1.31.2010

Day 60, Harmonizing and Being Authentic


Today, I stood in front of a Chapel of people to give the announcements and other small Chaplain like duties. Instead of prayerfully considering what was going on around me, I began to day dream about this thought. What if these people are reading my blog or my journal or they see me at my house or they have coffee with me at the CMR or see me at a Command Staff Meeting or play XBOX with me online?

The question came: AM I THE SAME PERSON IN ALL THESE VARIOUS VENUES?

Does the John Craven that blogs about pooping/Jenny McCarthy/Adoption and other very obscure topics, harmonize with the John Craven that loves expositional preaching, John Owen, smoking a Pipe? Is this John Craven who loves to pet Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, be the same one that counsels marriages?

I recognize we all have very different places we live and work. I am not talking about those differences. I am talking about a almost schizophrenia lifestyle that is created by the almost endless mediums one communicates in throughout the day. My greatest desire is that this person, John Craven, is not just the same,...but is portraying the genuine love of Christ.

Bottomline:Christ throughout his life never shows a Jekyll and Hyde idea. The guy whipping in the temple was the same guy forgiving a thief as his own blood dried on nails driven through his wrist. Jesus was the same yesterday today and forever. Therefore, does my facebook status that changes often reflect the consistency of my Savior...or do I reflect the same ebb and flow of a world that does not truly find their satisfaction in Him.

1.30.2010

Day 59, The Decay of Manners, Can be an Unexpected Blessing


**Caution: This may be disturbing for people of high standards of manners***
In the military, we have something called, "Hail and Farewells". It is a semi-formal affair where the upper level leaders of a unit come together to 'Hail' all the new guys to the unit, and 'Farewell' all the guys who will be departing. A meal, short speeches, a couple of jokes and you leave. A 'SEMI-FORMAL' event,...so you must be on your 'A-Game' in the Manners department.

Now for some reason this past week, at one of ours, I had eaten something during the day...that had not completely settled in my stomach. The entire night was a constant uncomfortable bloating sensation that thought would never cease. I was looking forward to great expectations to leave the speeches, and get in the car and get home. As the night wrapped up, we got in the car,...along with some people who had hopped in for the ride for a brief 12 minute ride home.

YET, thinking I could remain vigil for the entire trip, the comforts of home surrounded me as I sat in the Explorer and I completely forgot that we had guest. Needless to say, I leaned to the left, to ease my stomach problem...not realizing the eruption that would occur. Jessica immediately responds with , "JOHN!"...I was taken back myself,...rolling down the window etc.

Although, the moment was embarrassing let me proceed with a bizarre thought. Our guest have long since been our neighbors and friends, and I think at times WE, as individuals, like to keep our dignity, which may lead to a bizarre piety or pompousness. After this awkward moment, our friends began to laugh and the small talk was over,...in 12 minutes we had one of the greatest conversations that may have not had the greatest 'topic', but it did have a fine transparency that I believe can not be matched.

Bottomline: Be Careful about guarding your intimate details and building walls that will not allow people to see that you are human. I am not advocating an age of decadence, but a few moments where people can see you 'AS YOU ARE'. This vulnerability often couples with intimacy. Just think, the people you love the most,...often have seen you at your worst and still love YOU. I know Christ has seen me far worse than anyone, and yet he still extends his grace to a terrible sinner like me.

1.25.2010

Day 58, Recovering and Sour Milk.

After several days of being away from the Ole Blogger, I am getting back in the saddle again. Jessica's surgery is over and she is healing wonderfully. Although, I have seen that she has learned that if she 'looks' like she is in pain, I will just about stop anything I am doing to tend to her beckoning call. Yet, after the third or fourth trip to the kitchen for a spoon, bedroom for a book, office for the lappy,...I have noticed that these ailments generally disappear in the presences of a certain niece of ours calling on Skype. At the sound of Skype ringing, my wife miraculously can leap to her feet, dart through the halls effortlessly,...point click, situate, and watch on web cam our niece, Hannah. I typically, stand utterly amazed, as once she is seated enjoying the show, I scratch my head and wonder from whence did this vivacious woman arise? Nothing short of a miracle, I suppose.

Furthermore I have just about finished my commentary on the book of Nehemiah for Lifeway, which leads me to my next comment. Writing is very laborious, if done correctly. Therefore, after researching, proofing, writing, editing, and then rereading my creative garbled pseudo-scholarly work...I am empty for the blogging world. This became very evident after 2 weeks of working feverishly on this Commentary. Blogging, although quite enjoyable, was almost like flossing my teeth (which I detest with a passion).

