12.07.2011

Small Groups: Resist Shallow Relationships.

Have you ever been the new guy or gal to a small group Bible Study? You walk in and before long you begin to see relationships and friendships that obviously look much deeper than what you have with them. These feelings may be somewhat reasonable, but I would be willing to argue today that most relationships that we perceive at this level are not as deep as we think, so therefore we should not be put off by these perceptions but do our best to find a common meeting ground and dive in.
1.) I would argue that most relationships in a small group setting are typically pretty shallow, especially in this culture that we live in. We love to have 1000’s of friends on Facebook and really no friends of significance.  As one of my good friends just said, we have a lot of breadth but little depth. I would agree.  
2.) I would also suggest that most relationships are self-seeking endeavors as well. I think the reason we want this breadth without depth is the exposure that we do not have it all together like we think. We do not want people to really know our hearts and desires. We effectively want to seek to scratch our ‘popularity’ itch, and move on…and never truly convey our hearts.
Small groups are effective, dissolve this level of superficiality as quickly as possible. They may place you early on in a level of discomfort due to the need to be vulnerable, but this vulnerability will lead to mutual trust and intimacy that will be much more beneficial than trivial weekly conversations about ‘lawn care’ or ‘diets’ or ‘latest news crisis’.
Relationships built in this environment will be much more beneficial and lasting. Do yourself a favor and resist the temptation to move around a room to meet everyone…build a conversation…and if the Lord permits…you may find yourself, “sharing each other’s load of burdens”.

12.01.2011

A Military Christmas


A Military Christmas Story
By CH (CPT) John L. Craven
“Nighthawk Shepherd”

The typical family is pulling out Christmas decorations just as soon as the turkey leftovers are being put up from Thanksgiving. The calendar is filled with rituals and routines that could be decades old. The route from Grandma’s house to the downtown lighting of the town Christmas Tree is streamlined to the minute, in hopes to optimize Daddy’s time to watch every Bowl game in High Definition.
Please note: That is typical. BUT….for everyone who wears the uniform or has a family member who does…the TYPICALLY ain’t TOO TYPICAL. This year my wife and I took the Christmas tree box out November 12th. We made the ever evolving schedule to visit our families 1700 miles away. We filled out two sets of LEAVE FORMS as we tried to buy the cheapest tickets home. We have reserved the Kennel for our dog, …which makes us all sad to leave behind. Not to mention, the opening of presents??? Do you open them before the trip or after??
The military family has challenges that most families will never see. These sacrifices are rarely mentioned at Veteran’s Day events or other honoring events. Yet,…How does your family make these otherwise CRAZY events enjoyable for your family? How do you turn these chaotic travels into a good memory? The key is CREATIVITY and RELATIONSHIP.
Some Ideas:
1.       On your Christmas Tree Box, sign and date the location of this Christmas. (i.e. Baumholder Germany 2010, …etc.) This looks pretty cool when your kids write it too!!
2.       Pick a day during the Holidays and make it a family-centric event. Go see the lights at BLORA. Bring some Hot Chocolate or Coffee.
3.       Buy Ornaments from that DUTY STATION or LOCATION, don’t forget to date them.
4.       Take Holiday pictures, take tons of them. Make a digital book online for that year.
5.       Have a Holiday Party at your house. Be a host, and invite your closer friends over for a grill out and maybe present exchange. Some of your work buddies might really like to see you with the ACU’s.
6.       Adopted a single soldier and make sure they have a ‘family’ here. Buy them a Itunes card. (Never a bad deal)
When it all is said and done, we must make these years enjoyable. Don’t wait till 10-15 years down the road to start making memories …START NOW.

11.16.2011

A Quote from John Calvin: Evil our reward for Kindness.

This is my kind of Stamp.
As I was preparing for my study of Exodus this year in our Community Group, I came across this quote by John Calvin in his Commentary on Exodus:

(Background: writing in regards to the Israelites being quickly switched from friend to slave in the early verses of Exodus)

"...;and certainly it is good for us that evil should ever be our reward from men for our kindnesses, that we may learn in the performance of our duty to look to God alone, since otherwise we are unduly addicted to conciliate favour and applause for ourselves, or to seek after more earthly advantages."
[John Calvin Commentary Exodus I.8, p.25]

I am not writing a exposition to this passage or a formal response to John Calvin's quote. I was just humbled this morning as I read this. That our good, hard work, sacrfices, tears...can be rewarded with evil. Wow...that is not what you would think. I know I want a stink'n 'prize' at the end of my labors. But in reality, our prize is not necesarily here...but in Glory with Christ.

