Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Attending Young Republican meetings were quite fun. They would often be held at ritzy hotels in Scottsdale. About 20-30 of us would stand around snacking, chatting about upcoming events and elections. I rubbed shoulders with some of the most elite Republican politicians in Arizona. I remember specifically speaking to one prominent politician who had held his office for over 20 years. The stories he would talk about in regards to money, personal relations, and personal behavior were dumbfounding. I left the meeting feeling like I could do a better job than this guy in the human decency department. The reason I share this story is that I learned from a young age that Democrats were “morally bankrupt” and held “loose morals”. I learned that night that acting “morally bankrupt” transcended political lines.
Nevertheless, I continued my pursuits in the Republican Party. I desperately wanted to be involved in politics. As I entered college, I started as a Poly-Sci major. Some of my friends and I would go to Republican rallies. I started pushing for internships with various Republican politicians. I started to get my feet wet. I was ready to go, to be a dedicated helper to the GOP in AZ in order to propel my own career into politics someday.
Election night rolled around. November 7th, 2000. My buddy and I were going down to the AZ Republican Headquarters to celebrate what seemed to be likely Bush win over Gore. We slowly watched to election unfold before our eyes. Sometime early in the night, a TV station declared Bush the winner. We were elated. Cheering. Yelling. High fives. Hugs. Everyone was thrilled. About an hour later, the election was back in the air again, up for grabs….Bush’s victory would be delayed. I don’t feel I need to recount the details of the election, I am sure we all remember it well.
The next few weeks and on I sat on pins and needles. All I did was listen to talk radio in the car, surf the net for results and updates when on the computer, and sit in front of my TV watching Fox News when at home. If Gore got in the world would be doomed. Bill Clinton Part II. That is the last thing this country needs. Oh. Praise God. Bush wins….
I share all this to show you how much my life was all about politics, and specifically the GOP. Often when I think about those days and that time in my life, I liken it to the apostle Paul when he declared his stock. “Circumcised the 8th day, of the stock or Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” I was that in my mind to the GOP. I was soooo devoted, soooo dedicated, no one could question my zeal….I was sold out to the GOP, until death. I would fight for what was right!!
Then, Grace Awakening……
Thursday, November 08, 2007
As I grew older it became very clear to me that “Christians” were Republicans. And why was this the case? I learned it was because of their stance on abortion, capital punishment, and money (gay marriage was not an issue yet). It made sense to me. I mean what other issues could there be. My parents were middle class Americans, and the Republican party seemed to have that category’s best interests at hand. Growing up as a Christian, I certainly didn’t believe that abortion was moral or right, and if someone killed other people, well then, they deserved to die too. This is how I was brought up, this is what I learned. I rarely, if ever, heard about other “life” issues like war, poverty, gun laws, and education. I heard that America was the best country in the world and constantly viewed the “God Bless America” stickers all over people’s cars. I heard that we were the supreme superpower militarily and that no one better mess with us because we would destroy them. I heard that our country was founded and rooted in Christian principles and that democracy and capitalism were non-negotiables.
This upbringing would thrust me into the forefront of defending and aligning myself with what is better known today as the “Religious Right”. I joined the Young Republicans. I attended meetings and bashed the principles of the Democrats and called them immoral. I argued and debated liberals at school and told them that they didn’t have a brain or morals at all. I was a terror.
Those were my formative years; that is how I came to be as right-winged as one could be. You can ask any of my friends about this subject and every last person would tell you that I was the staunchest conservative Republican around. I bled patriotism and I was steadfast in moving this nation forward in the “right” direction. This is chapter 1 of my story……
Friday, October 26, 2007
God vs. World, Part 1: 1 Corinthians 9:19
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;"
One needs to look no further than 3 words in this passage: free, servant, and might.
In the context of this passage Paul is saying that he is making himself a servant to all, even though he is free, in order to proclaim the Good News. How does this vastly differ from the world's version of freedom and servants? Let us see.
World: autonomy, American Dream, self-centered, individualistic, etc.
God: self-sacrifice, submissive, giving, humble, fearing God, etc.
