A Warrior or a Believer?

The third and final book in the Marc Royce series, Strait of Hormuz provides a gripping story that will satisfy even the most die-hard action adventure fan.  The added bonus is that Davis Bunn is a Christian author and he boldly explores what it means to be a Christian in a violent world.

Straits of Hormuz picks up where Rare Earth (Book 2 in the series) left off. But Bunn is so adept at providing the back story that Straits can also be read as a standalone book.

Marc Royce is again entangled in an international web of intrigue that he does not understand, but that has far-reaching consequences. He must decipher the clues to determine whether he is on the correct trail or chasing rabbits while the real threat remains inbound.

Along the way, he discovers what he thought he would never see. Small, hidden communities of Christians composed of Turks, Kurds, Syrians, Lebanese, Ethiopians and Iraqi.  Sworn enemies who lay down their arms and found each other in the arms of Jesus.

Impossible if they followed their traditions and societal rules.  Possible only because of the gift of salvation.

Marc must seek their help in his quest to stop the evil that is about to descend on the Middle East. But these people have a well-hones sense of credibility and Marc must prove himself worthy of their support. He is forced to come face-to-face with his own doubts and fears, and to choose to “follow Jesus even when it is painful to do so.”  His training as a warrior and combatant has to be set aside so he can seek guidance in prayer.

His primal dilemma: remain cold and angry as a warrior or step into an unknown place of weakness and wait for direction from God.

As Marc states so eloquently, “There is no harder lesson for me to learn than to recognize the moment when I am called to be weak.”

Marc must also face his personal conflict of whether to love someone and therefore become vulnerable, or remain in the comfort of his “warrior mentality.” He already knows that the warrior mentality does not produce warm, trusting relationships, but the obstacles he faces in Straits sends him straight back to his warrior comfort zone.  Will he also shed that attitude and open himself up to the gifts of love?

Davis Bunn excels at weaving the themes of Christianity, love and forgiveness in a story that is both compelling and thought-provoking. Because the reader is allowed to see directly into Marc Royce’s conflicts and dilemmas, the resolution of his conflicts also provides a possible solution for the reader. We see into Marc’s world and gain insight into our own.

Straits of Hormuz is a book worth its weight in gold. It will change your perspective about the Middle East and what it means to be a “warrior” in Christ.

Your Life Story is a Legacy

English: Russian Dolls

Image via Wikipedia

No matter how old you are, you have a legacy.  A legacy is the culmination of the lives you have helped create, the people you have taught by your own example and the lessons you have learned and passed on.

But those represent your external legacy – the things or people who are visible.  What about your internal legacy?

A legacy can also be the collection of hurts, injustices and memories you carry with you from the past, that still pollute your present.  I call it your “Story.”

We all have our stories…the way we package our painful memories, perceived losses and sorrow.  The events that happen to us are objective – a job goes away, a spouse leaves, a parent or loved one dies.  But it is how we interpret these objective events…the spin we put on them as they relate to us…that defines us.  And what defines us is how we relate to and create our world.

It is just like a nesting doll – what is on the outside is not necessarily the same as what is on the inside.  When you carry stories about the past and apply them to the present, you are adding layers to yourself and your perspective.

Think of it as having a conversation with yourself.  Whatever you tell yourself about another person, place or thing is true…for you.  That is why two people can watch the same event, the same people, and see totally different things.  For example, you and I could sit through the same movie, and have totally different reactions.  You could laugh at the places that made me cry and I could cringe at the parts that made you laugh.  In the end, it doesn’t matter that we had different reactions to the same scenes or lines, because it is impossible for me to experience the exact same thing as you. 

Once you accept that everyone has their own perspective and viewpoint, which is equally as valid as yours, you will have no problem with forgiveness.  WhyBecause you are not judging the other person to be wrong!  Another way to say it –  you allow the other person to have THEIR conversation about what you both just experienced.

For example -When you see a family member and you instantly think of a past incident or a negative thought (“He is such a bum – he will never make anything of himself”) you are carrying emotional baggage about that person.  What he did or didn’t do in the past is his business and his choice, not yours.    

What happens when you see that person again? Do you immediately think or say something related to the past?  When that happens, are you living in the present moment or are you reliving the past, as you remember it and judged it?  Your judgment about his choices keeps you tied to the past – he has probably moved on!

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”  Lewis Smede

Your judgments and thoughts about the past color your perception of the present moment.  Think about how you would react to that same person if you did not instantly remember the past when you saw him.  If your reaction is different, then you know you know the past is coloring your present perception.

You can hold onto your past or you can learn from it.

A scene from the Lion King brought that home to me.  Simba has been in exile for many years and is finally discovered by Naila, his childhood friend and Rafiki, the witch doctor.  When Simba refuses to return home because he thought he had killed his father, Rafiki hits him on the head with his cane.  When Simba complains, Rafiki points out that being hit on the head was in the past, but you still feel the pain. You either continue to relive that moment, or you learn from it and move on.  Fortunately, Simba got the message and moved on with his life, reclaimed his path and his destiny.

What about you?  Have you ever thought about changing your Story so your legacy is clear, sharp and well-defined?

Forgive or relive”  anonymous

But how do you forgive?  There are many books and people teaching how to forgive, but why not go to the source – look at how Jesus taught forgivenss and follow his example.