Bottomline Prayer: God teach me to do good and kindness not for the praise of others. God also teach me not to be so shocked when the world bombards my soul when I labor in your name. May all this make clinge to the 'not yet' to come. Amen.


11.08.2011

How To Train Your Dragon? (or Spouse)

How To Train Your Dragon Spouse?
Lesson One: Clear Communication

Just started a new series for married couples. I pray this will help you smile a little, maybe even laugh, and ultimately build a stronger relationship with you and your spouse.

We all know that clear communication is key to any good relationship. Notice that I did not say 'communication', I said 'clear communication.' Let me explain. I have a white lab that I simply love. He has a mind of his own and does just about anything. I can give communication to him...he may or may not listen. He may even turn and look at me and stare. He may even wag his tail. BUT, he may also turn and go right back to doing what I ask him not too (i.e. clean the dishes in the dishwasher). Then, I get frustrated and begin yelling and waving my hands...possibly pull off the Croc and do a little corrective training. ;)

Of course the analogy instantly breaks down, your spouse is not a dog. But we all know there are some clear parallels.
1. We talk and give thoughts. THEY may look at us.
2. We offer our hearts. THEY may look interested and laugh (wag their tails).
3. We think they heard us. THEY turn and go back to doing what they wanted.
4. We respond with shoe throwing. ;)

This is not communication.
Couples that wish to experience a more peaceful home should consider the faults in the above situation. So what is wrong with the above situation? Well, as the adage goes: It takes two to tango.

Things to help:
1. Talk with your spouse and allow them to give input into your thoughts. Example ("I have been frustrated with x for some time,...if you were in my shoes what would you do?" or "I am really excited this new class,...is there any classes you would like to take?") You must not make every conversation about you.

2. Learn a little more about their interest and be teachable with them. Be a pupil, let them teach you. Example ( "I don't completely understand why you use Greek yogurt instead of Sour Cream,...tell me why?" or "What is it about Star Wars that makes you want to watch so many times? Is it childhood good memories or the plot?")

3. DEBRIEF DAILY. Never let days by in your relationship that you have not sat down and shared about your day. Let your spouse tell you all about. Turn off the TV. Give the child an activity, and give attention to your spouse. It may not be much, but 5 -15 minutes a day can keep your marriage fresh and up to date. This will keep you from being blindsided issues.

4. Finally, compliment your spouse. Give a clear communication of personal pleasure in your spouse. Tell them something that encourages or gives them hope. (Example: "Dinner,...that's a keeper for special guest."; "I am so glad you provide for our family."; "Would you like me to get you a glass of tea?" 

Bottomline: Marriage is not difficult. You don't have to be a guru to survive. You do need to be patient, be selfless. Do more than just wag your tail,...listen and speak. ;)

11.02.2011

Saying, "I am Sorry." Is Not Enough.

The blood pressure is finally normalizing. Your hands regain heat and your nose is no longer cold. The rush of adenaline has now causing you think a little more rational and you are gaining composure. Words have been said. Doors possibly have been slammed shut. Long rides to the gas station have ended with garage door being shut and both parties are finally breathing normally. THE FIGHT IS OVER.

No matter which side of the argument you are on. This is not the best moment for any marriage or friendship. But what is vital ....what is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL...is not to respond in a minimizing of the situation. What does that look like you might ask?

Resist Statements like:
1. "Sweetheart, I am sorry. But..."
2. "Sweetheart, I am sorry."
3. "It has been a rough week, and I am sorry."
4. "You just made me angry,...I am sorry."
5. "Its ok baby. Let's just don't worry about it."

These statements sound very good on the surface, but can gloss over the problems that are really going on. By minimizing the situation in Example #5 you are not addressing that an issue has happened. In addition, the issue could be SIN. This permissive approach to sin is not the Biblical response. Sin should always be taken seriously as an offense to God, then an offense to others. Example #2 is also not acceptable as it reflects a very easy statement to voice, but with no heart action. The offender takes no responsibility for the offense, but can merely walk away. Examples 1,3,4 are all ways we blame-shift.

