Have Faith - October Edition

sandbagtimes

Reflections, thoughts and Prayers to help you get through your day.

Foreword

Welcome to Have Faith. A booklet designed to stir the

grey matter with thoughts and reflections straight

out of the head of a British Army Veteran. Before

we go any further, I would like to stress that I am

no clergyman, nor am I in any way preaching or

trying to convert any reader to my personal

spiritual thinking. This is merely a collection of

reflections designed to encourage anyone who

flicks through the pages, to a bright and positive

way of thinking. Of course I do use text and

passages from the Bible which helps me to put my

thoughts and problems into perspective but feel free

to seek your own spiritual guide through whatever faith

you follow. After serving 22 years in the British Army, I was

faced with many challenges in trying to adapt back into civilian life which lead to quite

a sever mental health issue but through the help of many friends and re-establishing

my faith, I found many answers and an awful lot of peace. So here it is. A monthly

collection of scribblings to attempt to help you all get through your day. Yes. I have

set this up so you can read a reflection each day with the fond hope that you may

find the peace in your lives which you all deserve. God bless all.

Copyright © 2017 Have Faith in association with The Sandbag Times. All rights reserved. This

book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the

express written permission of the publisher

| 2 Have Faith


Day 1

For we walk by faith. not by sight...

Have Faith...

As servicemen, having faith is a natural and

daily occurrence. They have faith in their

comrades that they watch their backs and

that they do their job to the best of their ability.

They have faith in the equipment they

use that it will perform correctly. They have

faith in their commanders that they will

make the correct decisions. Sometimes

those decisions are not what they like, it

may mean they are put into dangerous situations

or it may just upset their normal daily

lives. Regardless of this they know it is for

the greater good and they do it anyway having

faith that they are doing the right thing.

We have faith in them that they will serve

their country and keep us all safe. All of this

is based on the concept of having faith.

When our forces go into battle, they are

equipped with the knowledge that it is to defeat

evil, oppression and suffering and to restore

peace and goodness. This is what

Hebrew 11 and Matthew 8: 5

God wants for us. All he wants is for us to

love each other, live in peace and lead the

best lives we can. A thought occurred to me

of the amount of faith he must have in us as

his children to give us the free will to make

our own decisions. Despite all of this trust,

we, as humans, constantly let him down

with our sins, yet despite this he constantly

forgives us no matter what. Now that is love.

But, just as we have faith win each other

within our ranks, we must have faith in him.

We must have faith that he loves us and is

working for our good behind the scenes

each and every day of our lives. We should

have faith that he forgives us no matter of

the wrongs we do or how many times we

wrong him. We should have faith that he is

always there for us when everything falls

around us. He is always there, he never

ever leaves our side. All we need to do is

have faith in him. Just have faith.

Have Faith 3 |


Day 2

Hope...

Where would we be if we didn't have hope in

our lives? Imagine soldiers going into a warzone

without the hope of a peaceful outcome.

Recent thoughts brought me to last years anniversary

of the Somme. I thought about what

was going through the minds of the Tommies

in the trenches. Hoping that the war would end

before the big push, then hoping and praying

that it would be cancelled at the last minute,

and then as the whistles blew, hoping and

praying they would survive. I thought about

what was going through their mind as they

crossed no-man's land, facing their own mortality

surrendering themselves to the hope of

being with God should they fall, hoping that

their sacrifice would bring peace and wouldn't

be in vain. It's a very powerful and very sobering

thought that even in the darkest of places

and times, hope still exists. I could go on for

hours of the instances in the Bible where hope

and faith have brought people through their

troubles but I'll just give you a little advice on

that one. Do what I did, open up the new testament

and look for yourself. You'll be amazed

at what you find. I now sit here reflecting on

my recent journey where I thought there was

no hope, in my mind everything was lost. I had

Hope anchors the soul...

Romans 5: 1-5

hit just about as low as anyone could go. For

me at the time there was only one way out. I

didn't want to take that route but I felt I had no

option. Despite being on my own and feeling

totally isolated, I wasn't. One remained. I have

to admit I have never been the most Christian

or religious of people. But I did realise that

when I had got to that point and had no one

left to turn to, God was there. Of course not in

the physical sense but I knew he was there.

Sounds a bit weird and far-fetched, I know but

it's true. What's more, because of this, because

of everything I have been through I

know there was a reason for it. I can now see

what so many other veterans are going

through, I may not have the answers (Yet) but

I can be there for them without being condescending

or without judging them. This to me

is a gift that God has given me and I thank him

every day for it. It is the easiest thing in the

world for me to sit back and say don't give up,

there is always hope but please, I beg you,

don't take my word for it. Don't make my mistake

and wait until everything has gone pearshaped

and you are left on your own before

you ask God for help. Do it first, you may be

surprised what happens next.

| 4 Have Faith


Day 3

No greater love than he who lays down his life...

Love...

Probably the strongest emotion we possess is

love. It defines who we are as humans and

provides the foundation for everything that we

do. It's power can blow us away, it's very infectious

and no matter how much of it we give

away we always have it in abundance. It is our

greatest possession, the greatest gift we have

been given and the best present we can give

each other. Soldiering is not thought of as an

occupation connected to love but I found a

passage in the Bible that threw that notion out

of the window for me but at the same time

captured the very essence of a soldier.

"Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay

down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

When I read this two thoughts come to mind.

Firstly, the love that servicemen have in their

hearts that not only are they willing to lay down

their lives for their friends but also for people

they do not know. That is some powerful love.

Secondly, I got to thinking about Jesus giving

up his life in such a horrific way just so our

wrong doings could be forgiven. Now Jesus

knew what needed to be done when he was

1 Corinthians: 13

condemned, he knew that he was going to die

in total agony. He had chance after chance to

get himself off the hook during his trial yet because

of the love that filled his heart he chose

to die to save us all. He took all of the sins that

we commit, have committed and will commit

to the cross with him and bore the pain so we

wouldn't have to. To me, Jesus is the ultimate

soldier and the greatest of heroes. Also imagine

how God's heart was breaking when he

witnessed all of this. Of course, this had to

happen to save us all but why would he go to

the extreme of seeing his only son suffer so

much for the sake of others. Because he loves

us so much, that's why. He loves us so much

that he gives us this unending supply of love

to give to each other. He wants us to spread it

around and give it away freely. It truly is the

most precious gift we have. But because it is

so precious we must protect it and ensure that

it never dies. We must protect it like a soldier

protects his medals. After all, love is the reward

for our battle against sin won for us by

the ultimate soldier.

Have Faith 5 |


Day 4

Forgive and you shall be forgiven...

Forgiveness...

I don't think I know of a harder but more essential

virtue than forgiveness. I have also

seen it as very controversial yet it is such a

very basic thing to do. Somebody once told

me that you cannot move forward without forgiveness.

That said it doesn't mean that you

let somebody off the hook, it gives you

peace. Now I totally agree with the first part

but totally disagree with the second bit. I

would argue that this is not forgiveness, but

moving on. True forgiveness means you consign

the sin to eternal forgetfulness like God

does. After all, isn't that what being christian

is all about, being Christ-like? Now that said,

I'm not that nieve that some sins are harder

to forgive for us than others but I would like

you to bear a few points in mind. None of us

are perfect, all of us fall short of God's grace

at some point. Consider a man in the bible

that hated Christians with a passion, he threw

men and women in prison just for their belief.

It kind of reminds me of situations going on

around the world today. He would stand by

and watch innocent people being stoned to

death for believing in Jesus. What an awful

man!!! Yet through love and forgiveness he

became the most celebrated Saint in the

Bible. Not only that, he wrote a lot of it. Yes,

Luke 23 31-43

St Paul was once a very dangerous man. Yet,

he was imprisoned and beheaded for

spreading the word of God. Can you imagine

this? The most evil people are still loved and

forgiven by God when they ask for it. It says

in Mark 2:17 "It is not the healthy who need

a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call

the righteous, but sinners." You know, one

thing that sticks in my mind. In John 8, the

Bible tells the story of how Jesus said to the

crowd who were about to stone the adulteress

"Let him without sin cast the first stone."

That alone made me think seriously how I

judged people in relation to my own faults.

