12.31.2009

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 sit down in Apartment 8075, 2B after moving from 8061. A cool glass of Culligan water, and the sense that this new abode will be home soon.


#5, Driving with the in-laws and Jessica through Germany, Austria, Italy, France, parts of Switzerland, and who knows where else in the 2008 Explorer.


#4, Getting offered a job at Arlington Cemetery, only to have it 'revoked' months later. Struggle through weeks of disappointment, then receive news for Lifeway that I would be writing for them. Not real sure how to say this, because they obviously are no where near the same 'level', but it was that moment that you knew God was giving you some sunshine in the clouds to let you know that you will make it, and that He hasn't forgotten you.

#3, Riding bikes with my wife up and down the beach in Hilton Head, SC. Not really sure when to stop and turn around, and not really sure how far we came. Who cares!?!? We are on vacation.


#2, The "Welcome Home" party and Banner at my mom's house, in June. My Sister and her children had made a banner, that said "Welcome Home". My mom and Dan, had made a wonderful meal and we just sat around and were thankful that God had allowed me to come see my family after my Iraq tour.


AND FINALLY,

#1, "The Hug". Many of you saw it. Standing in formation after arriving back from Iraq, in a Gym. Jessica was wearing a pink top, (she told me this is how I would see her in the crowd.) The prayer was over, the final "DISMISS" was given. I turned only for about 3 feet to meet my wife face to face. The moment was more than priceless. It was better than, "I DO" on April 23, 2005. It was, "I did it. Let's go home.", May 23, 2009.

12.21.2009

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? Would I want to sit and listen to a screen preaching to me? Does this draw the church together or separate it? I don't know.

I do know that this 'traveling preaching' is nothing new. George Whitfield did it all through America, thus creating the fertile ground for the Awakenings, of 1740's.

So here's my short take/or observations:
1. There are a handful of preachers that I would definitely would say could do something like this, Yet does this make an emphasis on the preacher or the message. John Piper, for instance, and incredible orator/preacher...but the expansion of his preaching ministry like this, could inhibit those who are in those various areas to take up the calling in their own life, and become preachers.

2. Does this create a 'superstar' mentality that I believe that all ministers already struggle with so greatly.

3. Yet again, some churches would be served by having quality preaching each week, even if it meant it came via internet/videofeed or whatever.

These are just three observations. I am just bringing it to the surface, because I read it, and was intrigued enough at the Shoppette to buy a paper.

Bottomline: How would you feel if your pastor was a traveling preacher? Would you feel this centralizes your church or do you feel this would be the vehicle that your church would reach more people, plant more churches, in your area? Always be about reforming your views, to what the Scripture teaches us. I am not convinced either way on this issue,... whether this is particularly good or bad,...

as long as Christ is preached, who gives a rip.

12.18.2009

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, I get to legitimately tear to pieces and pour myself over in order to prayerfully give some insight to teachers. I am not looking for a Pulitzer, but I am praying that first God would be honored, that Christ would be clearly seen, and that some teacher would be encouraged to convey the Scriptures with passion.

Pray for me. I hope this is a way I can provide something back to the local church.

12.16.2009

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 the Scriptures and their hearts awakened by the Spirit of truth.

Ok...so here's the deal? Most of the time, soldiers love to think they have STUMPED the CHUMP. They love to ask about Dinosaurs, and if God could make a rock big enough that he couldn't move,...etc. BUT, I have recently thought about this, and most of the time the most often asked question is not in regards to the Problem of Evil (which is 2nd),...but it often revolves around the authenticity of the Scriptures.
Most soldiers, think that the Scriptures are merely 'corrupted' due to years of copying...and that they are riddled with errors. No longer do you hear, "I can't understand it...(as in my day where KJV was the typical standard)"...most of them recognize the innumerable variations found at the book store.

Do these variations help or hinder the message? A teen study Bible,....NIV...NSRV, CSB, CEV, ...policeman's version,...the hunters bible (in camo)...we have all seen them.

SO, my soldiers see all these as different 'translations'....and assume with all these variations that there is NO WAY POSSIBLE that we have the original language of the Scriptures in tact. Hard to believe?

Yesterday, I did have a soldier come to me and ask... "Chaplain, how did we get the Bible?" It shocked me...We talked about how the oral tradition of old,...later was written down,...the authority of Prophets...the Law...the Eyewitness accounts of the Life of Jesus,...the validity of the stories being written down so soon after the event,...the 20 centuries of the Bible being examined on a weekly basis by hundreds of thousands of pastors/teachers...the internal cohesiveness of all the stories both Old Testament and New Testament,...Council of Trent,...etc.

Now,...I love to read Church History and pray if the Lord permits,...I will go back and study even more,...but...ultimately...

Sitting beside someone and engaging them as individuals...listening to their questions,...and answering the best way you know God has prepared for you to answer...HUMBLY...that's why I do what I do.

