Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Blog Coming Soon!

I was trying to figure out what would be the best way to wrap up this stage of our lives and figured the best way would be to initiate a new blog that didn't have military leanings. Okay, it does have some militaristic leanings, but only in the way of working at a Christian military boarding school. The link is over to the right and will go active on 1 August when I start as the Sergeant Major at Chamberlain-Hunt Academy.

We're all very excited about it all, though there is much apprehension because so much change is going to happen all at once. We are going to be retiring from all we've known for the past 23 years, our oldest son has joined the Marines and ships to Parris Island on 14 November, our only daughter leaves for college mid-August, I start a civilian job in August, I'm leaving my favorite place that we've ever been stationed with the church that I've grown into like none other, and we are moving to the most rural area we've ever lived in. Though I'm excited about the work, I confess that I'm not looking forward to Mississippi as I would like living in many other places. My friend and boss did it and they are doing well (they left his wife's family in Tampa to move there). I know that we will do okay too. We'll do better than okay. We are called to that place. There is a whole student body of young men who need MY experience with the gospel for them to identify their need for it to be THEIR experience too.

I'm bummed though. I had planned on attending seminary after retiring, but it appears that that dream will come to an end. My daughter will be attending Belhaven University so that she can be in the ONLY creative writing program in America with a Christian worldview. If she had not written a 98,000 word novel, I would never consider this, but she has shown me she is committed to the work. By comparison, the school is not as expensive as some, but it is too expensive for me. I'm signing over my GI Bill to my last three kids so that they can get a solid education with a Christian worldview. She'll still leave with a school loan debt after I turn over so lucrative a benefit to her.

I get to preach one or two times more before I cease to be a ministry candidate before we move. God has really tested me in this by removing my external call to the ministry and burned my bridges toward eventual ordination. As a consolation, I'm a ruling elder in my denomination which is a tremendous honor. I love to preach. I love the research that goes into it. I'm still in a specialized youth ministry though, which I'm looking forward to. If you asked me four years ago, I wouldn't have believed in youth ministry. These boys need this soon-to-be retired, Marine Corps experienced Navy Chief to live out the gospel for them. Though my heart is broken concerning ordained ministry, I'm still an ordained ruling elder with a very specialized ministry to look forward to - even if the presbytery doesn't recognize it as such.

The hardest part is the not knowing what God has in store for us. Abraham had no idea what he was getting into by listening and obeying God when He commanded him to go out of his comfort zone. I'm like Abraham. I've never owned land and have lived as a vagabond all these years. Yet, God is faithful. I'm looking forward to a home that's foundations are in heaven; in the presence of God the Father and my Savior. I'll rest then. As a Northern Baptist chaplain I knew had as his theme motto, "You can rest when you're dead." I think I can tough it out in this life for an eternal Sabbath rest.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ooorah!

My oldest boy joined the Marines today. I'm extremely proud, though a little apprehensive about it all. As it stands, he does not have a job yet, but is hoping to get something in combat arms; preferably basic rifleman (I can't see what fascinates him about it, but it's his deal). He'll leave in November unless he finds a job he wants earlier.

I admire the Marines who are riflemen, but I would not have wanted that for my son. It's not that he's too good for that; being a Marine is huge! I just wonder how parents with infantrymen are able to deal with the constant danger. As evidenced by the name of my blog, I am a corpsman who has served with the Marines. But I served with the air wing. My job was to support those who support the grunt Marines. I can only hope that those who have taken my place will be supporting my boy. He's a good kid and an excellent leader. I only hope the Marine Corps is a better place because they've hired my son.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mystery of the Body of Christ

My friend John is teaching a Sunday School class on the Patristic Period of the Church which is the period from the Apostles all the way to Saint Augustine. It is remarkable to me how our Church is forged through suffering. It is remarkable to me also that so much of the Church's identity comes from our identity with the sufferings of Christ.

Communion is my thing. I love it so much because I'm reminded in such a tangible way of Jesus' death on the cross for my sins. Though those elements are only common elements, what they represent is so much more. Though Jesus' human body is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, His presence as God, a spirit, is very real and very present at that communion meal. As the One who is fully God and fully man, He alone can do that.