This especially comes to mind when I read

the posts on social media. It's a very sad

thing when people condemn people out of

hand. I am a very big believer in rightful punishment

but when the punishment has been

dished out that should be it. There's even a

chapter in the bible written by St Paul that

says this. Just go to 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11. If

you read this you'll understand where I am

coming from. If not, the next time you can't

forgive or wish someone to be punished for

their sins ask yourself if you can cast the first

stone. Remember, God treats all sins the

same.

| 6 Have Faith


Day 5

God is in control, so do not worry...

Control...

There are times during the year that veterans

can dread. November 5th and New Years Eve

come to mind. As the nation celebrates with

fireworks, veterans stay indoors doing their

best to block out the bangs, fighting back

memories from their past. For me, last

November was a total nightmare. I was

caught off guard a number of times and it

seemed to be every time I managed to get

myself relaxed. Of course, it resulted in lots

of unwanted memories. However, one particularly

loud bang brought back a memory that

I have actually found useful. Northern Ireland

was the land of IED's during the time of the

troubles. Thankfully most call outs or finds

turned out to be hoaxes but I remember how

we were taught to deal with them. We used

to use a drill called the 4C's. Confirm, Clear,

Cordon Control. By doing this we could keep

ourselves and everybody else safe. It was a

set drill, everybody knew what to do, like a

well oiled machine, it was smooth and efficient.

Yet we would do this in the times of

threat and danger. If things are that easy to

deal with in times of conflict when the proverbial

heat is on and we are under immense

pressure to act in order to save life then why

is it so difficult to control our actions, thoughts

and emotions in times of peace when we just

hear bangs, or anything else that reminds us

of the past. To be honest, I don't have the answers

of how our minds work, I have a few

theories but not being an expert it wouldn't be

right for me to comment. But one thought occurred

to me, if the 4C's worked in times of

conflict then couldn't a similar drill help us in

1 Peter 1: 13-25

peace times when we find it hard to cope? Although

these experiences are directed at veterans

there is no reason why anyone cant

benefit from this. So here is a new version of

the 4C's.

Confirm: Confirm to yourself that there is a

problem. Take a little time just to think it

through and admit to yourself you need a little

help. This is by far, the most important step.

Do remember though, by doing this you are

not admitting to yourself that you are weak,

rather telling yourself you've been strong for

too long and it's time to give yourself a break.

Clear: Clear out anything that is hampering

you from addressing your concerns. It is very

easy to get wrapped up in day to day life and

let ourselves get washed away. Move away

from any dangers, or remove dangers from

your area so you can focus on dealing with

the problem in hand.

Cordon: Cordon yourself off from distractions.

Take a little time out to rationalise your

thoughts. You may be able to sort things out

here. By having a little 'alone time' you'll be

amazed how life seems to slow down a little.

Control: Control your environment. Be prepared

for anything that you know may be approaching

and take steps to lessen the

effects. If possible, don't be alone. Have

someone around to talk to and tell them how

you feel. This will help to control your own

thoughts and emotions.

Finally, remember there is always someone

to turn to who watches over you constantly.

He is always there and always willing to listen.

Try it out? What have you got to lose.

Have Faith 7 |


Day 6 & 7

You shall be judged as you judge...

Judgement...

Wow, I feel that I'm walking in a minefield with

this one. One of the hardest topics to speak

about is Judgement. Mainly because we are

all guilty of this at some point. It is something

that we will do for many reasons. To display

our feelings and emotions, to let someone

know how wrong they are, sometimes to let

others know what someone has done or what

they are like. Social media is a hotbed for

this. Everyday I see it, facebook especially. I

remember how judging and being judged

was such a big problem while we were serving

in Northern Ireland. Every time we left the

camp we were suspicious of everybody, making

us look at the public with extreme caution

wondering if they were terrorists. This lead to

stereotyping innocent people. On the other

side, we were seen as the enemy by some,

aggressive soldiers come to dominate their

country. Of course this was not the case but

this practice of judging and being judged was

Ask...

From the day we are born we have this amazing

ability to learn. Our minds, like computers,

can process and store all kinds of information

that can be made available at any time. The

great thing here is we don't have to push any

buttons to access it. But what happens when

we try to search our database and cannot find

the information we are after? Our back up

system kicks in which will access data from

external sources. In simple terms, when we

don't know the answer, we ask. We can ask

for advice, we can ask for directions, we can

ask for help, in fact there is a whole universe

of things we can ask for. But how many times

have you felt that you have missed the boat

just because you haven't asked a question

because you were too embarrassed, too shy,

didn't want to look silly in front of others or

maybe just couldn't be bothered? Personally,

I have done this more times than I am comfortable

with. Peer pressure in the army was

Matthew 7 & John 8

causing so many problems and bad feelings.

Judging others is such a dangerous practice

mainly because the standards we judge people

with, we rarely meet ourselves. Yet again

that saying from Jesus comes to mind. "Let

him without sin cast the first stone". The Bible

is very clear on this subject. You only have to

read Matthew 7 in the New Testament to see

what I mean. It states, Judge and you shall

be judged. There is also a good passage

about wiping the dust from your brothers eye.

That's really worth reading. I do realise that

this is part of our makeup and sometimes we

do this to protect ourselves from harm. We

are all very guilty of it, I am not saying everybody

should stop it immediately, this would

be very hypocritical and unrealistic but there

is no harm in allowing yourself to stop and

think and ask yourself that old question

again. "Am I in a position to throw the first

stone?" I certainly am not.

Matthew 7: 7-12

my comical downfall on a number of occasions

but due to the fear of me looking a right

berk on this reflection, I shall keep them to

myself. The wonderful thing about talking to

God and asking him for help is you'll never

look silly. You can ask him about anything you

like. You can speak to him about your darkest

and deepest thoughts and you will never have

to worry about what he thinks. One of the

amazing things I have found that when I do

talk to him everything is silent. I like to think

that it's because he is listening to everything

we say and he doesn't want to miss anything.

God's love for us means that no matter what

time of day or night, no matter what the circumstances

are, we can ask him for his help,

love, grace and forgiveness and he will be

there to listen. It's very comforting to think that

he is there at the end of our very own private

line using our hearts as his switchboard. Just

ask.

| 8 Have Faith


Day 8

Call unto me and I will answer thee...

Answer the Call...

All you need to do is spend five minutes in

your local village, town or city to really see

how important our mobile phones have become

in our lives. No matter where we are or

what we are doing, if our phone rings we get

an overwhelming urge to answer it. Thanks

to technology, these days we normally see

who is calling before we answer but still, we

have the urge to know what they want. We

have to answer. The thought occurs how our

military hierarchy would react if we didn't answer

our radio messages when they called

us. The results would range from downright

annoying to catastrophically dangerous. It really

brings it home just how important it is to

answer your calls. Have you ever had this

feeling in your heart that there is something

you have to do or something you are meant

to say? Have you ever felt that someone

needs your help? The chances are when you

get those feelings you are receiving a call

through your spiritual phone. God is on the

other end of the phone 24/7 sending us messages

when he wants to use us to carry out

his work. When he sees suffering and knows

you have the tools to help, he will call you.

He may even use others to contact you.

Ephesians 1: 3 - 14

Something to bear in mind the next time you

are being asked for help. Answering his calls

may mean discomfort, pain, heartache or

persecution but his plans will mean that suffering

will be temporary and there are greater

things to come. I remember someone once

telling me over and over "God knows what he

is doing". As hard as it was to believe back

then, she was right. Not so long ago, for me,

everything dropped into place and made

sense. The ups and downs, rights and

wrongs, pain and suffering, everything became

visible. I do know there is still a long

way to go and an awful lot of work to do, my

own personal battles are far from over but I

do know he called. He has given me my task

and showed me what I need to do. Sometimes

I am not sure that I am strong enough

or good enough to complete the task but

hopefully, if I trust in him he will give me

strength and guidance. I can only try and

pray. So if you ever have the heartfelt urge

to do something or ever wonder why events

happen in a certain way, ask yourself if God

is trying to call you. Is he trying to tell you

something? The chances are, he is. Answer

The Call!!

Have Faith 9 |


Day 9

Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you...

