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Day 52, Top Ten of 2009 Memories.

This should be a quick abbreviated list of what I think were the greatest memories of 2009, that I can recollect.

#10, The last chapel service in Iraq, where I completed the entire book of Hebrews. Preaching every single verse for 15 months, while deployed. Over 120 services, and 600 plus counseling sessions.


#9, Sitting on top of my CHU, in Iraq with my laptop in hand and my Chaplain Assistant rotating the satellite dish to eventually get a signal. The laptop eventually erupts with a green bar, and signal, ...thus that night...Jessica and I talked with video for the first time in 5 months over the satellite internet network.


#8, Riding on a riverboat with Mark & Melissa Reid in London with crystal blue skies, with Big Ben and the Tower Bridge slowly passing overhead.


#7, Giving MAJ David Raugh, the final haircut in a barber chair that mysteriously showed up in my office in Baghdad, before he would be promoted to LTC, and leave a couple of weeks prior our departure.


#6, The official…

Day 51, Multi-Campus Churches; Good or Bad?

In yesterday's USA Today, the lead story on the front paper was "New Face of evangelism 1 Church, multiple sites". The writer goes one to cite several different new church leaders, and their current understand and 'take' on the 'new face' idea of having a central head church, and multiple other campuses. The main pastor would basically, only go to each church to preach, and thus be traveling the rest of Sunday to get to each location. This varies greatly from the traditional pastor who does all the counseling, preaching, fostering discipleship at one location.

Some churches have even set up a type of video-cast that the pastor would only need to preach in one central location, while the other congregations would only need to plug into the video feed and watch their pastor via a streaming download.

Now, as I thought about this, I wondered what the natural response would be for me. Is this really new? Would I like being the pastor traveling around all day? Wo…

Day 50, My First Writing Assignment for Lifeway.

About 2 years ago, I stepped out of Youth/College ministry to become a Army Chaplain. I have to admit from time to time, I truly long for the local church. The fellowship of gathering together with believers of like-denominational thinking, even though the SBC is quite a motley of 'like-thinkers'. In addition, just having a good heart felt conversation with people who are much older. ((In case you didn't know, there are few people in the Army over 45 years old,...if they are they are Colonels or Sergeants Majors.)

With my desires to participate in the local church, while still being a Army Chaplain, I didn't know how I would be able to serve. Just recently, Lifeway, the SBC Publisher for Sunday School material contacted me to write a brief commentary on one of their upcoming Sunday School units. I know its not a book or a life change autobiography, but I feel God truly gave this opportunity to encourage me.

Now, the excitement begins. I have about 4 passages of Scripture…

Day 49, A Canon of Scripture?

In my early seminary years after I resolved my personal conflict, with the 'Doctrines of Grace', I preceded to read a great deal about apologetics. This is basically the way in which a person can defend their faith by giving legitimate reasoning and defense from Scripture. Being a very arrogant and immature, I thought that I was reaching my pinnacle of knowledge and would soar like a vulture waiting for any conversation that remotely brought up 'theology', and I would swoop in to devour my 'ill-informed' prey.

Through a course of about 5 years now, 3 in Full-time ministry, and 2 in Active Duty Army...I have noticed that my desire to answer these questions has still remained, but with different intentions. I do believe that I truly want to answer questions that Soldiers have in regards to the Scriptures and theology, because I pray that not that the 'intellect' is tickled, or my back warmed by their praise, but that hopefully,...they will return again to …

Day 48, The "Get Out!" Storytime.

About four days ago, Jessica and I were riding down the Autobahn discussing the events of the upcoming week and various dinners we would have. A typical discussion, when your husband plans all the time, and your wife is an obsessive Chef.

As we were planning, we trailed off on a topic that we rarely discuss,...previous dates in our lives. This instantly digressed into a situation that I will gladly share. We called it, our personal, "GET OUT!" stories.

This is the scenario. You are a teenager or college student, dating person X. You are traveling from point A to point B, in a vehicle. I am not sure if it matters or not, but one of the individuals gets HIGHLY upset, enough that the time in the car is just TOO LONG, and the current PRESENCES of that person is causing utter disturbia (if that's a word). THUS, the only solution is :

1. QUICKLY STOP THE CAR.
2. YELL or RAISE YOUR VOICE, "GET OUT!"; "SERIOUSLY, GET OUT!"
or
1. SAY, "PULL THIS CAR OVER, I W…

Day 47, Challenge to All Married Men.

I am 34 years old, currently. Since the age of 15 years old, I have driven pretty regularly. My first vehicle was a 1973 Ford F-100, basically a farm truck that we fixed up to suffice my teenage desires to have a 'cool' vehicle. My senior year of High School, I purchased (with the aide of my aunt) a 1992 Sunbird, the dreaded teal that was in style during the early 90's. It served well through my college years, and later on in 2000, I purchased my first New Volkswagen Jetta, TDI. Without any doubt, my favorite car. To wrap up my vehicle buys, Jessica and I sold our cars when we came to Germany, under some poor information flow that our cars weren't ready for the Autobahn,...yet as we arrived we bought a 2008 4x4 Explorer. A very nice ride for the often icy terrain that we experience here in Baumholder.