One of the most meaningful songs to me is "The Communion Hymn" by Stuart Townend (I have a YouTube video on this website from April of 2010). In it our call to share in the sufferings of Christ are tied to the communion table and our lives. Here are the lyrics:

"And so with thankfulness and faith we rise to respond and to remember our call to follow in the steps of Christ as His body here on earth. As we share in His suffering, we proclaim Christ will come again! And we’ll join in the feast of heaven around the table of the King. As we share in His suffering, we proclaim Christ will come again! And we’ll join in the feast of heaven around the table of the King."

Never forget what it cost God the Father when He gave His Son for our sins. But, did He die for your sins too? The only way to know is if you turn in faith to Jesus, trusting that He did indeed die for you and pay your ransom for adoption into His family and forgiveness of your sins.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Steel Guitar!

I've been in the strangest mood this evening. I went to the seven-day store earlier to pick up some libation for the Navy Ball tomorrow night and was overcome by the need to hear, dum, dum, dum - Don Williams. I called the workplace of an old friend today to get some Navy information (the Navy/Air Force game is this weekend - I have tickets!) and reminisced about a flight we once took on the Commanding General's airplane from Second Marine Air Wing. We got there wicked early, but were allowed to get on the airplane and have coffee. We were just getting some flight hours. But, as we had our coffee we were listening to Don Williams. His smooth-as-Knob-Creek-bourbon voice took me to a day in the eighth grade when my family was traveling cross-country to California for my dad to start his new job. We stopped at a Holidome (a Holiday Inn with an indoor pool) in Las Cruces, New Mexico and you'll never believe who I saw - Don Williams. I recognized him from the K-Tel ads on TV for a greatest hits album. My daughter caught tears in my eyes whilst listening to "You're My Best Friend" (which has got to be the theme music for a video of Sheila and me sometime) and thought it was cute while my son John thought I was being a sissy. I'm such a softy as I get older. I'm going to be a basket case at my retirement ceremony.

I'm a heavy-metal rocker who loves Seattle grunge (my favorite bands are Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains), but I LOVE STEEL GUITAR! I don't know what it is about it, but I love it especially in old country music like Don Williams, Hank Williams, and George Jones. There's a gal out of Ottawa, Canada named Kathleen Edwards that is awesome (be careful, she has some very unneeded vernacular) and has some crazy-cool lyrics (listen to "Pink Emerson Radio" if you get the chance. It'll make you ask yourself, "What would I take with me if my house was burning down?"). I also have grown to love Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs. "For the Summer" and "God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise" are fantastic songs, so full of that sweet steel guitar!

A little bourbon and a wonderful woman make me so sentimental and needful of sweet music. I was talking with my friend and choir director from church, Anna, about how music is so able to convey emotion when it's so hard to speak feelings or thoughts. She has taken over as the music director for our church and one of her first projects is to teach the church "The Communion Song" by Stuart Townend for Communion Sunday. You can hear the song on a video I have attached to the post "The Blood That Cleanses Every Stain of Sin." That piece really touches me too. It's almost as tangible an experience with Christ as the Lord's Supper itself (I stress "almost" because Jesus made that meal as real as it gets). All this to say that I'm so thankful to God for blessing us with music. You'll find this is a recurrent theme for me as it touches me in so many ways. When my quiet times with God become cold, nothing stokes my passion for Him as a song about the Gospel of Jesus and His love for me. Gotta go. My woman, who stokes other passions in me, has beckoned me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Unknown

We still haven't heard back from Chamberlain-Hunt concerning the salary-compensation agreement so no new news. Sometimes the case is no news is good news. But we do need to plan, so it would be good to get that. God will provide.