Bottomline: So, do you have any solid hope for the reason you believe that 66 book collection you have in your room right now? Could you explain it? I am not sure if I gave all the right answers, actually I had to go back and tell the guy later I totally missed a fact,...Don't be shy. Defend your faith.

12.11.2009

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 WANT OUT!"
2. QUICKLY STOPPING THE CAR, and EXITING THE VEHICLE.

Now mind you, Jessica and I laughed and discussed this for about 20 minutes. This was our 'private' talk, so I will not BLOG, about my personal past. Oh, how things change over the years. BUT Stories, like... "THE GET OUT STORYTIME"...will forever be a good time for Jessica and I.

Bottomline: The past relationships of many young married couples can oftentimes cause terrible marriage threatening problems. Knowing when and how mature your marriage is good, before jumping into long discussions about your teenage 'high-school' sweetheart...and 'fun-times' you had in college. We all have things we would like to leave in the past, and that is understandable. BUT, there are some things like, "the Get out storytime", which when properly administered in your family, will not cause problems...but will secure your marriage; due to the fact that you both emphasize the change of maturity from THEN to NOW. Speaking of the past as a learning time, opposed to glamorizing it, can always build security in the present and hope for the future.

12.07.2009

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)
2. Bumped a lady on HWY 78, at the K-mart intersection in front of South Gwinnett High School, 1994. (she hit the brakes, and put it in reverse in an intersection!!)
3. 1 Ticket in my Teal Sunbird, excessive speeding (I passed a Campus Cop in a merging lane and made him mad,...long story). (1995)
4. 1 Speeding Ticket 2000, in a rental van trying to catch a speeding Singles Pastor who had the map, that I didn't have in my vehicle.

THAT IS IT. Yes, an absolutely clean driving record now for nearly 10 years.

On the other hand,my loving wife, with her verbal permission, I can say does not have the stellar achievement:

Since 2005 (our wedding),
1. Three minor wrecks with inanimate objects, Later 2005, March 2008, and December 2008.
2. One speeding Ticket on Gillom Hill, a common speed trap in Barbourville, KY. 2005.
3. Currently awaiting the Germany, mail-prize for getting the FLASH of a traffic camera,on the autobahn.


What's the bottomline:
Ok. This is not a slam on my wife's ability to circumvent rocks, guard rails, or buildings. Ok, it might be. YET, here's my question: What is the proper response when they come in with tears in their eyes or a shaky voice over the phone saying that they have wrecked the vehicle? Or I think I got a ticket today? There's the right response that wants to ask, "Are you ok?"; second, "Is the car drivable?"; BUT SERIOUSLY,...what is the response? You can't bring her home ground her, or send her to bed with no dinner...or take the keys away?

So, my solution: Blog about it. And Yes, Jessica knows. I asked, she laughed and said...you better write something funny, your blog is been really dry & heavy lately (with a smirk).

So, here' to you my wreckless Euro driver!

12.04.2009

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 counseling or appointments. These aren't interruptions, just opportunities. Seeing 30 individuals a month, one on one, far exceeds any ministry goals that I ever dreamed.

Yet, just recently this week, as I labored over Psalms 23:4,...I prayed for insight and understanding. The knock came, right on time. The soldier very upset and overwhelmed with grief over some issues. As I began to simply categorize his problems, then set up each with a reasonable course of action solution, my heart began to pound,...I knew this soldier did not need 'just another remedy'. My mind rushed to recount the entire Psalm in my mind...would this be the solace for this soldier? I cringed,...surely not. I continued with my seemingly easy to solve method. YET, the conviction to press into the Scripture became overwhelming,...the next thing I know...I am recounting how King David had some serious problems too. He was in a world of 'dung' a lot. And the only comfort he had was in the presence of the 'Shepherd', "The Lord is my shepherd".

There in my office, I explained verse 4 as if he were my only audience for this upcoming sermon. He listened intently, seeing relief show in his face as we pressed over and over, the only hope we have is resting in the presences and person of Jesus Christ.

Bottomline: Sometimes I truly think that we really believe that our labors can only be quantified if they are recognized by the masses. That somehow, numerically, we feel appreciated. This week, I realized that the sermon this Sunday has already been preached. This time it wasn't for me, but for this lone soldier. All the exposition, and studying culminating not to 1,000's to hear or 35,000 (like Whitfield in London), but 1 soldier...in a basement office. That's Biblical Counseling.

12.01.2009

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, during the Christmas Holidays...should we not have more conversations regarding Christ,...should we not make him a much more central theme than our 'playing cards and going to plays'...should we not meditate on His coming.

I thought for a second after it was over to this Whitfield challenge,...and my first response was, "HOW DO I DO THAT?". But, for atleast for my home,...we have started just by reading this short book. We atleast have have directed 15 minutes of our evening to thoughtfully considering Christ. It is not an intense Bible Study and Hymns at Bldg. 8075, but it is a start.