Reconcilliation...

There is no doubt in my mind that hatred is

the poison of mankind. We see hatred in the

news everyday with acts of violence, murder,

terrorism, the list goes on. It exists in our

newspapers, social media, on the TV destroying

everything good. But we don't have to go

nearly as far as that to see hatred. It exists in

our towns and cities, in our streets and even

in our very own homes. The enemy uses all

sorts of weapons to wreak havoc on our harmony.

Pride and temper are two of his

favourites and seem to be ever present in disputes

in our homes and between our friends

which, very sadly, can seriously damage or

even end relationships. It is so sad to see

good friends break apart when situations can

so often be sorted out. Satan absolutely loves

this. When we fall out with someone it is very

easy to develop a dislike for them especially

if they have wronged us, abused our trust or

just simply upset us in some way. That old

saying comes to mind "You only hurt the ones

you love". Mostly its because the ones that

hurt us are the one we least expect it from.

This makes it so much harder for us to forgive.

So how do we free ourselves from this?

Do we go and tell others how bad your friend

has treated you? Do you seek revenge? Or

do you simply just avoid them all together? I

Matthew 5: 23-26, 38-48

tell you know, at times like this Satan is smiling

from ear to ear and loving every second.

The bible is full to the brim of instances of forgiveness

and reconciliation. Consider the

story of Joseph in Genesis. After his brothers

hated him, threw him in a pit to die, then sold

him as a slave in which he was wrongly imprisoned,

even after he rose in power and had

the power to do as he wished to them, he forgave

them, embraced them and reunited with

them once more. That is what forgiveness is

all about. So let's think for a moment about

those we have parted company from. At one

point you were close to them. There were

good reasons why you were once so close,

try to remember them without thinking of the

reason why you parted. Why not ask God to

help you to revisit those times and show you

what it was like. But do remember the enemy

will be close by to push those hateful thoughts

back into your mind. Don't give him the satisfaction.

As a final point, Jesus died on the

cross to bear our sins. He did this so ALL of

us could be saved from our sins because at

some point ALL of us are wrong. Does that

mean that at some point we may have sinned

as badly as our friend, partner, family member.

I do believe so or Jesus died on that

cross for absolutely nothing.

| 10 Have Faith


Day 10

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost...

Ghosts...

Now here's a question that should raise a few

eyebrows and cause a few opinions, Do

ghosts exist? If you ask a child, of course

they do. There's loads of them in Hogwarts!

If we ask people of science, the answer will

most probably be no. There is no physical

proof or any concrete evidence to suggest

their existence while spiritualists and mediums

will speak to them on a daily basis. The

public will be split in their opinions with some

saying that they have had experiences that

can't be explained. Me, personally, I have a

theory that there are ghosts but not in a way

that they affect the living. To me, ghosts are

memories that are stuck in a certain place or

time, almost like a movie that is being repeated

time and time again. I don't know of

any other way to explain things apart from

what I know. As none of us really know what

happens to us after we die there is no way of

proving either way. But let's get away from

the 'Grey lady' and the 'Poltergeist' for a

minute and just go back to my theory for a

minute. To so many people, ghosts do exist

as unwanted memories. Veterans have to

live with them every day. But it's not just veterans

that are haunted by their past. Anyone

Luke 24:37-39

that has survived traumas can relive these in

their own personal flashbacks during the day

and awful recurring nightmares during the

night. I can only speak as a veteran and empathise

with anyone who suffers in this way.

If you do suffer in this way, my heart goes out

to you. The good news is that these ghosts

can be released and sent to their final resting

place. Of course, sometimes we need help

to do this but it is possible to free yourself

from them, please take heart. We all know

that the help is sometimes slow in getting to

us but there is one ghost that is always there

to help. This is a great way to fight fire with

fire. The Holy Ghost is always on call to love,

guide and help us, all we have to do is ask.

He is a spirit that we can take all of our

ghosts to and ask him for help to deal with

them. You'll be surprised just how effective

he can be. As a bit of a sceptical person, I

once thought this was a bit farfetched but I

can now put my hand on my heart and say

that in the treatment for my own PTSD, he

has been the only effective help so far. So I

will finish by asking myself the question, do I

believe in ghosts? Most definitely, only not in

the same way as Scooby and Shaggy.

Have Faith 11 |


Day 11

And on this stone I shall build my church...

Stones...

I remember, as a child, scrambling over the

prehistoric cliffs of Highcliffe-on-sea on the

south coast. The cliffs were forever crumbling

that would unearth thousands of fossils of tiny

shell fish and animals. My friend and I would

spend hours searching through the clay and

mud in the hope of finding something that nobody

had ever seen before. What an adventure

that was. I also remember, scattered all

over the beach were rocks and stones with

amazing crystal formations. These formations

had been formed by thousands of years of exposure

to the sand and salty seawater leaving

a multitude of sparkling colours. I used to

wonder what if I could break one of these

rocks open? Would it look like the precious

stones in the gem shops? Could I get rich

from them? The problem was how to break

these stones open. Hmm. A child's mind is a

wonderful place. Full of dreams and wonder...

Its funny, because years later, whenever I

hear the phrase "He/she is my rock" my mind

wanders back to those rocks on the beach

and their sheer strength. No matter how I

smashed at them with my dad's hammer, I

wasn't strong enough to break them. There

was one lesson for life. A good rock can be

relied upon to stand strong for you. How

many rocks do you have in your life? Stones

and rocks appear all over the place in the

Bible. From the stones that bore the Ten

1 Peter 2:5

Commandments, the stone that David killed

Goliath with, the rock that Moses struck in the

desert with his staff to quench the thirst of the

Israelite's, there are so many. But the most

impacting passage, for me bar none, can be

found in 1 Peter 2, Psalm 118: 22, Matthew

21: 42, Acts 4: 11, Luke 20: 17-18, Mark 12:

10, to name just a few. It is simple, "The stone

that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone".

The more I think about this, the

more impact it has on me. The more imperfect

we are, the more God wants to use us.

Wow, how powerful is that? I find it really reassuring

that no matter I much I feel rejected

from those around me, the more God wants

to use me. No matter how damaged or rough

I may be, God has a purpose for me. Sometimes,

it is only by getting damaged and taking

the knocks can we be truly ready to be

used. As I write this, I have another passage

in the bible fighting to come out. It is at Mark

2:17 "When Jesus heard this, he told them,

"Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick

people do. I have come to call not those who

think they are righteous, but those who know

they are sinners." These two passages, for

me, have become so important in my life.

Take some time, if you can, to just mull over

these thoughts today. I do hope they give you

the peace that I found in them. Oh yes, I

never did break that rock!!

| 12 Have Faith


Day 12

imitate me, just as I imitate Christ...

Role Model, Soul Model...

Do you have someone that you look up to

and strive to be like? I expect most of us do,

parents, siblings, world leaders, inspirational

figures, sports stars, pop stars, the list goes

on. For me, growing up, it was always my

dad. This indestructible, strong, military like

man that commanded respect in our household.

He served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment

during the 60's, the same regiment I

was to join some 20 years later. Yep, he was

my role model, I wanted to be just like him.

As I grew and got older I came to respect

many people in life. I especially respected

people like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther

King, and so many others that stood up for

what they believed in and would never give

in to persecution or oppression. But me, I

could never be like these super humans.

They had qualities that I could only dream of.

I didn't have what these people had, I certainly

wasn't as good as them and I certainly

didn't live the kind of lives that they did. I can

see the big mistake in my thinking as I write

this. By looking up to these people I put myself

below them and convinced myself that I

could never be good enough. But looking

back at these thoughts I have to ask myself

how could I be the best I possibly could if my

mind is already telling me I'm already defeated?

These days, I still do have a role

model but I also have a soul model too. My

role model is St Paul. People may think of this

as a little strange but to me, he is the perfect

example of what can be achieved. Imagine a

man who hated Christians so much he would

have them thrown into prison just for believing

in Jesus. He would have them stoned for

1 Timothy 1: 12-17

the same belief, he was even a witness to the

stoning of one of the disciples, Stephen. He

really wasn't a very nice man. But if you read

Acts in the New Testament, you will see how

he was spoken to by the Lord and turned

from his old life to becoming one of the apostles.

