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Alpha Ministries, Inc

Church in the Woods at ....

Freedom Ranch

Choices

Dear Saints,

All of us are confronted with a multitude of choices to make daily. Many of them seem small and almost inconsequential while others seem overwhelming and life threatening. What makes life so complicated and hard is not just the choices we make but often it seems we really have no choice at all. Much of our confusion and frustration in life comes from the fact that we are not sure what choices we have, if we even have a choice, and exactly what choice we should make in any given situation. Welcome to the world of a control freak!

Seeking to control the people and circumstances in our life comes from a deep need to make ourselves secure in an insecure world. There is no guarantee that we will be unconditionally loved, accepted, and forgiven in this dog-eat-dog and often hostile world. In fact, chances are that we will be neglected, abandoned, or even abused. Likewise, unless we can control the people and circumstances in the chaos of this world it is impossible to find a real sense of importance, purpose, and competence. Wrong or bad choices seem naturally to lead to a meaningless and unsatisfying life.

Underlying all other choices we must make is the most important and basic choice. It is the choice the Bible urges us to make daily and describes it in a variety of terms. Jesus invites us to take his “yoke” upon us (Matthew 11: 28-30). Paul urges us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices unto God” (Romans 12: 1-2). James tells us to ask for wisdom from above (James 1: 5). Peter calls on us to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5: 6). All these directives (and many more) have one thing in common…surrender. We give up trying to make it happen and let God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

In the AA program of recovery the 3rd step describes this kind of surrender as deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Making the choice to surrender all our decisions as well as our very lives to the control and care of God is the foundation and start of a new and satisfying lifestyle of grace in which God, through his indwelling Spirit, leads us, guides us into all truth, comforts us in our choices, reminds us who we are, and produces the very character of Christ in us. As Paul instructed the Philippians 2: 12-13, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which works in you both to will and do of his good pleasure. “

The fundamental choice we all must make each day is whether we want to let God control our lives. It is really a no-brainer since he is the sovereign creator and sustainer of the universe and loves us so much he gave his life for us. For me it boils down to one simple prayer each morning, “Lord please remind me of who you made me to be in your son and guide me in how you want me to love others around me today”. I really do not have any other choice that makes sense.

John

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Appreciation for Our Vets

Posted on 7 May, 2014 at 10:20

Dear Saints;

 As a veteran I want to express my gratitude for the Veteran's Appreciation Day coming up this Saturday. This is our fourth annual celebration and promises to be the best one yet! I am exceedingly grateful for the people of Alpha Ministries' Church in the Woods for their willingness to host this event and their support shown to all veterans and their families. For some it may seem like just another BBQ at Freedom Ranch, but for the vets this kind of event is anything but casual. In fact, many Vietnam vets in particular will experience a wide range of emotions as the memories flood their minds. Each year I struggle to maintain my own composure while planning and organizing this event. That's why I am especially grateful for the folks who volunteer to make this event successful.

 Our overall goal for this event is to do just what it says it is...appreciation for our vets. Whether it is the few remaining WW II vets, the Korean vets, the Vietnam vets, Desert Storm vets, or Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) vets anyone who has served our country by taking the oath and putting on the uniform of our armed forces is deserving of our deepest respect and appreciation. They all wrote a blank check to America for the amount of up to and including their very lives. They vowed to protect and uphold the Constitution of this nation against all enemies, domestic or foreign and willingly gave up their own individual liberties to protect the freedoms of all our citizens. For their service to our country we honor them and want to tell them how much we appreciate their own personal sacrifices for the good of all.

 As a Vietnam veteran I find this kind of event to be somewhat bitter-sweet. Almost fifty years ago when Vietnam vets began coming home from their tour in country, America was in state of social chaos and confusion. One of the tragic consequences of such turmoil was the inability to appreciate the sacrifices made by our military men and women. In fact, the anti-war movement sweeping the nation chose to attack rather than support the troops in their efforts to end the war. Many if not the majority of returning warriors were immediately stereotyped by the media as "war criminals" and "baby killers" who were "crazy" at best and "drug addicted savages" at worst. There were no parades or ceremonies honoring the personal sacrifices these men and women made to serve their country. Due to the military rotation of troops it was not unusual for a man to be in combat one day and at home in the "world" in less than a week. I flew my last mission in Vietnam under enemy fire on a Saturday of August 1971 and was at my parent's home the following Wednesday night.

 The welcome many vets received when they got home was hostile and degrading. Leaving a war zone half way across the world they were filled with joy and excitement that they had made it out alive. But when they got back to their own country they found themselves in a strange place. Things were not the same as when they left a few years earlier. It's hard to describe, but the world seemed to have turned upside down and the stereotype of a crazy Vietnam vet seemed more likely true since we had changed as well. Expectations of honor, respect, appreciation, thanks, and support were quickly replaced by a simple hope for indifference. Many of us began to deny to others and, after a while, to ourselves that we had ever been in Vietnam. Most would simply plunge headlong into pursuing higher education and/or careers following a strict code of silence concerning our war time experience. After 40+ years that silence is now being broken as the Vietnam veterans are leading the nation in welcoming home the next generation of American warriors. To all our veterans we say thank you for your honorable service to your country. We appreciate your sacrifice and honor you as true American heroes.

 John

 

Categories: Veterans Appreciation

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