Faith is not complicated

After graduating college I joined the US Army as an Officer. I did not see my parents that much over the next decade as I served at multiple military posts. My family moved back to the DC area in 2001 when I left the Army to pursue a civilian career. My father was almost 70 years old by then, so I decided to spend time with him since we had a lot of catching up to do. We would meet for breakfast on a regular basis and talk. One topic we discussed was faith. I thought I knew a lot about it, but realized my faith had become overly complicated. My dad helped set me straight by his simple approach to faith.

One morning we were talking about the Bible. I was comfortable discussing the Bible because I had read through it many times, and actually taught Sunday School to teenagers for several years. I knew the meaning of terms like hermeneutics, eschatology, and transubstantiation. Full of my self, I was trying to impress my father with this knowledge. He was patient with me, and then asked me a simple question – why do I read the Bible? I thought about it, and answered that I read the Bible to learn about God. Later on I would realize that my pursuit of knowledge about God had become academic and stale. I had become religious.

I decided to turn the tables on my father – like many religious people do. So I asked him why did he read the Bible. His answer surprised me. My father said he read the Bible because it brought him peace in this world. Slightly puzzled, I asked him to describe what he meant. My dad went on to explain that he felt guilty to still be alive in this world. He deployed to Vietnam multiple times, and spent almost three years in combat. Many of his friends were killed in action or wounded. My father was never wounded. Now that he was older, many of his West Point classmates had died. My father wondered why has his life been spared, and felt guilty about it. So, he reads the Bible every morning because it brings him peace in this world. He uses a simple approach that works.

“My faith is simple. It is not complicated. Every morning I read the Bible to include the 23rd Psalm. Then I pray to God. I thank him for what I have and ask him for what I need”.

Nowadays I try to do the same. Keep it simple. God is not a mystery to be solved. Rather He is a loving father who can give us peace in this world. The Lord knows we all need more peace.

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
    and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
    as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
    I will not be afraid, Lord,
    for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.

You prepare a banquet for me,
    where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
    and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons my father taught me

I am trying to be a good father to you boys. It is important to me that I become the best dad possible. Good news is that I have an excellent role model. Opa is a great dad. He has been one for my whole life. Over the years I learned a lot from my father. Too many lessons to list here. Instead, I want to share with you six life principles that my father taught me. They are summarized below. Over the next several weeks I plan to explain these lessons my father taught me in greater detail.

  • F: Faith is not complicated
  • A: Attitudes are contagious
  • T: Talk with your feet
  • H: Have a good time
  • E: Express love to your children
  • R: Remember who you are…a Ranger

Proverbs 3:11-12. My son, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.

Enjoy life – especially in the moment

Learn to enjoy the great moments in your life.  Both of you have accomplished great achievements recently. I hope you savored the moment. It is easy to become consumed and distracted by what is going on around you.  I have found it difficult, sometimes, to step back, and enjoy the experience of the moment I am in.  Take the time to celebrate your victories, tell others you love them, and simply enjoy all the fantastic things that you will experience in your lifetime.  It does not have to be fancy, but rather a simple recognition of success, or a special event. Otherwise, time will slip through your fingers if you are not careful. For example, I enjoy going to Tony’s Pizzeria after a soccer game with my fellow teammates to celebrate all the good things that happened during the game. We raise a glass and share a meal to commemorate the game.

We are the champions, my friends,
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end.
No time for losers,
‘Cause we are the champions of the world

 – Queen

Let Music Inspire You

Music can have a very positive impact on your life and inspire you.  Although I do not possess much (if any) musical talent, I have always enjoyed listening to music.  As a young man I listened to music that reflected the disillusionment and anger that I felt.  Now that I am older, and more mature, I listen to a much more diverse array of music. I enjoy hard rock, punk, 80’s alternative, country, jazz, and modern Christian music. Christian music makes me think of Jesus and helps me worship God. Jazz is smooth and helps me relax. Country music helps me recognize that life can be rather difficult at times. Alternative rock and punk reminds me of my youth. It is the music I listed to in my formative years. Hard rock is just plain fun to listen to some days. Each type of music inspires me in different ways. Explore music and find out what you like, and listen to it for inspiration.

So I’m headed down the open road unknown
And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?
Love alone is worth the fight

–  – Switchfoot

Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect

Treat everyone with dignity, and try your best to be tolerant of others.  Even if you do not agree with someone, you do not have to show your disapproval with disdain.  Separate the person from their beliefs, or argument.  In other words do not make personal attacks because of who someone is, or what he believes.  We are all equal in God’s eyes, and Christ died for all or us.  Part of our role as Christians in this world is to demonstrate Christ’s love.  Christ did not condemn anyone.  Instead, He spoke the Truth and confronted those who did not believe with love and respect.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

.   Matthew 22:37-40

Avoid Making Decisions in the Late Night

One rule for you to consider – do not try to have serious discussions (especially if they involve big decisions) really late in the day (consider late after 10 PM).  Tired minds tend to make poor, or shortsighted decisions.  If you need time to contemplate different options, investigate alternatives, or discuss serious matters, then plan your day accordingly.  I generally get up early in the day, and do some of my best thinking then. Don’t wait until the last minute, late at night, to try and accomplish these kinds of things in haste. You might not like the poor results this generates.

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.  

Benjamin Franklyn

Be Strong – stay in shape

Stay in shape (or get in shape if you are not).  You do not have a choice about a lot of things in this world, but one area you do have a lot of control over is your fitness level. Physical fitness is an easy area to neglect – so don’t fall into the trap of inertia.  Some of the greatest lessons in life, and personal victories that I have experienced have come during my participation in sports or athletic events.  I recommend that you find a few sports that you enjoy, that you have an interest in, and that you have the skills for.  No excuses for being fat and lazy.  Like Nike says….Just do it.  You will enjoy it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27