Ready for blast off

Looks like my book is finally ready – or as ready as it will ever be. A final flick through didn’t reveal any obvious errors…

bookpicblur

…so I’ve ordered 30 copies from Lulu with the aim of launching in just over a week!

 

 

Advertisements

It’s here!

FinalProof.png

It’s here! The (possibly) final proof copy of my book “Reaching for Healing” and I’m suddenly really nervous about making it available. I’m sure it’s far from perfect, but I trust it’s good enough for God to use in raising faith for healing.

I keep looking back to the time God put it in my heart, all those years ago, to begin reaching for healing. When progress stalled a few years ago, I remember vividly cycling to work and hearing him say to me “Finish the book. Finish the book. Finish the book.” I can still feel the warm weight of those words in my head now as I type; my Heavenly Father’s massive encouragement has made all the difference.

Anyway, while I prevaricate, you can go here to take a peek at the table of contents.

 

Hard men

Some people think that Christians are weedy and weak. Well perhaps some are but not all. I’ve just come across a genuinely Christian hard man. Not someone who postures or tries to look big but someone who through genes, character, and relentless training is definitely a real life hard man.

When I finally got to my holiday I was exhausted so I wanted something light to read. Light as in not deeply theological anyway so when I came across this book I downloaded it onto my kindle before jumping on a plane to find some sun.

It’s called “Born Fearless” and is Phil Campion’s account of his life in the SAS and on the hired gun circuit. It was good stuff so I picked up another one, this time about the Navy Seals:

SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden. In it Chuck Pfarrer gives his account of the operation that lead to the killing of bin Laden.

Here are some bits that stood out:

On the nights of September 16, 17, and 18, 1982, Christian militiamen killed more than two thousand Palestinian men, women, and children in an orgy of destruction. The Israelis watched the murderers come, and then they watched them go. Israeli artillery units fired flares over the camps so the murderers could set about their work. It was one of the most coldblooded massacres in human history.

The images of Sabra and Shatila did more to fuel anti-Israeli and anti-American feelings than any other event in the twentieth century.

Osama bin Laden was not born to be a monster. He was raised in an affluent and moderately religious Saudi family. He was a soft-spoken, retiring, impressionable boy who lost his father at a tender age.

First in the manner of planning are the five Ws: Who, What, Where, When and Why. In an intelligence package called a “target folder,” the SEALs are told who and where.

Courage, SEALs learn at BUD/S, is not the absence of fear. The absence of fear in combat is the result of insanity, 

He has strong opinions which makes for interesting reading so I got another of his books. Warrior Soul: The Memoir of a Navy SEAL gives his story about being in the Navy SEALs.

He gives leadership tips:

“Take care of the lads,” John used to say, “and the lads will take care of you.” Small, simple things were important: Eat last, and only after everyone has been served. Buy beer. Praise publicly, punish privately. Take the heat when things go wrong. Ask questions and solicit the opinions of the enlisted operators, and, most important, delegate subtasks within the mission.

His retreat from Atheism when he miraculously survived a mortar attack

This was the moment that I abandoned atheism. My conversion was not an epiphany; it was more an exercise in the scientific method. Until this moment, for me, God had been an unlikely hypothesis. That hypothesis had now been supported by an experiment. A mortar round had knocked me on my ass.

The importance of practice and training:

It is not enough to say that we practiced multiple-room clearance. In one year the operators of SEAL Six fire more bullets than the entire United States Marine Corps. We weren’t just good at multiple-room CQ; there is no one in the world who comes close.

He also writes about the hard men he worked with. Now the army and the Marines are pretty strong guys. But then you have the special forces, the cream of the troops if you like. But within the Navy SEALS there is a group called SEAL Team 6. They are the creme de la creme and they have a nickname. In typical American fashion these guys are called Jedi’s.

I was detailed to the third assault group, under the command of a hard-bitten gunslinger named Johnny King…one of my future boat-crew members gave me a heads-up in Spanish: “Es un hombre duro.” He’s a hard man. I was soon to learn this outfit had a talent for understatement…The other officer in my assault group was Ed Summers. He was from Florida and had been a former Professional Karate Association full-contact kickboxing champion…On his own, Ed would have been a hard-ass extraordinaire, but in the shadow of Johnny King, he seemed as affable as Mr. Rogers.

And here for me was the most exciting bit. In the midst of all the guns and training and sheer hardness of the Navy SEALS was a born again Christian.

