, so please, don’t think I am saying I rushed in like Rambo or Chuck Norris and saved the day. Too many Soldiers and Marines were out there fighting for any one individual to pretend that they were the only one fighting. Everyone did their part. We finally returned to camp and for a few minutes we all stopped, exhausted, physically and mentally. Then, we started to tease one another about this or that one or the other did during the day. We laughed, as soldiers do, using gallows humor to try to deal with some of the things we had just been through. I laughed with them, but wasn’t really feeling much yet. I sort of, once again, mentally noted that I didn’t really have much in the way of emotions. After that, I took care of things I needed to do; checked on casualties, cleaned my weapon, restocked supplies, finally got chow then went to bed. I slept, like any other night, no tossing and turning, no thoughts of what had transpired that day.

The next few days, with rare exceptions, involved a much higher level of, actually, near constant, contact (army way of saying one is being attacked or involved in gunfights.) One morning, at the end of the briefings the Old Man said, “well, I need to go to TQ (our nickname for one of our other camps) and from all I see and hear, there is going to be blood in the streets. No extra vehicles, no extra personnel, No one but stone cold killers and cut throats. I won’t take someone that has not proven themselves in a fight.” He then pointed at me and said, “You ride with Sergeant G, I need the hardest troops in the lead truck.” That somewhat stunned me, because I still didn’t think of myself as a hard, stone cold killer. But, being army, one says yes sir and does as ordered. Over the next few weeks and months, repeatedly during conversations with one person or the other comments were made about this fight or that fight (battle if you will) and one soldier, senior enlisted, who had killed far more than I, said, “You know, you are the coldest man in a fight I have ever seen.” He didn’t elaborate, I didn’t inquire.

Now, one thing about my job, and, several other in the military, is that for certain jobs  attending basic training is not required and so not done. Basic is where soldiers are made to be honest, that is where they learn to shoot at man shaped targets, as well as other skills, that helps them dehumanize the enemy. Not that it make coping with the aftermath of killing another human easier, but it reduces the hesitation before firing a weapon and shooting someone. Not attending boot camp should have caused some hesitation, or at least I would think so. But, when the time came, my emotions were gone, I did what needed done the same as I would any of the many routine daily activities, make my bunk, put on uniform, brush my teeth, etc. It was a task that needed done, and I did it with no thought, no feelings, just something else that needed done.

It never bothered me to take lives, it was needed to save myself or someone else, it needed done so I did it. What has always gnawed at me is that I felt no remorse. I didn’t enjoy killing, but I didn’t dread the possibility of doing it again. It was just a task that needed done so if needed, I did so, or would when necessary again. I still feel no remorse for my actions. What I do feel is remorse for not being remorseful. Sorrow for that part of my humanity, my soul, that died somewhere in that desert.

There were other days, other fights, but, after April that year I personally did not have to kill anyone. There were other events after that, mass casualties with many wounded, some dead. Smaller numbers of casualties with no large amounts at one given time. One mass casualty (MASCAL) event was with 40+ casualties. During the course of all these individuals getting treated, there was one that had over half of the medics, nurses and doctors occupied. My job put me in overall command so to speak of these people, I very briefly asked why so many taking care of one. They started to tell me something, I checked a pulse, said he’s dead, get him out and take care of the ones we can help. They complied, we took care of the rest, losing only 5 or 6 out of the 40+. Some that survived were no doubt saved by the efforts by the people there that took care of the wounded. They did an awesome job. A few hours later, talking with some buddies, one asked about John. I didn’t know what he meant and they said, well, he got hurt with that big bunch you guys took care of but I haven’t heard anything about him. John, was one of my buddies, a bunch of us on Saturdays would get chow, then have a little campfire and hang out. This mascal was on a Sunday. I said I would look into it. The one that asked about John decided to come along. We walked about a mile to the treatment unit. I went in to talk to my folks there and asked about John, did they know anything about him, was he sent to the Combat Support Hospital? My senior guy there, Clint, looked at me, asked me the name and I repeated it. He checked, and said, that’s the one you made us stop treating because of all the others. Now, John and about 10 total people including me, had eaten dinner the night before, hung out at the campfire and all, just a normal Saturday night. He was not my best friend, but he was a good friend. I didn’t feel bad that he had died. I was surprised, but that was all. Unexpected news. Colin, who was not a combat experienced soldier,  the one that had gone with me, was visually shaken. Still, I just did not feelNo, I didn’t mourn my friend. Not for a long time but eventually I did, John and others I lost there. After I returned home, I was different, anyone that knew me could tell. It took years to talk about some things, other things, I still haven’t. I suppose, some are buried deep enough that I don’t want to open those emotional wounds yet. But, it was several years before I felt any true sorrow or joy. Oh, there were “fun moments” but no joy. I got annoyed or upset, even mad, but never any sorrow. I lost my dad 10 years after that, I did have a lot of sorrow, still do then. But, even that far from the actual events. I still had almost no other emotions, or if present, minimal. Definitely not normal.

