Archive for the Faith Category

Your Comfort Zone…

Posted in Faith on January 17, 2014 by Echo Lima Bravo

This was posted on a forum I frequent by one of it’s members, by the name of Paul. The subject matter is very important, and it was so well written, I had to share it with you.

What Is the Comfort Zone?
Let’s explore this idea of a comfort zone to see if it is actually supporting you. What is it exactly?

  • It is not a real place. It is an idea created by you.
  • Its function is to keep you feeling safe.
  • It is what you know and are familiar with in all areas of your life—relationships, choices, how you spend your time—even thoughts patterns and feelings.
  • It excludes things you are afraid of or uncomfortable with.

If you have a comfort zone, you must also have a discomfort zone. And what’s out there in the discomfort zone? All those experiences you are afraid of. Consider these:

  • Emotions you have been avoiding;
  • Changes that seem risky;
  • Potential and possibility that you aren’t allowing yourself to see;
  • The unknown, outside of what you believe to be true;
  • Ease with whatever life brings you;
  • The freshness of life unfolding as it is.

Living in your comfort zone divides the whole of reality into areas that are acceptable and unacceptable. It is a mind-created, fear-based division that requires you to manage your life experience so you don’t stray into unfamiliar territory.

The comfort zone may be safe, but what does it deny? Enthusiasm, wonder, curiosity, and infinite possibility beyond the mind’s limits. Is it really that comfortable?

Out Beyond Comfort

If you want your experience to be different than it is, if you’re not happy, then you are being offered a golden invitation—to go outside your comfort zone and get to know discomfort. You don’t have to wait for an extreme life event. Connect with your heart and see what you really want. I doubt you’re truly comfortable playing it safe.

So what to do? Get comfortable with discomfort.

Realize that staying in the comfort zone takes effort and vigilance. It resists what is. It hides from what is true. It makes you believe you are fraction of who you really are.

Step away from playing it safe, and you enter the world of possibility. You stop basing your life on what is false and instead tell the truth.

-Paul Blackburn


Posted in Faith on January 14, 2014 by Echo Lima Bravo


Boys, as much as it pains me to tell you…your life is going to be ripe with disappointment. Failure is going to happen more often than you think, no matter how awesome you are. You will succumb to pressure on occasion. You will make terrible choices. You will lose. I am speaking from personal experience here. It’s all “happened” to me. Your dad has screwed up, failed, lost, given into pressure, and made terrible choices.

Guess what? I’m still here.

Still hoping and dreaming. Still working my butt off. Still striving. Still praying. Still trusting in God. Still filling my role for those I love.

Why? Because life doesn’t just go on, it gets better. Every time you face adversity, you learn. You grow stronger. You have an opportunity to shine and be honorable. You succeed.

Perseverance is one of those intangibles you will hear talked about in locker rooms, board rooms, dinner tables and pews for the rest of your life. It binds people together. It is the virtue that makes you more than you were yesterday, more than you think you are. It is faith. It is hope. It is the thing that picks you up when you get knocked flat. It tells you from the recesses of your soul that you are never out of the fight. It is a gift from God, and it must be nurtured and trained like so many other things we will discuss as you grow older.

The formula is simple; Get up. Heal up. Learn. Move forward.

It is the secret to a successful and meaningful life. It is the stuff of legends. The stuff of life. Anything is possible with Him who made you and the world. He is your strength.


Let perseverance be your story.

Never give up.

What is a Warrior?

Posted in Faith, Random Thoughts, Self Defense on October 11, 2013 by Echo Lima Bravo



noun, often attributive \ˈwr-yər, ˈwr-ē-ər, ˈwär-ē- also ˈwär-yər\

: a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill

That is how Webster’s defines it, but I find that seriously lacking in substance. Warriors are subset of a cultural identity within a society. One that serves many roles and wears many hats, depending on which culture you study. For my purposes, I am going to discuss a “self-identified” description from many men that I have come to know over the past year on Warrior Talk, with my obvious bias as a Christian, husband, and father. I hope you find it informative, provoking, and motivating.