What will you do this Christmas to meditate on Christ more? Will you be content with another year of trivial 'traditions' or will you do your best to raise your affections to the one who gave his life for your forgiveness and righteousness? My recommendation is an "Advent" book which centralizes on a passage of Scripture. Our write your own for your family. Use the Bible as your guide.

11.28.2009

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, ...it is imperative that we don't let these little tastes become so satisfying that they draw us away from Christ or our families. The very instance I am noticing a lag in zeal toward my wife or my daily reading due to the XBOX, I must refocus my attentions and affections. As I have written earlier in the blog, I do believe that we will one day and give account before God how we didn't reach our neighbors or prayed...but we will definitely have countess hours logged on Facebook or 'leveled up' on MW2.

11.27.2009

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 destroyed.

Let me explain.

If you merely go back a couple of blogs, you will see that God was truly changing some things around our home. Jessica was and still is growing strong in her love for the Lord. Her daily readings were spot-on. Her prayers before dinner were not, 'let's eat!', they were genuine. (I detest short thoughtless prayers before a meal) ((Even those I must do for my job, I pray never turn into 'print and pray'))

Anywho,...on top of her growth, the night that this information came...i sat with my sermon and realized that everyone who was sitting in the congregation Wednesday, didn't necessarily need to hear it...I DID. I needed to preach to me. I needed to hear this and believe even what I was saying. Here is the outline:
Joel 2:21-27
1. Famine/Locust will come, but have Hope God is there.
2. Only God can restore with Rain, fully.
3. See everything as a blessing and means for thanksgiving, and at the root of these is God's Grace.

I was in my office just hours before the sermon would be preached, and reading through just POINT ONE, and Psalms 23 (a supportive verse) floored me.

"Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME!"

Jessica and I are humbled by the call of God in our lives often. We have disappointments. We cry together in our kitchen too. But, praise be to God, when we sit on our couch to circle around our scratched up coffee table to eat dinner or lunch, I hear prayers that echo 'deep joy' knowing that all things work together for good for those who love God, and are CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.

The Bottomline: We will sustain, not because we are Christians, but because Christ's plan will not fail.

11.24.2009

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...talk it through with my Chaplain Assistant. Still really no real substance or 'feeling' of accomplishment. 1655, a meeting to go to.

1730, Jessica picks me up, and ask how the day was....I am frustrated. Why? My goal was to seriously work on the sermon, and have something ready for those who would come and hear the messsage. I sit down on my couch, defeated, pick up my Bible again.

Then the Lord prompted me to write on some new paper out of the printer. 1755, I get my G2 pen, and within 15 minutes, I have penned the entire sermon...all the exposition that I had worked on last week, within seconds formed perfectly on the passage...and ran to the Cross of Christ. It was done.

My Home Office. A coffee table, and a sofa.

Bottomline: I am not a fan for fly-by-the-seat of your pants preaching. I am very methodical and sometimes overly zealous for details in sermons. I think at times, I get so 'Army-minded' it seems to forget that the Spirit brings illumination. The still small voice, needs my attention.

For those attending the Thanksgiving Service, please don't think that its going to be an amazing open-air George Whitfield explosion, ...but I do believe it will help us all refocus on the Thanksgiving found in Christ, the terminate end of all our joys. Our fountain. (a little Matthew Henry)

11.22.2009

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 current reads on my desk beside the bed, and can manage my reading through the week, as I finish the stack.

So, my blogs for the upcoming weeks will be laced and speckled with what I am learning about this man, called, "George Whitfield".

Bottomline: I feel that I have come to a point in my life where I desperately need to control my radical spending habits in the world of books. Just not buying them or giving myself an allowance seems juvenile or missing the point. I do believe at the root of it is PRIDE. I long to be as smart as so many of the people around me, and thus if I amass a large library, maybe they will think I have read them all, and thus I am UBER intelligent. I think, enjoying what I have and savoring my new additions will make me greatly appreciate what I learn versus always feeling I must ADD ON to what I have. I hope this makes sense...I feel like this is a huge problem in my life. Please pray for me.

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. (2 miles)
1. The March 9 Miles, with the 40 lb pack, up and down hills here in Germany.
2. A Stress Shoot Qualification
3. Short Bus ride.
4. 5 Mile Ruck March.
5. Simulated Attack, and first aide 1 mile carry of a wounded soldier.
6. 5 Mile Ruck March.
7. Howitzer Push/Pull up and down hill, (4 Miles).
8. Cold Sleep/Rice Ball with Anchovies (yum!)
9. 2 Mile Ruck March, with Water (additional 120 lbs).

This was stretched over 1.5 days. ( limited sleep, and food).

So, tomorrow, I promise to catch up.

I got 7 new books this week. Finished, 'Rethinking Retirement' By John Piper. It was about 20 pages total, but I think every individual in church should read it, especially over 50. We can't be motivated enough by the Scripture to turn from the lure of the world in our lives. This is an exceptional book of the history of some incredible saints. Polycarp...and others.

11.16.2009

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 'wrong', but what is this obsession that a 50 year old man, can't look like he's 50 years old. Why must he want to look 24?

