13 hours, The Soldiers of Prescott
To better explain my current struggle I have chosen to do a comparison with the movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldier of Benghazi." and my spiritual reality of ministry operations in Prescott with the ACNA. We love the ACNA but have run into complications where we are not being heard. "13 Hours" follows six members of Annex Security Team who fought to defend the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya after waves of attacks by militants on September 11, 2012. Its a good movie but be prepared for a war film with Michael Bay twist. I'll get to the point. Two factors stand out: 1. They repeatedly asked for more security personnel on the ground. 2. They requested support during the fight. On both accounts they were denied thus resulting in the death of the American ambassador, 3 American operators and loss of American assets on the ground. Extra security was always available and during the fight American air power / ground reinforcement was also available. The higher up basically refused both even after multiple requests. Now, the spiritual similarity in Prescott. We have requested more boots on the ground for our ministry operations. We have requested support. Both have been denied. The Parish feels much like the operators in Benghazi felt at a spiritual level. We are in this fight on our own when the assets are clearly available. Wake up Church! The Great Commission calls, you just have to listen to the boots on the ground. Multiple requests have been made. Send help and support.
Build your world
Pastor Steve Anselmo was one of my role models and mentors growing up, a humble man of God. He offered some awesome words of advice but mostly lived a Christian life. Probably the most remembered words he shared with me were:
"Never let another man build your world. He will always build it too small."
Our Mission as Christians
Believe it or not we as Christians have a mission. Its 24/7, 365 days a year and it continues for our lifetime. Matthew 28:16-20
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Known as the Great Commission it serves as a directive on what we as Christians are supposed to do. It is not an option, suggestion, good idea; it is a command to be followed. It is the response to what Jesus has done for us in our personal lives. It applies to all believers not just Pastors or missionaries, to ALL.
I got to thinking the other day about how this mission is conducted by the modern church. At a casual glance it really isn't being conducted. The church has become a social / entertainment / meet my needs platform. If the entire church was to focus on the Great Commission our true mission the results would be amazing. As of now less than 1% of Christians take the mission seriously.
As I thought about this I remembered a time in history when our entire country devoted itself to a single effort, WWII. During WWII our country was completely focused on the war effort, all sacrificed both soldier and civilian, rich and poor. Wow, if only the church could do the same for the mission effort. Total resources, total manpower. Sacrifice all for the calling Christ gave to us. More on this later as it develops.
frequency of blog posts
Folks just being up front here. I'm a doer, I'm not a paper work guy. I have a church to build in Prescott Arizona which is my first priority and involves doing on the ground ministry, so posts will be from time to time when something weights heavy on my brain. Not trying to be mean but that is my personality and approach to ministry ops. I made an observation while on active duty as a Chaplain. 90% of chaplains spent most of their time in their office reading, typing stuff to the detriment of their soldiers. The other 10% of us Chaplains get out among the soldiers full time and engaged them daily, we impacted lives, we were doers. The following is from the script of "We were soldiers." LTC Hal Moore commander of the 1st Squadron 7th United States Cavalry is fighting the battle of Ia Drang Valley. In the middle of the fight Gen. Westmoreland wants to pull LTC Moore out of the fight for a debriefing, wow, talk about misplaced priorities. LTC Moore responds.....
RTO: "Brigade headquarters wants you out on the first chopper at dawn."
LTC Moore: "What idiot would keep ordering that in the middle of a goddamn battle?
RTO: "Gen. Westmoreland wants a briefing."
LTC Moore: "Give me the horn. I am in a fight... and I object to this order to return to Saigon. Now, I will not leave my men. Is that clear? Out."
I promise content folks so don't grow disheartened, this adventure will be awesome.
It wasn't for nothing
Folks, another element of this blog will include things that inspire / motivate me. Sometimes just plain cool and sometimes with some spiritual insight. The following inspired me greatly as we ramped up ministry operations in the Prescott Area. When we engage in ministry we give all to the call, in this case the great commission. Just like our military operators give all to the freedom of others. It isn't for nothing!! BTW, best part around 1.55 mark, gotta love miniguns!!!
Short but true
Stop being impressed by people who can quote scripture....be impressed by those who live scripture.
Blessed be your name
In February of 2005 3rd Squadron 7th United States Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division arrived at Camp Rustamiya in Baghdad Iraq. We relieved the 2nd Squadron Eighth Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division and began conducting Combat Operations in the Southeast Baghdad area of operations. As senior Chaplain on the ground my assistant, Bert Copple (now Pastor Bert Copple), and I were responsible for the spiritual welfare and worship of over 4000 U.S. Soldiers and American personnel on the Forward Operating Base. We had three Chaplain's and their assistants under our supervision working for us. The service Copple and I conducted was the Sunday evening contemporary service which ended up being a stripped down Anglican service with high tempo praise and worship followed by the Gospel reading, sermon and Holy Communion. We started with 12 soldiers and by the end of the year and our combat tour had 120 in attendance. This song became our anthem, "Blessed be Your Name." It spoke of giving praise to God in the good times and in the bad times. In all seasons of life we are called to bless the Name of God. Its easy to praise God in the good times but when things seem bad it is a testament to our faith to praise him and rely solely on Him as our source. God will not desert us or leave us in reality he carries us through hardship and thus we give Him glory. To see a group of solders sing this song and lift their hands to God was beyond awesome, it was a true witness of God working in their lives while in Combat.
This is from OIF 3 (2005). Full combat gear. Since I was not allowed to carry a weapon I was able to use ammo pouches for other gear, in this case each pouch held 4 cigars nicely. In addition to this I could attach my Chaplain's kit to my vest. Kit included communion set, oil stock, Bible and Army version Book of Common Prayer.
Time to start
I've waited long enough. Its time to start getting things on paper, or in this case digits. Been retired since 2014, have a church and have a lot to share / say. Hopefully, my experience and insights can be explored. 20 years as a Priest, 26 years Military Service, 4 Combat Tours, 35 years ministry experience, 44 years as a Christian; should provide a lot to offer and expound on about life, Christianity, service to others and just plain cool stuff. Join me in this journey, its guaranteed to be awesome.
I am a Priest in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). I am a Husband to Darcien Balog, 26 Years. I am a Father to four pretty cool kids (they are still not cooler than us parents) Ashleigh, John, James and Nick. I have one Grandchild Aramis (now he's real cool). I am a Soldier. The highlight of my Army Career was being assigned to the 3rd Squadron 7th United States Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. I conducted two Combat tours with them to Iraq; the 2003 OIF invasion and 2005 OIF 3. I've seen God work in awesome ways, more so than most civilian Pastors could ever know.
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