Now, I say all this to put forward my driving record.
Since the age of 16:

1. 1 Ticket in the Black Truck, for rolling through a stop sign (due to no power steering). (1992)

Day 46, Biblical Counseling

This coming Sunday I have been asked to preach at a local church, Trinity Reformed Church in Landstuhl. Seeing that it is Advent season, the pastor/elder, Brent Sadler, encouraged me to take a look at Psalms 23, with particular emphasis on verse 4. Since my 'assignment', I feverishly attacked my library. Pulling every commentary, historical background, imagery,...anything I could get my hands on just to make sure that I was not launching out on preparing this sermon in vain.

One commentator said, that this passage is the "John 3:16" of the Old Testament. I would wholeheartedly agree. Which is wonderful, but also causes some great distress. WHY you ask? Because, I have heard this passage preached 1,000 times ...quoted in movies...etc, etc. Therefore, I want to be fresh with my thinking, which could easily be recounting why this passage has been so comforting to so many.

As I labored, and even today continue in this task, I frequently get knocks on my office door for co…

Day 45, Meditation during Christmas.

Yesterday, Jessica and I sat down after having a wonderful, plum-stuffed pork loin with stuffing, to read a new book that we have started for the Advent season. The book is "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.", edited by Nancy Gutherie. It basically is a compilation of various reformed pastors/thinkers upon the topic of Christmas.

Last night, our very first reading was quite challenging. Jessica was really excited about reading it seeing that it was written by George Whitfield, knowing that I would delight in hearing his thoughts apart from the biography I am reading on him.

You could clearly tell as Jessica read aloud that this was 1730's English. It was difficult at first to understand, but just like listen to Shakespeare, your mind eventually clicks and you can understand a majority of it. Jessica continued to read, and I closed my eyes and listened to her.

With a smile she finished up the last couple of sentences, we both sat and pondered the brief message. In short, dur…

Day 44, New Moon and Modern Warfare 2

While I was downrange, I joked with my assistant about him reading this 'teenage-romance' novel series: Twilight. I usually don't take big stances of opposition on things that I see as trivial or trendy, ...so, this is not a Reformed Chaplain bashing the most recent culture crazy.

The obsession with vampires is just not my bag. 'In my day', we had LOSTBOYS. Those guys were my early teen nightmares of nocturnal-bloodsuckers. Yet, much has change since then,...Jack Bauer no longer feasts on A-, but defends the country.

Yet, although I don't care too much for silly romantic girlish fantasies with vamps, I am quite enamored with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. We recently brought it into our home and it seems for the most part to be rather enjoyable. I have played the series of Call of Duty,...even on the computer, so I must be up to date on the recent release. I suppose we all have our taste....

Yet, one thing I have learned either by XBOX or girlish movie time, ...…

Day 43, Joyfully,Dealing with Disappointment

The ride in the Craven family this last week has been definitely been eventful. Jessica made arrangements to go to Berlin as soon as all the festivities were over here on Post. Wednesday, my responsibilities were to bring the Post-wide Protestant service sermon (pretty exciting). Nothing gigantic, but enough to cause the normal day in day out stress.

Now, in addition to all of this, I had been told back in September that my name had been put into a selection pot for a job in Arlington Cemetery. I would be working for the OLD GUARD, a great honor in the Chaplain Corp. This new job, would mean...1. leaving 1 year early from Germany, and 2. Possibly miss a soon coming deployment to Afghanistan.

About 4:06 on Tuesday, I received the email, informing me that I was not selected for the job. My heart sunk...hours later,...I told Jessica, who seemed to know the moment I gave the 'Hey, sweetheart,...I need to tell you something.' Our long term goals were shocked, but we weren't destr…

Day 42, My Home Office.

Today, I went into work with much to get done, primarily a sermon of which I am preparing to preach this Wednesday at our Chapel here on post. I grabbed my John Calvin commentary, Bible, and my day-planner and hit the road. After arriving at work, I realized that I had not checked my email for 4 days, due to our little field exercise....and thus was far behind.

Minutes after 0900 email traffic began, where I constantly answered email or the phone for close to 2 hours. As 1100 rolled across the clock, I made my efforts to get my 'Korean' Citation award on my Dress Blues, thus completing them, and preparing them for Thanksgiving. 1200, I am back at the house...

Oh, yeah. I am suppose to be working on my sermon.

1300, more email. 1330, counseling appt. 1430, JAG office. 1500, I am sitting in front of my computer again working on Retreat Schedules and Photos for the hallway at our Battalion. YET, ...no sermon.

