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