Indeed, he was imprisoned and beheaded

for his teachings of Christ. But how

is it a man can go from so much hate towards

his brother, commit horrendous atrocities,

commit so many bad sins to eventually becoming

the most spoken about Saint in history?

The answer is simple. Through the

forgiveness, grace and love of God. Is it possible

that people in our day and age could do

the same? Could someone who has spent

years in prison for terrible crimes become a

person of inspiration and looked up to as

someone that is good and decent? It is sad

that humanity doesn't forgive as readily as

God. People like this do exist. Maybe they

are just harder to recognise, I don't know. But

to me St Paul went from spiritual rags to

riches. Now that is a good role model. But I

also have a soul model too. That is someone

I wish to base my own soul and spirit on.

Someone who's actions, love and goodness

inspires me to follow him, but to do this I need

to train my soul to be like him, to do the things

he did, to love the way he did and to forgive

the way he did. Only one fits the bill in my

eyes, Jesus. By having Jesus as our soul

model we will not go far wrong as Christians.

After all, being a Christian means we are

striving to be Christ-like, a very difficult but not

impossible task. We will never be as good as

him but in this case, it doesn't hurt to try.

Have Faith 13 |


Day 13 & 14

Sing your song...

Come, just as you are...

How many times have you been for a job interview

where you have had to dress smartly

and you worry if you are going to be good

enough for the position? These days, the job

market is a very cut throat world with each

job being fiercely competed for. Every rejection

knocks us down a little and we ask ourselves

what we could have done better, what

was better about the person who finally got

the job? I think if we all look back into our

lives we can find times when we have had

some form of rejection because some form

of imperfection, no matter how small. For

me, I remember failing a course in the army

because of a defect in my spine. I was truly

gutted, I was never going to be able to

achieve a goal that I had my heart set on.

But that feeling was temporary and I

bounced back. Thankfully, there is one area

of our lives where we don't have to worry

about how we look, what skills we have or

Sing a new song to him...

Psalm 33

Of all the subjects I like talking about this has

got to be one of my favourites, music and

song. And why not? music can be a truly spiritual

experience and song lyrics and music

can touch our hearts in so many ways. But

before I get in to the meat of the reflection let

me tell you why I chose this subject today.

Music has been around since the early days

of the bible. If we look back to the roots of

music as we know it today we don't need to

go back that far, just as far back as the

1400's according to my music tutor. This was

the time that music left the 'perfect intervals'

and the 'chants' of the church and became a

source of entertainment. Without boring the

socks off you, music developed over 600

years to what we know today. It is indeed rich

in genre's and we are so spoilt for choice in

our music tastes. It has become a very powerful

way of expression, in fact it says things

we find hard to talk about with any other

medium. It talks of love, heartbreak, joy, sadness,

life, death, strength, weakness in ways

no other form will do. When we can express

ourselves so well through song it is no wonder

that churches use song to praise God.

I've never been the best at expressing myself

except through music and writing so I thought

maybe this would be a good reflection to see

if anybody else shares these thoughts. Just

take a few moments to think about your

favourite music and think about what it does

for you. Does it take you to days gone by?

Does it relax you? Does it inspire you? So

many emotions and feelings can be reached.

For me, I like to peruse around two chapters

of the Bible for inspiration when I write songs.

Not necessarily to write about faith but just

for a little inspiration. These two chapters are

Psalms and Song of Songs. Both very beautifully

written. (By the way lads, if you want to

say something really romantic to your better

half just check out Song of Songs 2:2, you

won't go far wrong). Some argue that music

is not good, not so in my eyes. Some says it

corrupts our youth, I say it educates. Some

say it is the work of the devil yet two chapters

are dedicated to song in the Bible. So I will

finish by saying "Sing it loud, sing it strong,

let the Lord hear your song".

2 Corinthians 5:17

what baggage we are carrying. God wants

us just as we are, warts and all. This has

been so important to me recently. Not just

spiritually but knowing no matter how my life

has turned out, no matter where I am or

where I maybe going I can be safe in the

knowledge that I don't have to prove myself

to anyone. If I'm good enough for God, then

why should I worry what mortal man thinks.

God is amazing, gracious, loving, and forgiving,

so He calls us to salvation, even though

we don’t deserve it. While we were still sinners,

Christ died for us , making it possible

for us to receive forgiveness. He requires us

to confess and forsake our sins when we

come to Him, but He receives us just as we

are. We all sin, every single one of us, regardless

of our crime he still wants us to

come to him. So pack up your troubles in

your old kit bag and just take them to the foot

of the cross.

| 14 Have Faith


Day 15 & 16

Mightier than the waves of the sea is his love...

Is the pen mightier than the sword...

The Voice...

"You need a voice to tell the world your story"

The hook line for a very famous and very

powerful song written by one of the greatest

songwriters of our time. OK, I'm exaggerating

a little, it's one of mine. Joking aside though,

when I wrote the voice it carried with it a very

simple message, if you need help use your

voice to ask for it, if you have something to

say, use your voice to say it. Unfortunately it

is never as easy as that in this day and age.

Two opposite forms of speaking sit in my

mind today. Firstly, anyone who has gone

through military basic training will know the

power of the voice. Not in the least when

some angry drill sergeant is screaming blue

thunder two inches from the end of your

nose. It kind of tends to grab your attention

and gets the point across in no uncertain

terms. I can almost feel the cringing from

every veteran that's out there. The second

example comes from listening to a Sunday

morning politics show in which our Prime

Acts 9: 1-19

This is my favourite subject by far. I absolutely

adore writing. It gives me an awful lot

of pleasure not only in the actual act of writing

but also hearing what others take from

what I write. In the last five years I have written

songs, poetry, three musical plays (Two

of them Rock Operas), a very successful Veterans

Magazine, a PTSD self help guide and

now I am writing a new publication called

Have Faith. Hence my ramblings here.

When I think of the reasons why I have come

to this, I can only say that I want to help veterans

by being their voice. I will help anyone

I can and it doesn't matter what background

you come from, if you get a little bit of good

from what I write, I am a happy man. I know

deep in my heart this is the path God has set

me on. He knows what I have been through

in my life, he knows my strengths and my

weaknesses and uses both of those for his

work. Now, I do not have any formal qualifications

in writing, I certainly do not think of

myself as Godly or any type of minister or

pastor, in fact I consider myself that falls a

long way from Gods standards but I do know

I have a gift that He uses through me to

speak to people. We all possess these gifts,

the trick is to recognise them. I know, in the

fight that I am involved in, God has armed me

with a pen. So, yes, in my case, the pen is

mightier than any sword. I have spoken

about St Paul in the past and the road he

took to going from making his mistakes to becoming

a true Saint. He was also a pen master.

Proof? take a look at the New Testament.

Much of it written by him. Does this not prove

the gifts that we are given and how they can

be used? Does it also not prove he uses

those who have sinned the most to build his

church on? What an amazing thing. Yes, St

Paul was a man who's Pen was mightier than

his Sword.

Matthew 7: 7-12, Phillipians 4: 4-7.

Minister was asked a question about a recent

Trident missile accident and the cover up surrounding

it. No matter how directly the young

reporter put the question, the Prime Minister

came back with an answer that avoided the

question all together. I could see the reporter

filling with rage as though her voice was not

being heard. As veterans, we often feel this

way in so many of our issues. One lesson I

have learnt is that God hears every voice

from the loudest scream to the faintest whisper.

He doesn't only hear but he answers too,

maybe not in the time we want or maybe not

the answer we want but you can guarantee

that every answer will be right and true. I

won't guarantee that we will get what we

want but I will guarantee that he will never ignore

us or skirt around the question. What

we must not be afraid to do is ask. A simple

prayer in your own privacy is all it takes. So,

go on, use your voice to tell the Lord your

story.

Have Faith 15 |


Day 17

The longest journey starts with a simple step...

The Journey...

Have you ever started a journey on to have

something happen on route that changes everything?

