4.26.2010

Day 82, Mondays: LOL.

There are a few things that make me laugh out loud. A couple of TV shows, Heidi's antics, Jessica's story-telling...etc. But there is nothing better than having one of those belly laughing moments when you are really needing to just laugh. Laughing is a lot like crying, everyone needs a good one every now and then.

So, in light of this thought, I will dedicate my MONDAY EDITIONS to LOL. Things that make me laugh. It might be a joke or two or just a goofy YouTube video, but either way, enjoy.
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Things That Make Me LOL.
THIS WEEK: Charlie the Unicorn




While we have been in the field training, I have had the strong desire to be serious about my work. Going to ranges and seeing soldiers takes up a majority of my time. Later in the evenings, as I have mentioned earlier I space out for just a few minutes and watch a couple of goofy YouTube videos between the meetings.  I stumbled across this, which is quite senseless and stupid...but after 30 days w/o your wife...you do start slowly losing your mind.

4.25.2010

Day 81, Conversative Military Chaplains Face Challenges Ahead


(Above Clip, comes from Stars and Stripes Wednesday April 20, 2010.)
There is a lot of speculation floating around regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy" (DADT) on how it will effect the military. Obviously, I have great concerns regarding this. I love the Army. I love being so close to a people group that desperately needs to hear more of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is far from easy. The strain on families during a war on two fronts leaves a ministering Chaplain with not the problem of 'who' do I minister to, but more of a ' Out of the multitudes I can minister to, God please direct me." There is a desperate need for a Evangelical presence in the military, if we are truly about reaching ALL people with the Great Commission. The advancing repeal of the policy could possibly prompt an "exodus of many conservative Chaplains".
So, as I look ahead at some of the possible ramifications of the repeal of this DADT policy, these are some of the challenges that you may or may not be aware of that are on the forefront of Chaplain Specific Challenges :

1. Performing Same Sex Marriages.
2. Sensitivity Preaching in regards to passages in the Bible that speak of Homosexuality as a sin.
3. Leading Marriage Retreats that would involve homosexual partners.
4. Homosexual Chaplains, endorsed by supportive denominations, who would preach this view in Community Chapels on Post.
5. Sensitivity training to soldiers in regards to the acceptance of homosexuality behavior.

These are speculations and do not represent any proposed Department of Defense policies. They are just the current proposed issues that the Chaplain Corp is working through in the event that this policy is reversed in the near future.  Yet, as we think ahead to the issues of DADT, it should be apparent to all there is going to be some hurdles for Evangelicals regarding this.

Continue in prayer for these issues.

4.20.2010

Day 80, From Coffee to Monsters.

I remember when I was in basic training our Drill Sergeants told us to save our 'Sanka-Instant Coffee' in order for us to eat on it as we did our final 12 mile road march at Fort Jackson. I thought it was silly, but as we went into our 72 hours of barely sleeping days, it was almost a necessity to stay awake.

12 years later,...I have seen Mountain Dew, Jolt, Red Bull, Rip-Its, Tiger, and now Monster become a staple for the Joe and the Officers. No longer is the coffee pot the only meeting ground for discussion about upcoming missions but 50 ft from a public building where you will see a gaggle of cigarettes and the latest ridiculously over-sized Monster drinks. It doesn't matter what time,...0800 to 2330...it really doesn't matter.

I do drink my share of caffeine. I have my several cups of coffee before lunch, but that's where it stops. I tried a couple of Red Bulls, and at 35 I could feel my heart race and I couldn't even read because my eyes were jumping so much on the page. I have no idea what happens to these guys who are drinking 3 or 5 Red Bulls or Monsters throughout the day.

Now, the only thing that I have noticed is the overwhelming majority of soldiers/officers do complain about problems sleeping. Is there a correlation to this? I think its a no brainer.

Bottomline: Nutrition plays a vital role in how we live and relate to those people around us. I am not sure what the infatuation is with being constantly strung out on Energy Drinks? But I think its pretty clear that our bodies are not indestructible. Moderation is the key. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, and a bowl of pipe tobacco,...but I don't depend on them for who I am or an added boost to make it through the day. Once the 'whatever-it-is' becomes a 'have-to-have',...it may have crossed a fine line.

4.17.2010

Day 79, Seeing People Eye to Eye.

In the Army we have a standard uniform for just about everything. On the typical post you will see most soldiers in ACU's (the digital looking uniform), boots, a beret,...etc.  When you are in a deployed or training environment we have the ACU's plus knee pads, elbow pads, a protective vest with various attachments, helmet and eye-protection. In a massive formation its pretty difficult to see people as individuals in such 'uniformity'. Everyone seems to blend in with each other. Even within a unit that you know people on a first name basis its very easy to just simple walk by 100's of soldiers and never truly notice them as people who have lives and families.