Other events, some less memorable, others too memorable that I am not yet at the point to discuss with anyone that wasn’t there, and, those who were needn’t speak of some things. We know without saying, we communicate without words. Such is the bond of soldiers that have been through these things together. There is a kinship among all military, despite the different branch rivalries, we are all brothers and sisters, but, like large families, there are those that are far closer than the rest. For me, there is roughly 15 men that are in that closest of groups. Some, I see fairly often, some I speak with several times throughout the year, some I haven’t spoken to in 8 or 10 years, but to a man, any of them could call, say they needed something and I would do all in my power to help, no questions, no hesitation. And, they would do the same for me. Now, THAT is the relationship I want with Christ. The type where if I feel him lead me one way or the other, I act first and find out more later. I am much better at that with Jesus now, but still have a ways to go. But, back to the blog before I forget where I was and start all over.

While I may have died emotionally there, and came home with a lot of anger issues. Seems that was pretty much the only emotion I had left. And that, rarely came out. But thankfully, I left what violence may have been in me in the desert with my feelings. Now, there were those that, to one degree or another tried, to help me over the years to recover emotionally, but helping one find one’s humanity, one’s ability to feel, the ability to care about and love oneself is no small task. For personal and professional reasons too much documentation in the records can cause some difficulty. Not career ending, but can make some stumbling blocks so I persevered, well, or at least survived. Some that tried, didn’t really seem to try, but gave the superficial show of trying to help, trying to be supportive, but they didn’t know how and I believe were afraid they would worsen, rather than help, the situation. Why was it so hard to get through all the things I was dealing with from my experiences? Well, as I mentioned, some didn’t know how, some were afraid of making things worse, some honestly despite saying they cared, didn’t really. On top of those things, I was resistant to help. Not because I didn’t want to regain the ability to feel, but due to the fact I was afraid of the healing process. It is a terrifying process, because part of it requires what I did here, cutting through things, facing the facts that brought me to the point of being so cold. I did not want to relive the events. It is a painful process. The number that that cared enough to try and were able to reach through the layers and help me find that part of me, or at least a portion of that part was extremely small. Surprisingly, it wasn’t completely dead but very dormant. Finally, I was at the point of surrender to Christ, I had no where else to turn, He was always there and it is something I should have done many years ago. He had watched over and protected me so many times despite my turning my back on Him. Praise Him for His mercy and goodness to us. Have I mentioned before what a MIGHTY and Compassionate God we serve? I know I have, just reminding myself of all He is for me.

After surrendering to Jesus, giving Him my many burdens, so much pain, so very many sorrows, He has lifted them from me. Oh, I still grieve for losses of loved ones, my parents, friends, parts of me that was before and is now forever lost, or at least I ad thought so, I have hope in Christ that I may yet find the me that died in Ramadi, the part of me that died in the desert. I don’t know if He will ever restore all of me to where I was many years ago but I know He will restore the important parts. I know that when I surrendered to Him other parts of me died. But, those were the parts that needed to die. I thank Him for helping me so much, in such little time. I know Christ has more to do with me, and has great things in store for me in the future. But for now, I rejoice in Jesus’ holy name and thank him for His love for someone that had lost his heart and soul.

THESE are the verses that mean the most to me about this part of my life story.

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: Ezekiel 11:19-20

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5

 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

 

Praise Him for all He is, and for the rest He granted me from my burdens. I pray for His continued help and guidance. I pray Lord, that you help me make a difference, that my brothers and sisters in arms find you, that you reach out to them and draw them to you. I pray you help me to do my part to help you reach them.

Thank you for bearing with me, long I know. I just had it laid on me to share, mostly for me. Still something I don’t think I can actually talk about openly, at this point am having trouble typing and I need to spend some one on one time with God. It was, without a doubt the most difficult thing about which I have ever written.

Next post will be less a weighty topic, well, I hope anyway but I will seek Him and try to see what lessons He has for me.