Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who's program?

“You just on your own program?” everyone knew what was next...lots of pushups.  Someone had, once again, gone against, (more likely than not ignorantly) Senior Chief's will.  Over the first week of ODS we quickly became aware of the need to understand and comply with Senior Chief's "program".  The ingenuity of the "program" was that not knowing the "program" and consequently suffering the consequences of going outside the "program"...was all part of the "program".  Senior Chief was teaching us to three important lessons:
1. The importance of being on the same page
2.  How to read and operate on that page effectively with limited information
2. That the page was more important than our individual wants and desires.

During the many "You on your own program?" inspired pushup sessions I thought about how that idea translates to my walk with Christ.   The great men and women of the Bible were not on their own program.  They followed God the Father's plan for their lives and the end result was something so much more than what their "program" would have been.  Yet for none of them, Jesus included, were the dots always clearly connected.  They did not get a brochure with a ten step process and happy ending promised. There wasn't a clear map. They did not have all the information available upfront...they had to trust.  They had to realize that their life was not their own, that they were part of something bigger and if they would just trust - learning to operate and obey the information they had been given, all the while seeking more and more clarification - their life would matter, they would be part of "The Program"...even if that would not be comprehensively clear except from the vantage point of heaven.

I don't want to be on my own program.  I want to be part of the "The Program".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

ODS #4: "Accelerate Your Life"

The lazy will not survive in the Navy (or Marine Corps).* Everything about the environment pushes you to perform and produce. I used to think I was so unproductive because I was so unorganized. But now I realize that I was unproductive because I was lazy. ODS (at least the first 3 weeks) has activity for every minute of the day (minus 4-5 hours for sleeping - if you are not on duty) and when there is down time you feel restless because you know you can still be doing something and there is always something that needs doing.
I have never been surrounded by so many driven people in my life than at ODS. Not in the church. Not in chaplaincy school. Not at Bible college.
What drives these people is as varied as the paths that brought them to this frozen outpost on edge of the Newport Harbor. But whether compelled by something outside of themselves or propelled by some deep inner strength, they are determined to find a door when everyone else sees only a wall. They are determined to live up to the commission of Naval Officer that they have been given.

How much more should those who have received the commission of ambassador of Jesus and the right to be called a child of God through Christ Jesus be driven to spend our lives for His glory and the good of a desperately lost world?

Not everyone has to join the military to repent of laziness, but I did and I hope it sticks.

*since originally writing this in ODS I have found exceptions to this rule. However I think my standards of laziness have changed since joining the Navy, so I still stand by my above statement when using a general (civilian) definition of laziness.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ODS #3: Fear of Man

Letting my fear of other people control me is something that I have known I struggle with for many years, but have never full-on faced, repented, and overcome. You will not last long in the Navy if you are crippled by fear of superiors and/or subordinates. Dogs can smell fear and they will exploit it.As an officer if you are crippled by fear it will mean that you will forfeit your credibility to lead. This will lead to dysfunctional duty at best and the loss of life at worst.
Having a Senior Chief in ODS who was impossible to please helped me a great deal in confronting my fear of man. I was reminded that if I properly fear the One who is always pleased with me, not because of my perfection but because of His which He has graciously imputed to me, I need not inappropriately fear any lesser authority, whatever their rank and regardless of their bark and/or bite.
And interestingly enough, the less afraid of Senior Chief I became, the more I felt I was earning his respect.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ODS #2: Attacks on my supposed self-sovereignty

There were many shocks to my system at Officer Development School.  Many of these shocks God is using to shape me.
Perhaps one of the first big shocks (other than the cold) was the realization that I now had very little control over my life.  I once heard a Marine Drill Sergeant explain that one of the goals of boot camp training was to take away all creature comforts so that they can realize how much they take those things for granted.  I never realized how much I valued my personal freedom until I arrived at ODS.  Here every minute of every day had been meticulously planned for me, and no one ever asked me what I thought about it.  Mel Gibson once said while wearing a skirt and curly fake mullet, "they can take our lives, but they can never take our freedom!"  Not true.  The military is all about taking your (voluntarily surrendered) personal freedom in order to uphold the corporate freedoms of others.  At ODS, I was told what to wear, when to wear it, when to shower, when to sleep (whenever you can!), what to eat, where to stand, what to say, how to make my bed, where to put my shoes - everything.
I quickly came to realize that I was not in control, Senior Chief and the rest of the Chain of Command was.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  I had a choice: push against or play along.  While there were and are still things in me that pushes against these threats on my ilusory self-soverienty, I decided to play along as best I could.
That was a big deal for me, giving up control.   Through the process I began to realize how much this was really a heart issue.  I realized how much I still had to surrender over to God, the real Sovereign in my life.  Even as I write this there are glaring strongholds of sinful control that I am battling to give over.  My guess is that you are facing a similar struggle.  I want to end this post here with a verse and a thought:
- "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."  - Galatians 2:20
- A Serviceman or woman who refuses to surrender their personal control and preferences will not last long in the military.  What about a follower of Christ who refuses to recognize the control of their King in every area of their life?

Monday, March 1, 2010

ODS #1

Alright. I'd been standing on the diving board long enough. My wife and I had prayed about it, sought counsel, and recieved countless confirmations that God was calling us into the Naval chaplaincy, at least for a season. It was time to jump in.

The water was cold.

After being sworn in on December 16 and running the holiday gauntlet, I found myself stepping off the plane on Jan 2 into a below freezing Rhode Island winter.  I hitched a ride with a random guy in a naval uniform I arrived about an hour later at King Hall, a deteriorating relic (my dad stayed here when he went through ODS almost 20 years ago and it was falling apart then) my home for the next 5 weeks. 

I was dropped off at the Quarterdeck, where I quickly learned that I needed to salute the flag, show ID, and declare in my big boy voice, "I have permission to come aboard".  I was then taken up to the fourth deck (navyese for floor) given a pair of sheets, some stylish coveralls and shown to my room, the size of a nice hotel bathroom.   My roommate was already there.  The first words out of his mouth were, "Hey man, I got to tell you I snore really loudly.  I usually have a breathing machine but they didn't let me bring it."

It was going to be a long 5 weeks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unique Aspect of the Chaplaincy #2

Unique Opportunities
To the wise chaplain, there are virtually no limitations to ministry amongst military members and their families. A chaplain is able to live amongst the people he is ministering to, people who are operating on the front lines of life, facing situations most civilians can’t comprehend. A chaplain, being an officer, receives immediate credibility with those he ministers to and is thus able to quickly be seen as a trustworthy source of truth and counsel. The military chaplain is paid to be the one who gets to tell the 18 year old high school drop-out, injured marine serving in Iraq, whose pregnant girlfriend just left him that there is a just and loving God who can forgive his sins and transform his life through the cross of Jesus Christ. I became a Navy chaplain because of the unique opportunities.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Unique Aspect of the Chaplaincy #1

As with anything in life, it is difficult to understand all the different contributors to a decision, but in the next few posts I will try to explore some of the reasons that led my wife and I into this ministry. They all revolve around the uniqueness of chaplaincy.

Reason # 1: Unique Influence
God has placed the United States in an extraordinary position of influence in our modern world. The military sees itself as and in many ways is the guardian of the ideals of our country. If there is a strong Gospel witness amongst the guardians of the core values of the country, that Gospel witness will trickle down. I became a Navy chaplain because of the strong strategic potential for Gospel witness in this land and the world.