1620, I lift my Bible up to read the passage in Joel again. Jot a few notes…

Day 41, New Books and Disciplines.

I think seminary brainwashed me. I can't go 30 days without wanting to log on to Christian Book Distributors or Crossway, or any other book distributors and purchase six or seven books to add to my library. This happens just about every month or two. I have done an exceptional job since my return from Iraq, but now I get the urge a great deal, every time someone wants me to preach.

Of course the books are mostly theology books and biographies about theologians, so I am quite narrowed focused on my reading, but that doesn't hamper this habit at all. Just recently, I purchased about nine books. Which leads me to a transition in my blog. The book I am currently pressing towards is the biography on Whitfield.

I can barely put it down. If I am not getting stomped by some punk-kid on XBOX LIVE on Madden 09, I am sailing the oceans to Georgia in my Whitfield Biography. Despite my previous habits of buying books and more books, sometimes without ever reading them, I have placed all my c…

Day 40, Embellishing The Truth.

Without any crazy exaggerations, I want to try describe my previous 3 days. If you have been a faithful reader, you know there has been a lapse in most posting, due to what I am about to write you. Again, let me say,...no embellishments necessary.

Wednesday, 18 NOV 09, 2100.
I pack about 55 lbs of gear into a rucksack and prepare for a week/weekend away from home. Jessica takes me up to the drop point, we gave a brief kiss and off I went. Boarding a bus with around 40 other officers we headed off on our journey.

The 'staff ride' turned out to be a little excursion to the forest and back to do a little extra training here in Baumholder. At or about 0500 the next morning, with a minimized amount of sleep, all the officers took a APFT ( 2 miles, push-ups, and sit-ups). Immediately following, we were told to re-pack our rucks...and prepare for the training in set teams. Thus we departed, and got to a range where we were divided into teams to start 'stations'. Quickly:

0. APFT…

Day 39, Am I getting Old?

Around July this year, I turned 34 years old. In the very same month, I remember quite clearly that another Chaplain said that 'It was 34, when I realized that my body didn't do what it use to do.'

Just recently, one of my good friends here in Baumholder, Brad Ellgen, said that he was preparing for death. He's about 54 years old and quite vibrant, so it struck me odd that he would say such a thing. He said he didn't want to be laying on his death bed and wondering if he had done all that he could have, or reached out. I think his thinking is more 'thoughtful', than bizarre or just down right strange. (Although, I have remarked many times that I found him somewhat outlandish).

So, is it proper to think about death...Is it right to talk about its closeness?

I know in the World its not a topic of discussion at all. I would say just the opposite is true. We are obsessed with looking young and feeling young. Facials or gym-memberships...not that they are 'wro…

Day 37 and 38, Recovery and Tough Decisions.

In less than 24 hours, I have had to move from an emotional high and 'sigh' of relief to conversation that brought me to tears.

As you may or may not know, the prayer breakfast of which I have been preparing for and being sure not to miss the point is finally over. The Chaplain (COL) Jim White, who came to speak, did a fabulous job. I just feel that God uses him, and it was a joy to have him speak to the unit. Although it was a pleasure to have him, my nerves are glad that this is not a daily occurrence. At 1700, yesterday evening, I finally took a long shower, and just enjoyed a great little dinner and The Office with Jessica. A good night of relaxing.

As the roller-coaster of emotions settled down through the night, I woke up this morning knowing that Jessica and I had to make some decisions regarding our plans for the upcoming holidays. When you live 4000 miles away, in another country, you must get on the ball to make reservations and plane tickets, to ensure a good travels.…

Day 36, Making Preparations...Don't Miss the Point.

Tomorrow morning, around 0600 I will wake up, put on my entire uniform and go to a couple of meetings with my supervisors (XO) and work out the plan for the day. Immediately following I will rush over to pick my Chaplain Assistant and make every possible final check in our preparations for the 'COMMANDER's PRAYER BREAKFAST'. Around 0730, I will go to the hotel on post, the Lagerhof, and pick up the full-bird (Colonel) Chaplain with his Sergeant Major, and escort them to the Dining Facility for the Breakfast, where he will (the Chaplain) will be the guest speaker.

How many will show up? I have no idea. But this will be the first Prayer Breakfast, that our unit has had since we have become, 4-70th Armor Battalion. So,...pretty big ordeal. (well, atleast for me.) The service will be approximately 1 hour long. I will play a little guitar, a simple breakfast, 3 prayers for soldiers, families, nations, etc.; then the guest speaker.

Ok. Here' the odd thing about it. I am a Cap…

Day 35, Memorial Sites.

Being Veteran's Day, we took a trip to France to St. Avold, a US Memorial site. The trip was about 2 hours total from our home here in Germany, and I figured I would give a little reflection on the site as a whole.

The weather was really good for early winter day. It was about 38 degrees and a good grey cloud hovered over most of the memorial. The trees still had a great deal of leaves on them still despite the terrible gust of wind that would take your breath away.