All too often on our roads, lives are

permanently changed in tragic circumstances

but it doesn't have to be bad

changes we consider. Imagine bumping into

a long lost friend on the way to the shops

only to rekindle that friendship, your friendship

turns to dating, dating turns to relationship,

relationship turns to marriage - life

changed all because you took a journey to

the shops. It's quite amazing to think that if

our imaginary person didn't run out of milk

that day, her two children may not have been

born. Who knows what will happen on life's

road. I think this has happened to all of us at

some point. I know its happened to me more

times than I can count. Some of it good,

some bad but I do know that everything that

has happened and every one of life's roads I

have walked down has brought me to the

point where I am now. When I look at what I

have I do feel blessed. Being in the position

I am to be able to help veterans is truly fantastic

and rewarding. The journey I took has

sometimes been uncomfortable, sometimes

joyful, regrettably to get where I am, people

have been hurt, I have been hurt but to be in

the position where I am now I can call on all

of these experiences to help others. Without

them I'd have no way of knowing how to help.

But I'm not the only one to have walked a

road like this. I believe we all hold this qualification

in one way or another. Saul of Tarsus

Isaiah 30: 21

was one of these people. Saul’s anti-Christian

zeal motivated him not only to arrest and

imprison male Christians but to lock up female

believers as well. Saul was present for

the trial of Stephen, one of the disciples, a

trial that resulted in Stephen becoming the

first Christian martyr . The historian Luke tells

us that Stephen’s executioners laid their garments

at the feet of Saul, who was in full approval

of the mob’s murderous actions. Saul

later ravaged the church, entering the homes

of believers and committing them to prison.

Then a journey changed all that. While on his

way to Damascus to arrest and extradite

Christians back to Jerusalem, Saul was confronted

by the very One whom he was persecuting.

What followed was one of the most

dramatic conversions in church history. Saul

of Tarsus became the apostle Paul, an ardent

missionary to an unbelieving world and a fine

example of faithful service in the face of

fierce persecution. Later, becoming the most

revered Saint in history and writer of much of

the New Testament. St Paul became St Paul

because of a journey. Just imagine, that

morning when he set off on his journey he

had no idea that his life was about to change

so dramatically. How amazing is that? I wonder

where your journey will take you. What is

round the next corner or over the next summit

you need to climb? Only God knows, but

he is guiding you. Trust in your spiritual Sat-

Nav, It's got the right route plotted into it by

the ultimate navigator. Just trust him.

| 16 Have Faith


Day 18

Courage...

I remember a young soldier who joined our

Battalion some years ago. He was a thin, wiry

fellow with a very pleasant attitude and a very

friendly approach. His politeness was incredible.

Just five minutes spent with him would

tell you that this was a lad who had been

taught so many good values in life. His parents

and school had clearly done a fantastic

job in raising him. The problem was he was

not seen as a typical infantry soldier. For that,

he was seen as weak and to be in the wrong

place. Yet, he didn't quit. By the time I left the

Battalion, he had done very well for himself,

he had been promoted to the rank of

Sergeant and was a highly respected character.

He still wasn't the biggest guy in the world

but he was not one to be picked on. The Bible

tells us of a similar character in the Old Testament.

In 1 Samuel, we learn of how a small

lad defeated the huge Goliath, a fearsome

warrior clad in Armour and heavily armed.

Yes, we all know the story of David and Goliath

but in both of our cases here consider

the courage of the underdog. But before we

do this, let's define courage. What is

Be Strong and Courageous...

Ephesians 6:10-18.

courage? Doing brave things? Doing things

nobody else would do? Maybe we see these

thrill seekers and daredevils having courage

(Personally, I think they have a death wish

and are totally bonkers but that's just me). No,

to all of the above. True courage is very simple.

It is the presence of fear yet the will to go

on. You don't have to show outstanding qualities

to possess courage. In fact, it is the

weakest among us who show the most

courage. In both of our examples today, the

smaller, weaker man overcame his fear in the

face of overwhelming odds to triumph. Both

of them were not given a snowballs chance in

a furnace but by believing in themselves and

believing that God had their back, they overcame.

Do you have a situation that terrifies

you? Do you feel you are not good enough or

brave enough to do what must be done?

Does it feel that the odds are stacked against

you? This is where you will show true

courage. Take heart, trust in God and trust

yourself and despite your fear go forward focused

on your goal. This is not my advice, this

comes directly out of the ultimate book of life.

Have Faith 17 |


Day 19

Trust in his answers and his timing...

I have some questions...

I have some questions running through my

head at the moment. Maybe the readers of

this reflection will help me to answer them.

My first question is, what does it mean for

one to be right? Does it mean to follow the

law? Does it mean to punish those who are

wrong? Does it mean to put down those who

do wrong and we don’t trust and then tell everybody

else so they can persecute them

too? Secondly, how can we make better

when we have done wrong? When we have

done something wrong in our lives and we

find it difficult to be trusted again, how do we

move forward? Lastly, how hard is it to really

forgive? Three questions that I constantly

search for the answers. Yet these are questions

that I feel we have all asked of ourselves

at some point in our lives. I know I

have and sometimes I still do. I am not perfect

by any means, nor is anybody else that I

know. You may be asking yourselves, where

are these questions coming from? It’s funny

but just watching a film on the life of Saul of

Isaiah 41: 10

to be forgiven when I know I’ve messed up.

Hopefully, all of us do that at some time. The

thing is, it’s ok to be like that. That’s what

being human is all about. It is also what

being a Christian is all about. I think this also

goes for most faiths. Wasn’t this the story of

St Paul? The man who wrote a big chunk of

the new testament? The man who persecuted

anyone who spoke of Christianity?

The man who was present and witnessed the

brutal execution of one of Jesus’s followers?

The man who had to start again and convince

everybody that he wasn’t the murderous

persecutor he once was? This was a

man of the law. This was a man who upheld

the law and did what he thought was right.

Persecuting people for speaking of Jesus

and love was wrong, people were imprisoned

or even executed for it. It makes you think.

In this day and age, one way that we definitely

have changed is, it is so much harder

for us to forgive. I hear how people have forgiven

someone of a sin, yet will not speak to

Tarsus (St Paul) really got me thinking. Life

2000 years ago was very different to what it

is today for many obvious reasons but one

reason really sticks out, it is so much harder

to believe in things these days. If someone

was to come up to you and say that Jesus

had returned, it would be very hard to believe

and that person would be persecuted as a

fool. Even though the Christian faith has

been taught that one day it will happen.

Hmmm. What do I think? Honestly, I would

probably think the same because I am no different

than anybody else. I would find it hard

to believe, yet I try hard to understand my

own faith, such as it is. Unlike a faith leader,

albeit Christian, Jewish, Roman Catholic,

Muslim or whatever, I cannot teach or preach

the word of God. Why? Because I haven’t

learnt it for myself properly. I still do wrong

from time to time, like us all. I make mistakes,

like us all. I turn my back, like us all.

But I am learning to turn back again and ask

them or have anything to do with them. In

my eyes, this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness,

to some people is not holding on to

what someone has done to you. A kind of

way of freeing yourself. This is not forgiveness.

That is just not holding a grudge. I

read somewhere once that when God forgives,

he casts the sin to eternal forgetfulness.

In a way, he wipes the slate clean.

Isn’t that what we were taught to do? If it

was, why are we not doing it? If we can persecute

someone for dong wrong how do we

expect to be treated when we, ourselves get

it wrong? If we put someone down in public,

then should we expect the same to happen

to us? Again, these are just questions in my

mind. I am not preaching to anyone but I do

find the world we live in to be a difficult place

to be what we should be. So, what does it

mean to be right? I am still looking for the

answer. Is there anybody out there qualified

enough to tell me?

| 18 Have Faith


Day 20

The truth is only a reflection away...

Mirrors...

Mirrors can be very scary things. They show

all of the wrinkles, grey hairs, worry lines and

all the extra good living that we try to ignore

and cover with clothes and make up. Yep,

we can find ourselves avoiding them unless

absolutely necessary. Of course, I am talking

about myself here (Not that I wear make-up)

but when I look in the mirror these days I find

myself trying to see the good looking, young

lad I once was but instead I see the ageing

face, platinum tinted hair and ever expanding

waist line that is now the reality of my lot.

