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.