Monday, February 27, 2006

In between

In between, its a wierd place to be. Right now we are in between; in between training and deployment, in between work and rest and in between almost ready to go and not yet ready. It is a tough place to be this in between place.

The problem is that you are not really sure what to do when you are in between. Just a few days ago my day was cramm packed with things to do, I did not think that I would ever get it all done. In fact the op tempo was furious that I missed doing services last week to go along on a mission that included almost the whole squadron. It was good training and I am glad I went, but wish I could have held worship.

So now we live in between. We have the details to clean up. The little onsie-twosie things that 4000 different people can miss out on during a big operation like this. For instance, I missed out on the new uniform draw because I went to see Connor be born. Now multiply by 4000 and it can get a bit tedious cleaning up all the small things that were missed.

It makes me think about how as christians we live in between. We live in between Christ's first and second coming. We live in a time where we can see God's plan in action in the person of Christ, but we can only imagine the ending. In a time and place where Christ has saved us from all our sin, but we still struggle with sin everyday. Christ has already won the victouy, his death and resurrection have conqured sin and death. His reward is us and we live in that victory.

But, we also live now, here in a time before the second coming. Where people still get sick, hurt and die. where people go hungry and cold. Where even the greatest of us humans struggles with their sin. Where christians still backstab one another.

We live here in the in between, between glory and pain. Between perfection and wreched sinfulness. We are in the place where we already have victory over sin, but we do not yet have victory over the flesh. Life in the in between, it is just painful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Perspectives on the Promised Land

Well we just returned to the beautiful, awesome, home away from home Camp Shelby. It is funny what a little perspective will do for you. 4 weeks ago my fellow soldiers and I couldn't wait to get away from Camp Shelby and go somewhere, anywhere else. We were so tired of the "Mississippi hospitality" we were receiving. Just wanted to leave here if you get the picture.
We arrived in Ft. Polk roughly 3 weeks ago and well lets just say it was not what we expected. The accommodations were horrible, the food was worse, and the weather... Well lets just say Minnesota is not the only place on earth with unpredictable weather. It was either rainy and muddy or cold and colder. Not like Minnesota cold, but colder that you'd expect it to be in the south. I mean Pennsylvania winters were warmer. Hmmm south? I think Katrina took the warm weather away.
It wasn't just that it was the whole super fast optempo(that's a military term for "got a lot of stuff to do with no time to do it" Sigh...For the 5 day a week, 7-1630 work schedule.) But, it was also the whole being evaluated thing. It was like a 3 week long test. Even though my proctors were great it was still a test. Actually I think that the best part of the whole experience was the Chaplains and Chaplain assistant at Ft. Polk. I really appreciated all of them. Mostly it was a test of the work that I did this summer, the preparation I did for the deployment teams.
I did a limited survey and most of the other soldiers felt the same way as I did, Please send me back to Camp Shelby. I am starting to think that all of this training is just something that makes us anxious and happy to be in Iraq. The biggest part for me is that it is hard to be "unsettled." Unsettled to me is the feeling that you can't get too comfortable in any one spot because you need to move again soon. I am starting to get used to that feeling. The nice thing about it is that it is impossible to get complacent.
I have been thinking a lot lately about Abram/Abraham. Abram was given a promise, the promise of a child that will be his heir. He has wealth, God has blessed him greatly, but he is missing 2 things. He is missing an heir and a home. Why is it a big deal to him? Well because Abram is thinking more eternally than temporally, he recognizes that when he dies all his wealth will mean nothing without someone to leave it to. But, this promise is bigger than just someone to inherit Abram's wealth. The promise is that he will become the father of a nation. But that promise is even bigger than that, it is through him that God will save his people. It is through this promise that we are provided with a savior.
Once God reassures Abram of the promise, he is settled. Once he is sure of an heir he is less unsettled. God then promises him that he will inherit the land of Canaan. Notice that the inheritance means nothing without the heir. We have also been promised an inheritance. We have been given the promise of heaven. Heaven is our promised land, however, it means nothing without the heir. Without Jesus Heaven is more than out of reach, it is meaningless.
There seems to be some parallel here. God promises Abram an heir and an inheritance. I believe that as a part of that same promise God promises you Jesus and Heaven. God has already given us Jesus, and if we have him, if we have the heir, we have Heaven, we have the inheritance.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pause EX