Self Identity

The first quality of a warrior is his definition of self. For me this is something much broader than today’s commonplace underpinnings of ego. A warrior’s sense of self revolves around the idea of honing his personal being into one of excellence in service of his tribe. His tribe can be many things, but for me it is family, friends, and the Church. A warrior’s work is set upon and graded in his usefulness to those ends. His personal fulfillment is in knowing that he is striving to be the best tool possible to provide, protect, and lift up his chosen people. It is reflected in their lives and his role in them.


Good is not good enough. A warrior never stops striving. Always forward is his direction.

He believes that his first duty is his ability to preform when called upon, no matter the challenge, and everything else falls second. He never ceases to push himself in the quest for wisdom, strength, love, charity, and skill. This is his life’s work.

sun tzu


He has a purpose in life for all he takes on. He does not commit when he cannot fulfill, but he will die trying. When something is beyond his skill, he will seek the help of others in humility. He will not sacrifice his bearing for the winds of the day, but rather act as benchmark for others to find their way. He is unrelenting in the strength of his will, so that others may lean on him in their time of weakness. When he is weak, he asks for help, but never shows the enemy. The only time he takes a knee, is at the altar.


A warrior never gives up. He pushes on when others have faltered. His defeats are lessons on how to do better. His introspection serves only to better himself. Self-pity is not productive. He always moves forward.


Who is a warrior?

I submit to you that it is anyone who picks up the mantle. It is you. If you are a Christian, a husband, or a father, there is a call on your life to excellence.

Answer it.

The Ancient Way: My discovery of Orthodox Christianity

Posted in Faith on October 2, 2013 by Echo Lima Bravo

Orthodox Church Wallpaper__yvt2


For all intensive purposes, I have been a Christian all my life. God was a mainstay in the home of my youth, propagated by the faith and good intentions of my mother. My childhood was full of church attendance, a home full of music, and fellowship with friends. We were a military family, my father having served for over twenty years in the United States Army. No matter where we were, the US or overseas, there was always church to attend and new friends to be made. We were Protestant, in the way that only Evangelical, Non-denominational  folks can appreciate. No tradition per say, but lots of love, music, and service in the community and abroad.

I am thankful for that. It set the stage for my life, the good and the bad. It made me who I am.

In my youth, I was active in church, mostly with youth programs. My parents encouraged my zeal, which is pretty amazing considering my father is an agnostic. They were always forking out money to fund my forays into missions in Romania or around the corner, youth camping trips, donation drives and the like. We had no expendable income back then, so it is evident that God blessed my family greatly in response to their generosity.  I made a lot of friends, traveled extensively, and learned more about the world than any young person could hope for. I also saw the power of faith in Christ, and what it means to people from all walks of life. I witnessed things I still do not understand. It was life forming.

When I left home, things changed immensely, as they always do during the coming of age in a man’s life. I had one issue after another, but my faith was not shaken until I had some terrible relationships with some church folk. Failed relationships, a failed marriage, a half hearted attempt at a career in law enforcement, an empty search for my roots via my biological father, and financial ruin. In my “independence”, I ignored advice given in love from my family.

I was heart broken, lost…and I went rouge.

I spent most of my adult life studying philosophy and other religions, including the “absence of faith”. None of it held water, and none of it healed the hole in my heart. I didn’t give up entirely, but I was certainly dormant for many, many years.

Fortunately, about two years ago, I began rekindling that light in my life. During the work of reclaiming my faith, I received the news that my second wife, Lynde, was with child. Wow, talk about a paradigm shift! I knew from that moment that my kids deserved something more from me. A real foundation  that connected them back with the creator of life and love, centered in God, family, and tribe. Just going through the motions and being a good person was not enough. I had to do a better job. It was a stern and pure motivation…but how? I didn’t even know how to find God myself…


A Search Renewed

I found a place to talk to other men like me on the vast world of the internet forum universe. I had also begun to take protecting my family very seriously and had started training in firearms and self defense for that purpose. Not just training, but rather, living a different way…with vigilance and dedication (hence the name of this blog…my moniker on the forum). The place is called Warrior Talk. I chose it first because the quality of training and information to be found there, as well as the people. Their research into interpersonal conflict, violence, and combatives is unrivaled anywhere else. During my initial fact finding sessions, I can across a sub-forum there called “Christian Warrior”.  Imagine my surprise! Here are hardened men from all walks discussing God, Christianity, and everything else related to life. Special forces, clandestine operations, police officers, corrections officers, teachers, pastors, accountants, attorneys, and Average Joe’s like me.