The site itself was quite large with over 16,000 soldiers buried there. This is quite the sight, for those of us not living close to Arlington or Calverton National Cemeteries. It was a good day to reflect on the sober reality of how many individuals truly gave their existences on this Earth for the good of others.

The only observation that I would like to note that maybe someone can help me with is the overall "Christian" feel of these cemeteries. Several references to 'Resurrection to Joy"; and of c…

Day 34, My Boring Job (a sprinkle of sacrasm)

Why be an Army Chaplain?

How many ministers:
1. Counsel 30+ sessions per month.
2. Go on Retreats quarterly to places like the Alps.
3. Preach your beliefs, your convictions, not fearing the Deacons or an Old Lady who rules the church.
4. Get to workout for 'Work'.
5. 30 days of paid vacation a year.
6. A more than reasonable salary.
7. Have soldiers ask you, "So, Chaplain what is it that you believe?" ALL DAY LONG.
8. Confidently walk around, simply asking, talking, and laughing with individuals about their lives.
9. Ride on top of Tanks going 40 mph down a winding road.
10. Fly on Chinooks, Blackhawks, and other lovely aircraft.
11. Wear the same thing everyday, and love it. (no fashion sense-necessary)
12. Wear a cross, that prompts people everywhere to identify and know you represent Christ to them.

I love my job, excuse me, my calling. God truly knows what he's doing.
Support your Army Chaplains.

Click here to read more about Chaplaincy, if interested.

Day 33, ...Memorizing Scripture.

Jessica returned, her spirit-renewed, not too long ago from a Retreat with PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). Its basically the ladies ministry here in the Army. They hold the overarching principles of Protestantism, which allows a great deal of variation in denominations. (Just like a Protestant Chapel in the Army, which could have a Reformed Southern Baptist Chaplain preacher, Church of God musician, Church of Nazarene prayer for offering, and a Korean helping with communion...its just plain crazy. (in a good way).

So, keeping to basic tenets of Protestantism, we do our best to orchestrate a reasonable service for the community of faith. Those of you who are well versed in your theology know that each of those I have mentioned above have very distinctive differences, BUT by the Grace of God, and his Utmost Sovereign hand, we manage to see our purpose to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ out, as our first priority.

With that said, I must return to my wife returning with a great deal o…

Day 32, You're a Preacher.

Hopefully, unless you got a little lazy today, you attend a gathering of local believers to worship our God. I am not so concerned with where or how the service in your particular church took place, but I am concerned about your ability to discern during the midst of the service as to how the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

As a Chaplain/Preacher/Pastor, I know the labors of putting a service together. I know the amount of time that is spent studying and preparing a sermon for the congregation. Yet, in the midst of it all, I dare say that many people truly could come home and recite 3 points from the sermon, after their Sunday Afternoon nap.

I was reading not to long ago, dealing with this very idea. Here's a challenge to you. Take the sermon notes or just the Scripture passage that your pastor preached, and read it on Monday morning and see if you can't reconstruct his argument and thinking 24 hours later. Take the time and see how much of the actual service, 'STUCK' …

Day 31, A Response to Tragedy at Ft. Hood

Its never to early to tell your congregation the coping mechanisms, as Christians, to deal with pain and suffering. I strongly encourage all Christians to always be fortifying your answer to the question, "Why did this happen?" or "Why did God allow this to happen?". The reason primarily, may not be for the audience of anyone, other than yourself.

I was sitting in front of the computer, when the DRUDGEREPORT refreshed, only to announce the growing concern of my fellow brothers and sisters in arms at Fort Hood. The details were still pouring in. My heart grew cold and angry at the same time at this individual who would murder so many. Awaiting for more details to justify my growing rage, I waited and watched on FOX, the latest.

Thinking and praying for these families, that were already bracing for a deployment and possible loss in Afghanistan, not in Texas. The unexpected grief, few will completely understand.

My prayers are with all of you in Texas. May God grant y…

Day 30, The First Month of Blogging.

Whether it is late at night (like tonight) or early in the morning before I head out, I am still loving this little challenge to write 365 days of blogs, just to see if it is possible.

There is not many things that I have started and quit. I do remember quite distinctively my Middle-School football career that ended abruptly after Spring Training, when I ran for a touchdown during practice and the coach got mad at me because I didn't follow the play that he had told us to follow, I went through the wrong hole on the line of scrimmage. Thus, I hung up my pads. I quit.

Since then, I really can't think of about anything that I have started and quit. I am sure that Jessica has heard a 1,000 stories about my future plans, but I would say for the most part I stick to what I say I am going to do. I still like to have 'spiritual daydreams'.

I have made a list of some interesting blogs for the coming month.
1. How to help people grieve?
2. Divorce and Remarriage: Is it Biblical?
3.…

Day 29, Dentist Trip (Enough Said)

At 1030 this morning I went to my 6 month cleaning at the local DENTAC. I must admit, that I would rather go through my HOT WING episode than go through this event. Nonetheless, I travel to the place, park, wait in line,...read a German Auto magazine...(not a Army literature magazine...ridiculous)...then await for my name to be called.

