Monday, October 24, 2005
(The picture shown is a bronzed memorial display that was present at the Purpose Driven Chaplain’s Conference at Saddleback church last week)
I’ve been away from FT Jackson for the last week at a Military Chaplain’s conference at Saddleback Church in southern California. If you are not familiar with that church, their pastor, Rick Warren, wrote the book “Purpose Driven Life”. Over the last few years that book has been the best selling book in the world. As with any really popular book I’m always a bit hesitant. Popularity as we all know is not a determining factor in the truth of anything. I had read the book and since I saw it at Wal-Mart came to the conclusion that it was shallow and devoid of any real value, even though when I read it I was blessed. I thought it was a book that just made people feel good about themselves. I in turn projected that in my mind on what they were doing out at Saddleback. I assumed that it was a shallow church. I also assumed they were just popular because they had a lot of great programs and lots of money and resources. But then I went out there. When I arrived I was showered as were all the Chaplains from all branches with more love than I have experienced in a long time. The church provided housing for us with families. I stayed with a wonderful young family in the Mission Viejo area. Lee, Susan, Sarah and Andrew Birckle gave up a room in their home to someone they had never met for 4 days. They fed me well and provided a time of rest and renewal for me. The church itself is filled with people mobilized to care for the body. The leadership of the church gave and gave to all of us. They gave time, encouragement and resources. I realized my presupposition about the church and the “purpose driven” movement was indeed arrogant and incorrect. It is not shallow to love and build the body. It is not shallow to give up your home to someone you’ve never seen. It is not shallow to provide resources and encouragement to Chaplains who need it. In fact it is all quite Biblical. I came away energized and built up. It wasn’t because I heard some great new teaching. It was how I saw the body in action and how the body came together in one accord. I believe the Chaplain Corps is stronger because of Saddleback’s ministry to us. I came back and preached to our BCT soldiers three times yesterday. I put out the call to our soldiers for them to be ministers in their company areas. As of today we now have about 30 small groups started in three companies. That’s right about 30! I realized that when I give believers permission to embrace their own ministries they will do just that. We also have a Drill SGT who wants to begin a singles ministry to our cadre and my Chaplain Assistant is going to ratchet up an internet café for BCT soldiers. All this has taken place just in the last two days. I sincerely believe we are on the precipice of a great move of God here. Please pray for us as we equip believers here.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Tomorrow I’ll be the pall bearer for Hannah Chambers. The reason I am the pall bearer is that Hannah died when she was four months old and only one is needed. Her mom and dad are two of my best friends on this planet. Nate and Angie called me back in June with news that their baby had been born, but there was a problem. She was born with an extra chromosome. Most children with this condition never make it to term but Hannah did. She showed her strength by making it here with us. Its not surprising, her dad is a very strong man. Not only that he’s a good man too. Her mom is probably the sweetest person I’ve met. Hannah from the beginning had difficulty. Nate and Angie knew that this day was coming. We all prayed for Hannah. She lived a life much longer than anyone expected. In spite of all that it’s a hard time. We all ask why. I’m not sure there’s areal answer for that… at least I don’t have one. So I won’t try to guess why with some existential patronizing platitude. I will say this. I will continue to trust God. Death is such an unwelcome visitor. It descends on our lives so suddenly sometimes. Sometimes we think we are ready, but it always crushes. It does this because we were never supposed to die. It’s the villain of our lives, the bad guy in the story. At times like this it seems as if death has won. Our hearts grieve and ache. It can bring a physical pain like a lump of food lodged in your throat. Hope dwindles…yet although it dwindles; it is still there like a faint light off in the distance. Like a star that you can see only in your peripheral vision but when you look directly at it, it vanishes. Yet it is there. It’s unseen, but there. Deep inside I think we all know that resurrection is real. Believers or not, we long for it. Theologically I know it, practically though I grasp the air many times for resurrection. Yet it is still there, whispering oh so faintly…death has lost! Over and over He whispers…: “Death has lost!” Now the whispering continues, but today Hannah shouts…”Death has lost!” and someday Nate and Angie will shout with their daughter and with Jesus “Death, you have lost!” And I’ll be there to watch and then I’ll join with them… “Death! You have lost!”