World: looked down upon, "the people who do the jobs no one else will do", which is code for the immigrants who work jobs Americans won't work because it only pays $7.00/hr, lazy, not driven, etc.
God: putting others needs ahead of yours, sacrificing time and resources, etc.
And finally...the word: might is very interesting to me in this passage by Paul. We are to become servants, (a.k.a.: give our own lives up for others), give our lives and desires up, so that we might be able to lead others to Jesus. This is amazing to me...Paul doesn't even say that it WILL happen, but that it MIGHT..so, in theory, we could go about our whole lives giving ourselves to others and sacrificing, denying ourselves, so that we MIGHT lead others to Jesus...when was the last time you made a decision that was life altering based on something MAYBE happening. If you are like me, I am often very calculating with my decisions and will make many of them based on the relative "success" of the event happening.
Life Lesson #1: 1 Corinthians 9:19.
Monday, October 08, 2007
French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said:
"I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force! Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him."
The summation of the power of Christ's love and kindness. Amazing and profound. A system of backwards logic: advancing through love, meekness, kindness, gentleness, and compassion. This is the God I follow and serve.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"Humans, as a species, are constantly, and in every way, comparing themselves to one another, which, given the brief nature of their existence, seems an oddity and, for that matter, a waste. Nevertheless, this is the driving influence behind every human's social development, their emotional health and sense of joy, and, sadly, their greatest tragedies. It is as though something that helped them function and live well has gone missing, and they are pining for that missing thing in all sorts of odd methods, none of which are working. The greater tragedy is that very few people understand that they have the disease. This seems strange as well because it is obvious. To be sure, it is killing them, and yet sustaining their social and economic systems. They are an entirely beautiful people with a terrible problem."
God wired us so that He told us who we were, and outside that relationship, the relationship that said we were loved and valuable and beautiful, we didn't have any worth at all. As horrible as it sounds, it would make sense that things of worth are the things God loves, and things that don't have worth are things God doesn't love. I mean, I really started wondering if maybe a human is defined by who loves him. I know it sounds terrible, because we have always grown up believing that a person is valuable even if nobody loves them, and I certainly agree with that because God made everybody and the Bible very clearly states that He loves everybody. But, as Paul said, if those relations are disturbed, the relations between God and man, then we feel the desire to be loved and respected by other people instead of God, and if we don't get that love and respect, we feel very sad or angry because we know our glory is at stake, that if their isn't some glory being shone through us by somebody, we'll be dead inside, like a little light will go out and our souls will feel dark, like nothing can grow there. We'll feel that there is a penalty, by default, for being removed from love.
Donald Miller, "Searching For God Knows What".
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
The world truly was not worthy of Bae or Shim. For those of you who don't know these names, they are the two South Korean men who laid down their lives in Afghanistan for the sake of the Gospel. They were treated as less than human, taken as prisoners in a place where they only desired to help. 19 others shared a similar trial. Most of them women, that were help captive for over 3 weeks as evil reared its ugly head. The world can be a very ugly place.
This ridiculous act of evil was brought to every one's attention through the media, and headline coverage from outlets such as Yahoo and CNN. Because of this coverage, millions of Believers united in prayer for the South Korean Believers, their brothers and sisters. 19, less 2 martyrs, were eventually released and allowed to go home......
Praise God for the release and life for these South Koreans. I can already sense and see how God will use this tragedy for His cause. The unified efforts of Believers in prayer, the lives of those directly involved will forever be altered, and God's glory will prevail. Its amazing to see God work in this....its also eye-opening to see the worldly response. Upon release, the South Koreans were pounced upon as they heard vicious attacks from their homeland. Many spoke out against the Koreans, saying that they were "stupid" and "careless" for entering a strictly Islamic land. The South Korean government was also upset with the Koreans, saying that they were considering making the Koreans pay money for the expenses and effort taken to free them, also stating that they "really hurt the Korean's image to the world", that "no one will take them serious as an up and coming superpower in the world". Furthermore the Korean government claimed that the captives "seriously damaged South Korea's reputation." Amazing to see the two sides....I pray that these captive South Koreans never doubt their calling, that as Believers and called to act on behalf of Jesus and His cause, they will always counter the world's systems and desires. That they are "in the world, not of the world." That Jesus promised "persecution" for those who lived out His calling. I thank God for the Koreans.