Finally. A place where serious, hard, and dangerous men talk about Christ. We need more of these. The Christian community does its poorest work with men like those I found there, and it is unfortunate. They answer a call that few do, in service of others, and the church doesn’t work hard enough to understand them or how to help them in their walk…again a subject for another time. My purpose for bringing this up is simply to give you the catalyst for my new search. I needed to find a way to service my spirituality and ALL of my roles as a husband and father. Warrior Talk made the connections possible and helped me figure out the seeds God planted in me with my personality, strengths, and weaknesses. God saved my life with Warrior Talk, both physically and spiritually. It is there that I was exposed to The Ancient Church for the first time.

Pastors, laymen, and good advice

On WT (the affectionate term for Warrior Talk), I met a few pastors. One in particular, named Steve, took the extra time to discuss matters of faith off line with me, and has become a good friend. Steve is a Lutheran minister, but his honesty and genuine love for brothers in faith encouraged my desire to try Catholicism, since I had not done so all ready, and had many friends and family who were members of the Roman Catholic Church. In short, I did just that, and found some things that I had been missing in my personal walk with God. I was attracted to the structure and tradition, as well as the uniformity in how everyone worshiped. It is a very foreign idea to someone with my background in non-denominational congregations.

I began attending classes at my local parish and generally enjoyed the learning process. But, I still found it “wanting” for lack of a better term. Steve counseled me along the way, and encouraged me to post about my experiences in Christian Warrior. In those threads, I met Al. Al’s posts were dripping with a certain wisdom and point of view that matched my own, and I found myself searching through his posts looking for tidbits to feed my hunger. I discovered, to my surprise, that Al is Eastern Orthodox, a faith I knew nothing about. In my decade of research, I had never so much as cracked a book pertaining to Christian Orthodoxy, likely from a predisposed bias, or just plain ignorance. I really didn’t know what it was, and assumed it was some sort of Judaism, a cult, or some or incarnation of Christianity that held nothing new for me.

I was way off.

Father Rade

I began reading in earnest, anything I could find on the Eastern Orthodox Church. Books, articles, websites, podcasts, you name it. I reveled in what I found. The history. The connection to the Apostles. The survival for millennia. The lack of change during such a long period of time, and its resilience in oppression from Islam, empires, and Communism. Then there was the fact that all Christianity has its root there.

Quite impressive.

I made a decision that if there was an Orthodox church nearby, I would try it out. I live in a town of 26,000 people, mind you, so it was a pretty safe bet that I wouldn’t have to leave my comfort zone. So I hit Google without much hope or resignation. Well, I’ll be…there is one 5 minutes from my house…in this tiny rural community. Divine providence. No other way to put it.

“OK,” I told myself. I will call this priest guy and see what he has to say. Again my skepticism rooting for the fulfillment of all my doubts. No dice. Father Rade, was unexpected to say the least. More than vestments and doctrine, the guy was, well, a guy. Humorous, understanding, wise, and generous with his time. A man’s man to boot. Our conversations were very candid, and there were several.

“Come,” he told me, “you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

I quickly imparted that I wasn’t ready for that. Refusing to give up, Father Rade invited me to Bible study on Tuesday nights. We had found what I likened to a level playing field. A place where I could ask my questions and he could teach. Man to man across the table from one another. Little did I know it would fundamentally change my life.

Father Rade knew.

The truth is inescapable. And the truth was there in spades. I was overcome with emotion at the simple discoveries I made those first few weeks. What is salvation? What is our relationship with the Trinity really about? How is it healed? How does God want us to worship Him? What is the Church? What is its role? On and on.

After the first few Bible studies, I knew something about this church was different and I decided to go to a service the following Sunday. The rest of the story can be summed up in one sentence…

I simply could not stop going.

ortho cross


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