Proverbial misunderstanding over bribe and gift

After teaching Bible Study and Sunday School for years in different churches throughout my Christian walk, I’ve noticed many misunderstandings concerning God’s Word center around specific words. The perplexed individuals often forget—in some cases never knew—that our versions of the Bible were translated from the original Greek and Hebrew texts. The various English translations—especially those more interested in utilizing non-offensive terms to pacify present-day social sensitivities instead of remaining true to the original texts—further complicate matters. Plus, the words themselves—often having more than one meaning—add another obstacle to contend with.

Most Bible Study and Sunday School attendees don’t have the time or inclination to seek out scholarly texts, or even compare the words in question to the original Hebrew and Greek. That’s okay. In most circumstances the proper word use can be ascertained in the context it’s being used, along with comparing it to similar verses and topics in the Bible.

One example brought to my attention recently from a member in my class deals with the word bribe. While studying Proverbs they thought a few verses contradicted each other. The individual was reading The Living Bible; so, that’s the version I’m using for this post.

Proverbs 15:27 states, “Dishonest money brings grief to all the family, but hating bribes brings happiness.”

Proverbs 17:8 states, “A bribe works like magic. Whoever uses it will prosper.”

Proverbs 17:23 states, “It is wrong to accept a bribe to twist justice.”

Proverbs 18:16 states, “A bribe does wonders; it will bring you before men of importance.”

If you read each verse by itself without considering that there’s more than one definition or standard use for bribe, and you don’t compare it to similar verses on related topics, it appears that two of the verses favor the use of bribes while two condemn the use of them.

However, if you consider the fact that bribe is often used for the word gift, then Proverbs 17:8 and 18:16 no longer contradict the other two verses.

Some Bible commentaries and/or footnotes in some Bible versions choose to view Proverbs 17:8 as a statement of fact, but not one that should be encouraged. I don’t favor that interpretation, since the “gift” interpretation holds up far better when compared to God’s outlook in similar verses and topics.

For instance, a bribe is a form of cheating and dishonest, while a straight gift is not. It depends upon the circumstance in which it is being used. So, what do similar verses claim about cheating and dishonesty? We don’t even have to leave Proverbs to find out.

Proverbs 20:10 states, “The Lord despises every kind of cheating.”

Proverbs 20:21 states, “A fortune can be made from cheating, but there is a curse that goes with it.”

Proverbs 20:23 states, “The Lord loathes all cheating and dishonesty.”

It is very clear, using the comparison, that God hates cheating and dishonesty. Therefore, it is highly doubtful that He would favor bribes in any negative sense. But He does favor gifts.

Proverbs 21:14 states, “An angry man is silenced by giving him a gift!”

Finding the proper context by comparing it to similar verses and topics in God’s Word can settle most of the common misunderstandings Bible Study and Sunday School teachers encounter. And they need to remind those in their classes to consider Proverbs 19:27 — “Stop listening to teaching that contradicts what you know is right.”

If the contradictory interpretation goes against everything God stands for, you can bet it’s wrong. And to argue such points is a waste of time.

by jccast

 

Original here

 

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Billy Graham mag calls out ‘lie of progressive Christianity’

Says Buttigieg, others seek to drive biblical faith to ‘outer margins of society’

 

DecisionButtigieg

The mantle of “progressive Christianity” is being claimed by more and more people these days – some megachurches, some old-line denominations and even some politicians.

It’s roughly a gospel that regards the Bible as a good book but insists it must be reinterpreted to comport with contemporary society.

But now Decision Magazine, the publication launched by Billy Graham and still run by his organization, has unleashed a broadside against that belief system.

Its June front-page headline, “The lie of ‘progressive Christianity,’” is plastered over the image of Pete Buttigieg.

He’s the Democratic presidential hopeful who just a few weeks ago attacked the faith of Vice President Mike Pence, whose beliefs align with traditional Christian views of marriage and sexuality.

“Back in April when Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg threw stones at ‘the Mike Pences of the world’ for their historic Christian beliefs about marriage, sexuality and sin, he drew rapt attention from the news media. He also raised the visibility of a religious movement that claims the term Christian but denies the full authority of Scripture on which ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3, NKJV) is based,” writes the author of the article, Jerry Pierce.

“Buttigieg’s ‘progressive Christianity’ allows him to claim a commitment to the faith that Jesus Christ taught in the Gospels and still remain married to his male partner,” he wrote.