Now, a couple weeks have passed and several general rules of life have etched into my brain, which leaves me quite excited for this week of blogging. I suppose a 'vacation' can do that. Everything to my souring milk in my 'frothing' machine to listening to John Piper while I was working out....we have much to talk about.

Bottomline: Get back in the Saddle. Do what God has called you to do. Quit making excuses, jump in...and find what true joy awaits you. OH, and Tim Wixon and Randy Dobson,...you guys are my heros.

1.11.2010

Day 57, Crazy Feelings of Anxiety

Laboring away at the ole commentary on Nehemiah, I have been humbled many times as I am struggling over and over again with my personal understanding or definition of what true leadership is.

Despite my current efforts to write scholarly after 2100 (9:00 P.M.), I decided to fall back on faithful blogging.

Therefore, I will just tell you the truth right now. Jessica is going into the hospital tomorrow here in Germany, and I am a little anxious about it. I am not scared for myself or the procedure, I am just concerned for my wife. I have not had kids yet, but I am sure that first day of school for your 'first born' is quite rattling. And in a very bizarre way, I want to somehow save Jessica all the pain and uncomfortableness of this entire episode. For some odd reason, I would rather MUCH rather me deal with this than her. That's what is bothering me.

On the other side of my heart, is a strong desire this week to look very intently again at my calling. In about 6 days, Jessica and I will have our Anniversary in the Army Chaplaincy Active Duty...2 YEARS. I think its appropriate to struggle through the affections of my heart to see if this is what God has truly called me to do. It is not doubt, but introspection.

Please pray for us this week as Jessica will be going into the hospital tomorrow, and I will be roaming Germany in search of food and shelter.

Bottomline: Its not good for man to be alone. (The first malediction in the Bible.)

1.09.2010

Day 56, Wrestling with Nehemiah

During the late 90's, I was just finishing up college when the popular trend of Evangelical Christianity shifted to emphasizing 'Leadership' as its primary. If you remember this era, you might recall the numerous books that John Maxwell published in this frenzy. Almost all the writings were centralized around the book of Nehemiah and Ezra. Youth Camps, Discipleship materials, any extra conferences were somehow centralized on Nehemiah. To be frank, I grew very upset with the almost tunnel vision approach of the church on this character. From the 90's through the first decade of the 21st Century, this Nehemiah character is unveiled again, not with the leadership focus, but on his ability to convey vision and build. AND THUS, many churches across the SBC, used this theme to create slogans and mottos surrounding 'church building campaigns'.

Frustrated in my heart, I grew to almost despise the story. I rarely would even read Ezra and Nehemiah in my readings. Not feeling I was better than them, but I could dare get passed the 'night survey that Nehemiah did' with out being whisked away to 100's of talks that I had either given or heard, regarding Leadership.

NOW, 10 years later. My assignment from Lifeway is to write a LEADERSHIP COMMENTARY on Nehemiah. Isn't the Lord funny? Two weeks ago, when I learned the details of the assignment, I almost cringed...yet then a spark of light. This is what I realized.
In God's gracious wisdom, I can now reflect on passages in light of my experience and more mature insight. My personal grudge against this passage may strain me to truly look more intent to see the richness beyond a leadership motif. Possibly, a more Theo-centric view or a ribbon of grace to point to Christ further down the road in the New Testament. Who knows?

I have four major sections to begin today on. I am eager to see what God's timeless truths can change in this cynical/skeptical/pessimistic/sinful young man. No doubt in my mind I need Him to change me.

Bottomline:
Lord forgive me for being arrogant to think that your Word is to be danced around. Lord help me to embrace the riches of the book of Nehemiah. I cringe as I wrote this morning realizing just how vain I am, humble me I pray to read/write encouraging words to people who need to see that the Scriptures are sufficient in all ways pertaining our Salvation.

1.06.2010

Day 55, The Adoption Support Begins.


Dear Family and Friends,
Jessica and I have finally crossed the point in the adoption process where we feel as a couple that it is appropriate to begin to call our Christian brothers and sisters to support our adoption.

Since our first date climbing Stone Mountain, July 16, 2004, Jessica and I have been planning our family through adoption. First, in the seed of conversation. Second, in the labor of plowing paperwork. And now, almost 5 years later, this has become a reality.

The Lord has been more than gracious to us to prepare for this adoption financially. Virtually all of our deployment money has gone into preparing for this. Yet, through prayer we feel that it is time to give the Church, the followers of Christ, an opportunity to not only support 'The Craven's', but ADOPTION itself.

A young lady in Barbourville Kentucky said it best to us, "If you are PRO-LIFE, then you must be PRO-ADOPTION." This one statement and many others have set our hearts on fire for this.