"CPT Craven"...I stood up, smiled walked behind the lady...who never gave me her name. She merely walked briskly to a room, flung the door, asked if I had a cell phone, and if so to please turn it off, (very difficult to do as a Chaplain) I complied. Then she brings me over to a counter...and thus the TORTURING BEGINS.

1. Green mouth wash?
2. Sunglasses to keep my blood from spraying in my own eyes.
3. Being asked, "do you floss?" ; Seriously, your the Dentist. Its kind'a like asking a couple that comes in my office, "So, do you have martial issues?"...HELLO, your the expert.
4. The sharp pointy objects ripping the gums.
5. …

Day 28, Sushi Didn't Happen.

I got off work a little late tonight and moved on to the commissary to get a few additives to the exciting night I was going to have. It looked like SUSHI, and maybe some Chinese dumplings. Pop a goofy movie in the DVD, and just collect dust. Yes...lazy night. No going to see people, and no going out to some fancy dinner. A very lovely selfish night in. Peace and quiet.

After acquiring some Low Sodium Soy Sauce, Miso Soup mix, Fresh Shrimp...I headed to the house. Pulled out the new knives that I just purchased for Jessica and began thawing the Shrimp. California Rolls and Shrimp Rolls are my thing. I am not completely RAW SUSHI, just yet...

As I continued to prepare, I opened the refrigerator door to pull out the 'sticky-rice' that Jessica had PRE-pared for me before she left. Locked tightly in a tupperware box...I placed it beside the pre-rolled sea-weed paper. My lips...delighting, with anticipation of making my favorite meal. I popped the lid on the tupperware...and to my su…

Day 27, Hot Wings and Repentance.

Ok today instead of being a good husband and coming back home for lunch and enjoying a turkey and swiss sandwich, with my diet coke w/ lime...I decided I would spend a little and go down to the ole, "Anthony's" Pizza. (A greasy pepperoni sounded lovely, with a Pepsi). As I approached the counter, I noticed the combo for only $7.50, which would be a slice of pizza and my favorite "HOT WINGS!"

I have quite the love affair with Hotwings. I don't know whether it was Athen's Pizza, Hooters, or my own personal make, or the strange place on I-75 just above Knoxville, that led me to this...but either way...I have hard time turning down the little treasures. 6 pieces still warm in hand, my assistant and I head back to the table to indulge. I picked up the leg...and take a huge mouth watering bite. OH MY!! Sweat...ears red and instantly a cold shiver. I knew in an instant I should not continue.

BUT I DID.

Thus, I sit...currently 9 hours later...Tums in hand...ten…

Day 26, She Left Me.

At about 0900 this morning, I kissed my wife goodbye. She had already packed her bags last night,...and this morning she rode off to another part of Germany. She left me. Alone, to fend for myself. Now of course, she didn't leave forever, just for 5 days. So here's my challenge though. I am to some how to manage myself for 5 days in a kitchen that is filled with all sorts of utensils...now after 5 years, very foreign to me. I am left to a bathroom, with a German LG Washer/Dryer...that I have no idea what I am doing. Will I make it out alive? Its just a 4 day work week in Germany, so I might manage.

Today's lunch special: Leftovers #1, a blend of leftover chili and Caribbean Shrimp, it might be good I am sleeping alone.

Tonight's special: Leftovers #2, a blend of leftover chili with a lovely Chicken Casserole dish, (date time stamp on the Casserole is questionable). Let's see if the ole appendix is still working.

It's true. I managed 28 years as a single bachelor.…

Day 25, Timely or Timeless.

A couple of years ago, I went to a conference and the subject centered around the missionary dilemma, which is: How do I reach a culture that I am not necessarily a part of? How much of the culture do I take on, without compromising the elements of the message that I preach and teach? Methods vs. Message? On one hand you have a young pastor, Mark Driscoll reaching thousands in Seattle, on the other you have a conservative PCA Minister, Ligon Duncan or RC Sproul. All three I greatly respect...YET. The question arises in my heart even as I blog in my world.

It seems it runs against a simple observation for me. To be personal with people you must give them 'YOU', which is timely information. I.e....this is my life. I use Itunes, Ipods, Xbox 360, shop at European Country Living, eat at Ramstein on Saturday, and also run 6 to 10 miles a week, ...etc...and of course the FALL Football schedule.

Yet, on the opposing end of this, people also seem to desire to hear..timeless truths, whic…

Day 24, The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth.

Friday nights in Baumholder Germany, can be quite the challenge for any family. Back in the states you pack up a hot chocolate and head to a Friday Night High School Football game. Not the case here. Therefore, in the Craven residents it typically becomes movie night,...dinner on the coffee table/ Boy Scout popcorn popping / and of course, some Hot Apple Cider.