We are currently at a pause in the JRTC exercise. Which means I can steal a few moments to make another post. I have really missed posting on this thing. It is somewhat cathartic for me, and I know that my family and my friends are able to hear what I am up to so I guess that is why. The training here is great, the accommodations not so much.

I am developing a negative attitude toward the work ethic of the civilians who support us. I am not so sure if that follows through to civilian life in general, mostly because I am starting to forget what it was like on the outside. When I complain about the civilian work ethic mind you I am complaining about myself in some way.

They only seem interested in doing the bare minimum to "accomplish" their mission and I use that word accomplish lightly. When their quitting hour hits, they are gone even if they are not finished with the work they have to do. It is the whole 9-5 mentality that I think I am losing.
It does seem like sometimes that all the days run together for me. The saying around here is that everyday is groundhog day. (BTW happy belated groundhog day Ron) Everyday and every hour of the day seems to run together in one long work day. There is no such thing as weekend. Freetime and sleep time and shower time and laundry time and shopping time and break time are all the same thing. You take it when you can get it and you are thankful for each moment.

So back to the pause ex. Today we have some small amount of free time, but it is really not exactly free-time it is an opportunity to breathe and catch up on the things we skipped because of the urgent things we have to do. You know one interesting thing that has happened here, I have so many fires to put out every day that I barely have time to think and prepare my sermon before it is Sunday. But, I have not missed a devotion time or a prayer time since I got here.

It is strange to me that with so many urgent things to do everyday that I am able to maintain my devotional life. Maybe it is because it has become a necessity now more than ever. One OC (observer controller) here told me, "you gotta stay filled up." It is so true. If I didn't fill up every day I would be empty by tomorrow. It is a good exercise the filling and the emptying.

I am beginning to think that what most Christians need is not to be told that they have to do devotions every day, they need a reason to empty themselves out. Because once you start getting empty you really feel it and you compulsively fill up again. I think part of the reason that so many Christians have a hard time with devotions is because they never do anything with what they have been given, they never empty. Maybe my job should be more of freeing people to use what they have been given.

Anyway, I was doing worship yesterday. In the morning service we had some trouble in the beginning. My chapel, the DFAC (dining facility), had been taken over with detainees from the game we are playing here. So I had to move my service. We moved across the compound to the area where the CSH (combat support hospital) resides. The CSH personnel are from Puerto Rico.

They came to service with a guitar and wanted to worship. Wanted to worship not just in English, but in Spanish. It was awesome. We really had a great time worshiping in Spanish and in English. I loved hearing the songs and some of them I remembered from my church in Philadelphia.

In Philly we used to have Spanish songs every week. Sometimes more so than English songs. My pastor there would tell me that it is important for native speakers to hear their native language. I thought about it and it made a lot of sense to me. I mean if I was stuck in France or someplace like that I would be anxious to hear English any English. It doesn't really matter how beautiful the foreign language was, it wouldn't be my native language.

It got me thinking. I have been thinking about how scripture tells us that we are aliens and strangers to this world. This world is not our home, but we have a place prepared for us by Jesus. And, I wonder what is our native language if we are not of this world. If I belong somewhere else and this world is not really my home, what is the language of my home.
I think it is worship. I love to hear the songs and the word. I think it may be the language of my real home. I speak this alien language now, but someday I will speak only the worship. The language of my home.

Well I may not be back for another 2 weeks or so. Thanks for visiting. Dont forget to stop and say hi, I like to know that you have visited. Hopefully I will be able to post again at the next pause ex.