BOTTOMLINE: Instead of pressing to solve the conflict quickly with a "I am sorry." Take responsibility for the action. Address the individual with the 'facts' of what YOU did. Example, "Sweetheart, I know that by spending beyond our budget I jeorparized our finances and also was dishonest in my marriage commitment." or "I apologize for what I said to you. Those were hurtful words I should have never said. Will you forgive me?"

TRY THESE STEPS:
Take responsibility for your actions.
Be specific in your confession/apology.
Ask for forgiveness.
Ask for support in pursuing holiness.

10.28.2011

Good Listeners Alone, Are Not Good Counselors.

We have been told many times over that "Good Listeners are good counselors." This is somewhat true. Let me explain. I think it is vitally important for people to have good listening skills. If you are wanting to solve any type of conflict in a marriage or any numerous types of situations,...you have got to listen. Shut your stink'n trap and listen. Several times in the Bible we are see examples of God telling people to listen.
Job is probably a classical example, Job 40.

Either way, a good listener is valuable. But it is not the only thing you need.

A counselor is just that, it is a person who through a gift of God has wisdom to impart, primarily through Scripture. They listen intently. Engage in the issue. Prayerfully consider, and then...RESPOND. This doesn't mean that the counselor then rants or points out all flaws and shows no mercy to the counslee, but let's not kid ourselves in believing that a 'good venting session' is all we want. If that is the case, Major (my lovely white lab) is a certified counselor.

We all need more than just a wall to bounce our complaints. If our own counsel is what desire, I think we can see the folly of this logic. This leads to two major decisions:

1. When you go to see counsel or advice: Share your heart. Expose your fears and limitations. Tell the truth of the facts that have lead you to this point. Understand that you are limited in scope. Then shut your trap.

2. As the one someone comes to for advice: Listen intently. Engage appropriately, but do not be the lazy counselor who only 'bounces' their feelings back. MAN UP! and say something that has Scriptural integrity. Give the wisdom that they seek. Understand that you are not infallible and humble yourself to help.

Bottomline: Seek advice from those you know who are kind enough to truly care, but tough enough to speak truth to you.

10.26.2011

How to Make a Tough Decision?

Probably everyone has come across and issue where you have to make a decision. It boils down to two distinct directions that are the options. You must choose between A or B, not A and B, or C. I think you understand what I am getting at. So, how do you make that decision? Here are few helpful tid-bits.

1. By choosing one or the other am I violating any ethical or moral law? Would it be a sin to choose one? Is it explicitly taught in Scriptures?

2. Am I placing myself as the lone decider or have I sought out counsel with others who may bring a perspective that I am not seeing (Blind spot helpers)?

3. By choosing one or the other am I placing a relationship in jeopardy? Family? Loved ones?

4. What is the chief end that is driving the conflict in choosing? Could you be choosing a particular side because of pride or fear? If that were taken away, which would you choose?

5. Are you being manipulated by someone outside to make a particular choice that you would otherwise not make if that were not present?

6. Is your relationship with God calling you make a sacrifice or decision? Is your faith Self being a distraction?

7. Will the effects of the choices make you more like Christ or less?

Bottomline: The World in which you and I live make decisions very different than confessing Christians. You might want to make sure when you are pursuing a decision point to navigate the 'wisdom' of the world with the wisdom of the Spirit. Seek counsel, be patient, and pursue holiness above all.



10.25.2011

Campfires, Raccoons, and Psalms 19.


Colorado Bend State Park, home of Mutant Raccoons, Deer, Possums, Armadillo...

If you know me, you know that I love four things probably too much. 1. Theology Books, 2. Xbox 360, 3. White-Labs, and finally...CAMPING. Yes, I admit that I often daydream at work on various State Park websites of what it would look like to camp/hike in that area. I have more gear than I can manage. I probably have two or three of everything. Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall accessories...stoves/gas & propane...even Grizzly Spray. Yes....I have it!

Now this past weekend Jessica and I take the lovely kiddo down to Colorado Bend State Park, just south of Lampassas (sp). It was truly out in the middle of NOWHERE. 18 miles of no gas stations. Once you get inside the park, you drive an additional 10 miles on a dirt road, further up and further in.

It was on that road that Jessica and I began to discuss if Special Revelation (God's Word) is infallible and sufficient for all things. This then led into a discussion regarding General Revelation (Nature) and whether it has the same authority. Yes,...believe it or not...we discuss theology all the time.