Now last night we decided on a movie that Jessica and I had no idea about...we were pitted between AMADEUS and ELIZABETH. One was for 9.99 to buy, the other was the 2.99 rental. (We took the frugal route).

After our trip to London 2 months ago, we have been intrigued by the historical significance of the places we visited. For instance, we saw the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded ...etc..etc. You get the point...SO, last night we watched the movie, "Elizabeth", a retelling of the last couple of years of her reign in England, as the Spanish Armada was preparing to attack.

I am not a history buff, so watching these mov…

Day 23, 250 Words or Less.

After blogging for almost a month now, I have learned one thing. Be brief, cut the chase, and cut the fluff out. So, I am making it a goal to hit 250 words or less each blog, so that I don't spend an eternity writing, and you can quickly jump to the next part of your day.

Not just being polite, but if you can't say your point in a few words, do you really have something to say with a lot. I have read quite a great deal of books over the last year, and some of them I think an 'abridged' version would suffice. Definitely the case for some devotionals I read, or sermons I listen to. Get to the point.

So, keeping with my words; and thought for the day: Keep it brief. Maybe I can change the title tomorrow to add the word, "Concise."

Famous quote: "Best to remain quiet and be called a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." ~ Abe Lincoln

Day 22, Treehouse of Horror vs. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Without fail as the holidays season begins, the stores are filled with the 'ole faithful' cartoon classics. Of course, you didn't buy them last year or the year before, thinking you would save your money and purchase them after the season for a discount, but that morning you still had your 'fat-turkey-sleep-in-hangover', thus you still have no cartoon classics in your DVD library.

Jessica and I typically try to make it a goal to watch the classics just like every other family. So, around the upcoming holiday, if it can be called that, "Halloween" we have come upon a cross road that maybe difficult for us to figure a way around.

In our marriage, this without a doubt is the lone problem we have. It is making decisions regarding movie selection. Thus, here are the sides.

Jessica enjoys the following:
1. No conflict.
2. Girl meets witty cute guy, they flirt, romance, guy leaves, guy returns. Happy Ending.
3. Anything from the "Love comes Softy, tenderly, ...&…

Day 21, Why Music Matters?

Ok, I have an Ipod with a ridiculous amount of songs on it. It goes with me to work and working out. Yet, although I like to consider myself an up to date Christian Music guy, I have found the last ten years quite unproductive in many of the albums that I have purchased on Itunes. I might have high standards, I have decided. Here are some of my reasons I don't like most contemporary Christian songs:

My reasons:
1. The lyrics sound like a 80's love ballad by Chicago.
2. Talk a lot about God, but very little about the work of Christ.
3. When they talk about Jesus, he sounds like a guy who's locker is next to yours.
4. The music itself is cheeze, and I really think typifies our generation of 'lack there of' in any artistic skill.
5. Super-Chic. (enough said)

Ok. I will stop with the negativity. There is a reasonable amount that is halfway decent. Over the last 5 years, I have been listening to Sovereign Grace and Indelible Grace music. I am convinced, that they don't hav…

Day 20, Is Jesus the Only way?

If you really want to see where you stand in the realm of Christianity, ask the question to someone or yourself, "Is Jesus the only way for which some to stand right before a Holy?" Or more simply, "Is Jesus the only way?" You will quite clearly get an accurate read on the spectrum scale of where you lie, either liberal or conservative quite quickly.

Now in the local church, you would hope and assume that the Bible is being taught so frequent, that most conservatives would respond quickly verses, such as: John 14:6, or Acts 4:12, as clear answers to such a question. Sadly though, it doesn't seem to matter where you go,...the school locker room, the youth group,...the local ecumenical gathering of pastors,...you will here more of a overall tolerance of all beliefs, or a Christian Inclusivism. This can be defined as a belief that one does essentially get right standing before God, through Christ, but their honest labors in whatever faith, if seen as noble, is acco…

Day 19, Celebrate Reformation Sunday.

Enjoy all the links! My treat today!

How could I possibly be the "Reformed Chaplain" without a taking the time today to mention the obvious. Its Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October to commemorate Martin Luther's 95 Theses that was nailed on the Wittenburg Church door, on October 31, 1517.

His protesting of the several Catholic Church problems that he wished would be 'reformed'. Yet, after such a stance was dutifully challenged by Rome on several accounts finally leading him to the Diet of Worms, about 30 kms from here, where I will celebrate the 31st of October with my wife on, "Reformation Day". Very exciting.

Protestants need to faithfully recognize their church history. Its almost sad to talk to anyone in the local church in regards to denominational heritage. Most people have no clue why they are such and such denomination, or even some basic tenets that separate themselves from other faith groups. I think this boils back to the lack of ch…

Day 18, Why Job?