I just think looking 'grey' and wise can't be a bad thing. I personally don't to be a fat slob or a Couch-potato, although I think currently I am sprouting bud, but I don't want to deny the inevitable process of age.

"We long to be old when we are kids, and long to be kids when we get old.", I don't know who said it, but it seems for the most part true in this generation. Well, not for me. I gladly embrace the grey, the balding, and any other fine luxuries that are just around the corner. Why?

It is a constant reminder that this body is only for a season, and then the glorious Resurrection, where this flesh and bone, will be hurdling fences chasing the glories of heaven for eternity. So, each new bump and more hair in the sink...that's ok,
I guess, I am just getting ready for home.

11.14.2009

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. Although, the financial burden is not really the issue, Jessica and I had to come to the conclusion today, that this Christmas we will have to stay in Germany. A very tough decision. She left at about 1520 to go grab the weeks groceries, and I got the phone and decided to call home and pass on the news. Seconds, after I told my mother, I could hear the hurt and my heart sank. My throat tightened. (even now it still does). Tough Decision, for the greater good. Yet even minutes after we got off the phone, I rushed to the computer to look for more flights or schedules that possibly would give us a good deal or save us more time in the end. A constant argument between, what I want and what I know is a rational decision.

Bottomline: Some days we move from such a variety of emotions that it is just basically impossible to make a clear decision. Thankfully, through prayer and logic, God has given us wisdom to discern. Things that are not blatantly taught in Scripture as sin or breaking the covenants of God, are still opportunities to ask God to give you wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Nowhere in Scripture are you going to find, "GO BUY THE NEW CAR" or "SAVE YOUR MONEY, GET THE USED ONE." You do have a mind and wisdom of rationality...make a thoughtful decision, and know that God will not be surprised at all. Your choice, does not disrupt his Sovereignty.

11.13.2009

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 Captain, not real high on the Chaplain/Officer food chain. My immediate Boss will be there, my rater will be there, and a Full Bird Southern Baptist Chaplain will also be there (my guest speaker). Oh....and wait,...what am I doing this for?....oh yeah. Don't miss the point here,...my Sovereign Lord will also be there, who I am pretty sure not only out ranks them all, but is truly the only true recipient of tomorrows' attention.

How often I think in this occupation, it is so terribly easy to forget...I am doing this not for soldiers or command, but for the glory of God. My attention tomorrow should be to all the details, I know, but if I miss the point of bringing Glory to the risen Christ Jesus, I have failed. A clear opportunity to make known the reason for my hope that I have.

Bottomline: How often do you DO things that have little to no reflection that our chief end is to glorify God? Even things that are laced with religiosity? God is not honored by our bulletins or fancy music ensembles, if he is merely a punchline or logo/trademark. I pray tomorrow, I don't miss the point.

11.12.2009

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 course the obvious grave markers being Crosses.
It was just an observation, but I wonder about the use of the Cross as a national marker for a tomb. Knowing that some had Jewish Star of David also, Did the Cross represent 'Christian?' or was it pulling from a 'sacrificial' sense of the soldier giving his life, 'like Christ?'. I am not being sarcastic or irreverent here, I am merely asking out of ignorance.

Either way, it was a thought-provoking trip.

Those of you who have attended or not, do you know any relationship between:

King David, Constantine, King Arthur, and George Washington.

(you can't google or wikipedia it...that's cheating)

11.11.2009

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.

11.09.2009

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 of zeal for the Lord and a renewed spirit. I was delighted to see this in her, and she has placed around the house for our memorization the passage in Hebrews 12:1-2, for us to begin to memorize. Its in the shower, the door to the house, and the bedroom mirror. Repetition is the key to learning.

Next week, we will kick off hopefully the next part of the passage.

Bottomline: Sometimes, a good retreat away helps us refocus. We oftentimes get really 'excited' and make a lot drastic changes when we return, yet that's a good thing. We need to hopefully stretch ourselves beyond normal, so that when we bounce back to normal...its not exactly the same as it was before. Some may criticize this view as, pessimistic or skeptical, but...you know if in 5 months...I have a better grasp of Hebrews 12:1-2, its better to have focused my mind there for a period of time, than not at all. I pray it sticks. (Document protectors (plastic sheets) in the shower, work marvelous to preserve notes and Scripture there.)

11.08.2009

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' in your head. Amazingly enough, I have seen it happen to me, many a times, that I have found myself readdressing a specific need in my life, that I resisted during the service. Yet, confronted by my own 'memory' and the Holy Spirit, I find it much more difficult to resist in the comfort of my kitchen or office desk.

You are a good preacher. You might just have an audience in the bathroom mirror, while you are shaving your face or putting on make-up. You might be surprised how much you really take home and learn from hearing the Word of God.

Special Thanks to Brent Sadler, Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Landstuhl, for a very thoughtful sermon today, on Ecclesiastes 7. I pray that I preach it as well, this week to myself.