Even as a Chaplain walking around to see soldiers I have to consciously make efforts to take off my eye-protection (sun-glasses) and gloves so that I look at people eye to eye and get a real hand shake. I know that seems very odd, but it seems that we are so used to being 'pass over' that this touch of sensitivity seems to help humanize us. Just as simple as getting to know people's first names, ...and remembering it.

Now this doesn't apply just to the Army, but it shows itself up in the 1100 Sunday Morning order of Worship when people are encouraged to walk around the sanctuary and 'greet each other'. I find it all together disturbing when people shake my hand and before I can say "Its good to see you today", they have already scoped out the next hand to shake and are not even looking at me eye to eye. This is when I throw a random, nonsensical word out, just to reiterate bizarre behavior.  So, what's the challenge? I would much rather meet one person, and get to know them personally than to see 1,000 people superficially.

Bottomline: We will never know everyone, but we do know those people that are sitting and living right beside us everyday. Take the time to know more about them than just the everyday "I am fine." The church should be the first to lead in this. We should value the individual and their lives enough to listen and engage them EYE to EYE. Stop thinking about YOU, and focus on them.



But the eye protection adds another difficulty, you can't see their eyes.

4.16.2010

Day 78, Friends and their Youtube Selections.

Just recently the Army has lifted its ban from government computers for visiting sites like Youtube and Facebook. Now, after about 36 hours of this being lifted I have noticed quite the phenomenon. The scenario looks as follows.

A computer savvy individual is surfing through the latest Youtube post. As you approach or pass him by, he looks up from his computer and notices you. Politely he asks, "Hey, wanna see something cool?" Of course, its rude to continue walking because he has simply asked for a moment of your time. You slow your pace, stand behind his shoulder and watch as he loads or reloads a video he has just watched. Little do you know that this is just the beginning. Just as soon as the 2:32 min clip ends, he says, "Oh, have you seen this...". This pattern continues as the individual effortless sifts through an endless queue of clips. Your personal interest in 'the biggest Zit' or 'world's stupidest game show contestant', has been completely lost.

You desperately want to leave, but it continues and continues...when does it stop?

Have you been there?

Bottomline: I wonder how much time do we spend in front of videos or other media that we have no personal interest, yet because of our own cultural politeness we will not dismiss ourselves. Is it inappropriate to decline from things that are not beneficial? If so, how do you do it? If not, how much time in our life will we subject yourselves to this? As our culture waters rise around us, we must consciously be aware of what we willing absorb. Scriptures teach Christians to 'set our minds on things above, where Christ is'...Ask yourself: Does this help me set my mind on things above, or other things?

4.15.2010

Day 77, Where did the 'collection' of the Bible come?

I am reading a new book this week. I love to read things that makes me rethink what I have forged in my head or is putting together some of the bizarre questions that I have often had, but refused to try to answer because I was nervous the answer.

For many Christians, the question regarding where the Bible came from is almost non-existent. But think about it! Where did this collection come? Did it just 'POOF!', here it is? Did Moses receive the 66 book collection? You may have heard of the Canon of Scripture, but what group of guys put this collection together that constituted the 'Bible'? Were these guys infallible in their decision making process? Do we have all the books necessary? A lot of these questions should keep us all humble and eager to worship the God revealed in Scriptures and not the Bible by itself? It is God's Word. But, I understand it to be the revelation of God, not God himself.

Before I create more questions, let me give you TWO STATEMENTS TO LOOK AT. Then ask you to decide which is YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF SCRIPTURE!

1. The Bible is an infallible collection of infallible books.
2. The Bible is a fallible collection of infallible books.

You may be surprised!

4.09.2010

Day 76, Check and Recheck.

I think it would be safe to say that when you join the Army that if you are a touch OCD, you might find yourself better off than seen as abnormal. Checking and Rechecking your daily task is completely normal.

What does this look like? Here is just a list of some of the daily questions tasks:

How many alarm clocks have you set before you go to bed? I have 3.
Before you pack to go on a trips, do you check tire pressure, oil, your safety/emergency kit,...make sure water and snacks are in reach, and a blanket is packed?  Maps, two routes, 1 extra oil qt, ...shall I continue?
Do you have 3 daily planners (phone numbers, calendars, and to do task that are updated each morning simultaneously at 0600.) When you have an event, is arriving 25-30 minutes early completely normal? while arriving 5 minutes early is late?
Do you have a routine for everything?
Do you honk the horn just a little every time you back up?
Do you check and recheck your wallet to make sure your wallet has your ID Card in it before you leave the house and drive off post?
Do you lay out your clothes every night for the next day, so that you can sleep 5 minutes longer?

