ratio christi harper collins pete nikolai

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oday I dropped some big announcements on my preorder campaign for One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview:

I’m pleased to announce that Ratio Christi (RC) is helping get One of the Few into the hands of young adults during a critical period of their worldview development. Ratio Christi is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ. I first learned about their extraordinary organization during a RC conference I attended at Southern Evangelical Seminary in 2013.

With their help, I’ve created four new packages which allow you to purchase and donate books to support university students:

  • Bachelor’s Book Package (1 book)
  • Graduate Gift Package (2 books)
  • PhD Package (3 books)
  • Tenured 10-Pack (10 books)

Please check out the new packages and help spread the word.

Additionally, I’m excited to let you know that this morning, Director of Publishing Services at Harper Collins Pete Nikolai published a guest-post I wrote at his request for his personal blog. The post is titled “Mission Accomplished: How to Successfully Crowd-Publish Your Book,” and describes why I chose to crowd-publish my book and how to launch a successful crowd-publishing campaign. This opportunity was the result of your efforts in helping me achieve my goal in just over 30 days. Thank you!

harper collins pete nikolai

I continue to be encouraged by the feedback I’ve been receiving about this project. Allow me to share an e-mail I received last week from a Midshipmen at a major university:

“I am currently a 1/C Midshipman and have been selected for flight school to become an NFO after I commission in May. I would first like to thank you for writing this type of book. Just seeing examples of other Christians in or pursuing this career field is an inspiration. I have preordered a copy and cannot wait to get my hands on it! I also purchased a digital copy for one of my friend’s birthday gift. He is an OCS-complete Marine Option who is commissioning with me and heading to flight school. I will make sure to let the rest of the guys know in the unit as well.”

I have received several such e-mails in the past few months. Our troops and our students need answers, encouragement, and mentorship. One of the Few is just a small step toward that end, but it’s a step in the right direction. Thanks for your part in giving it traction.

Only 13 days left in the campaign. There is a time for everything.

It’s time to rally!

Only 7 signed soft cover editions left without ordering a larger package. Pre-order your copy of One of the Few today!

*UPDATE: My initial pre-order campaign was a success with over 400 copies ordered! Thanks to everyone who helped support the campaign. Don’t worry, you’ll have another chance to order One of the Few as the publication date gets closer, currently set for November 2015.

An excerpt from One of the Few

I was running out of missiles and we already lost one fighter. We managed to hold back the first wave of enemy aircraft, but air intercept control (AIC) was already calling out more groups. There was no time to mourn for Dash-4; he made a tactical error and paid the price. Marine aviation is not unsafe, but it is unforgiving. We’d have to finish out the vul as a three-ship. Press…

blind faith

An excerpt from One of the Few

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins speaks of a dissatisfaction with atheism in the The Blind Watchmaker resulting from “inadequate explanations for the complexity of life prior to 1859 when Darwin’s Origin of Species was first published.” He states, “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” But not everyone finds Darwin’s theory of evolution so all-encompassing. Christian apologist and author of What’s So Great About Christianity Dinesh D’Souza suggests that the design evident in both life and the universe is not an illusion, as Dawkins suggests, but the work of a Designer. Press…

the routine excerpt one of the few

An excerpt from One of the FewPre-order today, buy a book for the troops, and help me reach my funding goal by March 22nd!

My alarm buzzed at 6:00 p.m. Time to wake up. I rolled out of the bottom bunk and stood on the sand-filled carpet I purchased months earlier. The window air conditioning unit was on full blast to keep the small unit cool, and the scent of Downy blew from fabric softener sheets I placed inside the filter. I thought about caffeine and glanced at my burnt-out coffee pot.

The “cans” were our living spaces and ran on 220 volt electricity. Plugging in American devices required an adapter and step-down converter to reduce the voltage. The previous day, I tried to use the coffee pot I received in a care package from Karry. Shortly after hitting the on switch, the power in my can blew out. Using a flashlight, I reset the circuit breaker for the can. I had a spare fuse for the converter, but the coffee pot was toast. I grazed my face with an electric shaver in front of a small mirror hung on the wall, letting the stubble float down into and around the small wastebasket beneath.

I grabbed my toiletry kit and towel and headed for the showers in the adjacent trailer. The sun dipped below the horizon, and I shielded my eyes from sandy wind as I walked in my silkies, skivvies, and flip-flops to the shower area. Something was wrong with the water pressure. Great. Another water bottle shower.  I unscrewed the cap to the first bottle and stepped into the stall wondering what the night’s flight would bring. I poured the cold water over my head and quickly scrubbed my body to create warmth; a cold rinse-down was still luxury compared to a baby-wipe bath.

I threw on my tan flight suit and holstered my standard issue 9mm Beretta. Our squadron spaces were just across the road, and it was dark by the time I arrived. Since I was on the night page, most of my flights would begin and end in complete darkness. It also meant I had to sleep during the day. We kept our unnatural circadian rhythm in its groove with blacked-out windows and careful measures to avoid seeing the sun. It was somewhat vampire-esque—appropriate for a squadron known as the “Bats.”