We arrived at the campsite. Put up our tents. Thwarted several barrages of mutant attack raccoons. I felt like I was at Helms Deep (LOTR reference). Nevertheless we woke up...and Angie and I took a walk down on the riverside with Major. It was glorious. A cool morning,...frogs jumping around. I was in heaven.

BOTTOMLINE: Psalms 19 talks about how the heavens and earth declare the glory of God. I think in many ways, I love to go camping because its like sitting on the front row of a great orchestra. I don't worship creation. I love to sing with it, and praise God for His work in Christ Jesus to me.

10.24.2011

What I am learning right now?

So, a couple of years out of formal education and I am have a joy buying books and studying. The difference now is that I am not fighting against my personal cynicism with the local church, I am trying to keep myself focus on Kingdom building. (It is too easy to be a critic!)

As you may or may not know, I counsel a great deal of soldiers and their families. I have found that I love it. Yet, seminary does not give you a huge deal of classes in the MDiv program to prepare anyone for the casework load that a Chaplain has. Of course, this is not like a Minister of Counseling at your local church. I rarely have follow-ups or continued counseling appointments. Usually it ends with smile, 'Thanks Chap!' or a referral out. Therefore, I have decided for that one solid appointment...I want to be the most effective 45 minutes possible.

I began looking for ways to sharpen my skills in counseling yet keep a solid Biblical approach that would seem to model my desires to be 'Reformed' in methods. I found a Biblical Counseling book by John MacArthur in my library and began my research. Before long had crossed over NANC (National Association for Nouthetic Counselors), CCEF, and several other sources that sparked my desires. My heartstrings were plucked. I felt the rich Biblical centered approach. The SUPER-high view of Scripture authority and sufficiency. I loved it. Not long after, I talked to my wife and the book buying began.

Now, David Powlison, Ken Sande, Jay Adams, and many more are sitting on my coffee table, while others wait in my CBD or Amazon 'wish list'.

This year, I am working on getting my certification from NANC. It should be about 6-8 months of work, but I love the way its teaching me right now. I have never thought I would desire to counsel so much, but when I see the fruit of solid Biblical truths...its definitely moving me that direction. 

9.01.2011

Giving to the Ungrateful: A Difficult Command to Follow.

I am impressed by C.S. Lewis every time I read a paragraph. In Mere Christianity many times he makes a statement like, "personally I find this almost impossible to perform" or "this could be the most difficult thing in Christianity."

Therefore, in this same thought I would like to put forward my personal, "I find this quite difficult to do." The subject is loving the ungrateful. In Luke 6:35 just after the Beatitudes, Jesus says,

 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, evne as your Father is merciful."(ESV, Luke 6:35)

Several commands in this passage that cause me to quiver. Some of these commands are hard even when you like people. But what clearer example to the world can you give, than to do something like this. Give and forget. ...AND give again, when they ask. Give when they don't say, 'Thank you so much!" Give when you know that they might pawn it two days later. Give to your enemies. This type of living is what constitutes radical Christianity in our material driven culture.

This without a doubt is the most difficult thing in my life. I feel my hands open freely to those I love and cherish, but to those who have horns and smell of cabbage or worse..........uh.......uh....the Command still applies. :)

8.25.2011

Blog Dots. Which One Is You?

Bottomline: Don't be discouraged. You are never alone. Other believers around the globe are praying that the Lord might work in your life today.

**The red dots represents a reader of the blogger and their estimated location.

8.24.2011

The Chicken or the Egg: A Discussion of Origins

Currently reading: God, Revelation, and Authority Vol.VI. by Carl F.H. Henry. As I was reading this morning and later this afternoon, I came across a legitimate discussion regarding the nature of Adam's belly button. Yes,...believe it or not...I was reading a lengthy discussion on whether Adam had a belly button, while sipping some coffee out of my Stanley.

Where we came from and how we understand the first book of the Bible is very important. The Evolution and Creation debate will always be a discussion somewhere. But for the Christian, who doesn't want to discuss long geological formations of fossils or whether it was a literal twenty-four hour, 6 day creation ...I pose a simple formulation that might help you in curious discussions about the sort.

Question: Which came first the chicken or the egg?
The chicken came first. A fully functioning adult chicken...with an accompanying Rooster somewhere to keep it spicy. No eggs,..well not for a couple of weeks atleast.