But R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, says that’s a “distortion” of God’s Word.

Buttigieg attacked Pence’s faith as “social extremism” and, in effect, told faithful evangelicals to either “affirm the new sexuality embodied in the LGBTQ movement, or affirm the full authority of Scripture and be anathema in the postmodern culture.”

Mohler told Decision that it is tempting for Christians faithful to the Bible to hunt down a “middle ground” on such issues.

But that’s not what the Bible allows.

“I have made the argument that everybody’s opinion on these matters is going to be known,” Mohler told the magazine. “It may be when you run for office. It may be when you move into the dorm. It may be when a new neighbor walks in and you end up in conversation. But the point is, there’s nowhere to hide on these issues. There are a lot of Christians who are trying to hide in the tall grass, and that’s not going to work.”

The article says Buttigieg and others of his belief system are trying to drive biblical Christians “to the outer margins of society.”

Mohler explained “the new liberalism under the ‘progressive’ banner is encroaching on more conservative churches amid a culture that paints biblical values as oppressive and bigoted.”

He told Decision that Christians don’t want to appear hateful but issues such as homosexuality cannot be defined “on the world’s terms.”

The issue has brought untold grief to the United Methodists, now caught in a fight between conservative African and Asian members and progressives in the United States.

Lay leader Mark Tooley, a Methodist and president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, told Decision progressive Christians often affirm miracles, even the Apostles’ Creed, but deny the full authority of God’s Word.

“This is true for mainline Protestants, but also increasingly for many members of the post-evangelical left,” he told Decision.

Mohler said he is concerned that Christians eventually may be deemed as subversive as early Christians were in Rome, who were killed for their faith.

“There’s no middle ground between affirming and denying the bodily resurrection of Christ. There’s also no middle ground between defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman and saying it can be something else,” he said.

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/billy-graham-mag-calls-out-lie-of-progressive-christianity/

Jesus Gave Me What Boozing and Brawling Couldn’t

My journey from the criminal underworld to the foot of the cross.
ALLEN LANGHAM| MAY 17, 2019

Jesus Gave Me What Boozing and Brawling Couldn’t

Six years ago—lost, broken, alone, and suicidal—I was the empty shell of a once-promising rugby player, shuffling around an exercise yard in a London prison. I was a man of extreme violence who had done seven stretches behind bars.

One morning around that time, I watched a flock of birds take off from a ledge outside my cell. Right then, I knew God was real—and that he had reached down to rescue me from the pit of hell.

A Ticking Time Bomb

As a child, there was violence everywhere I turned. My mother had been widowed by her first husband, abused for 20 years by her second, and deserted by my father (whom she never married) when I was eight months old. She and my two sisters surrounded me with love—I was the little favorite of the family. But she was also a harsh disciplinarian and liberally wielded what we called “the Allen stick” to keep me under control.

Throbbing with anger and resentment toward my absent father, I was constantly getting into scraps with neighborhood bullies, hoping to earn their respect. I was also abused several times: by a family friend, by a boy across the road, and by a man I can’t say much about because I’ve blocked the worst details from my memory.

I had some means of escape. Often I would skip school to go fishing or run off to the woods and dress up as an Army sergeant major, shouting commands at the other kids and exerting control to hide my inner pain. I loved sports and showed potential from an early age. And on Sundays, I would venture out on my own to attend church. At home I was fatherless and abused, but there I felt safe and at peace.

One morning, alerted by the shrieks of my eldest sister, I came downstairs to find my mother dead on the sofa, the victim of a cerebral hemorrhage. Something snapped in me that day—I was only 14—that put me on the road to destruction for the next 20 years.

I went to three schools, getting expelled from the first two for unmanageable behavior. By the time I left home at 16, I was a ticking time bomb—angry, bitter, and lost. My sister ran pubs, and I started down the path of drinking, gambling, and fighting, emulating the “gangster” lifestyle. This was my idea of what it meant to be a man.

But I excelled at rugby, and at 17 I signed a professional contract with Sheffield Eagles. Soon enough, I had far more money than good sense. Craving acceptance from members of the criminal underworld I perversely thought of as “family,” I began fighting for money, selling drugs, collecting debts for dealers, and generally bullying and intimidating my way through life. I walked into my first prison term as a lost little boy trapped inside a professional rugby player’s body.

A Hostile World

It didn’t take long for prison to turn me into a hardened criminal. It was a hostile world—physically, mentally, and emotionally—where only the fittest survived. In prison I developed a heroin addiction, which left me alienated from my firstborn daughter and her mother.

