Thursday, March 15, 2012

What do Chaplain's Do? Getting to Know Chaplain Earls...

...a question and answer session from a "wild" Chaplain's wife (Annie) to a "smokin' hot" Chaplain (Josh).  

  1. What were you like when you were younger?  Wow this could be a long answer....simply put I was BAD!  I am the middle child of three and the only boy so from the get go I was about proving how tough I was and trying to stand out.  By the time I got to middle school and high school this drive had fleshed itself out in various actions.  I was defiant towards my parents (I know typical teenager stuff) except I would go so far as to try to beat my dad up.  I was apathetic towards school (my freshman year of high school I amassed an amazing 1.2 GPA).  Finally I did everything I could to try to look as hard and as cool as I could (specifically by getting in fights, doing drugs, and seeking to be a jerk at every opportunity).  So that is what I was like until the age of 15 when God saved me by His precious grace poured out at the Cross and I became a completely different person.  All the satisfaction and salvation I was trying to find in all the defiant things I instead found purely in Christ and I was freed from those actions.  Now there are consequences to your actions.  My years of defiance resulted in me having to move away at the age of 16 because of all the negative things I got tied up in... I moved to another state to finish high school.  So that was me when I was younger.
  2. Who is your greatest role model? Why?  I guess I am supposed to say Jesus!!!  And He is my greatest role model, don't go reporting me.  There are a few different people for different areas of my life.  First, my father Rod Earls has been someone who I have always been able to look up to as he has always pointed me towards Christ in my life.  Second, would be my father-in-law Richard Koole.  Yep... you guessed it, my father is a preacher....and my father in-law is a preacher.  Rick has continually given me great insight and guidance throughout the 10 years that I have known him.  I often talk with Annie about how my dad gives me one perspective and Rick gives me a different one and I love that.  Third, would be one of my college professors at Liberty University, Dr. Samuel Smith.  He took to time to have lunch once a week with an inquisitive History student and instilled in me the knowledge and confidence that I could one day make a good academic.... and steered me in a God honoring path.  Fourth, would be a professional role model who I have only met once, John Piper.  I don't really know this man but I love his vision of God and his preaching.  I devoured his preaching all throughout my college and seminary days (7 years worth).  I have degrees from schools that have given me the opportunity to be a Chaplain but I think I have learned far more from feeding on his preaching day after day.  So those are my four great role models! 
  3. When you first met me (Annie), did you think I'd be a Chaplain's wife one day?  (neither did I...he, he)  No, because I didn't think that I would be a Chaplain at the time.  But I knew that you would be a great wife and we would follow God together.
  4. What is your greatest weakness as a Chaplain?  It isn't a surprise that my greatest strength in being a Chaplain is also sometimes my greatest weakness.  As a Chaplain the main thing that I do is counsel Marines and Sailors as they go through the difficulties of war and life.  As I do my counseling I have the ability to care for the Marine or Sailor I am counseling and put all my energy in to helping them but once the session is over I can easily put aside the weight of it and not carry the burden home with me or into another meeting or whatever.  BUT, if that gets out of balance, I can sometimes not care for Marines and Sailors as much as I should.  So that is my greatest weakness. 
  5. When did you know you wanted to serve God as a "career"?  I felt called into a life of ministry when I was young, like 18.  I didn't know what capacity it would be and at the time I would never imagine that it would be as a Navy Chaplain.  I wanted my life to be about something that was eternally meaningful and helping people to understand what they are made for.
  6. Why did you become a Navy Chaplain? I was a freshman in college when 9/11 happened.  I wouldn't say I knew right then that I was going to be a chaplain but I knew that my life, and all our lives, had changed.  When a fellow class mate in a Russian History class (Time Bragg) told me that his father was a Chaplain in the Army I knew in an instant that I wanted to be a Chaplain as well.  I wanted to do my part while at the same time assisting Marines and Sailors to know Christ.
  7. What is the greatest thing about being a Chaplain?  The ability to have a direct impact upon the lives of people who literally put their life on the line.  Most of these people are not believers and I am the face of Christ to them and I love seeing there faces when I interact with them and I love the conversations we have when I tell them of the love of Christ.
  8. What is the hardest thing about being a Chaplain?  Leaving my family.  I am about to deploy again for the second time in the three years that I have been in the Navy.  Now this isn't a lot in comparison to other service members but, it is still really hard.
  9. When you are deployed, what do you do as a Chaplain?  I am counseling Marines and Sailors when issues arise (and every kind of issue does).  I am doing weekly services, bible studies, worship times.  I am going to meetings, meetings, and more meetings on everything that is happening in my command.  Finally, I am giving advice to the command whenever a situation comes up that I can speak to.  All while being and living with the Marines and Sailors while they are downrange.
  10. When you are NOT deployed, what do you as a Chaplain?  Well I still do alot of counseling (it focuses more on the family, work, and spiritual issues that people go through as a normal part of life).  I promote and operate the religious program for the command that I am working for (making sure that everyone has the ability to worship if they so desire and then doing services for those of my faith group).
  11. What is your greatest accomplishment as a Navy Chaplain?  One of the officers (Bryce Lee), on one of the ships (USS Winston S. Churchill), on my last deployment (in 2010), became a Christian through interaction with two other Christian officers and myself.  Throughout the deployment we became good friends and we still stay in touch today and he is a great man of God.
  12. How do you like serving the Marines?  I like serving the Marines by 1. showing them the love of Christ.  By 2. telling them the truth of Christ.  3. along them to know me enough that they see that I am a normal guy.  4. letting them see that a Chaplain can be fun, young, in shape, and caring.
  13. Who is the coolest wife you know?  Why? My wife, Annie Earls, no question!!!!!  Why?  Because she loves me even though I have put her through so much with trainings, and deployments, and moves.  She isn't bitter but instead she is motivated to bring the Gospel to those around us as we serve the Marines and Navy.
  14. When you think of Bella, what comes to mind?  Pure joy, a smile to my face, and prayers for her future.  Nothing really teaches you to rely upon God as having a child with a Special Need.  You know, feel, and live the reality that their life is outside of your control.
  15. When I gave our cats away on Craigslist, what did you think?  Background, Annie and I had two all white cats for the first few years of our marriage.  When I came into the Navy we gave them away because we knew that we were going to be moving all the time.  So how did I feel?  Sad for a few minutes but then I realized a great universal truth.....the only thing better than having pets is not having pets.
  16. When I asked you, "Who won the Revolution?", what were your first thoughts?  Well let me tell the whole quote, when you said "the British won the Revolution, RIGHT?"  I thought how am I going to let her down easy!  Then I thought I have a great story for the rest of my life.

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