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Author Topic: God's Promises for American Heroes  (Read 47771 times)
Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #345 on: November 17, 2006, 01:53:00 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirteen
Basic Training: Unit Two
Communication 101
Getting past the Filters

Why is it that you can discuss just about anything, including some religions, but if you talk about the one true God, folks seem to get upset?

I remember attending an advanced leadership school that required the students to present an information briefing covering a non-military topic.  At the time I was reading a book about the Biblical flood (remember Noah?) that was prefaced with traditional tales from a wide variety of cultures relating different flood accounts with certain similarities.  I tried to be objective as possible, mentioning God or 'a god' as a central figure in the stories and the Bible as a 'source document'.  Well, three students walked out during the briefing, the heated discussion about bringing 'God' into the classroom lasted forty five minutes, and the NCO who was next for the podium asked to be excused because his topic was Greek Mythology!

I have encountered the same phenomenon at other times and in different circumstances.  Well, I have an opinion about why this happens.
Key Verse:

"...what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1: 19,20 (NIV)

You see, we can try to deny the existence of God all we want, but we already know that he exists! God has planted that knowledge in each and every one of us!  Therefore, if I am trying to live my life apart from God, I am rebelling against my creator. And guess what?  If I am living in rebellion against what I know deep in my soul, I don't want to hear the truth!  It makes absolutely no difference if I want to forget God altogether or just keep him at a distance once in awhile while I roll around in the mud.  The result is the same - extreme discomfort when his Spirit starts nudging me.
So What!

For one thing, if I am uncomfortable with God at any level, I need to conduct some serious self-examination.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

For another, if I talk about the things of God with a sincere heart (not judgmentally) and others become uncomfortable or angry, I shouldn't take it personally.  It could be that the Holy Spirit is at work trying to lead them home!
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« Reply #346 on: November 18, 2006, 10:22:50 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Fourteen
Basic Training: Unit Two
Security 101
Guard Duty

I hated guard duty and don't remember many soldiers that didn't feel the same way.  Walking in endless circles around the commissary or "PX" (Post Exchange) wasn't anyone's idea of being a 'real' soldier, especially in miserable, cold rainy weather.

It's January 30, 1988.  I was at Ft. Bragg, NC for a Special Forces operations and intelligence school. My friend Georg (no 'e'), an instructor at the SF (Special Forces) engineer school and long time close friend, took me to a lunchtime prayer meeting and Bible study at the 82nd Airborne Division chapel. You see, Georg was an on-fire for the Lord sort of soldier and was always plugged into a prayer meeting or two or three.

I met another brother that day named John Royeton, an 82nd Airborne soldier, who shared a bit of scripture with me that gave me a much different perspective of guard duty.
Key Verse:

"I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth." Isaiah 62:6,7 (NIV)

Soldiers standing guard over the walled city of Jerusalem, ever vigilant and with open lines of communication to the Commander in Chief.  I can see Christian and women in uniform, praying for their families, friends, other men and women in uniform, for a closer personal walk with the Master! Can you see a similarity here?
So What!

I see this as a powerful call to prayer. I also know there are a lot of times I've been caught sleeping on guard duty.  That means this is also a time for personal repentance and a renewed sense of vigilance.

I am not to rest, and it won't bother God one bit if I bombard the gates of heaven until the day I die, or the Second Coming, whichever is first! What an honor!  I also agree with the Apostle Paul, who wrote in a letter to a young Timothy……

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." 1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)
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« Reply #347 on: November 19, 2006, 08:35:04 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Fifteen
Basic Training: Unit Three
Training for Success
Dare to Succeed!

'Dare to Succeed!' - Words in big bold print at the top of a brochure that arrives in the mail.  Infomercials with good looking motivational speakers telling us how to buy property for a buck and change and sell it for thousands.  Endless junk email, with get rich quick schemes of some sort or another. Success is all about how much money you can make and how much time you can spend lounging around the pool in your backyard while you effortlessly make money following their methods.  They lied!
Key Verse:

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:7-8 (NIV)

These are God's words to Joshua as the mantle of leadership was passed down after Moses' death.  Joshua was to lead the Israelites into the promised land and conquer the enemies within. Note that Joshua's success is directly dependent upon His obedience of God's law.  Kind of tough though, wouldn't you agree?

"Just keep ALL of my law and you'll be a success, Josh."

Yeah, right!  Sound impossible, doesn't it? Just the big ten is rather intimidating, so I won't get into all the rest of the laws given the Israelites.  Having said that, here's the good news!

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"

Jesus replied: "`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 like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)

Throughout Jesus' ministry, testing him with trick questions was a favorite hobby of some of the opposition.  I love his answer to this one!  I think it takes care of all of the big ten.  Love - directed above and directed to those around us.
So What!