Today and tomorrow, I will be sitting in front of my ESV Bible and 5 sheets of paper that I have scribbled ideas, breakthroughs, and questions on all week regarding 5 verses in the book of Job. Just finishing up a sermon manuscript that currently, I feel is finally coming together.

What's the sermon about? Well, Its primarily about questioning God, and how should we respond when we are overwhelmed in suffering, loss, and pain. I think it 100% applicable to anyone who has lived longer than 5 years on this planet. I dare say that I can be brought to similar standards as Job in his loss, but I know that I have experienced death and depression, just like you.

The heart of it is really simple. I can vividly remember right after my dad passing away, a strong bitterness that never seemed to settle. I was broke financially, living in Athens, GA. I was attending a beautiful church with a lot of other college students, who I thought had it all together. One particular night, I was struggling…

Day 17, She Did It Again.

Yes, I do think its appropriate to praise my wife when she makes a hallmark moment in the kitchen. For those of you have not had Creme Brulee, I invite you to stop by the Craven's residence sometime soon and let your taste buds find utter ecstasy.

Jessica's Birthday was this past Sunday, and I decided to add to her kitchen collection with some Ramekins by Le Creuset, just 4 little white ones. These would be for our 'special' dessert nights only. Little did I know I would be greatly surprised tonight as she brought out the Grand Finale, as we watched the seeming 100th Episode of the 'The Office' marathon.

Creme Brulee, described by a Army Chaplain, who has ZERO kitchen skills, is a dish...that consist of a very rich vanilla pudding with vanilla beans, served cool,...with the top of the dish covered in vanilla sugar which is caramelized with a blow torch, SWEET!

I have learned a few things about this life that I have to live, and that is proper praise at the prop…

Day 16, I love Madden 09, but not the music.

Its absolutely true. I am a junky for playing Madden 09 during the football season. I grab a bowl of Cool Ranch Doritos and kick-off the boots, while simultaneously turning the xbox, awaiting the soothing graphic sounds announcing the churning game inside.

The couch is comfortable. Jessica is typically working in the kitchen, or facebooking while I embrace my 1 hour escape before settling down with dinner. Seconds pass, the screen goes black, then white....then "Eeeee Aaaaa Sports.....It's in the game!" pipes through the Sony Bravia. Chills go up my spine, my eyes widen, my heartbeat quickens...I am so ready to live out my unrealistic Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcon's QB) dream.

The iconic picture of Brett Favre in a Green Bay Packers jersey still makes me smirk...what a dork (yee-haww for Minnesota Vikings). I told by the screen to . I obediently select.

Then, almost like sinking you teeth into pungent piece of rye bread with an excessive amount of fennel seed, the backgro…

Day 15, How Fit Are You?

Most people I talk to who are outside of the Army, think that soldiers are some type of super-human physical athletes. It seems we all should be chiseled out Davidic statues, that sling M-60's (or 240s, nowadays) and run around with a company level of ammunition weaved on our bare chest. So, what are the facts?

The typical soldier wakes up everyday around 0600, does Physical Training (PT), which consist of running, sprints, muscle failure (push-ups and sit-ups). This last about 1 to 2 hours depending on training schedule. Every few months we have a Army Personal Fitness Test (APFT), to grade how well you are doing in your PT. Three events to include: push-ups, sit-ups, and 2 mile run. The push-ups and sit-ups are graded by how many you can do in 2 minutes.

So, take the time today, give it a whirl. Set your clock to two minutes and GO!! Mark out a track, and run 2 miles and time yourself. Then grade yourself on the grade below, I have also included how much you should weigh accordin…

Day 14, Sleeping on the Floor.

Not to be confused by complaint or frustration, I preface this blog with the fact I know many people complain about 'in-laws'; but this is not one of those blogs.

So, there I am laying on our 2nd bedroom floor on top of our exercise mat, with several throw blankets keeping me warm. My wife 5'5" snuggled up comfortably on a loveseat just inches above my head, her feet dangling off the edge. The ipod is playing our 'rain/thunderstorm' as we try to get into a comfortable position that doesn't make a limb fall asleep or worse.

Not so typical for me, I lay there wrestling. Feet shifting in and out of the 'Barbourville' blanket, head bumping the particle board laptop stand,...and listening to my wife shifting around on the reclining loveseat, just waiting for her to trigger the recliner mechanism that would fling my body against the wall, like a paper football.

It was in the midst of this, that I thought. What is hospitality? I was reminded of Abraham tak…

Day 13, Adoption II: Are You Still Going to Have Your Own Kids?

SUNDAY SPECIAL:
Due to the fury of responses to the Adoption posting earlier, I decided to continue more on the topic.


Russell Moore, wrote in a very thoughtful book about adoption in chapter two, that the most common frustration to parents adopting is 'stupid questions'. I agree. Of course you have your typical financial, family, paperwork, etc....but a common frustration is the questions that a couple might receive when going through the process.