Between sentences, I went chasing the bright lights of London but ended up sleeping on the streets of the Strand. Without the “good fortune” of being sent back, I might have died. Back in custody, spurred forward by a picture of my daughter on my cell wall, I resolved to rebuild my life. During the next two years, I caught up on my schooling and got clean from heroin. But after the next release, I soon returned to my old ways. The vicious merry-go-round kept spinning: drinking, drugs (now cocaine), partying, violence, sex, and before long, a trip back to the slammer.

During my stints in prison, I was always drawn to the chapel. I considered it a place of refuge, just as church had offered a safe haven from the tumult of my childhood. Over the years, I experimented with everything: Buddhism, Hinduism, spiritualism, counseling, course after course, medication—but nothing worked. I was still a wreck. Despite my burning desire to change, I couldn’t find any peace or stability.

Eventually, after stabbing a number of fellow inmates, I landed in Belmarsh, a top-security prison in southeast London. I hated who I had become. With my violent outbursts and paranoid behavior, I had pushed away anyone I ever cared for—and put my family through hell. I was mentally, emotionally, and spiritually broken. Outwardly, I sought “respect” by lashing out against anyone or anything in my way. But on the inside, I remained a lost little boy in desperate need of love and acceptance.

While awaiting trial in a kidnapping and hostage-taking case, I finally hit rock bottom and decided to commit suicide. With tears streaming down my face, I dropped to my knees and made one final plea to God: “If you’re real and you hear me, put a white dove outside my prison window. Show me you are with me!” At the time, I had no conception of the dove being a symbol for the Holy Spirit. I was only looking for some sign of hope and new beginnings.

The next morning, when a flock of pigeons lifted off the nearby ledge, I saw the dove sitting there. Something inside me jumped, and tears of joy replaced tears of despair.

After transferring to another prison in Leeds, I began praying and studying the Bible in earnest. Reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind, I stumbled across a chapter where Meyer describes taking the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, rolling it into a ball, and laying it at Jesus’ feet. I decided to do the same with my rage. Before going to sleep, I closed my eyes, imagined Jesus on the cross, balled up my rage, and surrendered it to him. When I awoke, I felt peace like never before.

The Long Refining

Being a Christian—and turning away from drinking, drugs, and sleeping around—hasn’t been easy. (It’s tough having a functioning conscience!) At first I was on fire for Christ, and my zeal would outrun my better judgment. I would strike up conversations with complete strangers and probably put them off forever. I would go to pubs to tell people about Jesus and—still enslaved to old habits—end up drinking to excess. On one occasion, I found myself in bed with a woman after trying to share the gospel with her. I needed serious refining.

But God, in his patience, kept using this broken vessel for his purposes. He has given me the privilege of going into prisons—at first under the supervision of more mature Christians, then increasingly on my own—and testifying to the hope and forgiveness he offers. I have spoken to rooms full of men convicted of the most heinous crimes, including pedophiles and murderers, and seen them reduced to tears. At a key moment when I wondered where my life was going, God helped me launch a ministry (Steps to Freedom) that reaches out to young people abandoned by society. He let me return to my first love, sports, as a chaplain serving several teams.

Miraculously, God has even given me my family back. It has taken years, but one by one he has repaired broken relationships with my sisters and their families, with my three children, and with the father who deserted us so long ago.

The refining process has been long and hard. But bit by bit, it’s polishing me into a trophy of God’s grace.

Allen Langham is the author of Taming of a Villain: A Message of Hope (Lion Hudson).

 

Original here

 

Nikki Haley Destroys The Notion That Being Pro-Life Is Anti-Women

The abortion debate in this country is at a fever pitch. While both pro-choice and pro-life advocates passionately defend their causes, civility flies out the window. In the midst of this political firestorm, one voice of reason recently emerged.

Speaking at an event for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List on June 3, 2019, former United Nations Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gave a poignant pro-life speech without ruthlessly attacking the other side. While destroying the notion that being pro-life is anti-woman, Haley said, “That Is Not Real Feminism.”

According to the Washington Examiner’s Madeline Fry, the former South Carolina Governor stated, “Women are expected to support choice simply because we’re women. That’s just wrong. We all have to be true to ourselves and to others. Unfortunately, many on the Left use the abortion debate to divide women and demand conformity. They do this in the name of feminism. But that is not real feminism.”