Adam was a fully functioning man, marrying-age. He wasn't an infant. There were forest of thick tall trees..loaded with rings. Rivers had smooth stones. There were stars in the sky, ...it wasn't black...as we waited for years of light to travel.

Bottomline: I am not a incredibly smart dude, but I don't mind making conversation with people about my views about Christianity or creation. A goofy question like: Which came first the chicken or the egg?,...will probably not lead someone to follow Jesus, but it may be the seed of truth that the Lord plants to have water with more revelatory conversations about the Creator, and not just his Creation.

8.23.2011

Heart and Flesh Cry Out: A Meditation on Passions.

When some one asks you, "What is your passion?" how do you answer that? Now seriously, what do you get just about ANGRY about when you seeing done or not being done. Your heart pounds hard when the subject is brought up in conversation. You can barely sit still when people are talking about it. Rumbling in your inner being is a desire so great that your jaws can barely hold back the eruption that comes.

What is that to you? Is it justice for the unborn? Is it Waterloo? Is it adoption? What is it to you?

For me, it's pretty simple. I love to teach the Bible. Let me say that again. I love to teach the Bible. It has been about 3 months since the last time I have stood behind a pulpit and preached a sermon or taught on a passage of Scripture,...and every day that I read passages of Scripture my heart only burns more. Cautiously since I have returned this go around from Iraq, I have made it my goal not to throw myself into the 'teaching' arena so quickly. We recently joined a wonderful congregation near us and I am enjoying the 'soaking' stage of my life. But like a ship in a harbor,...I may be safe,...but I wasn't built for this.

I think these longings are good, as long as they don't press us to be critical or jealous. What are you truly pressed in your soul to do?

Bottomline: God created each of us to bring him glory. He gave us gifts and abilities that combined with His Church cause a body to function beautifully. Don't manufacture these gifts,...oftentimes they erupt in our heart as God moves us.

8.18.2011

Meeting New People: Starting out on the right foot.

Just today I put on the best uniform I had. I made sure all the patches were placed correctly. Quickly grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out the door. I was heading to my new unit here in Texas. This would be a day of in-processing and getting to meet new people. How would they receive me? Who will be my new 'best-friend'? Will the Commander/CSM like me?

This may not apply to Chaplains but to anyone endeavoring meeting new people or new bosses.

Here a few tips:
1. Pray first. Ask the Lord for confidence and a honest presentation of 'who God made you to be'.

2. Take a shower. Shave. Brush your teeth. Pop that pimple. Put on some deodorant.

3. Grab some gum. Nothing worse than looking great and your breath wilting the flowers.

4. Think of a couple of positive things about your past units and say them. No one likes a person who harps about his OLD UNIT. If you aren't in the Army, and maybe applying for a minister job...don't slam the old pastor you worked for back at 'whatchamachalit church'.

Finally my Golden Nugget:
"Never assume that people are as nice/or as bad as they first appear." ~ Richard Baxter.

This put more simply is this:  If they are buttering you up...you might be being thrown in the oven soon. Or the guy that you might write-off as particularly odd could be your greatest asset.


8.16.2011

Nook: My New Bible, and so much more.

As a Chaplain, I must be willing to dedicate a portion of my time to reading books and preparing sermons. A large collection of books looks really prestigious in your office. Each bookend reminds me of a time and place where I read it. Yet,...add up all the books and you get two things: WEIGHT & PRECIOUS SPACE. Both of these are not things you long to have in the military.

Therefore, this year as a remedy I decided to go with an e-reader. No Ipad...no Full-Color movie/app monster multi-player. Just an e-reader. Cost: $119, add a $30 Leather cover. Nice.

Almost instantly after the purchase I downloaded the ESV bible and few other fun books: City of God, Mere Christianity, Morning and Evening with Spurgeon,  and Michael Horton's new theology book.

Practical living: I take it to Sunday Church and work. I am the new guy in pew trying to quickly access the passage without looking challenged. It has proven to be a great asset. I strongly recommend any mobile Pastor/Chaplain to consider this. 

1.24.2011

Infertility: A Shared-Suffering


My wife just miscarriage, now what?

Your spouse and you just suffered the news that you just lost your child in a miscarriage. It doesn’t matter what time frame. Days ago, hours,…a couple of weeks. The timeline still seems very insignificant because it just happened to your wife and you. You have hundreds of questions: Do I tell people? What is the proper response? Is this between my wife and I only?