11.07.2009

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 you peace, in this season of loss.

Bottomline: Why does this happen? My answer: Sin and a fallen corrupt world. Since Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 3), we have all suffered from this (Romans 5). All creation suffers. This very incident is a result of people rebelling against a Holy and Righteous God. All people, everywhere, have rebelled against God. Our only hope is finding a peace-maker with God, and thus Christ took all the sinful actions upon himself, and God punished Jesus by killing him. This crucifixion, was just. But, the story of hope is not just in his sacrifice, but his reconciling men everywhere to God, who would repent of their sins and follow Christ.

We should have more than answers, the problem of pain, we need to have a hope in Christ, who will guide us to forgiveness and restoration.

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. Pagan Holidays, and how the church follows it today?
4. DOCTRINE DAY: A Closer Look at Reformed Theology, at Work.
5. And of course the same, Day by Day devotional thoughts.

If you have any more ideas that you would like me to put my thoughts on ...let me know.

I am truly thinking about coming out and saying this Global Warming is a bunch of ecological worship...but I will wait and see. :)

Enjoy the next 30 days. Sticking to this commitment.
Live the example.

11.06.2009

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. The calm, pause as they leave for a second...but only to return to more torturing, when you thought 'Surely, that was it.' NO, still going
6. Then the PINK rinse. GAG!
7. The polite, "I just rammed my fist down your mouth for half hour, and let you suck on stick that pulls your inner organs out..." HERE's your 3.50 ORAL B Toothbrush gift. If you didn't like my flossing, give me floss.

That's my day. Currently eating some popcorn kernels...and in about 15 minutes I will crawl in the bed without brushing my teeth. Take that mystery woman!

Bottomline: I don't like Dentistry. Does anyone? I guess it makes good material for Bill Cosby, Himself. That's about it.

11.04.2009

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 surprise...the rice was not sticky at all ...as a matter of fact it was quite HARD...CRUNCH...and yes nasty tasting...(I atleast tried it). Then...suddenly all my best laid plans...POOF!!!

Dinner Meal: Raw Shrimp,(no cocktail sauce), dumplings, and Miso soup. Not exactly what my expectations were set for.

Bottomline: The life that we live is filled with moments where your expectations of events are not met with there reality. One my chief points of any marriage counseling is to insure that both parties understand this. One spouse will expect a HIGH CLASS Dinner date on Friday, the other may assume Dinner and little love'n afterward. Both parties might be sadly mistaken, when High Class Dinner becomes, McDonalds, and an unexpected phone call from a relative or friend. Becoming too demanding that your expectations MUST be met, is clear sign of selfishness.

If you are going to make it through this life, understanding that from time to time...you might get 'nasty rice' out of the fridge. Smile, laugh...and eat the Raw Shrimp...it could be worse.

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...tender...hurting...for all who have eaten terribly hot things, know there is always a Nagasaki, after Hiroshima.

Bottomline: I am 34 years old. I know better. I have eaten things I know full well will utterly destroy my digestive system, but yet I continue because I like that sweet 10-15 seconds of chewing and tasting that flavor. How simply similar my appetite to sin. I enjoy that simple 10-15 seconds of pleasure only to suffer so much for it later. Whether my tongue, my eyes, or whatever thought escapes me...if written down in front of me...I would deny it 100 times...but it has something different. Its like an aroma or draw...that is even better than the sin itself...I think that's called the temptation. I hate to admit it, but fighting the 'sin' is easy...but fighting the lure of temptation is much tougher. Maybe this is why, Christ said, "...and lead us not into temptation..."

Fight the temptation of 'flavors' and 'aromas' in your life, for they will lead you down a path you don't want to go.

"If you aren't killing sin, sin will be killing you!" ~john owen

11.02.2009

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. I made the DiGiornos. I hung around late after church fellowships to scavenge the leftovers for take homes, and I rarely took food home from restaurants that I didn't heat in the microwave the next morning. I don't want to say, that my wife is just a cook or laundry detail servant. She's not. But, I know that I can't go back to a life that once thought was delightfully 'independent.'

Man, he's not good alone. The first malediction in the Bible. (negative phrase). I am pretty sure that applies to more than just Adam, but to humanity itself. Thus, a woman's role is pretty secure...we need your assistance according to God's Word.

Oh how foolish men's pride shrouds the caregiver/provision/compliment that God places only inches away from our noses.

11.01.2009

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, which do not necessarily come from my personal experience this week. To understand the message of the Trinity, or why Christ came to earth to die for the church? These truths aren't revolving around the local chatter on the front cover of "Men's Health" or "Economist" or "DrudgeReport". These timeless truths, are just that, they are timeless, what I write today regarding my trip to Worms is very up to date, but my life is not merely a constant Twitter update or Facebook edition,...it must be more.

