Thursday, November 30, 2006

Melvin Family Troop Movements

Well, indeed much has transpired here in Arizona. The long & short of it...I was pushed through the rest of my CHOBC this past spring; promoted to the full-time support chaplain for the AZ Army National Guard; accessed as a new, full-blown chaplain into 2/180th Field Artillery Battalion; then promoted to the Family Program Director for the entire AZ National Guard.

Then came the biggest surprise - I was notified that I was to be cross-leveled over the brand-new Infantry Battalion, the 1/158th and deployed with them as their battalion chaplain beginning in early January 2007.

Certainly we're excited to do the deed - walk the calling, move where you're trained. As our family has adjusted to the initial shock, the biggest hurdle is now "getting out the door" - I'm finishing school this fall at Phoenix Seminary (and supposed to find a correspondence course in Hebrew Syntax & Exegesis), handing over chaplain duties on the full-time side, training my family program replacement... oh yeah, I almost forgot...I'm supposed to be a husband and father - yes, yes.

We covet your prayers. On many fronts. First the home front: Pray for Mom and the munchkins - safety & growth. Next the war front: Pray for the salvation and safety of our men. We deploy to OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan) to conduct PRT missions - these are Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Our BN (Battalion) will provide 12 security teams to protect our civil affairs guys as they go about the country rebuilding roads, schools, immunizing children, etc. Even from the world's perspective there is certainly "meaning in our mission." Perhaps one final prayer request: Pray for some unique opportunities to grow out of this deployment for churches to partner with chaplains and their units to "adopt" them. The National Guard especially, with its imbedded community presence should be a place where local church ministries may work at a fevered pitch to repair the strained homes and relationships brought on by deployment. Most certainly, these partnerships may provide windows of eternal ministry as family commit or re-commit themselves to the Kingdom.

Blessings with more to follow!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

More Military Movement & Melvin Family Minutae

Its been a breakneck pace at the end of the semester. Good news on the seminary front - if the "Jerry Rice/Joe Montana" thread-the-needle pass crosses every "T" and dots each "I" in perfect timing, I'm done in Decemeber of next year. I've promised my wife and family at least 2 years away from textbooks and 2 years (minimum) tuned in to my family.
God has been good in very clear and visible ways in our family this year. As busy as the end of the educational year is, the blessing of my Guard job has shown itself, by means of time on weekends and nights (sounds like a promo for a cell phone calling plan!) with the family. On the "heads-up-display" has come a recent development.
Apparently, the Army has decided to move forward with the addition of 5 weeks of Officer Basic Leadership school (held at Ft. Benning, GA) to the lesson plan of every officer (Chaplains, JAGs, Docs, as well as all normal line officers). The implication for my team is that if I don't finish before the summer Chaplain Officer Basic Course (CHOBC) it may be likely that I need to re-do the entire slate of training. Bottom-line: 6-7 weeks now or 17-18 weeks later. So it appears that I'll be shipping out, mid-semester, to Ft. Jackson, SC for the balance of my CHOBC experience. Oh and if anyone has great insight into how to get real-time video conferencing between a Mac and a PC, please leave a post -- I'm trying to "eat dinner" with my family from across the country via webcam to make the time fly a little faster.
I reckon it goes without saying that I would covet anyone's prayers for my family and me in the coming months. I'll post more later, however, I would like to throw out a few questions (I'd like to develop these more later):
1) How could Active Duty (or Guard/Reserve) Chaplains work with off post pastors and churches for outreach on bases and posts?
2) What are the implications/concerns/obstacles/benefits of such an idea?

I would especially welcome the comments of those who have done this or at least tried. It seems that the two types of ministries have, for the most part, stood in tension. "If you really want to reach military personnel, you need to be right where they are - be a chaplain." OR "If you want to avoid the vagaries of chaplaincy and pluralism, the purest way to reach the military is to establish churches focused on military near the base or post."
Why shouldn't these two approaches be able to work together?

More later?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Chaplaincy Journey

