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Showing posts from 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 togeth…

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…

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

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.…

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 paral…

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 o…

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 t…

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 we…

Campfires, Raccoons, and Psalms 19.

  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 aut…

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'…

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&…

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.

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…

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 jo…

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 bac…

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 consi…

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 aterribly 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 YO…

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 …

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 SHO…

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…