Therefore, I challenge not only to myself but to all who read,...in the midst of our timely updates and conversations, intertwine those things that are timeless. I believe that conversations that are most meaningful, may not be the trends of the local weather in your area, but the depths of the oceans that hold the same water that rains on your crops. Not all of us are sages, but I do believe that the wisdom of Scripture is a great start for conversations like these.

Who knows, you may be sitting at the Sunday Table today, and move from Matt Ryan's ability as QB of the Atlanta Falcons, to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in your communion service? Just a thought.

Being Timely,
John

10.31.2009

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 movies makes me race to wikipedia to research these events, and atleast get a decent overview of what I have been watching. VERY enjoyable. Costumes were amazing...hair....ridiculously PROM! And if you read the previous blog regarding Jessica and my movie tastes, it matched perfectly.

A great night of stimulating History. Does anyone know any other classic like that?

So, what's the bottomline:
I don't really know. Maybe, Friday Nights are just good times to sit and enjoy the bounty of your labors. Maybe, from time to time, Jesus did take a day and just talk about fishing to Peter or carpentry? I am not Max Lucado, ...careful not to over-emphasize Christ's humanity...but I did enjoy it.

10.30.2009

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

10.28.2009

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, ..." series. (Amish/western)
4. Let me reiterate, absolutely no violence or heroic slaying of the dragon (no dragon). :)
5. Genre: Romantic Comedy.

John enjoys
1. Conflict and drama.
2. Not a horror flick or gory bloody.
3. Anything from with Gov't/Spies/Intel/Ancient History.
4. Let me reiterate, it must have a plot.
5. Genre: Drama/Suspense.

Now in our marriage, this has not constituted any throwing plates or yelling. We came to a conclusion since my return that we watch "Jessica's" Movie one night, and the next time, "John's" Movie. This recent discovery, makes the Halloween conflict over Charlie Brown or the Simpson's, quite manageable.

Jessica and I, are not perfect. We have areas that we don't necessarily see eye to eye, BUT, by the grace of God alone through Christ, we often must die to self. I never knew how 'self-centered' I was until I put on the wedding band. There is no doubt that God has shown me time and time again, that I have a great deal of growing up to do in this life.

Always Reforming.

10.27.2009

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 have the greatest 'voices', but heck they atleast don't go down the 'easy-listening' super repeating chorus track trail.

Sovereign Grace and Indelible Grace bring to the table: Thoughtful doctrinal anthems, creedal/hymnal themes that I think cause you to think more Biblically than just marshmallow brain teenage pop crap. I think music does matter. And in the short period of time that I have in my car, since I joined the Army, I value each selection to and from PT or PX.

Keep Listening...but what are you listening to?

10.26.2009

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 accounted to them as included in Christ atonement, and thus they are 'included' or 'inclusive.'

How do you stand or fair in this question? Is Jesus the only way to God? If Jesus is the only way, what about those people who never hear about Him? Do they die and go to eternal punishment?

How conservative is your family? If you want to have a good discussion around the table, ask the question? Give some good Biblical advice.

Jessica and I, actually talked about this the other day while sitting on the couch. It came about as we discussed the various religions we have come across in the military family. Our feelings and answers to this question are quite clear. We believe that the Bible is clear on this issue. A confession in Faith alone in Christ alone is essential for salvation. Thus, we place ourselves as missionaries/ambassadors of Christ here, to reach those who have never heard.

Bottomline: What type of theology sends you headlong into accomplishing the Great Commission where you are? Or does your theology cause you to rest assured that everyone's good to go?

10.25.2009

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 church leadership taking on the development of teaching the congregation more than just how to 'streamline' their classrooms or coordinate more meaningful cell groups. I think most of our leadership needs to take the time and focus the churches attention on learning some heritage, that may help it from falling back into new/old heresies or false teachings in the upcoming future.

Take the time and read a little on your Church Fathers. I highly recommend a book called, 101 Christians that every Christian should know.. Go to CHRISTIAN BOOK DISTRIBUTORS, and order a copy today.

Learn some Church History. Watch the acclaimed movie, LUTHER. It is very eye opening for those who have no idea, what I am even talking about. Learn why you are a PROTESTANT!!

Justification By Faith alone, not by some Indulgence or Works or Papal Decree!

10.24.2009

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 with the whole situation, and in route to Prince Avenue Baptist Church, stopped at a stoplight directly in front of the Varsity and Milledge Avenue, I just cursed God. My heart hurt so bad. Tears streaming down, wiping them as I drove. I wanted escape. By Grace alone, truly, I drove the remaining 1.5 miles to the parking lot at PABC, and sat in the car...Bible in hand and questioning why?

I never got a voice from Heaven, or a starry vision through the cosmos. I did have a flood of verses dance through my mind. The story of Job, the suffering of Joseph, the humiliation of Daniel, and on and on and on. Sober reminders that God knows what he is doing. I said a quiet simple prayer, and asked God to just comfort me.