The new Chaplain Candidate and his family Posted by Picasa

My "Family of One" is getting set to serve an "Army of One." I was recently (May 26th, 2005) commissioned as a 2LT - Chaplain Candidate in the Arizona Army National Guard. The Lord worked in some mighty encouraging ways to get us this far.
It's funny how patient God remains at times. I reckon its all the time but it seems He's more patient perhaps when you are experiencing that patience (intensity?). I was discipled early on in my Air Force career. I became a believer in September of 1990 at George AFB in SoCal (now closed). Shortly after (January-ish), I surrendered for full-time vocational ministry under a series of evangelistic meetings led by Steve Pettit. My discipleship from there, coupled with a poor pre-conversion Air Force chapel service, discouraged my involvement with chaplain ministry. "Man, you gotta work with other faiths too much," was my basic thought.
Chaplain ministry in my mind was fraught with too many "compromising" situations. Really, it seemed the only other significant method of dedicated military ministry was establishing local churches near installations. That's exactly what I sunk myself into at Victory Baptist Church in California City, CA - outside of Edwards AFB. What great, satisfying ministry there in the Mojave desert.
Time for base closure and off to Arizona I traveled. Luke AFB was my next stop. My pastor (missionary) had been supported by Tri-City Baptist of Dr. Singleton fame - so... I began to attend all the way across town in Tempe. As I finished my stint with the USAF and attended Tri-City, I settled in and finished my undergraduate work at International Baptist College and immediately both took a small recovery work here in Apache Junction as well as chiseled away at my MABS.
Rough and tumble it was for 3.5 years as a pastor. As we came to a do or die point for the church, we decided to "die" and dissolved the work. Knowing I wanted to pursue doctoral lunacy, I jumped back into a schooling mode and reenlisted in the Army National Guard to fund it. What joy it was to discover, I was just as likely to deploy overseas with the National Guard as with the Reserves (which is specifically why I decided against the Reserves). I remember it well...(fade to a dream sequence here) I thought to myself, "The Reserves, they go to war. The National Guard, well they fight forest fires, help flood victims, they don't go to war! I've got a family who needs me here right now."
During my first few months on drill weekends I came across a Soldier Magazine article that told of a West Virginia National Guardsman that was killed in Afghanistan. "Strange," I mused. Then one Friday evening, I received a phone call from my first line leader - "Hey, get in here. We're conducting a 'Raging Bull'"
I was already on my way in and said it was no problem, that I'd be there shortly. When I arrived, we were placed in formation and told, "You are not to leave, you've been placed on alert status."
I'm not one for freaking out, but I thought I'd try it just once. So it began to dawn on me... and no sooner had I begun to see my potential "sandbox" destiny, then we were placed in formation again - "You've been placed on mobilization status. You can't leave tonight." (Those of you familiar with this process in the NG understand that it is usually months in between Alert and Mobilization statuses - for our Company it was hours).
Fortunately for my family, by the end of the weekend my compatriots were shipping out, but I was unable as I was untrained. Not only that, this is the time I discovered the Chaplain Candidate program. Lo and behold, at least while I was in school I would be a "non-deployable" asset. I'll go if I gotta go, but I don't want to beat my family up in the process. This sounded great.
Long story shortened - I got into a wreck, totaled my van, and as a result was able to land a job (full-time) in which I was not only encouraged to attend school, but the schedule was family friendly. Here I am, today.
I am close to my required 72 hours and hope to be accessioned in the Spring of 2006 as a full chaplain.
If you're in the praying mood and our family's name floats across your mind, please pray for us - we're unsure if God would like us to make the leap to full-time Acitve Duty chaplaincy or stay here in AZ and pastor a local church and be a weekend warrior chaplain.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Getting a "feel" for Fundamentalism

An initial entry heads in the direction of understanding the flavor or "feel" of our fundamentalism.

I had lunch at Luby's Cafeteria one afternoon a handful of years ago. My lunch companion was one of fundamentalism's "players" of previous generations. He is now with the Lord.

I asked him the following (paraphrased) question:

Since I've been charged (at my ordination) with never being ashamed to be called a "militant fundamentalist," is it possible to make a distinction?
The distinction goes something like this: Is it fair to make a difference between a "George Washington" militant fundamentalist and a "George Patton" militant fundamentalist?
In other words, can I maintain my integrity as a militant fundamentalist and "fight" like a kind gentleman or must I abandon all courtesy and be a jerk - George Patton militancy.
His response was something of a "huh" or "hmmm," at most an "I suppose." I think there was even a "I hadn't really thought of that."

Now, having stated the above, I am aware of the caricature. However, nonetheless, I'm fairly convinced that there is a need for more George Washingtons and fewer George Pattons. SI and other blogs have been a refreshment as I hold my breath.


Easier Than I Thought

Just a couple of notes as I "move in."

1) I am surprised how simple and quick it is to line up your own blogosphere.

2) The names:
"Right Side Up" - comes from a redemptive approach to understanding our world/culture. It is currently "upside down" and as we move Biblical truths to bear on our surroundings, we will be amazed to see things go right side up.

"untracusminda" - comes from the book "Wildlife in the Kingdom Come" (Ken Johnson and ?). This is the "Latin" name for the "Fanatic" - Un Tracus Minda. BTW - I whole heartedly recommend, no, implore you to find a copy and get a box of Kleenex. You'll be brought to tears at times over the humour used to describe "Critters" on the theological landscape.