The assault group’s chief petty officer was Chuck McGregor… Chuck looked like a twenty-year-old California surf dude. He was possibly the sole person on the Team who did not philander, blaspheme, drink, or use tobacco. He was a devout Christian, carried a Bible in his briefcase, and often said things like “Darn it.”… As you might imagine, a person like this might be subject to a bit of ribbing. In Chuck’s case, you’d be wrong. Chuck was plank owner, one of the original members of Mob Six, and although his personality and lifestyle might have been anomalous, he was here, quite simply, because he was one of the best operators in naval special warfare. He was the best athlete among a command full of triathletes; he’d climbed El Capitan twice; he’d served in Grenada; and he could outrun, outswim, and outshoot every one of his potential detractors. He was like a Boy Scout among a gang of cutthroats, and he would become one of my closest friends in the command. When we operated together, we used the call sign Chuck Squared.

For some reason I imagine someone like an American Bear Grylls in terms of character, but 100 times as hard.

Towards the end of the book, after surviving not only bullets but cancer, Chuck Pfarrer says this:

 I have a bit of advice to offer. Hold on to the people you are close to, and love them fiercely. Get up every morning and live like there is no tomorrow. Because one day you’ll find it’s true.

Surprisingly. God spoke to me through these books about courage, dedication, training and teamwork. The bible says the Christian life is a fight and these guys know all about fighting. In that sense their lives are a great encouragement but then I suddenly thought hang on, these guys are selected from thousands, possibly millions.

You have to be in the army in the first place, and very good at what you do. Then you have to be accepted for the rigorous selection process (BUD/S training) , during which most people end up dropping out or being dropped. Then there is a more training (26 week SEAL qualification training program) where more drop out. Then there is more selection and training before you get into SEAL team 6, the elite SEAL team. The ones that get through all that are the best that nature and nurture can forge. They are the ones that can quickly and efficiently soak up the training, take the knocks, recover quickly from injuries, have the mental and psychological ability to keep going through all the stress and pressure.

But what if you are not the best of the best of the best? What if you are one of the worst. Or just mediocre? What if your ability is small. As a Christian, I am not really like a navel SEAL. Most of us aren’t. We may have been given 1 small talent but it is our responsibility to steward it well. To use it and make the most of it for the sake of Jesus and his kingdom. In God’s kingdom small contributions, where they are costly and given with faith, count for a lot. God does not choose the best of the best of the best to do his work. In fact he chooses the week things of this world.  He doesn’t want people to put down the building of his church to nature or nurture but to his Spirit. He wants people to say “How could that have been accomplish by them?”.

When I think along these lines though the apostle Paul always comes into my mind. At first sight he seems to be a SEAL team six Christian. He was certainly very clever and well educated. But as I think more about what he said and did he does seem to have lived with a sense of weakness.

Here is a great article by Piper:

“Our fallen nature craves self-glory. We seek the admiration of others. We love the myth of the superhero because we want to be one. So we want our successes to be known and our failures hidden. And since people who achieve remarkable things earn the favor of others, we are tempted to believe that they earn the favor of God as well.

That’s the last thing Paul wants us to believe.

Paul knew better than most that it is not human achievements that showcase the grace of God. It is human helplessness.

Like us, Paul didn’t immediately recognize [his] thorn as a gift. He pleaded for deliverance. But Jesus replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This opened up a world of insight to Paul. God showing his strength through weak things was laced all through redemptive history, culminating in the cross.

That’s why Paul said, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30). He even went beyond that: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

 

Anyway, here’s my next holiday reading:

Seal Team Six: The incredible story of an elite sniper – and the special operations unit that killed Osama bin Laden

It’s being made into a film I think. Here is another book/film about Navy Seals:

Lone Survivor

 

Film about Navey SEALs and bin Laden

 

The book of the films

You’ve watched the films, now read the book. Darren Wilson has written about his experiences filming finger of God, furious love and Father of lights. I’ve almost finished it and it’s great. Well worth a read. Seeing angles, hearing God’s voice, meeting amazing people sold out for God and moving in the miraculous. Very faith building and done in a down to earth kind of way.  It’s called filming God.

Dead Raisers

Someone once told me I would see the dead raised to life but I already knew that I would. More recently, I saw this  on a website that was saying how heretical it was but it looked pretty cool to me. It’s a documentary about a group of people who set off to raise the dead. As long as they are proclaiming “the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt 10:7,8) I can’t see why that is so bad.

In the film Tyler G. Johnson (author of “How To Raise The Dead”, preaching here) leads a team around the world to try to raise the dead. I don’t think they actually manage it but even so, surely they get full marks for giving it a go.