(SUPPORT THE TROOPS and pre-order a copy of One of the Few to donate to a service member!)

*UPDATE: My initial pre-order campaign was a success with over 400 copies ordered! Thanks to everyone who helped support the campaign. Don’t worry, you’ll have another chance to order One of the Few as the publication date gets closer, currently set for November 2015.

Photo Credit: USMC / PD

whats this religion business

An excerpt from One of the FewPre-order today, buy a book for the troops, and help me reach my funding goal by March 22nd!

During a trip to Florida, I took a detour through the town of Clearwater, the Mecca of Scientology. After walking one lap around the deserted streets surrounding the Super Power Building, I had a clear case of the heeby-jeebies. Author Janet Reitman spent five years compiling information to write the most extensive, objective modern history of Scientology to date. She described L. Ron Hubbard, founder of one of the most litigious religious organization in the world, as “the Madame Blavatsky of 1950.”

Scientology is a religion whose Messiah offered not only healing, but mental and spiritual upgrades as well. Like a fantasy role playing game, you trade your currency for tools and experience in order to level-up. Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard understood the power of manipulation and the profit in gullibility. The keepers of Scientology reportedly only share their secret theology with the elite (though it is readily available on the Internet), and most services come with a fee.

Later that year, I had the opportunity to speak with a Scientologist manning a small booth outside the local WalMart, sporting the trademark E-meter and stack of books. This individual, whom I’ll call Rod, became a Scientologist in the 1970s.

I spoke with him for about thirty minutes, asking honest questions, and divulging my Christian faith in the process. Rod was very proud of their state-of-the-art facilities. He bragged how people plan on coming in for ten minutes and stay there for five hours—even “forgetting to pick up little Suzie from school!” When I asked him what you had to believe to be a Scientologist and how it works, he replied, “It works because it works! It has nothing to do with belief. Scientology is beyond belief.”

I couldn’t argue with his last point.

He continued, “Anything negative you’ve heard about Scientology—just throw it out the window. The founder hasn’t made a dime off these books. Scientology is pan-denominational; you can choose whatever religion you want. Even if you have to set aside some of your religious convictions, it’s worth it because it works! It’s not a scam. It’s completely above the board. You can increase your IQ; and it can cure headaches, asthma, arthritis—pretty much anything ending in ‘-itis.”

I recalled Reitman’s expose on the organization’s complicated system of manufacturing, services, and licensing. It brought in loads of cash, and Hubbard bragged of his millions stashed in a Swiss bank account. Fortunately, you no longer have to take out a second mortgage to be let in on Scientology’s big secret. All you need is an internet connection or a book from one of the organization’s disgruntled former members.

It will come as no surprise that the religion founded by a science fiction writer contains a creation story via handwritten space opera on a single page. If you’re into aliens and spacecraft and volcanoes, you will find the story entertaining. I will spare the details and simply say that Scientology posits the existence of spiritual parasites attached to our bodies, and the goal of Scientology is to clear the body of those parasites. This should enable you to now do all the great things promised by the nice guy in the booth, or the cute girl in the bookstore.

When an evangelist explains Scientology as non-religious or pan-denominational, you should take it with a grain of salt. No, a whole pillar.

(SUPPORT THE TROOPS and pre-order a copy of One of the Few to donate to a service member!)

*UPDATE: My initial pre-order campaign was a success with over 400 copies ordered! Thanks to everyone who helped support the campaign. Don’t worry, you’ll have another chance to order One of the Few as the publication date gets closer, currently set for November 2015.

Photo credit:

officer candidate school

An excerpt from One of the FewPre-order today, buy a book for the troops, and help me reach my funding goal by March 22nd!

Day one began in a parking lot where a Sergeant Instructor assembled the new officer candidates. He instructed us to dump out our sea-bags for a contraband inspection. The list of prohibited items included weapons, electronics, non-prescription medications, alcohol. Alcohol? I began to sweat. I packed those alcohol wipes to clean the marker off my maps. Dang it! What about alcohol based pens? Do those count? How strict are they going to be? I’m already blowing it. Should I say something? Surely, they can’t mean wipes and pens. It’s going to be a long six weeks. I called myself out, not knowing whether to be more embarrassed about having contraband, or lacking the common sense to know that it was not contraband. Nothing came of it, and we received our next period of Marine Corps instruction.

Every day was similar. Get up early, PT (physical training), eat breakfast at the chow hall, attend classes, eat more chow, conduct field exercises, go to more classes, receive leadership training, eat chow, clean weapons, clean the squad bay, go to bed and repeat. Developing routines and habit patterns would serve me well; routines were crucial to succeeding in flight school, strengthening my faith, and being a father. Nearly every minute was spent under the instruction of two intense Sergeant Instructors and one Platoon Sergeant. Their job was to mold young officer candidates into Marines they would be proud to serve, but for six weeks, we could not stand them.

