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Showing posts from November, 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, ...…

Day 43, Joyfully,Dealing with Disappointment

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

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

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

Day 42, My Home Office.

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

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

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

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

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

Day 41, New Books and Disciplines.

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

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

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

Day 40, Embellishing The Truth.

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

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

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

0. APFT…

Day 39, Am I getting Old?

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

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

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

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

Day 37 and 38, Recovery and Tough Decisions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 35, Memorial Sites.

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

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

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

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

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

Why be an Army Chaplain?

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

I love my job, excuse me, my calling. God truly knows what he's doing.
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Day 33, ...Memorizing Scripture.

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

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

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

Day 32, You're a Preacher.

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

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

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

Day 31, A Response to Tragedy at Ft. Hood

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

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

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

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

Day 30, The First Month of Blogging.

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

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

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

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

Day 29, Dentist Trip (Enough Said)

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

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

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

Day 28, Sushi Didn't Happen.

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

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

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

Day 27, Hot Wings and Repentance.

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

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

BUT I DID.

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

Day 26, She Left Me.

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

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

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

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

Day 25, Timely or Timeless.

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

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

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