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
In my job I get to meet some outstanding folks and a few characters. Some of the characters are also outstanding folks. The one I speak of today is pictured here(right). His name is Drill SGT Settles. I first met him in Florida at our orientation weekend for the 2/485th back in May. Since then we have had many opportunities to talk and get to know each other. He is the son of Christian missionaries (automatic cool points for me). He has also spent time on active duty with the “Old Guard” up in DC. Those are the guys that take care of all the funerals at Arlington. It’s a special job. He’s also a hard Drill SGT. He is the loudest Drill SGT as well. He can run way faster than me so I stay out of his group in the morning runs. He’s rough on our soldiers, not in a bad way. The young soldiers that come to us need it, desperately. He makes me laugh a lot too. This blog is not an attempt to build him unnecessarily, but an attempt for all that read to get to know the people that work the 18 hour days and sweat and grow weary right along with our soldiers. He’s pictured with another one of Charlie CO’s Drill SGTs. His name is DS De Los Reyes. That’s a mouthful for me so I call him De Los. He’s not real loud, but he doesn’t need to be. He carries a quiet confidence about him that soldiers respect. Both temperaments are assets to our training process. It’s a privilege to be their Chaplain. I pray for them to be good trainers and good men. May God continue to bless all of my Drill SGTs!
KJ 2 Timothy 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Saturday is my little boy’s birthday. He’ll be 7 years old. Its hard to believe that. The day of his birth is so fresh in my mind. I remember doing a Bible study with my friend Will on my back porch at the time. I remember him looking through the sliding glass door of my house and saying, “Hey dude, I think there is something wrong with your wife!” Sure enough, something was definitely up…it was labor. Tammy was gripping the cushion on our couch so hard that I was sure the fabric would tear. Now my wife is a baby producing machine. Some women have labors that last hours into days, not Tammy. She was just ready to be that little boy’s mom. We jumped in the car and sped down I-40 to Iredell Memorial Hospital and about 90 minutes after Will’s statement of the obvious, Jack appeared in the world. We didn’t know whether he was boy or a girl prior to his birth and what a surprise. I remember that day wondering what he would be like. I remember looking at him and trying to figure out how was going to raise him to be a man. I’ve found that it is a tough job, but one I cherish. He is a spirited little guy. He’s never met a stranger. He smiles all the time. He’s big like his dad. He lives his life as if he’s a character in the Lord of the Rings. He’ll strap on his bow and arrow and tuck his stick (or sword) in his belt and he’s off to defend all that is good and right. I’m not sure what kind of man he’ll turn out to be. I’m not sure that I’ve always done the right “daddy” stuff. I’ve been away a lot in the last year with the Army. But I believe with all my heart that my little boy will be a great man someday. I think he’ll make a difference in this world and I believe that the world is a better place because the Lord has placed him here at this time. I’m proud to be his daddy. Happy 7th Birthday Jack. I love you!
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Its official, I’m part of this new generation. For my birthday my brother bought me an ipod. Now I never saw what all the fuss was about. My buddy Carl Cartee http://www.carlcartee.com/ raved about these little gismos. My buddy Jared McAdams www.kennygotsaved.com says they’ll change your life. I wasn’t sure about any of it till I logged on i-tunes. That’s the place where you can download songs and other audio formats. I wasn’t all that impressed until I realized that you could also download these groovy things called pod casts. Now, some of you are saying “Wow, what a geezer!” Some of you are amazed at my technical savvy. Either way, these pod cast things are too cool for high school. I found one that reads through the bible. Every day you get a chapter or two downloaded automatically to your computer. I was blown away. Also you can get great speakers and authors in these pod casts. I’ve subscribed to my favorite egghead theologian, “Ravi Zacharais”. He’s brilliant and witty and he loves Jesus. I’m browsing through the titles and it is quite amazing. So…Steve, if you are reading this, thanks a million.
It should be noted that I officially turned 40 yesterday. My son told me that he was getting me a jug of prune juice. That’s just great!
Big praises go out to everyone who prays for us. At our morning service today 30 soldiers came forward to receive Christ into their lives. That is now more than 100 since we began our ministry here back in July. I must thank LTC Voigt for his support of all we do as a ministry team. SSG Pam Thomas who sings like an angel and I can never leave out my buddy and partner in ministry SFC Dan Roberts.
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