In her speech, Haley challenged the demand by pro-choice supporters that all females toe the line with a certain set of values. The former United Nations Ambassador remarked, “The idea that women must adhere to a particular set of values is one of the most anti-women ideas in today’s culture. It is a rejection of the ideas of equality and tolerance that the women’s movement is supposed to be about” according to TheBlaze.

At the Susan B. Anthony List gala, Haley also reinforced the truth that the pro-life movement isn’t mainly about women. It mostly consists of acknowledging the right of an innocent unborn baby to live.

The former South Carolina Governor commented, “As a pro-life, female governor, I was blessed with a unique platform, and I made every effort to use it appropriately. Not to lob attacks at people who disagreed with me, not to diminish the other side, but to re-frame the debate. To explain that being pro-life is not about being for or against women. It is about being for a baby’s right to live — the most basic right there is.”

Fry wrote, “If more people involved in the abortion debate could understand where the other side is coming from — pro-lifers believe the unborn deserve the rights of any other human, and pro-choicers believe unwanted pregnancies will hurt women or hold them back — they might have constructive conversations about the issue.”

While Haley attempted to begin a constructive dialog about abortion, she was quickly and vehemently shot down by Whoopi Goldberg on a broadcast of the left-leaning “The View.” Goldberg quipped, “So let me get this straight, so giving a woman a choice about what to do with her body is anti-feminist? To me, you taking the choice from people is anti-human.”

In the Washington Examiner piece, Fry argued, “And this is why the abortion debate in America is going nowhere. Among U.S. adults, abortion opinions are split about 50/50, according to Gallup, which reports that 48% are pro-choice and 48% are pro-life.”

Fry went on to add, “But when Haley defends a view held by half of Americans, she’s ‘anti-human.’ When pro-abortion activists talk about the other side ‘trying to police’ women’s bodies and anti-abortion activists call people who’ve had abortions ‘murderers,’ something is wrong. No mind was ever changed through sheer contempt.”

In the Liberal Democratic Party, merely having pro-life views is grounds to get you isolated at best and ousted at worse. According to Fox News, “While the party once tolerated both pro-life and pro-choice Democrats inside the tent, those with pro-life views are being told they aren’t welcome anymore.”

Recently, 2020 Democratic presidential contender U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat – New York, told the Washington Post, “As a party, we should be 100 percent pro-choice, and it should be non-negotiable.”

When Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, dared to sign a bill last week that would ban abortions in his state after a fetal heartbeat is detected, he received blow-back from his own party. In a statement, Nicole Brener-Schmitz, NARAL Pro-Choice America political director, stated, “Governor Edwards, and any other elected official attempting to use political overreach to roll back our rights, is mistaken to think our fundamental freedoms are up for debate. We are the majority, and if you’re not fighting alongside us, you don’t deserve to represent the American people.”

Brener-Schmitz said that the Louisiana Governor “won’t get a pass just because he is a Democrat.”

The hyper-polarized abortion divide in America highlights just how important the 2020 elections are for advocates on both sides of the fence.

Expect things to get even more heated in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Original here

Growing numbers of parents are taking a stand against moves to impose lessons on LGBT issues on primary school children

by Godinterest

Parkfield Community School

Parkfield Community School

Protesters against LGBT teaching at a primary school have been banned from gathering outside the gates of Anderton Park Primary School by a High Court injunction which was granted on the basis that the risk to children became “too serious to tolerate”. Birmingham City Council said the behaviour of demonstrators was “increasingly unacceptable” and that they pursued the injunction in order to protect staff and pupils when they return from their half-term break on Monday.

After months of demonstrations outside Anderton Park Primary School Birmingham City Council decided to pursue the legal action. The Council leader Ian Ward said “common sense had prevailed”.

The school had to close early before half-term due to escalating action.

The council said it sought the urgent injunction after the risk to children became “too serious to tolerate”.

Birmingham City Council

Protests have been held outside Anderton Park School for several weeks

Nazir Afzal who is in charge of steering talks between the council, parents and teachers, told Sky News that six weeks of discussions have been unsuccessful.

Protests have been held outside Anderton Park School for several weeks

Protesters were not made aware of the High Court application but told the BBC they still intended to gather next week on a street further away from the school.

How did it all begin?

No outsiders in Our School Teaching the Equality Act In Primary Schools, by Andrew Moffat

The No Outsiders project was the brainchild of Andrew Moffat, assistant head teacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham and based on a book written by headteacher Andrew Moffat.