Here is an interview with Tyler talking about a dead person coming back to life after a short 10 second prayer:

A few quotes from the interview with Tyler Johnson:

“If it didn’t happen Jesus would not have told us to do it”

Raising the dead “kind of makes you the black sheep, the odd one out”.

“Anyone can do this. It is about the love of God”

“we go into these situations with the unwavering conviction that God wants to raise the dead…just like we do with healing”.

“I was writing to funeral directors… and chasing ambulances…”

“If you pray for 50 people to be raised from the dead you are going to see someone raised from the dead”

“no matter how much of this stuff that I do I have to remember this is all about me and Jesus, knowing him and being known. Letting him love me.”

The movie was shown in cinemas in the states on Halloween I think because of some link to zombies. Zombies are people half dead people, kind of a botched version of raising the dead. A counterfeit resurrection. When Jesus raises the dead the result is fully living people.

PS. The book “How to raise the dead” has just arrived. What an amazing title! Some books are simply too exciting to start reading. I’ll take a squiz at the forward:

“in order to be people that walk in resurrection life on a continual basis, the love of Jesus must first touch our hearts in an emotionally moving way. Once our hearts have been captured we become like a battering ram against the gates of hell. Dead raisers are people who have fallen in love with the source of Life; Jesus. Intimacy with Jesus will be what keeps you fuelled to continue to step out in faith to raise the dead. Without intimacy, you will burn out, guaranteed.” Page 19

Ooo, hallow? Not sure about this : “God did not kill Ananias and Sapphira, Peter did. Peter wrongly used the authority that God had given him to build up the newly born church. Instead of building up the church, he tore it down.” Page 80. He makes a good point though “All that was needed was to pull these two sinners aside and privately confront them about their sin. .. scripture is clear in Matthew 18…” page 94.    He recons the 2 kings “bear mauling” episode was a mistake as well as Peter’s reply to Simon the sorcerer’s in Acts 8. Yikes this is thought provoking stuff but I’m not really convinced it’s quite right. Oh here is something else “Simon is believed to go on and start Gnosticism.” Is that right? And then he says “the Angle of the Lord” that killed Herod is the angel of death, ie Satan because “God doesn’t have death to give”. But surly God gives life and can take it away.

As I read on each page seems to bring a different take on familiar verses and I am not sure I agree with all of them but I still think the book has something. I came to this book via a web site having a go at the author, so it was interesting to read this paragraph in the book:

“This section is probably going to get my family and I on more “heresy hunter” web sites, but that is okay with us. I would like to formally thank the people ahead of time that do this kind of thing to us, because you are storing up reward in heaven for us. Keep it up! We love you, and bless you!

Let’s take it up a notch. Not only will the people of God raise the dead, but they will begin to walk in such abundant life and resurrection power that whole morgues will be emptied out. …this is who we must think. We must shoot higher than we ever have before, much higher that what we could obtain by our own strength. We need to reach beyond our grasp. Aim for the heavens, far higher than you could ever dream of attaining. … don’t ever give into the lie that you are shooting too high, because nothing is impossible with God.”

See what I mean? There is some unfamiliar theology to me but I love their radical faith for the impossible and there surely is no denying that Jesus told his disciples to “raise the dead” (Mat 8:10).

the up side of dyslexia

Stephen Fry interviews Malcolm Gladwell here.

I am slightly dyslexic (obvious if you have read any of my posts!). It did not make school much fun as you can see form my reports:

“I fear that Marcus and I were doomed never to be the best of friends.”

Maths : ….his presentation is appalling,[ showing little care or precision]

French : He has a poor memory for French vocab which is a pity as he has the makings of a reasonable accent.

I  have begun to get glimmerings of a response from him when he has been praised for his work [but] if our efforts were dependent on praise some of us wouldn’t do much!]

Dyslexia is a disadvantage. It makes it hard to blog for a start. For many people it has made life much harder for them than if they were not dyslexic and they are worse off for it. “Prisons are full of dyslexics” says Gladwell. However there are also a small but “hugely disproportionate” amount of dyslectics at the top of their fields. Gladwell gives the example of euntraponers (the spelling of that word is not reachable by me via spelling checkers or even google!). He says “They will say I am where I am because of my dyslexia. It forced me to learn things that made me into the man I am today.” Fry adds, “Yet they would not wish it on their children.” Underdogs who refuse to roll over and give up can sometimes end up achieving extraordinary things, like David and Goliath, which is the title of Gladwell’s new book.

So why could being small end up being an advantage? I guess if your little legs can’t keep up with everybody else you may get lost and by chance find a shortcut through the woods that no one else would have discovered.