And do you know what, I’m happy with it.

being content in my outer appearance has

brought a lot of peace and has somewhat

slowed the process down a little. At least

that’s what I like to tell myself. Mirrors can

also reflect the truth of oneself just by looking

in to the eyes. Consider how we can sometimes

judge others for their wrongs. The next

time you feel the need to do this, firstly go to

your mirror and look into it for a few moments

at the person staring back at you and judge

them for what they have done wrong in the

past. If you can truly do this without feeling

like the hypocrite then go ahead and judge

others. I know that this is something I

couldn’t do, come to think of it I don’t know

anyone else that could either. Mirrors show

1 Corinthians 13: 12

the truth, nothing else. Sometimes the truth

is uncomfortable but only by facing it can we

truly be the people we strive to be. Mirrors

don’t just uncover the bad things, they also

reveal the beauty of life. Last year I wrote a

passage called puddles where I looked in to

a puddle on the road which reflected everything

above me. There was the wonders of

a beautiful sky and heaven beyond in a reflection.

With that in mind next time you look

in to the mirror look at the beauty staring

back at you. Yes, it may be a little weathered

but it will also be full of love. It may have a

few lines here and there but it will also be capable

of smiling back at you. You are not

only looking at yourself but at God’s creation,

how cool is that. If you believe that God lives

within us, then you are also staring at God.

The reflection will always be there for you to

see. It will remain with you for the rest of your

life. Just like God, he won’t leave you ever

but like the reflection in the mirror he is the

only one who is qualified to judge you. Only

you and God knows what’s going on in the

life of your reflection. Only you know what

the reflection has been through to cause all

those worry lines. If that is the case how can

we possibly judge others regardless of what

they have done.

Have Faith 19 |


Day 21

No weapon formed against you shall prosper...

Saints and Dragons...

Quite a few times a week I find myself sat in

St George's Military Chapel in Worcester

Cathedral. It is a stunning place to be, full of

past Colours of local Regiments, plaques

honouring fallen heroes, the most beautiful

stained glass windows all within a small part

of the Cathedral. The feeling of serenity and

peace is overwhelming making it the one

place where I can go to make sense of

things. The windows are truly beautiful with

tributes to the forces adorning the left and

right window while the centre window shows

a magnificent picture of St Michael with our

Lord above him. Although I go there to just

think and talk to God, I find myself staring at

the centre window and wondering what it

was that made St Michael, the Patron Saint

of Warriors. I have to admit, (me being a bit

of a thicky) when I first saw the window I

thought the window was of St George as he

had his foot on a dragon, also as St George

is the Patron Saint of Soldiers it was easy to

make the wrong assumption. But as we have

both of these Saints in the Chapel, let's take

a quick look at them. St George was a soldier

in the Roman Army reaching the rank of

Tribunus (Colonel) by the time he reached

his late twenties. When the arrest was ordered

of every Christian soldier in the army

(302AD) He opposed the decision and put

his faith in Christ. This lead to his torture and

Revalation 12: 7-9

execution, but before he was put to death he

gave all of his wealth to the poor. His sense

of humanity, honour and courage is a true

testament and he remains as a real inspiration

to every soldier. The dragon story, unfortunately

is just a legend, although a

colourful one, which came about in the 14th

Century. Worth reading though! St Michael

is actually not a Saint but a Archangel. He is

the leader of the angels sent to defeat Satan

in the book of revelations. He, basically, is

God's soldier against evil. The picture on the

stained glass window is actually St Michael

defeating Satan in the form of a dragon as

depicted in the Bible's final book. The moral

of today's reflection is a very simple one.

Just of inspiration and justifying myself as a

soldier. Over the years since leaving the

Army there have been many struggles with

my thoughts and service. I won't go in to details

but just sitting in that tiny Chapel and

having ten minutes to not only speak to God

but also to consider the great names of the

Saints there and also the many tributes to

the fallen surrounding the walls just puts it all

in to place. It may only last a short while but

every time I do it I gain strength. So my advice

for you today is to put this little bit of

Worcester on your bucket list. I would be really

interested to know how you felt when

you left the Cathedral.

| 20 Have Faith


Day 22 & 23

Happy is the man who finds wisdom...

Wisdom...

Here's a fun question to begin this reflection.

Are Owls wise birds? According to those that

handle them, absolutely not. Although they

are master hunters, their skill lies in their eyes

and optical senses. And there lies the truth of

it. It's eyes are so big in their heads, it leaves

very little room for a brain. This was something

that was made very obvious to me some

years ago at an Owl sanctuary in the New Forest.

They had a Mackinder's Eagle Owl in one

of their keeps called 'Paxo'. It was so named

because the owner said it was so utterly useless

and the only thing it was good for was

stuffing. She couldn't be bothered to fly so

she walked everywhere. It was truly comical

but everybody loved her. But where does the

saying 'The wise, old Owl' come from? Well,

it is simply because they look wise. Nothing

1 Corinthians 3:18

more. Looks can be deceiving so often. Ok,

so where does wisdom come from? Wisdom,

for me, comes from experience and experience

is something we rarely see until we know

someone. I suppose it all boils down to judgement

again really. I think we all know the saying

'Never judge a book by its cover or you will

miss the wonderful story within.' I think that is

true in life too. Get to know somebody or

something before deciding how good or bad it

is. In the Bible, there is a great verse that

speaks to me about wisdom. It is from Colossians

4: 5-6. "Be wise in the way you act toward

outsiders; make the most of every

opportunity. Let your conversation be always

full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you

may know how to answer everyone." In

Summary, do not be an Owl, be wise.

Give Yourself A Break...

I am probably the worst person in the world

to follow this piece of advice. It's very easy to

beat ourselves up over the things we have

done in our past or things we don't like about

ourselves, it's easy to put ourselves under immense

pressure to be a certain way or to live

up to the expectations of others (big one for

me!), it's all too easy to get wrapped up in

daily life or get so engrossed in our careers

that everything else starts to lose meaning,

the list goes on... This reflection is being written

on a Sunday, so I have decided to use

today as God intended. Sunday is a day of

rest, I'm sure we all know this but how many

actually follow it? While I was giving this a little

thought, I decided that today, and every

Sunday, from now on, will be known as 'Give

myself a break' day. We can all rest from

work and relax in front of the TV, eat Sunday

lunch but I want to add something else to

that. Be kind to yourself! Forget all the bad,

all of the stress, your work etc and think about

the good things that makes you who you are.

Think of all of those who you have helped in

Exodus 20: 8-11

life and feel good about yourself. Think of all

of the great things you have done, no matter

how small and congratulate yourself, think of

all the people that you love and then think

about how much they love you back, feel

loved. Think about everything you have and

think how wonderful it is to have them. Love

all of the talent you possess, go stare in the

bathroom mirror at yourself and tell yourself

what a wonderful person you are because all

of this is true. By doing this you will not only

feel really good about yourself but you will

have removed all of the negativity that surrounds

your daily life. You will also be honouring

the meaning of a Sunday, God will

love that. Because you're not only loving

yourself you are also congratulating God on

doing a great job in creating such a wonderful

person. So there you go, a simple Sunday

reflection. Finally, here's something special

for a Sunday. Eat chocolate, cakes, biscuits,

sweets, whatever your fancy is because

STRESSED reversed is DESSERTS. Happy

munching!!

Rest contently, unshaken by trouble

Proverbs 19: 23

Have Faith 21 |


Day 24 & 25

Even the puddles can sustain life...

Puddles...

One of the things that is really hard to do is

see the good in bad. When things go wrong,

really wrong, it seems just about impossible

that things will ever be good again. I, for one,

have felt that on numerous occasions. But I

do believe that after dark there is always

light. Just recently, I had to go into town to

get a few necessities. The rain was coming

down in bucket loads and I knew I was in for

a soaking. I got to the shop in a totally foul

mood, got what I needed in a real grump and

set off back home. To my delight, when I got

outside, the rain had stopped and the sky

was clearing beautifully. Although I could feel

my socks soaking my poor feet, I started to

feel a little better. On my way home I saw a

huge puddle and a thought came to my

mind. It struck me how everybody avoids

puddles because they are cold and wet and,

frankly, a real pain in the feet. But by avoiding

them we miss their beauty. I looked into

this puddle and saw an incredible reflection

Pride...