In an attempt to teach equality amongst children in school irrespective of gender, sex, race or religion. The project aim was to change attitudes towards South Asian and Muslim homosexuality by teaching children about the Equality Act 2010 and British values. He also wanted pupils to “be proud of who they are while recognising and celebrating difference and diversity”.

When did controversy begin to unfold?

The Government intends to introduce compulsory Relationships Education at primary school level from 2020, which will teach children as young as five about “different types” of families.

Parents at seven primary schools in Greater Manchester have contacted school management to complain about proposed LGBT lessons.

In January this year a parent whose child attends Parkfield school raised a petition, claiming the teaching contradicted the Islamic faith.

How did the school respond to the growing anger?

The No Outsiders lessons were paused to allow teachers to “re-engage with our parents”, Mr Moffat said.

What do education chiefs say?

Ofsted has backed the No Outsiders programme, with its chief inspector Amanda Spielman saying all children must learn about same-sex couples regardless of their religious background.

Respecting parents

The Christian Institute’s Education Officer John Denning said respecting parents is “essential”.

“The protests reflect the lack of confidence parents have that schools are observing the proper boundaries of their role.

“The law is clear that teachers must respect the range of views amongst parents and not undermine them with one-sided propaganda.”

“It is being justified by claiming that it is required by the Equality Act, but the Act is explicit that it does not apply to the school curriculum.”

 

Original here


The Church is on the Move

Christianity is and always will be a mobile faith.
ED STETZER

The Church is on the Move

Often, we forget to consider the spread of Christianity across the globe from a geographical perspective. We read the New Testament with eyes and ears that are largely ignorant to the places Luke mentions in Acts or Paul writes about in the prison epistles.

Most Christians have heard of Jerusalem—the place where Jesus was crucified and risen. The geographical center of the Christian faith was clearly, early on, in and around Israel.

But while the Ancient Near East was the birthplace of our faith, it didn’t just stay there. By God’s grace, the gospel began to spread all around the world. We read about the Ethiopian eunuch who first heard the gospel message from Philip. Some disciples went to Asia Minor, Thomas goes as far as India, Paul tries to get to Spain, etc. Places like Cyprus, Caesarea, Damascus, Greece, Rome, and Carthage are mentioned throughout the book of Acts as Paul and his followers embark on four long missionary journeys.

All that to say, the gospel has been moving and spreading for centuries. The Holy Spirit has compelled believers everywhere to share the message of Christ crucified and risen in places both near and far. As demonstrated by Paul and Christ’s own disciples, this was to include continents and people groups far from the place where the Christian faith was first founded.

Despite this, Christianity has for centuries been associated with the West. Going back just a century ago, Pew Research found that “about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe.” This, according to historical estimates by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, is “where the bulk of Christians had been for a millennium.”

But today, these numbers have changed considerably. In 2010, almost a decade ago now, Pew Research found that only a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (roughly 26 percent).

Thankfully, what we’re seeing is not that Christianity is disappearing—instead, it’s spreading and shifting its geographical center.

In 1910, Europe and North America (the West) contained 80 percent of the world’s self-identified Christians. Today, it’s 40 percent and declining. Meanwhile in the 21st century, almost 24 percent of the world’s Christians live in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to less than 2 percent a hundred years earlier.

These changes shouldn’t surprise or alarm us for many reasons. The first of which is this: Christianity is and always will be a message on the move.

This isn’t the first time in the history of the faith that its geographical center has shifted and it likely will not be the last. For centuries, Europe was the center, but after the reformation and the spread of European missionaries and immigrants to the Americas, many would say that the center of density moved to North America.

Now we’re seeing a reengagement of the Southern Hemisphere in the practicing of the Christian faith. At this point, there will likely be more evangelicals in Brazil by 2040 than there are in the United States. I’ve stood on the beach at João Pessoa with 10,000 Brazilians who put their hands out and prayed that they would be a part of a mission for the faith to reach the rest of the world—Africa, Asia, and beyond.

Of course, North America was uniquely impactful on the condition of global Christianity as it currently stands today—few would dispute that. But, the presence of believers and vitality of churches in North America and Europe nonetheless continue to decline in comparison to their respective growth in the Southern Hemisphere.