I worry about Afghanistan. Which brings in Matthew 10:14. One of the conditions of the release of the South Koreans was that the South Korean government had to say they wouldn't let anymore aid workers into Afghanistan. Though some Believers may disagree with me or differ in opinion, I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. For one, God has used a similar instance as this in the recent past (email me and ask me for further details if you would like to know specifics). Also, Jesus says it will happen too. When commissioning the disciples in Matthew 10, Jesus tells them to take His message to the world, but he also states that if they do not receive it, to "shake the dust from their shoes." In other words, you did what I called you to do and they are not receiving it, so leave. He goes onto say that the city in which this happens will be doomed....People continue to reject the message of Jesus, and God will eventually call His messengers somewhere else....
So, sometimes Scripture can be hard to swallow. I don't necessarily like this passage, but I also realize that God has the power and authority to do this. Thank you God for working Your purpose, no matter what, and that You do deserve ALL people to worship you!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Taliban originally seized 23 South Koreans, but have since killed two of the hostages and released two others. They had initially demanded the withdrawal of South Korean troops from the country and the release of prisoners in exchange for freeing the hostages.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said South Korean and Taliban delegates at face-to-face talks Tuesday in the central town of Ghazni had "reached an agreement" to free the captives.
South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-sun said the deal had been reached "on the condition that South Korea withdraws troops by the end of year and South Korea suspends missionary work in Afghanistan," he said.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Hundreds of police freed the 31-year-old woman in a raid after midnight in western Kabul, not far from the area where she was taken captive on Saturday, said Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary.
He said authorities arrested and are interrogating "four suspects who are directly involved in this case." He said more than 300 police took part in the operation.
Police are searching for other accomplices, Bashary said.
Preliminary investigations indicate that it was a criminal gang — and not Islamic insurgents — who carried out the kidnapping, and that they demanded $1 million for the woman's release.
Monday, August 13, 2007
"We are releasing two sick Korean hostages at 4 o'clock today. We are going to hand them over between Ghazni and Zabul provinces to the Red Cross," the spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Yousuf said the decision to free the pair had been made by the Taliban leadership council, headed by Muhallah Mohammad Omar, as a gesture of goodwill towards the Korean people and South Korean diplomats negotiating for the hostages' release.
The Taliban have killed two male hostages and threatened to kill the remaining 21, 18 of them women, unless a similar number of Taliban prisoners are freed in exchange.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
During a second day of talks outside Washington, both leaders agreed a prisoner exchange would only embolden Taleban insurgents.
President Bush called for the immediate release of the hostages, who are volunteer aid workers from a South Korean church.
Taleban kidnappers are demanding the release of militants in exchange for the hostages. The kidnappers have already executed two of the South Koreans.
Earlier, a Taleban spokesman told news agencies the lives of the hostages are in the hands of Mr. Bush and Mr. Karzai.
of the 21 remaining captives are women, and many are reported to be sick after being held by the Taleban for nearly three weeks.
South Korean officials say the Taleban allowed one of the hostages to speak by phone to diplomats at South Korea's embassy in Kabul on Saturday.
In telephone calls to VOA and other news organizations Saturday, the hostages said two women in the group are seriously ill.
A shipment of medicine intended for the captives was delivered Sunday to a location in southern Afghanistan designated by the Taleban.
Efforts to arrange direct talks between the Taleban and South Korean officials have stalled with no agreement on a location for the negotiations.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Militant spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive because the government had not come through on promises to release Taliban prisoners.
"The Kabul and Korean governments are lying and cheating. They did not meet their promise of releasing Taliban prisoners," Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said by phone from an undisclosed location. "The Taliban warns the government if the Afghan government won't release Taliban prisoners then at any time the Taliban could kill another Korean hostage."
Ghazni Gov. Marajudin Pathan said officials were aware of the Taliban's claim but hadn't recovered a body. He said police were looking but he couldn't say if they might find anything before daybreak.