12 years later, I can truly say, I have a deeper understanding of God's Sovereignty. Why did God take my roommate? My dad? leave me broke? single?...I don't know. But, what I do know is that He restored me. He restored fortunes of my life, that I thought were stolen. And, I will gladly tell anyone that suffers and is in pain currently,...'there is hope, my friend, for those who are in Christ.'

You may not know the 'WHY?' of the situation, Job never found out according to the book, but we can trust that God remains faithful to His children. Stand firm, cry, punch the pillow,...but trust God's not only with you, but restoring the season of famine.

10.22.2009

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 proper time. Tonight was one of those moments. To hold a very special dish, and see that she had labored on a brand new recipe and scored an A+, duly deserves praise.

Bottomline: Men, its quite simple. Praise your wife. They should be nestled in your praise and adoration. Your best security in your marriage is the adoration of your spouse. Make it count, be specific, and use volume.

Jessica,...you are my award-winning chef tonight!

10.21.2009

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 background music erupts and almost causes one to instantly reach for the remote to 'mute' this bad boy. YIKES! I can't bear it, its not the volume, its the thought that such a successful game has the most ridiculously 'Gangsta-punk-rap-voodoo-mix' soundtrack.

Here's a sample:
Madden Music

Ok. I know this trivial. But, after getting very annoyed, I went through the set-up menu and deselected every song, so I can enjoy my own personal sound track in my head.

What's the connection? Its simple.
Are you even conscious of is the background music in your life? I am talking about the music that radiates around you. The speech that fills your office. The television humming beside your computer. The background music. We often say, "Awww, that junk doesn't get to me, I just put it out of my head. I don't let that get to me." I am reminded of the life that live, and how much I am around soldiers and officers that have incredibly 'rich' vocabularies, sadly most of them are 4 letters and they use them in every part of speech imaginable. (quite gifted).

Yet, I would tell people, that never bothers me, "I am Chaplain." But, I noticed how much when I get angry or I am getting sleepy that these words fill my mind quickly, as 'options' to select to communicate. By the Grace of God alone, have I been able to keep myself from this for the most part.

Bottomline:
Do you really think about what surrounds you? Friends? Music? Etc. Do you have to listen to it all? Can you mute certain things that are truly distracting you or swaying you away from holiness? Just think about it.

10.20.2009

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 according to our standards.

Note: 60 is passing, 70 is expected, and most soldiers score total of 230-300.
The Army Standards for PT
The Height/Weight Standards

The Bottomline:
Sometimes as Christians we don't want anyone to set a standard that we have to match or to uphold in regards to holiness. We like to maintain the status quo, or look in the mirror and flex and say, "oh yeah, I am ok. Heck, I know so and so, and they are much fatter than I am." The point is simple, the standard has already been set: It is complete and utmost perfection. Jesus Christ is the only human, who achieved a 300, so to speak. He sets our standards in living a godly life. SO, in regards to how you are living in holiness, quit looking at the fat guy besides you to justify your own gluttony. Look to perfection, strive for His Holiness.

10.19.2009

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 taking care of visitors and Lot taking care of his angelic guests. It seemed that giving up things and being sacrificial is somewhere locked into the definition. I can see clearly that the GUEST gets the goods, (hence a fluffy queen-sized mattress with comforter). BUT, what is the benefit of the being the HOST?

I thought about some benefits, even though I have to admit I struggle with many of them.
The benefits of hospitality for the HOST:
1. Seeing the pleasure of those people you serve.
2. Seeing that your sacrifice of food, time, and agendas; Increases your gratitude for your day-in and day-out routines, that are often times seen as trivial.
3. Christ-like Host, lay down their lives, willfully (not grumbling or asking for 'my time'.)
4. Kills pride, to willfully give up your selfish tendencies. NOTE: Willfully = joyfully.

The Bottomline:
How good of a host are you? Would you be willing to open your home to others? Would you be willing to turn your den into a place of ministry and not 'misery'? What 'exercise mat' will Christ call you to bear? Do you joyfully accept visitors? Put out a guest book, make your home a place for ministry.

10.18.2009

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 the work of Christ, that brought us into the family, 'unblemished' having full rights.

2. 9 months of knowing the date, and 6-16 months of guessing.

A: Many parents that adopt have no idea of the exact timing or window of the adoption. This definitely applies to those adopting internationally. I am not sure what a good question would be, but maybe just patience, and understanding that about every month a huge 20-30 page document must be filled out (a repeat of the previous document) and submitted. This can be a painful process as they 'labor' through several months. Continual prayer and fostering the family a long with encourage, a prayer for the adopting family during service is a suggestion.

3. How can you guarantee they are going to be healthy?


A: This one is painful, because it implies that our desire for children can only be validated if it is healthy. The child becomes a 'showroom' commodity instead of a life. You would never dare ask that question to a pregnant woman, or a lady who just had a miscarriage. The adoption agency typically gives good judgment in this area, but as we all may know, children are governed by the sovereignty of God. If God chooses to take an adopted child or biological child home to Him, should we question Him? Health is an issue, but consider the same notion when going a mission trip, "Am I going to be safe?"; What a safer/healthier place to be than in the will of God?


