If I ever start a nation of my own, its flag will be silver, blue, and red. The colors of the wrapper of my all-time favorite candy bar, the Chunky Bar, from Nestle. That has nothing whatsoever to do with this article. I just happen to be starting on the first of three Chunky Bars I had the foresight to buy last night.
Quote from “Build Your Kingdom Here”, by Rend Collective:
“We lay down our lives for Heaven’s cause.”
Remember that saying about a soldier? “He has written a blank check to his country payable up to and including his life.”
I said in “Orphans” that we are an elite corps. I have to ask myself, have I written that blank check to the Lord? All of us need to consider that. Have I committed myself to the extent the soldiers I respect have committed themselves? We all need to ask ourselves that. In my opinion, we may not be able to answer. As a former boss and many others have said in similar words, “You never know what you’re made of until they’re firing live ammo at you.”
It may be that we should not be sure until the need arises. That keeps us from making the mistake of placing confidence in ourselves instead of in God. “Hold my beer. I got this.”
No, I don’t.
Corrie ten Boom related an instance of trying in her own abilities to continue the “spy” work she had been doing, just because she wanted to, even though it seemed the time was past for her to continue that activity. She almost gave away secrets, and others told her in no uncertain terms that she was out of it. She said she realized then that whatever “spy” skills she had possessed in the past, they had been given to her by God for that time only. God has a purpose for everything He does, including making us somewhat defective:
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2nd Corinthians 4:4-10)
This may sound trivial, but I get very frustrated by my clumsiness. I used to pray, “I resent being defective!” But in light of those verses from 2nd Corinthians 4 … <sigh> … I have to (unwillingly) say, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-10)
“Gladly”? “Delight in”? <sigh again> I’m not there yet, but I recognize God’s hand in this too. I empathize with Paul, but in the end, I have to say, “Your will be done.”
BUT – here’s a helpful thought: the military has learned that soldiers in combat will usually do what they were trained to do. If the training is good, the results in combat will be good. The Holy One of Israel knew this long ago: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) So there’s hope for us timid ones.
To paraphrase an old saying, if you fail to train, you train to fail.
In an article in Soldier of Fortune or Gung-Ho magazine, one soldier said that he hadn’t realized that the training would have such a strong influence. He related that they’d been trained, when fired on from close range, to get closer and kill the enemy. He said something like, “You think that’s scary, but that’s the way you train, and when it happens in combat you don’t realize you’ve done it until it’s over. But you do; you charge the enemy in the face of his gunfire.” That’s far from an exact quote, but the essentials are correct.
SO. We can train ourselves in the lesser flames we face now to act and think like Christian soldiers, and when we face the blazing guns of the enemy, we will be far less likely to fail. Far more likely to come through covered in honor, even if also with our own blood.
Or we can drift comfortably into mediocrity and lukewarmness, and when the fire engulfs us, we will fail and hide ourselves in shame forever in the back hallways of Heaven, having disgraced ourselves and having made the Lord who died to rescue us ashamed to call us His own.
For those who want to train, here are a few specifics:
BOOT CAMP: You have to have the basics first. Fitness and following orders come first. For a Christian, fitness means spiritual food (the Bible). Following orders – in the Bible we find out what our orders are. Some are obvious. Those are the ones we learn in Boot Camp:
1) The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Our instruction manual. There were no errors in the original transcripts, and if the God of the Bible is the kind of God presented there, He is well able to have protected every vital doctrine from corruption. For instructions, open your manual and study!
2) “The first and greatest commandment”, on the authority of King Jesus, is this:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is similar: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Simple. Basic. That’s what we need at the beginning. Just two commandments that are the foundation for all the other commandments and the prophets’ writings. Remember these two commandments. Tattoo them on your heart. Repeat them every day until you have memorized them in four languages.
(Just kidding about the four languages.)
3) Through your study of the Bible, get to know God. Get to know facts about God. Get to know God’s character. Learn how He deals with people in every imaginable basic situation. Learn what He requires of us. Get to know how to communicate with Him. This is necessary because of spiritual enemies. When you are confronted with spiritual enemies, your connection to God must be a lot more durable than your internet connection.
