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Showing posts from October, 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 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…

Day 6, Mission Accomplished.

Words can't express this moment.
(From left to right: John Craven, John Piper)
Koln, Germany
09 OCT 09

Day 5, The Scarlet Red Letter, "A" : Adoption

Not many years ago, the church that I worked for placed out 3500+ crosses in the front yard of their church to represent the daily abortions that occur in the United States. It was very humbling on that Sunday to drive up to the church, or drive by during that week and see that massive cemetery.

I even took the time during my seminary years to write and research my personal view on abortion and 'what happens when infants die' in relationship to my view of predestination and Reformed Theology. It broke my heart to hear of all these deaths, and I had no answer in my early years of ministry to help students, (Yes, I said students.)

It was not until my wife and I got to our first church that a young lady was discussing adoption, that something changed in our perspective. She said that, if you support a Pro-Life agenda it will manifest itself fully in a Pr0-Adoption agenda. (Basically, you can't stand against a abortion, while never saying anything about adoption.)

Keenly observe …

Day 4, Dan Brown and Other Less Glorious Writers.

I admit about 3 years ago in Barbourville, Kentucky, I secretly went to the Wal-mart in my veiled sunglasses and costume to purchase the Dan Brown Best Seller, Da Vinci Code. It's True. It was quite the page turner. Plus, as having a very limited Art History and a personal love for Leonardo (not the city he was from, retarded name 'Da Vinci', ((trns. From Vinci)), I found the book super appealing.
A couple years later, as I was wasting valuable time (15 months) down in Baghdad, I also picked up Brown's, Deception Point, Angels and Demons, and Digital Fortress. Interesting reads. Out of those, Angels and Demons atleast kept my interest. And of course, right now, I am finishing up 'The Lost Symbol'.
Here's my take on good ole, Dan Brown. Great Fiction. Everyone enjoys a 'hidden' conspiracy theory, especially when you throw the church into it. Everyone loves the 'Matrix' idea that the world we exist in is simply an illusion, and the real world is…

Day 3, 10 years of John Piper

Its true, I am a Piperite.
Here's my story: 10 years ago, I sat down in my lovely rented 'Triple-J' Ranch home with Josh Stewart, and popped in a sermon tape by John Piper. I remember as if it were yesterday. The title was appealing, "Did Christ die for you or for God?". Seemed provocative enough to engage my senses.

10 minutes after it had started, I could barely hold back my thoughts of how this man preached with such authority and seriousness. It wasn't hell fire and brimstone, and it wasn't comic relief. It seemed as though this was his last sermon, and this was the last sermon the audience would ever hear. Every now and then, I would steal a glance at Josh as we listened, and I could tell he was going through the same internal breakdown I was experiencing.

Soon after the sermon was over, I made it my goal to read a book by this guy. The Borders I went and got a copy of "Pleasures of God". I began to read, and waves of questions flooded my min…

Day 2, Hotdogs or Turkey Dogs.

A couple of days ago, I came home for lunch. I went through my typical routine of dropping the planner, keys, beret, cell phone, etc, off onto the appropriate counter-top. Jessica was preparing lunch and cranked up the George Foreman. As she was unwrapping the grocery bag, which concealed my surprise, she offered, "John, would you like a hotdog for lunch?". Although, I am trying my best to vow never to eat another hotdog (see Josh Stewarts view on eating hotdogs), I could not resist the temptation.

We threw 3 dogs onto the George Foreman, and watched. As they cooked, I never noticed any significant changes until they were getting 'done'. This is when I realized that the 'ALL BEEF' hotdogs I was accustomed to, would glisten in the grease and fat splattering....these were merely sitting and burning on their sides. I rolled them off into the buns and added the necessary toppings.

Glancing over at my wife, and said, "These look a little different than the typ…

Day 1, Korean Church and My Thoughts.

Military Chapel's are unique places to say the least. First you have the most transient people in the world coming to a service, which typically is different from week to week. Even as being a Chaplain, I have seen them range from quality services to something quite unusual. ((If you have been there you know what I am talking about)).

Yet despite all the variants I have concluded in the local church and Chapel, there is never going to be a perfect worship service or 'Church' until we, the church, stand before the Throne of God. I think in His presence, we will not concern ourselves so much with ourselves but be overwhelmed with Him.

Ok, what's this have to do with Korean Church.
Simply this: I am not Korean. I don't speak it, write it. I do want to adopt a Korean Baby. That's about it. This Sunday though, my wife and I attended the Korean Service at Baumholder. It was at this service that I got yet another glimpse of something. It was this: God is Holy and I am no…

Julie and Julia: A Blogger's Dream Come True.

I admit, I was not so excited about the idea of paying 14.50 euros to go see a movie that centered around Julia Child, a cookbook, and a blogger (Julie). With my Fanta and Gross (large) Popcorn, I sat down beside my poised wife.

As expected the movie bounced from Julia Child in her early years preparing her cookbook to Julie in challenging herself with the daunting task of cooking every recipe from the cookbook in a single year. Thus, the plot: 365 days of cooking, for 123 mins.

Yet, I noticed a bizarre desire in my life begin to creep up my neck. A desire to go from bush-league writing and blogging to the top, a book actually published. Dare say, that as the movie progressed it seemed that the cooking and recipes only took a secondary part as the 'publishing' became the overarching theme of the movie.

I could feel it happen, my own creativity began to swim as I sipped on the last bit of Fanta, eyed my wive's half full glass. My mind wondered, "What splendid adventure co…