SO, What's the Bottomline?:
Its pretty simple. The new widget that you see directly to the side on the RIGHT labeled, "OUR ADOPTION" is one way to support. You can mail direct to our address (listed below). Or if you have a heap load of FLYER MILES, we would gladly take use those as well, as we will be flying to the states for the birth, and then back to Germany.

That's it. Support Our Adoption, get your Sunday School Class or local Church to donate. Help us finish the race, and bring a 'little Craven' home.

Mailing Address:
CPT Craven, John L.
CMR 405 Box 2462
APO, AE
09034

or email us, cravenfamily2005@gmail.com.

1.04.2010

Day 54, Jenny McCarthy Kick My Butt Tonight.


As many of you may know, we Army soldiers are fit and rugged and can't be stomped into the ground by anyone who doesn't have a Ranger Tab. I mean, seriously, I wake up,...go do PT at 6:30 for 1 hour, then typically after work run 4 miles just to stay fit for the fight that keeps us safe. ((Doesn't hurt to look good for the gal at home either)).

Yet, this evening, instead of going for my run, I dawned my PT's and turned on our Wii to try a new exercise system we got called, "Your Shape". Its simple. A video camera captures you on one window, Jenny McCarthy Avatar barks orders at you on the left window. While the exercises is happening, a constant feed on how you are doing is being sent in through the feed on the camera. I thought it sound preposterous and decided to show this system what a 34 year old, United States Army Captain can do.

Choosing Advanced, Cardio, 30 minutes. I put the controller down and started the program. NOW...before I continue. God speaks to all us in mysterious ways. Tonight, in about 28 minutes, I had a vision. I saw a vicious Avatar with a Trident, red suit, yelling and screaming as I was perishing in a quadriceps burning hell. YES,...PAIN. I tell you. PAIN...then....POOF! It was over...

Sweaty back, front, face red, lactic acid overdose,...I slumped to the Culligan water oasis for my break. Jessica laughed,...I wanted to warn her like the Rich man to his brothers, but I couldn't...I want her to feel the wrath of Jenny tomorrow.

Bottomline: Wii, Your Shape. Two Thumbs up! Got some glitches but its worth it. I am feeling the burn. Maybe when the Army realizes that Crossfit is too ridiculously expensive, we will all get Wii's with Drill Sergeant McCarthy.

1.02.2010

Day 53, Preparing for Overseas Flights.

Amongst (love that catchy word) the clatter regarding the "Christmas Day Terrorist", Jessica and I still had a flight to catch on December 31st. Being told multiple times by the media and relatives that early arrival would be best, we proceeded to arrive about 4 hours prior our boarding. (Not a bad idea).

We went right through with no terrible problems. The typical, Chaplain Screening, is always my favorite. You know they aren't profiling, when a white 30-something, male gets nabbed just about every trip. A clear, MAM.(for all you military guru's).

Anywho, here's where the blog begins. Jessica and I grab some window seats on the way back to Germany, thanks to Expedia. Then we get out the headsets and dawn the ear-plugs...yes, we double up...SUPER QUIET. This is where we thought we could definitely keep our senses privatized. BUT, wait...yes there are 5 senses.

The seats directly in front of Jessica and I had a lovely German couple, 30-somethings, with two toddlers/babies. Not long after the plane breaks away from the terminal, KINDER#1, decides to fill his diaper. Instantly noticing the odor, the mother makes an attempt to clean him,...diaper wipes...poo...etc...now fill the cabin.
45 minutes later, while dinner is being served, KINDER #2, sees the opportunity to chime in, and thus manufactures a quite sizable payload as well. Thus, filling the entire 767 with all kinds of joy.

I pause here, not upset at the children. I love children, and do pray that I will changing dirty diapers soon. But, a simple question does need to be asked:

DOES ANYONE THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY EAT PRIOR YOUR OVERSEAS FLIGHT?
google: foods that cause gas.

* Apples
* Artichokes
* Asparagus
* Beans
* Broccoli
* Brussel Sprouts
* Cabbage
* Cheese
* Corn
* Fruit Drinks
* Ice Cream
* Milk and Milk Products
* Onions
* Pasta
* Peaches
* Pears
* Potatoes
* Prunes
* Soft Drinks
* Whole Wheat

Bottomline: Show kindness to all people on the plane. Don't consume anything on the list, before the flight. Also, if you are a victim of this and have any ideas on how to thwart this and create some type of 'shield',...I am sure I would gladly purchase: DIAPER-ODOR CANCELLING HEAD/NOSEPHONES