When I was writing Walk With the Master, I imagined Jesus as he would have looked, walking the dusty streets of Nazareth.  At the time of the story, he was about 20 years old – an adult in that culture – who had a presence and surety about him that was instantly recognizable.  But more than his physical presence was his spiritual persona.  When I tried to describe the impact he had on people, I realized that Jesus was the one person who ever walked the earth – who did not have any emotional baggage.  He instantly forgave and never judged, and because he was God, God was always there to guide him.

That is all we have to do…allow God into the relationship or situation and ask that he guide our thoughts, words and actions.

Walk With the Master shows this process through the events in the story.  The Faithful Companion Guide brings out the forgiveness lesson more clearly, and even sets out the steps to take.  It is for anyone who wants to live a life free of their past stories.

As you think about your legacy and look over your life, why not release those stories who are covering up the real you —   it is never too late to uncover who you really are!


Forgiveness is Easier than You Think

Forgiveness: The Real F-Bomb
When you think of forgiveness, is it usually with a slightly superior attitude?  You may decide to forgive because it is the “right” thing to do, or because that is what your religion teaches.  External forces compel you to take action, instead of an inner compulsion or desire.
So what is true forgiveness?
It is so simple that most people miss it, or don’t believe it. It has become over-complicated, over-analyzed and over-done.  Forgiveness has morphed into a concept of manipulation and purpose, instead of it’s true reason d’etre.
So what is true forgiveness?
Forgiveness is the simple act of release. You release the other person from your story and as a result, you release yourself from the effects of that story.
Let me give you an example.  When I was just a kid, I used to ride my bicycle around in circles on the driveway.  Usually I would sing and dream while the world swirled around me.  One day, my older brother decided to stand in front of my path and when I stopped, he took my bike away from me.  Crying and screaming did nothing to change the immediate situation (until our Mom got involved).
Even though that incident took place many  moons ago, I carried that strong feeling of unjustice, anger and resentment with me for years.  It affected my adult relationship with my brother, as well as forming the basis of a material possessiveness of which I am not proud.  I finally realized that by carrying my anger and resentment with me for years, I would project it onto someone or something else in an effort to get rid of it.  My projection had the opposite effect – it bound me even tighter with my anger and resentment.  Subconsciously, I tried the same thing over and over, and I kept getting the same results.
The only way out for me was to break the cycle of anger/resentment/projection/anger/resentment.  Since I was the cause of the cycle (because I held onto my anger), I was the only one who could break it.  My brother did not hold the key – it was my decision to give my energy to those strong emotions.  And every time an incident popped up that was similar to the original one…I let loose with all of the pent-up anger that I did not realize I had!
How did I get out of this vicious pattern that caused me distress and disturbed my peace?  Were costly therapy lessons involved, sitting in a chair and reviewing every detail of the original incident? No, it was much simpler than that.I decided to just let it go.                                        
Forgiveness is really about releasing yourself from your imagined burdens, injustices or wrongs.  It has nothing to do with the other person or what they may have done to you.  It has everything to do with yourself – and finding peace.

As Gerald Jampolsky noted, “Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions.”

Look over your life and see the areas where forgiveness will release you from the grip of the past.  Sit quietly and imagine what you would feel like without your “story” about that incident, then choose to release it.  Breathe the peace into your heart and mind and feel it settle over you like a soft blanket.  Relish in this feeling and carry it with you after you open your eyes.

Forgiveness is as simple as what I just described.  If you do not believe me, then prove it does not work.  But to do that, you have to try it!

Were Dogs Around when Jesus Walked the Earth?

What was it like to live in Nazareth when Jesus was a young adult, living a peaceful life while waiting for the call from his Father?  Surely adults looked after the children; people went to work everyday, and dogs and cats lurked around the stalls, hoping for a bit of food or water.

Cave canem mosaics ('Beware of the dog') were ...

Image via Wikipedia

Recently, I reviewed my daughter’s Latin book to help her past a problem.  Turning the pages, I came across a wonderful photo of a mosaic that shows a guard dog, fierce and unrelenting, forever frozen in a moment of assertiveness.  I couldn’t believe it when I read the caption – the mosaic was found on the floor of the entrance hall to the House of the Tragic Poet, in Pompeii!

Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 and buried Pompeii under 4 to 6 meters of ash and pumice, permanently preserving life in a Roman city forever.  Although this event occurred after Jesus’ death and resurrection, it is safe to say that life as Jesus knew it was fairly similar to what people experienced in Pompeii.

Which means there were dogs that lived among people!

Confirmation of this simple fact thrills me to no end.  Why?  Because I have always wanted to travel back in time and walk with streets of Nazareth with Jesus.  To sit at his feet and listen to him teach a new way of life.  To feel his peacefulness invade my heart and open my soul to God.

With no ability to time travel, I did the next best thing – I wrote a book about it.  Walk With the Master is told from the viewpoint of Barnabus, a stray dog who is adopted by Jesus.  Barnabus and a group of children learn many lessons from the Master, including loving someone for their “God Light”, changing their attitudes and beliefs from judgment to acceptance, and learning to forgive any transgression someone may commit against them.

To learn more, please visit the following link on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/4xngsz2

Soon, the Faithful Companion Guide will be available as well.  With 16 lessons, discussion topics, companion Bible verses and exercises, the Faithful Companion Guide is a great tool for youth groups, homeschoolers and anyone who wishes to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus.

Can’t you just imagine how a dog would react to Jesus?