Yes, its a crazy job. Yes after a deployment soldiers struggle with adjustment to 'garrison'. Soldiers even struggle with trying to understand why Civilians don't see the same 'urgency' with daily tasks. When I returned from Iraq in May last year, it took almost 2 weeks for me to stop doing my morning rituals as I did in Iraq.

Soldiers are different, but an attention to detail and routine saves our lives over and over again. It is this routine that many say is OCD, is what helps the soldier see a patch in the road or disturbed dirt laying near a trash pile as a potential threat. It is this type of muscle memory that reacts when catastrophe lands without warning.

Bottomline: I just wanted to give a little insight into the daily life of a soldier in the United States Army. Enjoy your sleep.

4.08.2010

Day 75, The Missing Link (Woman)

Ok, I am sitting down at a Sushi Bar in Crystal City (Metro Stop, in Washington DC).  It was about 700pm, and I was finishing up a delicious Spider Roll and some green tea. I pulled out the Itouch in my fleece front pocket, tapped shuffle and grabbed a couple of bucks to buy a day pass on the metro to grab the blue train downtown. 6 mins later, I am enjoying one of my favorite parts of public transportation. (People watching). Listen to Derek Webb, I zone out and watch the stops go by, as I await for my stop, Smithsonian.
I purposefully stand at the announcement and walk to the door, ...within in another 2-3 minutes I am standing directly dead center of the Mall in DC. (not a shopping mall, but the center 'lawn area' between the Capitol/Washington Monument/Lincoln Memorial.

The sky was a nice cloudy day with a red reflection from the setting sun, which truly made the moment surreal as the lit white marble stood in contrast to the backdrop. Nice.

Yet somewhere in my soul I just thought, something is missing. My belly was fully of sushi, my ears were engaging some great lyrics, my eyes were soaking glorious sights. What was missing? She was not there.

Scriptures teach in Genesis 2:18, a truth that men have a innate created deficiency before the fall. "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.". God creates out of man, the woman to be his much needed compliment.

Sadly our culture rejects this notion adamantly. Portrayed like facades on decaying building, is the notion that men/women can live perfectly self-sufficient (and enjoy it). Yet socially it seems hypocritical that we criticize the 35+ single man or woman who has lived out this image in reality. The lie is that humanity that submits to the notion of marriage has somehow emasculated themselves, no matter the sex. They can no longer roam free. (Yet don't roam free too long, because you must somehow balance your 'freedom' with not becoming a abnormality of becoming the 'ole maid'.)


In about 15 days, I will be married 5 years. (Missing my anniversary 3 times, due to Army commitments). I think the only thing I can say negative about marriage is that, I wish I would have married Jessica earlier. Our churches need to desperately reforge a new standard in our youth\college that would encourage younger marriages, and showing how the male/female connection should be encouraged thus reflecting a better understanding of this passage.

Here's my suggestions on how:
1. Reduce the cultural norm of college degrees, by not emphasizing them as something that needs to be accomplished prior marriage.
2. Reduce the stigma of young couples considering marriage as taboo but applauding them in the church as they value 'marriage' over prolonged 'singleness', as a biblical mandate.  
3. Encouraging males/females to develop both domestic and skills that could support a family unit early in child development, not waiting till they are out of High School or College.
4. Young Couples considering marriage should be encouraged to be mentored by more mature/elder married couples as they work through their engagement/first-year of marriage, thus reducing 'isolation stress', if in-laws are not supporting the marriage.
5. Lower the accepted sociological economic status for young couples, by a church wide campaign to try 'ONE-CAR' family or/and presenting a consistent message in regards to child day-care, which is a whole new blog.
6. Refocusing the Great Commission efforts to see internal biological growth as a means whereby we reach the next generation, by equipping our own. (not limiting our reaching to only internal, but just refocusing it to see it as a legitimate area that should see emphasis).



Bottomline: I know that the above is not necessarily a comprehensive list of things that would help, but I think as Christians we need to make the efforts now to start reforging a distinction from the cultural norms that have led the church majority the last 50 years. I write the list of recommendations because, ANYONE can point out a problem and (poop on the table), but I want to address some possible solutions to our problem. So, before you criticize/analyze these points, constructively consider your approach to make additions to solving our issue, not pointing out my personal lack of insight or ignorance. :) Let's reform our 'Christian' understanding of normal.