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Posts Tagged ‘perseverance’


Sometimes you find strange bedfellows in the course of publishing. Fearless is a book published by an overtly Christian publisher. It is the story of Adam Brown, a Christian who served on Seal Team Six. It was written by Eric Blehm, who doesn’t seem to be a Christian, but who specializes in books about military men and exercises. So it all works.

“Adam was a friend, teammate, and brother in arms. Adam was a husband and a son and a father. Adam will always be a hero. His actions on his final mission were indicative of the way he lived his life. Fearless.” Adam’s CO in Afghanistan

Eric Blehm keeps the pacing of Adam’s story moving. He does not linger too long in any one place.  He is honest about Adam’s life. Early on he seems bigger than life, as the qualities that made him a Navy Seal reveal themselves in his childhood. He was tough, relentless and kind-hearted. Adam stuck up for the little guy.

But, like many, he needed direction. Soon after graduating from high school, a dating relationship would lead him down a bad road that would long outlast that bad relationship. She would introduce him to drugs, including crack. This is the drug that nearly cost him everything.

Adam’s story is about 2nd and 3rd chances. After a few arrests, time at Teen Challenge and yet still struggling with addiction he decides he needs to enter the Navy with a long term goal of becoming a Navy Seal. It is then that someone takes a chance on him- Captain Buschmann, the father of one of his best friends.

It is the story of love, perseverance and faith. His parents, siblings and wife struggled to love him because of his addiction. It never completely went away. Like most addictions, it re-surfaced at inopportune moments.

Not only did they have to persevere with Adam, but Adam had to persevere through numerous injuries that would have forced a lesser man to give up. He had a high pain threshold, to say the least. Being a Seal takes a tremendous toll on your body due to the physical conditioning necessary (at one point he had a 4 inch long bone chip removed from his ankles, and should have had the bones fused). He would suffer freak injuries to his right eye and hand that should have resulted in him being washed out to the Seals. But he learned to shoot left-handed and passed the training and tests to join the elite Team Six despite them. He was prone to accidents as well. He could have (should have?) taken disability long before his final deployment. But that just didn’t fit who Adam was.

In his youth his grandmother would bring Adam and his twin sister to church since he parents didn’t go to church. He prayed that God would save them. He would bring them to saving faith, and the means was Adam’s destructive addiction to crack. Broken, Adam would eventually reaffirm his own faith in Christ. He was not a Bible-thumper, but loved the men he worked with and invited many of them to church. After Adam’s own death on a mission, one of his best friends came to faith. Six weeks later, that Seal was with the others on the CH-47 that crashed.

“Are we going to abandon our faith, or apply our faith?” Adam’s father Larry Brown

Blehm tells a very engaging story about a unique sort of man. Passionate in his love for his country, an expert in warfare, Adam was also a goofy dad who loved to play with kids at church and while in the field. Seeing Afghan children without shoes and winter approaching, he started a drive that provided over 500 shoes for children. His was not a merely intellectual faith.

The book is understandably short on mission details. Most of his work is still classified. But the book relays lots of information about the final mission that took his life. It was his last deployment. He’d just received his bachelor’s degree and hoped to get an MBA. He was ready to settle in at home with Kelly and the kids. His death rocked the faith of his whole family, which is understandable. Their faith didn’t present them easy answers. They struggled.

Mild Cautions-

First, there are aspects to their faith that come across as more superstitious than biblical. I’m not saying they aren’t Christians, I think they are. But the idea that someone is “with you” or “present” after death is contrary to Scripture. Christians are in the presence of Jesus and did not suddenly become ubiquitous.

Second, since it deals with military culture there is some off-color language and experiences that most non-military people like myself don’t get. For instance, he takes a bet to place his scrotum (Blehm used the more common slang term) on a fire ant hill for 30 seconds. Having been bitten by fire ants often, I’m not putting the most sensitive part of my body on a hill to be attacked.  Especially as my friends watch, or hold me down.

There was much to like about this book. I’ve read other books by and about the Seals and Delta Force. This was up there with Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor. You get a glimpse into the training and personal lives, shaping influences and more. You are left with a deep appreciation for the work they do for the other citizens of the country they love.

[I received a promotional copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review]

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I suspect it goes without saying that most of us have not been loved well by those in our lives. Our parents often did their best, but they had the same problem we have. So do our friends.

When you have not been loved well, you don’t love well. On the surface, it appears to be a vicious cycle from which there is no escape. But it is not a closed system. If it was, this would be true. But there is someone outside the system that can enter it, love us well and enable us to love others well.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4

This is the premise of Loving Well (even if you haven’t been) by William Smith. The idea is that we only love well if we’ve been loved well. This is a biblical concept, as expressed in 1 John 4. In the gospel, we see that God brings us into His community of love and love us well. As we are loved, we learn to love.

Smith develops this in a very practical way. The 15 chapters of the book cover 15 aspects of love. He shows us how God has loved us in this way, and provides some practical ways we can express this love to others. As a result, this is a very gospel-centered book instead of a moralistic book. It is about what Christ has done, not a bunch of steps or principles to follow.

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In the course of ministry, hard spots are inevitable. It could be a set back, a conflict or perhaps an illness. They cannot be avoided. They are part of the providence of God. They are for your sanctification.

Do you remember that often? I mean between the whining, complaining and the pity parties you throw. We all do that. But do we remember they are intended for our maturity?

 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1 (ESV)

How is that, you might ask. One important thing is perseverance. James 1 points all Christians in this direction. Pastors are no exception from that instruction. We should not be surprised when the hard spots hit. Pastors, just like lay people, will have their faith tested in order to produce steadfastness, otherwise known as perseverance. There can be no maturity without perseverance. You can’t excel at anything without perseverance. Ask any great musician. Ask a woodworker or a computer programmer. Perseverance through boredom (that’s been a tough one for me), pain, disappointment and more.

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There are some great boxing movies: Rocky, The Hurricane, Raging Bull, and Cinderella Man. And then there are some lousy boxing movies, The Main Event comes to mind. So does everything after Rocky III. You’ll notice something about the best ones- they are based on true stories. As a result, they are not just about boxing. They deal with subjects like family dynamics, racism, profound set backs like the Depression.

The Fighter is based on the true story of Welterweight Champion Micky Ward, or rather the story of how he became champion. It deals with family dynamics, addiction, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is about second chances.

Christian and Mark as Dicky and Micky

Micky grew up the younger half-brother of “the Pride of Lowell”, his brother Dicky Ecklund (played marvelously by Christian Bale). Dicky made his claim to fame by knocking down boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard (or did Sugar Ray just slip?). After his brush with fame, Dicky went down hill. When we enter the story, he is Micky’s trainer and a crack addict. But he is still the apple of his mother’s (and Lowell, MA’s) eye. Micky (played by a subdued Mark Wahlberg) fights on, as an afterthought. His career started well, but with the family distracted by Dicky’s antics (his mother is Micky’s manager) his career has taken a decided downturn. Micky finds himself at a cross roads: will he be brought to nothing by his brother’s problems and the dysfunction represented by his mother and white trash half-sisters ( they add an authentic and hilarious element to the movie).

Their perpetually smoking mother and manager

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