“Freeze, candidate, FREEZE!” At their command we froze like statues, no matter how awkward the position while they gave instructions or corrected a deficiency. When your life unravels, sometimes it is best to freeze and let a veteran help correct your shortcomings. Inspections during the summer were miserable. We stood at attention in the sweltering squad bay for an eternity. Sweat from my hand slid down the barrel of my immaculately cleaned M-16 and pooled onto the spit-shined floor. I fixed my thousand-yard stare at the candidate across from me, tried to empty my mind, and kept perfectly still.

A sergeant verbally ripped into someone else down the line. In those moments, a bit of humor goes a long way. Getting chewed out is a horrible feeling, but it can be quite funny when it is happening to someone else. A quivering lip on my opposing candidate broke my gaze, and then he cracked a smile. My bearing faltered. He snickered as the other poor guy was berated for poor hygiene and the improper execution of his weapon inspection. I gradually lost the ability to suppress the internal crescendo. Fearful of receiving my own face full of a barking Marine, I chopped it off with a quick nasal grunt.

My bearing had been challenged before. We conducted inspections during NROTC where new midshipmen provided plenty of humor. Laughter in the face of instruction, though, is the ultimate form of disrespect; I needed a technique to kill the giggles. My trick was to physically bite my tongue. An effective solution and undetectable by upper-classmen, inflicting pain was the only way to effectively squash the instinct to laugh out loud. Just before losing it in the squad bay, I chomped down hard until my body stopped trembling. The din of reproof and all associated humor was supplanted by the taste of pain. I relaxed my face, took a breath and waited for my turn. When the formation was finally dismissed, I looked down at the front sight post of my rifle: it was speckled with rust. Whether you are biting your tongue during an inspection, or holding it from speaking evil, you must control it. Otherwise, you may be next in line to receive the enemy’s wrath.

(SUPPORT THE TROOPS and pre-order a copy of One of the Few to donate to a service member!)

*UPDATE: My initial pre-order campaign was a success with over 400 copies ordered! Thanks to everyone who helped support the campaign. Don’t worry, you’ll have another chance to order One of the Few as the publication date gets closer, currently set for November 2015.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Kathryn Bynum

undone story of making peace with an unexpected life michele cushatt

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od will never give you more than you can handle.

That’s one of the most frequently misquoted lines of Scripture. It’s not in the Bible, and it’s not true.

In fact, God frequently gives us more than we can handle. Sometimes it’s the only way to get his messages across:

  • You’re doing it wrong
  • You cannot do it alone
  • You need me

In her new book Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life, author and speaker Michele Cushatt gives a moving testimony about her struggles with God’s direction for her life. Press…

what happens in bangkok one of the few

An excerpt from One of the FewPre-order today, buy a book for the troops, and help me reach my funding goal by March 22nd!

It was Friday night in Bangkok, and we were ready to cut loose after an intense week of flying exercises with the Royal Thai Air Force. Unfamiliar smells came in waves as we maneuvered the crowded street to find the next meeting place. I passed by vendors offering baskets of fried crickets, grasshoppers, and water beetles. There was commotion up ahead; something caused the crowd to swell in our direction. The crowd thinned to reveal a baby elephant prodded along by a young boy. Solicitations from both flanks stole my attention.

“Muhtaaazsh . . . Muhtaaazsh?” women called out from barstools with rising inflection. Scantily clad in shorts and spaghetti straps, their twangy voices reverberated in my ears. At first we had difficulty understanding their offer for a massage. In this district, there was a good chance you could choose your own ending. Unacknowledged, the calling waned; if I looked in their direction, it continued. More women chimed in if I made eye contact. We were quickly desensitized to the unceasing propositions and pressed on. Press…

surviving the gas chamber

An excerpt from One of the Few. Pre-order today, buy a book for the troops, and help me reach my funding goal by March 22nd!

Although TBS is not a weeding out process, it still relies on the concept of training how you fight, and that means pushing your body to its limits. It snowed during the first days of our offensive/defensive (O-D) week while we patrolled through the woods. Our packs were stuffed with MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat), cold weather gear, bivouac supplies, and a gas mask to protect us from gas attacks. Press…

Game of War

D

o you wanna come and play?” asks Kate Upton to promote Game of War in one of the most talked-about Super Bowl ads this year. She’s sporting the garb of Game of Thrones, but this is no HBO series. It’s not a movie either.

It’s a video game.

Upton’s enlistment brings glamour to the otherwise gloomy reality of war. You can’t swipe a screen without catching a glimpse of Kate calling you forth to play with her. The idea of lending some sexed-up branding to a product targeting male consumers is unremarkable.

But there’s something troubling about spending 40-million dollars to brand a war-game in light of another group’s recent branding efforts. Press…