For those of us living in the West, we must remember never to despair. What we observe happening in our culture and to the life of the church isn’t a done deal—these things are always changing and shifting. The gospel is continuing to spread and people are accepting the message even if it’s becoming harder and harder to see God at work in our own communities.

For our brothers and sisters in the Global South, we pray for God’s continued blessing on the growth of the church. When appropriate, we might even find ways to use our time and resources to contribute to the work that God is already doing in these places.

Believers—wherever they live—should ultimately concern themselves not only with the health and well-being of their place of worship down the street, but with that of the global church all across the world.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

 

Original here

The forgotten pain of heroes: one man’s story

May 24, 2019 by jccast

 

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. Some seem destined for greatness, or at least something special, early on. Some appear to carry Lady Luck on their shoulders. And yet, for the most part, the majority of heroes have less than stellar beginnings, are saddled with nightmarish memories of the traumatic situations they survived (if they survived), and are extremely uncomfortable with the title hero.

Johnathan Courtney, the focus of this piece, fits the latter category. Though he received multiple citations for meritorious service (including two bronze stars) it is not just the singled-out actions that make him a hero in my view. It is the cumulative actions over a drawn-out period in harm’s way, along with shouldering leadership responsibilities in equally trying situations that merit the often difficult to bear title. Such duties, in John’s case, include a tour in Iraq. Part of the time as a platoon leader leading hundreds of successful combat patrols, part of the time as the company XO, and winding up as Battle Captain.

John 3a

By the completion of his tour John would be forever changed by his experiences. Due to his upbringing, his character, and the fact that he’s an alpha male in leadership positions he possessed an inflated sense of responsibility for the soldiers under him. The death of eight soldiers—seven directly and one by way of an investigation—would haunt John because of his sense of responsibility and the decisions he made regarding each. Decisions he never could have imagined during his early years.

John’s mother, Ellen, is Caucasian, and his father, Don, is Native American. He predominantly identifies as Native American, from the Wasco and Warm Springs tribes, having been raised on or near the Warm Springs reservation in Central Oregon throughout his childhood. Along with returning to Central Oregon to reside in Madras several years after his military hitch and the divorce of his first marriage.

John, for the most part, was an average student. Education didn’t hold much importance to him during his early childhood. The divorce of his parents and subsequent move off the reservation to the nearby town of Madras played a part in that. So did the cultural change in peer groups. And, eventually, the return of his father (parents remarried) after being gone several years created additional issues.

During the various life changes John struggled with anger and identity issues: his purpose in life, his place in the family, in society, etc. It seemed to escalate during his high school years. He began drinking as a sophomore. However, he also joined the R.O.T.C. during this period, which became a positive influence. After meeting Sgt. Randy Casey—a tough as nails Ranger that became his mentor—John felt a sense of purpose.

Similarly, John was torn with wanting to be like his dad—who, in his eyes, accomplished everything he set out to do—and sought his approval, but he equally struggled with anger issues against him over the divorce, remarriage, and other family situations.

John Profile Pic 2

The new sense of purpose seemed to drive John. While he still appeared to vacillate in some areas, like changing his college major five times—eventually earning a BS in Sociology—he tackled everything that came his way in the R.O.T.C.: scoring in the top 5% of the country.

Choosing a career in the military, John (now a Lieutenant) was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA, where he had previously attended Airborne training. It took two attempts to get through the elite Ranger training, having been held back on his first attempt due to a medical issue. But he had the drive and character to claw his way back and earn the right to wear the much-coveted patch.

John also received mechanized training, which prepared him for his next post at Ft. Carson, CO, where his initial job was the Asst. Battalion Maintenance Officer of the 112th Infantry Regiment.

Soon after his arrival John’s group went through a transition period. The 112th was phased out as it became part of a Combined Arms Battalion, a new self-sustained format. With John becoming the Platoon Leader of 3rd Platoon, “B” company (Bravo / Blackhawk) of the 168th Armor Battalion.

John Pi-ume-sha Grand entry

Following a lot of preparation, including war games at Ft. Irwin, CA, the 168th took its turn in Operation Iraqi Freedom. John deployed to Iraq in November, 2005. By mid-2006, his platoon had been on over 500 combat patrols without a single casualty among his men. An impressive string of skill and luck. Unfortunately, for John, it would not continue.

John, who had been handpicked by his Company Commander, Capt. Larry Sharp, to be the company XO (second-in-charge), was promoted to Captain and took over the Battle Captain position in July, 2006. A position which gave him responsibility for a vast area, including everything that took place outside the compound.

