Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fight fair? Never.

The more I think about it the angrier I get. It is 0130 in the morning here and I can't get to sleep because I am angry. It is not that I really need to sleep at the moment, I would rather just sit here and tell all of you just what I think of my arch enemy. That low down snake cannot go down soon enough for me.

When I signed up to go to this place I realized from the beginning I was in for a fight. The place we have been sent to is spiritually dark and the gospel has had minimal impact for generations. Satan has a strong grip on this place and I am sure he likes it that way.

As chaplains we come to bring God to the soldiers wherever they go. Truthfully I expected a fight; spiritually speaking that is. I expected Satan to attack me and the other chaplains with me. I have been praying faithfully against this attack and I guess I have grown somewhat complacent on my praying for this.

When I think of how we would be attacked I expected that we would be tempted to do all kinds of crazy things. To fear the enemy, to fight among each other, or even to act immorally and lose credibility. I did not expect him to attack out families. I don't know why it seems like such an easy target now that I think about just what that kind of attack does.

I am angry that our families are not safe from spiritual attack, but even more so I am angry at myself for not recognizing the vulnerability. It is a tough battle and we need to be ready to defend all that is dear to us. We had better prepare our families. The fight is coming to them in a way that is not fair, but very real.

I would ask that all of you who read this and believe that God is stronger than any enemy we face, to pray for us. Pray for our families. Keep in touch with them and let them know that you are praying for them. Keep them in close contact and encourage them whenever and wherever you can.

Thank you,
Todd Luken

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday's team

Sunday always seems like a milestone to me. It is not the only day that I do services, but it is somehow special to me. I guess it is because there is some expectation from me on Sunday. Every other day of the week I set my own schedule and everything I do us up to me as to when and where. But Sunday that day everyone expects to worship. I think it is a better worship than on Wednesdays, why I don't really know. Maybe it is because there is some anticipation for Sunday, or maybe it is becuause I treat it more special.

In the military world you do worship services whenever we get the time. We work every day, sometimes all day. Every day is as important as the next. As chaplains we have a saying, "everyday is Sunday." But Sunday "actual" is special because it is not "whenever we get the time," rather it is time set aside. The fact that it is time set aside makes it special.

It is like a tithe of our time. Of all the time the Lord has given us, we set aside 1/7th of it for him. I like that, it is not the day that is important rather it is the setting aside that is important. Sunday could be anyday, but here it is important because that is the day that we set specifically to worship him.

Been thinking of the everything belongs to God thing lately, so it is no wonder that my musings on Sunday center around this theme. Read some about Jacob in Genesis. In chapter 33 he has a drastic 24 hours. He goes from everything I have earned to everything comes from God. An interesting change.

Everyone here says to me things like, "Hey don't mess with the chaplain he has God on his team." So I will be playing cards or Halo or something and inevitably someone will bust out with this phrase. I think that Jacob must have thought the same way, hey don't mess with me I have God on my team.

I think they have it backward. God is not on my team, I am on his team. Maybe I should correct the phrase to say, "Hey don't mess with the chaplain he is on God's team."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

23 hours, 6 movies and 7 meals

Anticipation was high as we were about to leave. Everyone was excited and anxious about what it would be like "over there." Up until now the longest flight I have been on was the flight I took in the early 90's to England. On that flight we watched a movie and we were afforded the luxury of having 2 meals on the plane, well this flight was a little longer. 6 movies and 7 meals 8).

I don't have much to say about our flight except that it was long and also that foreign airports are very different. The smoking section for one was a tad different. There was not a smoking section per se, there was a non-smoking section. The rest of the airport was free game for smokers. And, the gift shops were a little odd as well; lets put it this way, In a PG forum I cannot tell you what all was in those gift shops, but some of it was pretty funny.

It also felt so strange to have everyone so greatful for out service. I guess it is something I never really will get used to but, we got so many thank you's and such that I literally cannot recount them all. I am glad that people are so greatful and it makes me wonder just what they are thinking about when they express themselves. Are they thinking of their family growing up in a safer world, or are they just glad that it is not them? Just something that makes me wonder.

It is hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am so far from home. 23 hours on a plane and I am literally almost half way around the world. I have been far from home before, but this is so different from anything I have ever experienced. I am certian I will find my way here and I pray that God will direct my paths in the way he would want me to take His ministry.

I have been meditating upon my own mission here and I have come up with a way to express what I am thinking. It comes out of fear of failure maybe, or just a sudden realization of our situation. Here goes; It saddens me to know that soldiers come over here and purchase freedom for the Iraqi people with their blood, and yet die in their sins. It is my mission to ensure that every soldier I come in contact with has some concept of eternity. Some clue about what is in store for them in the next life, before the leave this one.

It looks like for the next little while I will have better computer access so I will be posting more often. "En Shallah" Lord willing

Chaplain Luken

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I had it all planned out. You ever look forward to something so much that you play it out in your head and sometimes even on paper. I was going to get a 4 day pass. 4 days to see my wife and my son. We decided to meet in Mobile, AL. She flew there, and I drove there to meet her, it is only about an hour and a half from here so not such a long trip.

I was thinking of all the things that you would imagine we would do together. Walks on the beach, nice quiet dinners, some quality alone time... You get the picture. My wife and I have been married for 11 1/2 years now, all of that time it has been just us. Just us in a small, small, small apartment near the St. Paul campus, just us in a nice place near the Minneapolis campus, just us together in Philadelphia. We have learned to rely upon one another for companionship and we also "own" each other's time. There is a certain expectation there that we have for each other, and expectation that we will take the time for each other.

So this 4 day pass would be no different, we got the time and we would be together so let loose the together time. Oh I forgot to mention one thing; had a baby 3 months ago. Babies take a lot of time, and they don't seem to care if it is not their turn for attention. Even if you were just paying attention to him, if he wants your attention he will make sure he gets it.

So our walks on the beach included some feeding and diaper changing, our quiet dinners well they were a little shorter than they usually are, and our quality alone time well lets just say we were never really alone. I must admit that even though I was so glad to see Anne and Connor, I began to resent him just a little. I remembered when I used to be the center of my wife's attention and I liked it that way.

The Lord has interesting ways to show us just how selfish we really are. I remember when I first got married I woke up one morning and saw my beautiful bride, my first thought was "boy am I lucky to have such a great wife," my second thought was "Hey! Hey that's my shirt I was going to wear that today." My selfish heart has now turned on my son and the object we are fighting for is his mother. When we got to the hotel and I saw my little boy my first thought was, "wow the Lord has really blessed me, he has given me this awesome little boy to look after," my second thought was, "Ok little guy go to sleep and let me have some time here with MY bride."

The boy wakes up every few hours, I do not know why parents ever have more than one child. It seriously is like a hardcore form of torture. I am grateful that my wife is there to take care of him and I do feel bad that I have left here all alone to deal with the parenting for this first year. I think she wants to have more just so I can experience the joy of parenting first hand.

I really enjoyed my pass, and I wouldn't trade the time for anything. The boy is trouble on a stick, but I miss him already. He was a constant pain in the @$$, but man what I wouldn't give to have him here right now. My wife, I don't know how she does it. She has a lot on her plate and yet she is able to function. I love you honey thanks for coming to see me. I miss them both, they are what makes 12 months seem like a lifetime.

As much as I like to believe that the Lord has squeezed all the selfish juice out of me, it seems like there is always more that will come out. It would appear as if I still have much more to learn about selflessness.