"Ghazni is a very vast area, so we really don't know where the body is," Pathan said.
The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans riding on a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway on July 19. The militants have told the government they want 23 Taliban prisoners released from jail in exchange for the Koreans' lives.
The Taliban has set several deadlines for the Koreans' lives. Last Wednesday the insurgents killed their first hostage, a male leader of the group.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said one of the captives had been shot and killed around 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. EDT), and a police official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation said militants told him the hostage was sick and couldn't walk, and therefore was shot.
Ahmadi said the Korean's body was left in the Musheky area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province. Police said they were going to look for the body.
Some of the Koreans, meanwhile, were freed and were taken to the U.S. base in Ghazni, according to two Western officials who asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak publicly. The officials did not know how many were freed.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing unidentified Korean officials, reported eight Koreans had been released.
Earlier, a German journalist and two Afghans colleagues apparently kidnapped by Taliban militants in eastern Afghanistan were freed, an Afghan governor said.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
KABUL (Reuters) - South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Saturday called for the release of 23 countrymen held hostage by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, saying they were medical volunteers.
The call came as the Taliban threatened to kill two German hostages seized this week if their demand to free all of the Islamic movement's members in Afghan prisons was not met by an 0730 GMT (8:30 a.m. British time) deadline.
The Taliban is also seeking the withdrawal of all German troops from Afghanistan, a demand rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a newspaper interview on Saturday.
Insurgents kidnapped 23 South Koreans from a bus in southwest Ghazni province on Thursday in what was the biggest group of foreigners seized so far in the militant campaign to oust the government and its Western backers.
"We understand the kidnapped South Koreans have been doing medical volunteer services," Roh told a news conference in Seoul.
"The kidnappers must release our people as soon as possible, and safely. In any case, valuable lives should not be damaged."
A South Korean Foreign Ministry official had said on Friday about 20 South Korean Christian volunteers were feared to have been kidnapped by Taliban insurgents.
Last year, the South Korean government tried to stop a group of 2,000 Korean Christians travelling to Afghanistan for a peace conference, fearing for their safety.
But 900 of them still came to Afghanistan, causing an uproar in the staunchly Muslim country -- where many accused them of being evangelical missionaries -- before they were all deported.
South Korea has no combat troops in Afghanistan, but has a contingent of 200 engineers, doctors and medical staff. Roh said they would remain in Afghanistan until their mission was complete.
"The troops in Afghanistan are non-combatant, doing medical and support work. They have been trying to treat hundreds of people everyday and help reconstruct Afghanistan by building welfare facilities and bridges, and their mission is nearing an end," Roh said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters from an undisclosed location that the group's leadership council would decide on Saturday the fate of the Koreans, who included 18 women.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Although I shouldn't be all that amazed by this, it still moved me.
I promise to get back in the blogger mold now that some other dealings in my life have settled a little.... :)
Friday, May 11, 2007
Saturday, March 31, 2007
I wonder if people look at me different. I wonder what they think. I try to just blend in, but inside that couldn't be any farther from reality. I know people cant necessarily see my heart and my mind, my soul, but I still feel like they can. So I try to act as normal as possible even though I will never be normal again. To see what I saw, to hear what I heard, to understand what I now do about life, and this vastly different culture I once lived, is irreplaceable. I mean, I know I still have much to learn, but I did learn some valuable things while I was "there".
America is the same as I left it. TV's. Movies. Starbucks. Gyms. Churches. Radio. Cars. Houses. Etc. But, I have a new reality now. I have images and stories imprinted in me that will never go away.
Everyday I see Gulagha. My guard. My friend. Who died the day before I left.
I just pray that the Lord guides me through this journey of readjustment and applying lessons learned from overseas . I ask that my life will never be the same, and that I learn and draw closer to him as a result of it......