Sheila sent me a great video about marriage and I really like the song. It's off Andrew Peterson's new album from "Counting Stars." Thought I'd share it with you all. When you're married you go through good and bad times, but the good ones can be really good and they make the bad ones insignificant. Sorry the width is truncated, but the important stuff is the song.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The End Of An Era and the Beginning of Another


This past quarter has been full of events that are pointing us toward the end of twenty-three and a half years of service in the Navy. In July I learned that I had been passed over for promotion which was to be a fleece for us in our decision to stay in the Navy or move on. About a week prior to that news, I contacted Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, which is a Christian military boarding school for boys in Port Gibson, Mississippi. I discovered they were looking for someone with my skill set to be the Command Sergeant Major of Cadets. Unfortunately, they had been without one for three years prior and could not go the year it would take for me to retire from the Navy and join them. However, the commandant told me that he wanted to keep my application, but if we were in the area he would like us to come by for a tour. After our eldest son and our daughter were accepted to Belhaven University in Jackson, we had an opportunity to visit the school while our kids saw the university. By God's grace, the person Chamberlain-Hunt hired backed out at the last minute and left the position open. We have been asked to join their team, and are waiting for the salary/compensation agreement to be the last confirming circumstance that God is leading us there. This is a prime opportunity to be in a youth ministry where the Gospel can dramatically transform the hearts and lives of these troubled boys.

One would think that being in close proximity to Reformed Theological in Jackson would give me the prime opportunity to complete a Master of Divinity. However, my work schedule will not permit me to take coursework there. Taking coursework through RTS Virtual would have been a great alternative, but RTS will not accept VA benefits and will only give me a third discount on tuition for their online program. RTS offers a GI Bill replacement grant, but that is only for coursework taken in residence. My pastor agreed that Liberty University's online M.Div program with the languages taken through Gordon-Conwell (I'm currently taking coursework through them) could be a good alternative.

I'm still going to seek ordination as a PCA teaching elder. Though I would be wearing a uniform and providing discipline and structure for these boys, I would still be in a dynamic and purposeful ministry. Upon completion of my M.Div, I will still seek ordination in that presbytery if they will accept my work as a Sergeant Major at a Christian school and the internship work I've done at Forestgate PCA here in Colorado Springs.

We are very excited and cautiously optimistic about where it appears God is leading us. He has been faithful thus far and leaves us no reason to doubt He will be any less in the future. He has always proven that He keeps His promises and all His providence is good.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No Hope In Socialism


I just finished reading a book yesterday that I picked up at the Museum of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic two years ago and was amazed at the similarities between what Czechoslovakia had been through and what our country is trying to do. What communism did to that country was astounding to me.

Did you know that the gross domestic product of all the countries of Europe and the U.S. lost 2.2 percent except one? I'll give you a hint. It was the first Communist Bloc country in Eastern Europe to reform its economic policies. It was Poland and this past year their GDP grew 3.1 percent. All of those other countries (including ours) try to use Keynsian economic policies which requires the government to adjust and fine tune the economy through legislation. Poland uses free market economic policies which allows the economy to adjust and fix itself as it can and does on its own.

An economy is something very fluid; one could even say organic. It quite naturally has contractions (recessions) and expansions (economic growth). In the free market cycle, the economy expands and contracts, but something special happens: the growth trend is always upward. Keynsian economics don't allow for contractions which tend to make the recession last longer and the expansions much shorter. The result is retarded economic growth. You know why Keynsian economics are so popular in America at least? It sells votes. This is why I think it should be mandatory for all high school seniors and college students to take macroeconomics. At least they'll know what a politician is promising when he/she tells you they're going to fix the economy. It means they're going to give you a "stimulus bill" so that you believe they're doing something to help you. The only economy where Keynsian economics truly works is socialism and even then it requires perfect adjustment so as not to ruin the balance. Did you know when Hungary became a democracy, they took "Socialist" out of their country's name? Human nature won't let Keynsian economics work. Just like communism, the human nature has a way of spoiling Utopia.

Do you want to fix the economy? Leave it alone. Do you want to fix health care? Make it free market and allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. Competition and tort reform is the best way to drive down the prices for quality health care. The government is not our savior. Because of mankind's fall into sin, we have trouble. Furthermore, we make more trouble by trying to have immediate heaven on earth. It's in God's mercy that economics govern themselves, but it takes man's desire for perpetual comfort and wealth to disrupt the balance by interference. Only Jesus can save our souls. Frankly, Utopia will only exist in heaven for those of us who love Jesus.