Here is another one of those minefields that

I like walking in so much. Are you an optimist

or a pessimist? Arguments are strong

for both cases. I love the old saying 'Is the

glass half empty or half full?' What do you

think? Personally, I would like to think that

the glass is completely full. 50% water to

drink and 50% air that we can breathe. But

that's just me. I read an interesting quote

which says 'The pessimist sees the difficulty

in every opportunity while the optimist sees

the opportunity in every difficulty.' That particular

quote got me thinking for quite a

while about my own views. For me, that

saying said that optimists have faith. The

more I think about that, the more I believe

it. As a soldier, I think we all have to be optimists

or how do we justify what we are

doing without faith and hope that after the

battle things will be better. We have to believe

that or we wouldn't fight. My fight,

these days, is that someone will read the

things I write, whether it be my reflections,

Luke 1: 79

of the sky. It completely bowled me over. In

that moment I truly believed that in this cold,

wet puddle on the ground God was showing

me heaven. Now, you may be saying to yourself

that he's lost the plot but the truth is that

puddle lifted my heart when I was feeling

pretty unhappy. I don't look at puddles in the

same way anymore. One of my favourite

Bible chapters sums this up really nicely for

me. It is at 2 Corinthians 4:6. It says "For

God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness,"

is the One who has shone in our

hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of

the glory of God in the face of Christ". What

this tells me is, no matter how bad life can

get, no matter how low we feel, no matter

what the world throws at us, a time will return

when we will be happy again. Oh yes, the

next time you see a puddle, stop and look at

it and if you feel the urge, do what Gene

Kelly did in 'Singing in the Rain'. Just make

sure nobody is watching!

Proverbs 11: 2

my magazine, my songs and poetry, and

find some comfort or help in the words. I

have to believe that will happen or there's

no point in doing it. Having Faith and believing

in what we do is such an important

part of our makeup, it gives us the drive to

go on and the strength to succeed in whatever

we do. Biblical optimism is the result of

faith in the character of God. The Bible

refers to this as “hope.” Romans 15:13 says,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and

peace as you trust in him, so that you may

overflow with hope by the power of the Holy

Spirit.” When we hope in God, we put our

trust in His sovereign plan above what our

circumstances tell us. Romans 8:23–35 explains

it this way: “But hope that is seen is

no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already

have? But if we hope for what we do

not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Paul is

speaking of our future reward and the things

that “God has prepared for those who love

him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

| 22 Have Faith


Day 26

There is a time for winning and a time for losing...

Winners were once losers...

It is true that failure and losing are essential

parts of success and winning. I look with awe

at our tennis ace, Andy Murray. It is not so

long ago that we saw his disappointment at

losing in the final of Wimbledon. Disappointment,

frustration, exhaustion, I really felt for

him. It seemed for years he could not quite

get to the heights he wanted, no matter how

he tried it just wasn't happening. Then all of

a sudden, a year later, it all started to fall into

place. Everything paid off and he lifted the

first of two Wimbledon titles. Success was

just beginning. He is now the World's No:1

and he has just about won everything going.

But to get there he had to lose and fail over

and over again, each time making himself a

little more experienced and a little stronger.

The essence of his success was the willingness

to keep trying and that old virtue, patience.

Contrary to popular belief, losing and

failure are nothing more than processes to

success and normally happen when you are

not ready to win or succeed yet. The important

thing here is to keep trying. This has

been such a hard, personal battle for me.

The amount of times I have almost given up

over my own illness is unreal but every time I

think that way, there is a very small part of me

that pushes me on to keep trying and to keep

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

living. I know in my heart that the little bit of

me is starting to get bigger and bigger because

I asked for God's help. I didn't get help

straight away, I had to fail a few times more

before I saw the road I needed to walk down

to win. I haven't won yet but I feel my first title

is just around the corner. Going back to

Psalms, I found this: Psalm 37:23-24 “The

Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights

in him; though he may stumble, he will

not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his

hand.” Again, a great bible verse that inspires

us to go on. Lyricist and Novelist Paulo

Coelho once wrote “Defeat is for the valiant.

Only they will know the honour of losing and

the joy of winning. I am not here to tell you

that defeat is a part of life: we all know that.

Only the defeated know Love. Because it is

in the realm of love that we fight our first battles

– and generally lose. I am here to tell you

that there are people who have never been

defeated. They are the ones who never

fought. They managed to avoid scars, humiliations,

feelings of helplessness, as well as

those moments when even warriors doubt the

existence of God.’’ No matter how many

times you have failed or lost, you are not a

loser or failure. You just haven't won or succeeded

yet.

Have Faith 23 |


Day 27

Understand the messages you need to act on...

Spam...

The very thought of the word ‘spam’ leaves

me in giggles thinking back to the days of

Monty Python and the singing Vikings. Those

younger readers probably think I have a

screw loose at this point but anyone around

in the 70’s will know what I’m talking about.

One of the most famous comedy sketches

ever. But Spam had a different meaning back

then to what it does today. We used to know

spam as a kind of chopped pork type of

canned meat that we used to grill on toast. It

was truly awful but we loved it. In fact, it was

a very common item in the household of the

(forgive the expression) working class. Ah,

those were the days. These days Spam has

a totally different meaning. Unwanted messages

in your email now own the word ‘spam’.

As a website manager and editor of a magazine,

spam is a daily sight for me. Practically

every time I open my inbox there is a company

trying to find a way of separating me

from my money or some Prince in a far-off

land wanting to deposit millions in to my bank

account just because he found my email on

line and thinks he can trust me. Sound familiar?

Of course, we very quickly acclimatise

ourselves to all of this and delete it or send it

to our junk folder so we don’t have to deal

with it anymore. But just recently I found myself

in the position of the sender and not the

receiver. Of course, the information was not

spam (to me) but I found that subscribers to

my newsletters had me marked as spam.

Quite upsetting really, all of this information

and hard work was treated as rubbish and

discarded. This has got me thinking. How

much important information do we discard as

useless? But I also thought how much useless

information do we pick up on and waste

time with while the real important stuff passes

Luke 1: 79

us by. I think what I’m trying to say here is

that it is very easy to take in information that

we want to take in regardless whether it is

truth or not. This can lead us into very compromising

positions. It is true that within our

lives the truth can sometimes be uncomfortable

but also necessary. Imagine the final

warnings turning up in your inbox from a company

you owe money to, for whatever reason

you can’t afford to pay them at that time so

the quickest way to deal with it is to delete the

email or send it to the ‘spam’ folder so you

don’t have to see it. It sounds like a very irresponsible

thing to do but it happens all too

often. For me, spiritually I have found myself

ignoring the truth in the past, racking up debts

in my soul that were getting out of control.

Thankfully, I have found a way to manage

those debts and clear my account but to do

so meant I had to check all of my spiritual

emails and face the ones that meant uncomfortable

readings. I still disregard the ones

that aren’t important but I will read them all

first and make a better decision of those I

need to send to my ‘Spam’. I suppose this

isn’t rocket science but one we are all find

ourselves doing from time to time. I have

found that God’s inbox must be full of spiritual

emails that I send him. But I think I can put

my hand on my heart and say that the ones

that are important are always answered. Of

course, the stuff I ask for that I don’t really

need or is not in my best interest will end up

in his ‘Spam’ box. He will do this because he

loves me and knows what is best for me.

That eventually teaches me to only send

emails that are necessary and important.

Maybe this is what I should be doing with my

newsletters. The word ‘Spam’ still brings a

smile to my face though.

| 24 Have Faith


Day 28

Talking to friends is the best therapy...

The Chat...

Just last night I got into one of the best conversations

I have had for a very long time.

Firstly, the company was brilliant. My friend,

Bill from Australia, with very much the same

interests as myself, sat in our local pub and

talked for hours over everything and nothing.