Resisting demonic enemies requires spiritual vigilance and faith:
“Be sober! Be alert! Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1st Peter 5:8-9)
Resisting human enemies requires spiritual wisdom:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
Regarding 2) above, loving God and your neighbor: something important needs to be recognized here – a question that arises in most, if not all, minds:
“Why should I love God?”If there is no reason to love God, then this command is just the narcissistic command of a tyrant, like the fat boy in North Korea. So it’s important to answer the question.You will be learning the answer to that question the rest of your life. Because as Matt Redmon’s song says, there really are ten thousand reasons to praise His name.Stop right now and think of three things for which you personally can thank God. A few words to start things rolling: Health. Safety. Love. The ability to think. Transportation. Family. Job. Shelter. Drinkable water. Forgiveness of every single sin you ever committed. America. Or Canada. Whoops. I meant “and Canada”. Citizenship in a safe, joyous, eternal Kingdom.For myself right this minute, I came up with 1) a computer that works, 2) an internet connection, 3) The Positive Heartbeat. I could go on for a lot longer, like knees that aren’t painful since the cortisone shots, and deteriorating eyes that are still amply good enough for me to drive safely, hold a job that requires eyesight, and good enough to type this article myself. Oh yes – and Chunky Bars. 😉Even pain, apparent troubles, or apparent disasters may later be found to be things to tank God for. This is one reason why the Bible says, “In all things give thanks.”Sometime today, make time to spend time with your Redeemer – your Redeemer – talking to Him and thanking Him for more of the good things in your life. To start with, if you are a believer in Jesus, God the Father has arranged a total pardon for you, a way to avoid your justified punishment, at the cost of His Son’s extreme agony. Your REDEEMER! Hallelujah!
If you think there aren’t any good things in your life, ask Him to show you. And for you Christian “Advanced Infantry Training” graduates and “combat vets”, it wouldn’t hurt you to ask God if you’ve overlooked any good gift He’s given you lately. We do tend to take His gifts for granted. Not good! We should all make thanking Him a daily habit. It strengthens our faith to realize how involved God is in our lives every day!
It’s also important to answer that question because when war lasts too long, or when war becomes so horrible that minds begin to bend and twist and break, it is the soldier who has a clear picture of and strong dedication to what he’s fighting for who will overcome. Thanks to the late Mr. Henry Martin, WW2 vet and my 8th grade English professor for this perfect illustration:
During WW2, Britain’s Royal Air Force was flying missions non-stop against the German Luftwaffe who were bombing England non-stop. There weren’t enough RAF pilots, so they had to fly when they should have been resting. They had to fly in all conditions, against the odds, at any hour, at a moment’s notice. And still be victorious.
They became so exhausted that to keep from falling asleep in the air, some of them put grains of sand in their eyes so the pain would keep them awake. These men had a crystal clear picture of what they were fighting for and what would be lost if they failed: the England they knew and loved. Their heroic sacrifice moved Winston Churchill to immortalize them with those famous words, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
I strongly urge every believer in Jesus to listen to the full three minute speech.
That quote above is only part of it. Those who hope for better days ahead should listen to other remarks in that speech:
“… We must certainly expect that greater efforts will be made by the enemy than any he has put forth … We may be sure therefore that he will continue [to attack with maximum force] as long as he has the strength to do so …”
We also, at the end of the Church Age, can expect increased ferocity from the evil forces behind the world powers. We need to fix these ideas in our minds now, hard-wire them into our brains, so that we don’t flounder and fail and wonder why when the crisis comes.
I also strongly recommend reading Winifred Letts’ immortal, super-charged inspirational poem about her young countrymen when Britain faced its first World War: “The Spires of Oxford” ( http://www.bartleby.com/103/
Life on this earth will end. In eternity, we will either be wearing badges of honor earned here, or be hiding in shame, forever. On this earth, we are at war with evil spiritual forces. Our brothers and sisters in the Mideast can testify how real and how vicious that war is. So it should be no surprise that human warfare provides many “teaching moments”. If soldiers can suffer and die for transient earthly nations and kingdoms, we ought to be able to see the parallels and take instruction, warning, and inspiration from them.
Not to mention from the saints who went before … and our King, Who allowed Himself to live a life devoid of every normal human privilege and then die a terrible death, to rescue us. We owe it to Him and to our fellow humans to be loyal, consistent, clear witnesses to the forgiveness of sins and the new, eternal, joyous life available to those who trust King Jesus for salvation. We need to keep all these things in mind, to make them part of our thinking until they are a conditioned reflex.
Tune in next week, same time, same station, for another thrilling episode of “The Omega* Church” – “The Door and The Key”
* Omega, of course, is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. I am convinced that we are in the last days of the Body of Christ, the Church, on this planet. Ergo, Omega Church.