Miscarriages are a  terribly difficult seasons for a marriage. The feelings of joy and anticipation of new life now feel robbed. The feelings of inadequacy, the grief of death, the uncertainty of fertility, the unknown of social engagement.  The awkward moment at church on Mother’s Day, when your wife can barely hold back the tears. (Been there done that) Here’s some simple direct counseling for husbands in that first 1-3 month window after the tragedy.

FOR THE HUSBAND ONLY:
Priority #1: Assure your wife, that her value to you is not based in her functionality. She is valuable to you because YOU LOVE HER. Build security in your wife, by letting her grieve with you.  In other words, if she needs to walk out of a situation, be there with her. If burst into tears while reading facebook news, be there. She feels the weight of failure and inadequacy, BUILD HER UP.

Priority #2: Don’t be the theologian, until she is ready. No one needs to know your thoughts on the whereabouts of the child in glory. No one needs a dissertation on the Problem of Evil, and Why God allows suffering? This is not the season. Wait.  Although, speak correctly of the life she carried. Speak about YOUR (plural) CHILD.

Priority #3: Pleasantly recognize that you might be one day counseling someone else in this as you have suffered through it. We, (Jessica and I ) often have close friends who have been down this road, and it ‘s a bond like none other to discuss this intimate occasion with them.

Priority #4: As time grows, be patient with her. She will desire to get pregnant again. Cheer her on, unless told otherwise by a doctor. Every pregnancy test and ovulation test, cheer her on! She already has the voices of hurt, HUSBAND your job is to drown them out with confidence. Your negativity at any level will destroy her. Talk about, ‘when we am playing with our little boy…’, although painful at first…this helps your wife know that you are envisioning children with her. Either by natural or by adoption…children are a blessing from God, speak that way.

Bottomline: Books should be written in regards to how a man can help his wife through this. Nothing is more valuable than restating time and time again, your relationships security not based on performance. An unconditional election, clearly portrayed by Christ to the church. This builds great foundations for future growth in your marriage.

1.22.2011

My Top 3 Chapters in Scripture.

Top Three's of the Bible.
If you were to ask me what 3 chapters of the Bible have been the most
impacting in my spiritual walk. I would tell you John 3, Romans 3, and
Colossians 3. This Sunday I am actually starting a small series before I
launch back into a continuation of the verse by verse study of II
Corinthians. Each week, I will do my best to show why I love these fine
chapters. 
But because many of you will not be able to attend, here is a good summary
of what I am thinking and where I will be heading on this.

John 3
Most people have a bizarre understanding of salvation. They can't figure it
out. What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be reborn? What
does it mean that the Spirit goes back and forth? This passage helped me to
understand Jesus' compassion. His sit down 'waffle house' style conversation
with a scholar. His rich wisdom and mystery, which surrounds the simplicity
of the Gospel found in John 3:16. A child can memorize it, but its aroma is
better than any pipe tobacco. So sweet to know Christ holds our eternity.


Romans 3
How sinful am I? I amuse myself sometimes thinking that I have 'gotten'
better, but it only takes a wipe of the word of God in the foggy bathroom
mirror to reveal how sinful I really am. I don't seek him. I run from him. I
don't understand Him. I am ugly down deep. I deserve full justice to be
served. I have spit in the face of God, and his revealed beauty. AND YET, he
took my place.received in him the full punishment of my 'smiling-hate'. He
then pardoned me of my sins. I stand righteous before God. Nothing but the
blood of Jesus. A sinner made right.


Colossians 3
So, you are a believer and have no idea what to do next. Well, the rest of
your entire life you can live Colossians 3. I have done my best to screw
this up several times, but this is the TRUE NORTH in my lostness in
Christianity. I forget my calling.Colossians 3. I forget my love.Colossians
3. I purposefully desire sin.Colossians 3. I actually get it right for a
season.Colossians 3. In the words of the great Puritan, John Owen, . "If you
aren't killing sin, sin will be killing you." Face it. We suck at being
Christians. We keep the law as good as a crooked Sheriff. We know how to be
right, even enforce it,.but we also know how to sneak around. Thus,
Colossians 3 is written to Christians.