1. Are you still going to have your own kids?

A: In no way less are the kids that I am adopting 'less' than kids that just so happen to have my own DNA running through their bodies. Think about the implications of this through Scripture. Jesus refers to us many times as 'brothers', 'heirs', 'sons'...now the rights that you have as a blood-atoned sinner, are no less than that of the REAL Son before the Father. To be called a 'half' or 'adopted' in a negative sense, seems to make less of t…

Day 12, Vacations have abrupt Endings.

As a child I can still remember taking into the cabin my 70's sky blue suitcase as we began our 5 day vacation in North Georgia at Tugaloo State Park, at Lake Hartwell. Mostly waterskiing and riding up and down on the pristine lake, during any season. Yet, I can still remember the excitement of the exploring and seeing new things (although not much changes up there), and the fifth day would come. Dad would leave early with our uncle to pull the boat out of the water, and we would have to pack and be prepared for his return. As he pulled back in, we would drag our suitcases out to the car reluctantly across those beat down porch steps, where many visitors did the same ritual.

Today, I wake up..get a coffee, plug into my dying laptop (no 220 or 110 outlets), only to notice the little envelope near the door, reminding me that today is the 'final day' and check out has come. The Alps are over, my Italy trip over, and my Strasbourg France trip....over. Yes, where did the 7 days …

Day 11, My Early Morning Habits.

Around 0538, my only alarm goes off. I quickly roll from the bed to the pile of PT's on the floor, and dress. Grab my tennis shoes and socks and walk to the door. Usually by then, I turn on the first light and prepare my morning notes for my 0600 daily meeting. Drive to the meeting,...after the meeting some PT, then back home to the shower.
I use Suave shampoo, and some new funky body wash with my 'womanly' loofa (lu-fa) sponge. Due to Jessica's encouragement. I brush with Colgate and Oral-B. Shave with Barborsol and Fusion (Mach 4), then put a little Old Spice Cool in the pitts. Then....press a magic button on my Nespresso Machine, and within a couple of seconds have a Polish Pottery cup steaming hot with a Caramel Macchaito, for .55 cents. No ellaborate breakfast.
By then, I have somehow put on my ACU's and socks, but not my boots.
I wait,...I grab my Tabletalk (Daily Devotional) and sip and read. When done, take the time to kiss my wife, grab my briefcase/lappy b…

Day 9 &10, Cathedrals, Idols, and our daily lives.

While traveling throughout Europe, it never fails that every city that you see will have a Cathedral that you must see. Out of all that I have seen thus far, St. Paul's in London, and the Cathedral in Koln, Germany have been far more than impressive.
What makes them impressive?

1. The immense structure that can only be compared to as skyscrapers in any US city.
2. The front doors are massive, decorated with brass/iron/gold biblical depictions.
3. Interior, just huge weighty columns that make you question what earthly being could construct.
4. Decorations beyond your wildest imaginations: paintings, wood carvings, golden everything, mosaic floors.
5. Figurines everywhere. Bishops/Mary/Jesus/Apostles.

________
I am not Catholic. (Thus, 'reformed'). I have a different feeling every time I enter a Cathedral. I ask questions like. Here are some of my contemporary protests:

1. Who paid for this?
2. Does that incredible painting, statue, sculpture, golden crucifix ...do anything for anyone…

Day 8, Random Blogging and Topical Sermons

Yesterday, as I began to write the daily blog I thought about how it parallels the same early discovery I had in ministry, that just about made me quit. Let me explain.

June 10, 2001, I was ordained to be a minister. I was excited to take on the challenge, the church that I served gave me the opportunity to be a college minister. I taught Sunday School, and prepared to start a ministry called, Campus. Basically, a weekly Bible Study that would gather the local college students from various churches to have a study. As it began to grow, I saw some of the early struggles of ministers. I was teaching on a weekly basis. Sounds pretty easy. It is if you have some direction or guide, but if you are winging it, it can be quite challenging for any superstar creative pastor.

The parallel is rather simple. Random blogging thus far has been quite easy, but now that I am starting into the daily ritual, I can see this to be quite the challenge for a 'novice' writer. I remember the joy of und…

Day 7, Television and Agenda's

Day 7
Turn on your computer or watch your itunes TV, and watch and you will see it. You will not miss it. You don't have to rub your eyes. Its quite apparent. The writers of just about every Television Network have decided to make sure their agenda is clear. I am hoping, a network will emerge similar to FOX and CNN, where you clearly just say, "I have a bias on news, and here it is. So, tune in." Why don't networks do that?

What am I talking about you might ask? Well, let me give some names that cross my path as I watch through my favorite TV episodes,...Oscar Martinez, Smithers, and here is a list of what I am talking about.

This blog is not about the willful decision of human beings to turn their lives away from a Holy God. Every blog is about that, we all fall short of what God has established. That is not the point of this. The point is: Why do a majority of television shows seem to go out of their way to make sure they have a character that is homosexual in the lin…