The first half of John’s tour, prior to his promotion to Captain, is viewed differently by him than the last half. During the interview he spoke of both positive and negative aspects of the deployment during the period covering the first half of his tour. But it became quite clear that his focus regarding the last half of the tour centered squarely on the negatives. In his own words, this period is when he “started getting lost in the head.”

Early on, John talked about the hundreds of successful patrols, about a time when he earned one of his Bronze Stars (with valor) “for going the wrong way,” how their company saved the town from being overrun, and how they took out the enemy’s second-in-command. Although, scattered within those tales were less positive but equally memorable tales of a grandfather and his grandson being killed, a young boy that smiled and waved to the GIs entering and exiting the compound daily found hung on the fence after being tortured to death for being friendly toward the Americans, and a rear echelon soldier being negligently killed by civilian contractors—the first GI death that John had to deal with personally as the investigating officer.

A subtle, but very noticeable change came over John when he began to speak of the last half of his tour. The period when 7 soldiers under his command were killed. The decisions and responsibility lay with John as the Battle Captain. And it is clear that he internalized each event and it festered like a cancer.

John returned home in November, 2006. Within a few months he was drinking to numb himself. After all, he’s an alpha male, an elite soldier, a Ranger, and an officer. Showing weakness is forbidden. An unwritten code—but a code nevertheless.

John’s life began to slowly implode. Over the next several years he lost his career, his marriage (and custody of his daughter, Kirsten), had difficulty getting and/or keeping jobs, increased his drinking continually, and eventually had to move from Colorado back home to Madras, OR. And when he did make the effort to get help—filing twice with the VA regarding PTSD, and trying to get help through the community services on the reservation—he was either ignored or given excuses why they couldn’t help him.

John 1

The only good thing that occurred during this period was his marriage to his second wife, Emily. But his situation began to put a strain on that marriage, as well. To the point that Emily finally gave John an ultimatum. That ultimatum was the catalyst that created an eruption. The eruption ended with John barricaded inside his home surrounded by armed tribal police. And John, who had suicidal tendencies from the PTSD and had previously attempted suicide, continued to drink. Which made some wonder if he was now trying to commit suicide-by-cop.

It is said that it is always darkest before dawn. It is also said that God works in mysterious ways.

The tribal police threw the book at John. He was charged federally with the felonies, and he was looking at a long prison term if found guilty and given the maximum sentencing. Luckily, a lot of things began to mysteriously fall into place for John. The right people were coming into his life at the perfect time and he was starting to get the help he should have been given years earlier. The judge also took notice of how quickly John was turning his life around with the help. Thus, eventually, John took a plea deal that kept him out of prison, but put him on probation for 5 years.

Unfortunately, the felony conviction caused John to be terminated from the good job he had acquired while waiting for his court date. And yet, like every other good thing that had been occurring during this period, a woman John didn’t know called and offered him a job. A job he is still successfully performing two years after being hired. He is the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success Coordinator for Best Care (Whew! That’s a tongue twister. Who makes up these titles?) But seriously, he deals with programs set up for adults, youth, and veterans. And his very painful past is no longer a hindrance, it’s an asset when dealing with people having similar issues.

John Picture

John’s faith was shaken to the core through the awful period in Iraq and subsequent years of anger and alcohol abuse. However, through hindsight, he clearly sees God’s imprint during the situation. And, like other vets he’s been in support groups with, John has returned to his faith. He is the first to say that he is still working on his spiritual life and walk, but he’s putting the same effort to move forward in that area as he has in all other areas of his life. Similar to his time in the R.O.T.C. and the military, John has excelled in everything he’s done after getting a little help to get back on the right course. And he has already touched many lives with his story and his concerted efforts to help people on a daily basis through his job, as well as through his efforts with the VFW.

John 3

Like most true heroes, John is extremely uncomfortable with the hero title. He simply did his job to the best of his ability and took his responsibility for the men under his command seriously—so seriously that each death of a soldier through his decisions slowly ate him up inside. Because he cared too much, which always compounds the pain in war. Yet, the same character traits that made him a hero then make him a hero now to all those he goes above and beyond to help on a daily basis.

John likes the old hymn Amazing Grace, and the opening lines say it all: Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

John 2

I, personally, thank John for his service to the country and to his continued service to the community that he resides in. It is truly an honor to know him, and to call him…a brother in arms…and a friend.

 

Original here