It was one of those nights where you walk

away from it feeling very privileged to have

good friends. When I was thinking about writing

Have Faith’ this morning, that chat wouldn’t

leave my head. A couple of the subjects

we were talking about were just running over

and over in my mind, so I’ve decided to throw

all of our conversations into a bag, shake it

up a bit, pour it out on to the table and see

what comes out. So, here goes… One of the

great bits was the love of Surfing. Both of us

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

minority in this one. Looking at progress,

technology, the fast paced life style, the worries

we put upon ourselves, I wondered to

myself was it really worth it? Was it worth the

stress? What do we accomplish? It seems

to me that by trying to make things easier and

more comfortable we actually make things so

much worse. This was very strong in one of

our conversations when we spoke about the

nomadic life styles of aboriginal people Bill

was familiar with and the Masaii tribes I had

encountered in Kenya. No money, no bills,

no stresses, no bosses watching what time

they role into work, nothing. Just existing.

Living off the land, using natural resources to

build their homes, spending all of their time

with their families. One thing does become

grew up liking the same characters, waves,

beaches etc. Both of us have surfed, both

were abysmal at it but loved it anyway. The

more we spoke, the more we discovered we

both had a love for the natural world. From

the sea, we spoke about our adventures

around the world. He told me about how he

loved the Outback of Australia, seeing the

Kangaroos, Snakes, Crocodiles, the amazing

landscapes and just being there away from

civilisation. I spoke about my times in the

army in Kenya, loving the wildlife, the beautiful

cultures, again, the wonderful landscapes.

We spoke about snakes, comparing deadly

species we’d encountered, we spoke about

spiders and insects, and we spoke about

birds of prey. It was a wonderful conversation.

At the end of the night I was left with a

strange feeling about how humanity may just

have got it wrong. I do feel I may be a big

apparent, they do not consider themselves

poor. Yes, they have very little, if not no

money but they have everything they need.

Isn’t that what we work for in the ‘modern’

world? Do we not strive to earn what we

need to survive? It just seems we’ve gone

about it in a very complicated way, a very

stressful way and that is now the way we

need to do things. But I do believe, the tribal

people around the world still get it right. Just

my opinion. The one big lesson I recognised

last night was that of friendship. It is something

we all need. Something none of us can

do without. So, the real focus of my reflection

is one of celebrating our friends. How much

do you know about your friends? Have a chat

with them over a coffee or a glass of wine,

find out what makes them tick. I guarantee

once you do, you will feel so much closer to

them. It truly is a great feeling.

Have Faith 25 |


Day 29 & 30

Press on towards the goal to win the prize...

The Goal...

How easy is it to score a goal on a football

pitch? When you have nothing in front of

you, it is easy. Dribble the ball straight down

the pitch and then tap it in. You don’t even

need to get out of breath. The thing is, once

you’ve scored, there is no real feeling of

achievement. It is empty, almost false as if

you’ve cheated. But put a team in front of

you and it suddenly turns in to a real struggle.

Players trying to tackle you, the slow, dribbling

straight line to goal turns in to a zig zag

of sprints and huge effort just to get to the

goal. When you get there, there is a keeper

in the way who is hell bent on stopping you

from scoring. But when you finally hit the

back of the net, you’ve done it!! You’ve struggled

through, didn’t give up and scored.

Every week, we see this happen. 90 minutes

of hard work with maybe one or two goals to

show for it. It’s funny, I don’t even like football.

In our lives, we find the same struggles.

Our personal goals are seldom easy to

achieve, when they are easy, they rarely

leave us with a sense of achievement. Over

the last few years, I have been determined to

get realistic help for other veterans in my

area. Every direction I turned lead to a dead

end or another barrier I had to climb over. I

Elephant Sandwiches...

One of the best army officers I ever knew

used to say to me ‘Paul, take small bites out

of elephant sandwiches.’ I used to laugh to

myself and consider calling the men in white

coats but what I didn’t realise is that he would

always see when I was getting a little

stressed and flustered. He would say this to

me to get me to take small bites out of a huge

task. That way I would always finish the task.

These days, I have taken on this saying and

call on it every time the task ahead seems

daunting. There have been similar sayings

such as ‘One day at a time...’ or ‘Never bite

off more than you can chew...’ They all mean

the same thing but at the end of the day, I

suppose it’s what helps you through. However

there are two phrases I have come

across which I’m sure you all know but I

Proverbs 3: 5-6

got frustrated, angry, felt like giving up so

many times but something just kept pushing

me forward. I made a lot of mistakes along

the way, some worse than others but every

mistake taught me a valuable lesson that

gave me the tools to succeed. I failed many

times. Each failure made me try a little

harder and made me more determined.

When I finally made it happen and I achieved

my aim. The feeling was incredible. This is

definitely the road God had put me on. He

needed me to fail, he needed me to make

mistakes, he needed me to suffer in the way

I have done so this final goal, which will help

so many, could be achieved properly. When

I look at how St Paul viciously persecuted

Christians, had innocent people stoned and

imprisoned just for being Christian, I see the

road that God had put him on. If he hadn’t

done these things, he could not have been

chosen to become the apostle that he turned

into. He understood more than most because

he had seen both sides of the fence

and fought to turn his life from bad to good.

We read St Paul’s letters throughout the new

testament and we believe what he has to say.

Just a though springs to mind, would you

have believed him 2000 years ago?

Proverbs 3: 5-6

would still like to remind you of them. The

first is ‘Your future is built on the strength you

have gained in the past’. This is all about

having faith in yourself, trust in your abilities.

You have been given them for a reason. The

second is from the Bible. ‘Those who trust in

the Lord will find new strength’. This is from

Isaiah 40: 31. A very basic and short piece

of advice but so true. Just trust in him, he will

guide you, strengthen you and help you to

the end of your journey. Worth remembering

that one. Finally, I have to say that I will

never forget that old crazy saying from my

army boss. He taught me how to finish tasks

in a very realistic and eccentric way but it

works. But most of all trust in yourself and

your own abilities but most importantly trust

in God in everything you do.

| 26 Have Faith


Day 31

Three Steps To Heaven...

No, I don't have the ultimate answer to eternity

but I do have some red hot tips to living

a happy life in your relationships and spiritually

too. I first learned them on an Army Marriage

course at Bagshot House, Bagshot

Park, Surrey. To be honest, myself and my

future bride-to-be just went along for a skive

and a laugh. To be honest, it was. We

spoiled ourselves rotten in the beautiful surroundings

and grand stately home, now residence

to the Earl and Countess of Wessex.

However, there was one simple piece of advice

that has remained with me to this day, I

am very guilty of not following it but, still it is

worth its weight in gold if you can live by it.

So here goes. Every day, simply tell your

partner these three things: I love you, I am

sorry and finally, thank you. Simple as that.

Some of you may do that already but if you

don't, give it a try. Telling your partner that

you love them will reassure them that you are

the first and last thought each day. They will

feel wanted and appreciated, great start. Tell

them you are sorry even if you feel you

I love You, Thank You & Sorry...

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

haven't done anything wrong in that day. By

doing this, they will be reassured that you are

not taking them for granted and that you are

big enough to admit mistakes. And finally,

say thank you to them. Again, even if you

feel they haven't done anything. Just thanking

them for being them will make them feel

that everything they do is worthwhile, they

will feel happy in the knowledge that you

recognise the things they do for you, they will

also know that they make you happy too. I

don't know of any better advice for a good relationship.

But there is one relationship

where I do try to do this every day and that is

with God. I let him know his is loved by coming

to him each day, even if only for a few

minutes. I ask for his forgiveness in all that

has offended him that day and finally I thank

him for everything wonderful that surrounds

my life. To be honest, that is all that prayer

is. If you can do this, then you can successfully

pray and God will love you so much for

it. As above, give it a try and see how good

it makes you feel.

Have Faith 27 |


Have Faith

One of the most important parts

of my life is my faith. But being

human means I often fail to meet

the standards we are meant to

keep. As a soldier, I constantly

looked forguidance to ensure I

conducted myself correctlyand always did the right thing.

The human side of me meant, of course that I often failed.

These days my past has become clearer to see and I often

reflect on where I have been and what I have done to see

where I went wrong or what I got right. So I have decided to

write these experiences down with a little spiritual assistance

from the Bible, my personal choice of faith reference. I do

hope that these scribblings help you all.

Spiritual

Reflections,

Thoughts and

Prayers from a

British Army

Veteran

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