Friday, February 23, 2007
Flying is by far my biggest fear and I have made it a point to search out the fear and deal with it. Here are some observations: I like to control (and I know this isn't godly). I understand fundamentally that a person has a greater chance of dying in a car crash than a plane crash, yet I have never hesitated getting behind the wheel. There is a sense of control there. When in a plane however, all seeming control is out of my hands. Next, when a plane "fails", that's it...the chance of surviving is slim to none. The fatal element of crashing in a plane is reality. Finally, knowing when you are going to die. Personally, I am very content to never know when I am going to die...having to stare that reality in its face in the midst of a tragedy on a plane is a little discomforting to me.
Recently, I have gotten better with flying. I still have issues, but it doesn't lead me to take drugs to fall asleep on planes and I have never gotten sick. But, its recently become a bigger issue for me again. You see, I live in a country that has "shaky" airplanes to say the least. One time, they flew a commercial plane into a mountain because they ran out of fuel..I mean, who does that? But all of this said, I feel that although fearing things may have some validity, unhealthy fear has no place in a Believer's walk...this is an unhealthy fear....I mean I have no problem walking the streets of this dangerous country I reside in and I could fear that...so, what's the issue here?
My confession. I need your input, your help. One of my friends here says, "Its a win-win situation if your plane goes down." And I believe that, but for some reason I can't grasp that. Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions/etc.? Am I a control freak? Is it because I don't feel I'm ready to die? But, shouldn't all Believers be ready to die, not being attached to this world....What do you think?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The day started off as any normal day would. I got up around 7am and felt fine. That would soon change as this day would sharply change the course of my life forever. The night before I arranged for certain things to happen and tied up a few loose ends that I could only tie up when in Paris. You see, we (her parents, her, and I) only arrived in the city at 5pm the previous night. I was franticly on the move from the first hour....
At 8am Christianne was awoken by a knock at her door. A nice lady delivered for a dozen pink roses with a note from me telling her to, "Meet me at 1245pm in the lobby. We are heading to the Tower." It was during this waiting time that the events of the day started to set in. My breathing patterns altered and I was having a surreal experience. I mean, I am 28 years old. At some point you begin to wonder if this day will ever happen.....But, alas, it was here and the excitement, pressure, etc. of the moment was setting in. I spent time with the Lord..praying, meditating, asking for His blessing. 1245 was upon me.
I had a private car waiting at the hotel. Christianne met me in the lobby and we headed to the Eiffel Tower. It was a windy day, with a little sprinkle in the air. We waited about an hour and a half to get into the site. It was worth the wait. We made our way to the top of the Tower, the place I had intended to "seize the moment". It was way too crowded there though. I desired a little more privacy, since I had wrote her a personal poem.
We made our way back to the "2nd floor", which is still pretty high up there. There we found a little bench, like a tailor made seat for a proposal. I told her to sit down and I read her my poem...it concluded with, "Christianne Felo, will you be my wife, and be mine for the rest of your life?" She said, "Yes!" At 315 pm local time I was engaged. I prayed for us right afterward, right there, and then we made our way back down. We got back to the hotel...
Her 2nd dozen roses were waiting in her room as we got back. They were white this time, with a note saying, "Meet me in the lobby at 7pm, and be wearing your best." I got ready for the night of our engagement. My body was in a tizzy. I was excited and emotional all day..I was shaking form the moment..it was a great feeling; a once in a lifetime feeling. 7pm was here.
She looked elegant and beautiful (but she always does) as she made her way to me. I even had a suit on!!! We met in the lobby where our exclusive transportation picked us up. We made our way to the Seine River (which cuts right through the middle of Paris). It was the nightcap of our thrilling day: A Dinner Cruise on the Seine River. We were promptly ushered on board and to our table right on the glass of the boat..the best view possible. We were treated to a fine 3 course meal, cheeses, live entertainment, and all the wine we wanted (obviously, we didn't take much advantage of that part!!). It ended at 11pm and we headed back to the hotel....
The day was winding down. Tomorrow I would wake up as an engaged man, and her as an engaged woman...but first, she had one last set of roses awaiting her. A dozen red roses. This time the note said, "To my fiance. These symbolize romance and love. I love you."
The day concluded.
She said she felt like a princess that day. That was my goal, and by the grace and power of God, I was able to deliver. Thank you Lord for love like this....