Saturday, April 23, 2016

How do I know that God is good?

Do you ever wonder if God is good? Does he have your best interests in mind? Does he just want to make you do unpleasant things? Is he distant because he doesn't really care?

I'm not a philosopher or a theologian. I've been a Christian for 42 years; most of those years I have read Scripture every day. Every day a battle goes on of who will rule my mind. It's either me, the world or God. Sad to say, God lost out many times as I didn't put into practice what I read.

As I thought this week about how do I know that God is good, I had to go back to the foundation of Scripture. It says God is good. But that doesn't mean his followers had it easy. They had plenty of trouble and heartache. 

Then I thought about my life. Because of what I read in Scripture, I have chosen to believe that God is good. But that is not based on what has happened. There has been plenty of tragedy and trouble. Some people know that I have eight children. Most don't know that four other children died before they were born. Our son Nathaniel died weeks before he was to be born. In that horrible time, I experienced the goodness of God. 

It's somewhat a mystery. It would be hard for me to try to prove to you that God is good. But here is what I do know. Because I have a foundation built on God's word and I renew that daily, I have a pair of glasses that enable me to see God's goodness and his care for me. 

If you are having trouble believing that God is good, examine the things that are shaping your mind. If you don't have a daily renewing from Scripture then maybe the goodness is there but you just can't see it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Profile of a Patriot Warrior

My son Micah left this week to join the Army. He will go through Basic Training, Airborne School and then seeks to be a Ranger. He has chosen a very hard path for very good reasons. I do not have words to say how proud I am of this man. A few weeks ago we had a going away party with family and close friends. He shared these words with us:

Why Do I Choose to Serve?

My thought processes, understanding, and maturity have evolved gradually as I have prepared myself for this chapter of my life.

I will start by telling you of the first time I can remember having the idea of joining the military. It was post 9/11. I would have been in junior high when I saw a picture in the newspaper of a solider walking in Iraq with a wounded child in his arms. This solider had a look of anger, compassion, and heartbreak combined. Through the blood and dirt on his face, I could see a man who wanted justice, a justice that could only be settled through violence. That image has stuck with me ever since.

So flash forward to 18 years old. I am a young dumb punk who knows it all and all of a sudden, I found myself lost in the selfish pursuit of my personal pleasures and satisfactions for the next couple of years.

Those wants and desire are not always wrong but when you are put on this earth with a higher calling, a calling that demands the sacrifice of your own personal freedoms and first world pleasures, I found myself discontent and joyless surrounded by what my generation would call “happiness”.

When I started to recognize this inner struggle, I couldn’t motivate myself hard enough at the beginning to fully pursue it. It was a slow process that took changing priorities, changing friends, and changing habits.

It wasn’t until the idea of joining the military became compromised that I had an extreme change in my priorities because having something whenever you want it lacks drive and it is hard to desire, but having to work for the chance to have something is a powerful motivator.

There are people in my life that have stood by me and helped me overcome obstacles that have had the power to bring me to my knees and without these people's help, on my knees I would still be. For these friends and family members I am truly grateful.

My understanding of why I have chosen to serve in the military has taken time to become clear. It is not a simple desire anymore. It is a burning passion that keeps me up at night and has proven strong enough to finally push me to the point of taking the leap into the unknown called my future.

I want my last words before I embark on this journey to motivate and make uncomfortable those in this world who would choose to take for granted this amazing country and the men and women who sacrifice to ensure we are able to maintain the blissful lives we currently live.

I will speak to some of the values held by the Army that I now build my life around. The Army has seven core values and several of those stick out to me and speak into my personal life.

The values are:
•    Loyalty
•    Duty
•    Respect
•    Selfless service
•    Honor
•    Integrity
•    Personal courage

Of these values, loyalty, duty, honor, and integrity jump out to me in my personal life. These values stick out because through my life I have been let down by countless people and I myself have let down countless people as well. So I have learned from both the mistakes of others as well as my own and it has brought a better understanding to me of these values.

Loyalty: what does it mean to be loyal? To me it means sticking by your friends and loved ones even when they turn their back on you. Life is so shallow these days and society teaches us that the minute we are not getting pleasure and instant gratification from a relationship that we immediately back out and give up on the person.

If my closest friends, meaning the people in this room had that attitude towards me as I stumbled through life with my head in my ass, I would be by myself right this moment. I am thankful to everyone in this room for helping me learn the fundamentals of loyalty and I challenge everyone in the room to continue to be the loyal friend that is not always appreciated but is always respected.

Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone; this is loyalty

Duty: the most basic military definition is to voluntarily assume your share of the workload, serve as a member of a team, and assume leadership roles when appropriate. Duty speaks into my life in the form of hard work: having a job, being a friend, being a citizen. These are all things that take hard work to be productive and noticed in. Society and especially my generation likes to have the idea that you are the center of the universe, that you are the only person you should be looking out for, and that you are more important than the person standing next to you. I don’t know when the old-school, hard-working Americans who cared about their country and the men and women in it, turned into the self-absorbed, overly opinionated, spineless men and women that stand for nothing of moral or ethical depth.

So the challenge is: stop taking the easy way out. You are not a victim of your past, or a victim of your choices, or a victim of the choices of others. The only thing you can be a victim of is your own laziness and inability to move on from adversity and truly live your own unique life. So get off the bandwagons, grow a pair, and stand up for what is right, because this is your duty.   

Honor: when you talk about “living up to something” we are talking about being worthy of that something. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of:

•    Respect
•    Duty
•    Loyalty
•    Selfless service
•    Integrity
•    Personal courage in everything you do

Noticing a situation and deciding to take action to assist another when it benefits you nothing: this is honor. So the challenge is to go out and live that honorable life. Be the helping hand to the person you don’t know, show respect to people of different mindsets and values, be loyal to your beliefs even when they go against the popular opinion, be selfless at least once a day, and allow integrity to speak for who you are.

The final thing I want to speak on is integrity:

When people talk about integrity, it should be as simple as this: you should be counted on as a person to do the right thing. Live honestly and relate to others without playing games or having false agendas.

Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that we do and say nothing that deceives others. It is integrity that requires us to pay our bills on time, turn in a wallet we find on the road, and follow the rules laid out by the law or in the most basic way: to follow the code of human ethics and morality.

This comes full circle, to when I talked about duty; the truth is we are not the center of the universe and we are not the most important person on earth. We are Americans and we are family, and we are friends. So stop looking for your next instant gratification and look for a way to make a difference in the world, whether that means joining the military, being  a good wife or husband, standing up for someone who can’t defend themselves or simply being an honest and humble asset to this country.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone in this room for the impact you have had on my life, for the lessons learned, for the family-like bonds, and for giving me something I love so much that I’m willing to go fight for it. I truly consider it an honor to serve you and this country.

Rangers Lead The Way,

Micah Faustin