Do you know of any stupid questions that have been asked regarding Adoption? Maybe they aren't stupid, but just not thought out. I would love to hear some of them, as we address a topic that is truly at the heartbeat of many.

10.17.2009

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 go? How quickly do they come and mostly unexpected end.

Our lives very similar. We must be ready for such abrupt endings. Check out time is coming for us all. Whether you are on a 'prodigal' vacation, or denying that your excursion will one day end. My prayer for you is simple: Come home. Realize that the world you currently live is not forever. One day we all check out,....do you have a home to go to? I do. I unashamedly recommend a song by Sovereign Grace, "It is not death to die." Truly song worthy of atleast 3 minutes of your time today on iTunes.


Oh to be with Christ, is more than any Euro could buy. No matter the currency exchange rate.

10.16.2009

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 bag and head out.


We all have these routines. Mine is probably not that much different than yours. But out of my 17 hours of being awake, that was 1/4 of my day. Have I thought on how to minister to people at my 0600? Have I taken any moments to fulfill the Great Commission as a believer? Do I care? Am I thankful? Or do I give the excuse that I am just not a 'Morning person"?

Do I start glorifying Christ at 0900/9:00AM,...if so, I think I am missing something?

Bottomline:
What do you do that makes this time Christ honoring? How do you glorify God, fulfill the Great Commission in the midst of eating the bowl of cereal and 2% milk or skim?

10.14.2009

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?
3. Why do so many of these cathedrals have so many horrific depictions on Jesus on a Cross, that would almost make you gag? (Especially, a Cathedral in Toluca, Mexico)
4. Did some who got an 'indulgence' in 1513 really help pay for this?

________
Now, I get back in my car and head back the hotel, and we stop at a local wood-carving spot just south of Garmisch. As I enter it, my stomach turns at the 100's of crucifixes and nativities that decorate the room. So, here is my question. Francis of Assisi in 1223, gave us the first 'live' nativity...which later became what we have in our houses. Puritans refused to have such, 'graven images' in their homes. Puritans even band certain traditions in England that would center around a 'Jesus' baby figurine, calling it 'idolatry'. So, what are we doing with our nativities. As Protestants are we trulying showing hyprocrisy by criticizing Catholics for their idols, while we wrap up baby Jesus extra careful this year, or make sure everyone sees our 'lovely nativity scene'. Are we hoping that the Gospel is seen in our figurines this Christmas and not our lives? May we present the Cross of Christ in our daily living. May our nativities be more of a vehicle where by we discuss our beliefs, and not something else.

Grant us more than wood and ceramic to save our souls.
Give me the Risen Christ, to put my head on his chest and hear his breath, and feel the warmth of the His hand against my head, and to hear him say in a deep resonating voice made by vocal chords, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

10.12.2009

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 understanding Expository Preaching/Teaching, which saved my ministry. A logical progression through a book of the Bible, where the next passage or paragraph in the text would dictate what you would preach/teach for the next week. Drawing doctrinal, or application directly from the 'whole counsel of God' versus trying to 'creatively' come up with a sermon/teaching every week.

Blogging, needs some type of good lectionary 'type' guide for me. I know, Albert Mohler, uses the current events thought, ...who knows? I don't want to float to and fro from topic to topic. Yet, I don't know exactly where to begin.

I suppose I will give a variety of thoughts. Maybe, break out into series that would interest other people,...while trying to keep it to a 'Craven' kitchen table discussion.

Chasing Rabbits, (can you tell that I drove 6 hours to the Alps today), I can.

10.11.2009

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 line up of characters? Not only that but, then almost highlight that character in episodes? So, here' two letters just to think on.

Letter 1, To the Networks:

I know you are wanting me to 'laugh and accept' this as a norm in our society. I know by getting me to soften my antiquated views, I will embrace this. I just want the liberty and some of your writers to escape the agenda that you are enslaving the viewers. Be creative, everybody is pressing the agenda, how original can you be to pop off yet another 'provocative' joke to make us cave-dwellers feel uncomfortable?

Give us a channel where you have writers that 'think' original humor, versus instead of retooling an agenda through new seasons. Are you out of ideas? Or just like many movies, is potty humor the only thing we can grip our depraved minds?

Your tentative Viewer,
John

Letter 2, To US the Viewers,

Take time this week, and watch carefully what is 'funny' at your house. Are you laughing at something that is truly funny or is awkward? Everyone loves a blasphemous joke, (SouthPark, knows it), the question is will we continue to bathe ourselves weekly in this and finally wake up years from now telling the same jokes at Sunday School for Icebreakers?

FYI: The button is also a option for your flat screen.

Fighting with you,
John


_______
It's true today we celebrate the first full week of my blog. Jessica's parents have arrived in Germany, and now the discipline of writing while on 'vacation' will test the seriousness of my commitment. I am sure Garmisch will inspire, good Tabletalks.

________