Bottomline: These are my top 3.  I am no stellar Christian. I press toward
THE goal, like it's a trip to go see bad relatives. Yet these TOP 3, have
forever been my bearings of humility and holiness. God grant us all peace in
as we wash ourselves in the Word.


To Josh Stewart and Charles Halton, I regret that I did not include an OT passage here. Yet, I do believe I could do a 3 best of many different Biblical genres. Forgive your NT inclined friend.

1.21.2011

My Kids Don't Like to go to Church! Help!

Q: "My Kids don’t like to go to church. Can you help?"
Single Mom, Winder GA

If you are a parent, and you attend church on Sundays regularly, then this little counseling session will do you good. If it hasn’t already happened, the day will come when that precious child of yours will decided to look you in the eyes on a rushed Sunday morning and tell you that they ‘Don’t like church!’ , or ‘Think its boring.’ Etc.
What do you do?

Well, if you sat down in my office chair and asked the question, this is what I would say:
First, realize that its Sunday morning, a day where every Christian household in America is going through the same dilemma.  We are all fighting sin. The problem is that God has commanded us to worship Him, and children have a unique way of stating the obvious voices of our hearts. We would say the same thing as a justification to crawl back into the bed. We would argue with authority, but because we have a touch more sanctification in our lives we SHOULD know that this struggle is a weekly task. So, children are sinful creatures, they just say what we think.

Second, realize that you are the parent charged by God to teach the child the structure of worship. “You shall teach them [the law] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut. 6:7. You are the authority to your children, as God is an authority to you. There are times where we all desire to reject this role as parents and lay blame on our children for our laziness to lead our children. A question I might ask: Do your children see you as this role? Or do you enjoy a more passive approach to your teaching them? Scriptures have placed the responsibility on you, not the child to teach themselves Scripture.

Third, realize your children may reflect your own behaviors about church. If you do not enjoy church, do you really think your children will? What is the conversation about church like on the way home on Sunday? Do you constantly give disparaging comments about music/sermon/temperature of the room/announcements/ or do you slander your fellow church members? Children have a great way of seeing and reading affections. They typically like what you like and hate what you hate.

Finally, church is to be enjoyed, but should leave us tired. Let me explain. Our culture of church now seems to constantly be focused on what ‘I got’ from the service. “I liked the music.”, “I got a lot out of the sermon.”; “Communion was nice.” [yes, I have heard ‘nice.’] When we attend church, we should be ready to worship. We should be desiring to ‘workout’ a little. We sing. We pray. We listen intently. We meditate. We confess. We share lives. At the end, we should be tired. Go to gym, run a couple of miles…it is tiring but also very rewarding. Thus the church should not be placed on the same par as, the Mall, the Movies, a trip to McDonalds, or Chucky Cheese. Children and Teenagers, need to be told and shown by parents that the joy of church looks and feels very different than the ‘lesser joys’ of this world.

THE BOTTOMLINE: Share with your child the difference of church and worldly pleasures. How is church like a good workout? Resolve in yourself to be the authority of your home, and teach your children.  Fight the urge to stay up late on Saturday. Plan ahead Sunday mornings, lay out clothes. Set out towels. Set your alarm. Prevent chaotic Sunday AM. This will put you at peace, and you might enjoy church more yourself. 

1.17.2011

Immediate Counseling.

Today marked a unique day in my life. I have officially been an Active Duty Army Chaplain for 36 months. Of those 36 months, I also rolled over 20 months deployed. The military Chaplaincy offers a very different approach to ministry. Not only do you shepherd a very small flock most of the time, but you are also a counselor to staff and soldiers within your unit. Counseling sometimes is a formal 'appointment', while more often it tends to be a sitting down in a 'smoke shack' or close seat at chow time, or even a late night knock on the door of my CHU.

Therefore to say that I am a formally trained counselor is not really an accurate statement. I like to tell people to think of me as a 'first aid' center on the way to the surgeon, in the realm of counselors. But not to make my job too insignifigant, I have seen many unscheduled "Band Aids" do a great deal of healing. With this in mind, I am wanting to take some of the more common counseling appointments that I have and address them in the same manner I do, in my office.

The door to my office is open, you poke your head in...I am sitting there reading a book or Bible...coffee is brewing...you grab a seat, ...I barely move, but smile warmly over the top of the book while sipping the coffee in my World' Best Chaplain cup,..."So, what brings you to my office today?"

Email me a question. Let's get started.