How do I set my standards of behavior? Do I focus on all the do's and don'ts, or do I focus on loving God and my fellow man? I do know that if I focus on the law of love the rest has a way of taking care of itself.  Now that's encouraging!
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« Reply #348 on: November 20, 2006, 10:39:29 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Sixteen
Basic Training: Unit Three
Focus Points
Eyes on the Goal

Twelve-mile rucksack marches were just a part of our periodic certification.  We had to carry a minimum of 45 pounds in our "rucks", plus weapons and load bearing equipment.  A 3 hour completion time was a mandatory goal and 2 ½ hours was my personal goal.  There were times along the route that it was necessary to suck it in, pick a spot up ahead along the road like a tree, telephone post or hilltop and just press on.  Our team maintained our certification and I even hit my personal goal a few times.  Focusing on something and tuning out the pain really helped.
Key Verse:

"Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth." Revelation 5:8-10 (NKJV)

Life is tough.  As Christians it can get tougher, especially with all of the pressures to conform to the world around us pushing at us from every side.  We are tempted to give up, and some of us do, becoming lukewarm and pretty much useless as soldiers of the King.  Just like those grueling rucksack marches we need something on which to focus to wipe out the pain, cause us to see the shame of our sin and fire us up again.

Jesus paid for me with his blood.  I picture my Savior on the cross, bruised and beaten, blood dripping from his hands onto the ground.  If I look closer I can see each drop of blood, almost in slow motion.  What's that?  I can see names - my family, friends, co-workers!  Look!  Right there!  It's Dan Cartwright! Hey,that's me…
So What!

There's not much more to say right at this moment.  Words are kind of tough.  I just have a question.  Do you have a focus point, perhaps a few favorite passages of scripture that inspire you when times seem tough?

If not, just keep reading.  They will come!
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« Reply #349 on: November 21, 2006, 10:03:23 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Seventeen
Basic Training: Unit Three
Field Manuals
Which One is for Me?

Every branch of the military has a ton of manuals. In the Army we had Field Manuals (FMs) for training and war, and technical manuals (TMs) for technical specialties.  I like to think of the Bible as FM-1.  There are several good translations to choose from. Which Bible translation should I read?  Which one is the best? There are some folks out there with lots of letters after their names that argue about this issue!  And what about all the foreign language Bible translations?

When I was in Polish language school I performed an experiment. I investigated one particular scripture that seemed to say (in my American 20th century brain housing group), slightly different things in different English translations.  Well, then I became even more curious.  I looked up the same passage in German, Spanish and Polish Bibles.  I compared them all with the original language with the help of a local pastor and discovered that the Polish Bible had the most accurate translation!  So I won't answer the question.  I will let the Apostle Paul help us out.
Key Verse:

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:8 (NIV)

Friends, it's not about reading different translations.  It's about listening to a different gospel!  I have found that the Holy Spirit seems to cut through to my hard heart more efficiently from certain translations, but that's not the issue here.

Not long ago I was getting a cup of coffee in the wee hours of the morning in the Colorado Springs airport.  Another gentleman just happened to be there doing the same and just happened to put his briefcase on the small table next to where I was getting cream.  He just happened to be the Vice President for Outreach for the International Bible Society.  To make a long story short, we just happened to discuss Bible translations and shared his answer to the question.  Which one is the right one?

"All of them," was the gentleman's answer.  The assumption here is that we are talking about honest attempts to correctly translate the Bible so that the reader can easily understand it.  I guess it makes perfect sense that if God wrote it, the Holy Spirit can cut through any translation and reach us!
So What!

If the Holy Spirit can 'reach' me through different translations, it's up to me to be 'reachable'.  My prayer for all of us is that we read with an honest heart to know more of God and become more like Christ.  Paul also encourages us with words he spoke in a letter to one of the churches he founded.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  Colossians 3:16
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« Reply #350 on: November 22, 2006, 02:12:19 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Eighteen
Basic Training: Unit Three
Joint Operations
Multinational Forces

My last overseas assignment was at a NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) headquarters in Naples, Italy.  Armed Forces South (AFSOUTH) had representatives from several nations, and from all military branches within those nations.  I learned lot about multinational corporations while working on a college degree and have received first hand experience since retirement from the Army.  We have seen UN (United Nations) and NATO operations across the globe.  Forces from some nations seem to have majority representation in these kinds of operations and seem to be doing most of the work.

As Christians, we are members of a multinational organization that has greater potential than anything mere governments and world powers can dream up!
Key Verse:

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)

Interesting words from Jesus to his disciples.  He didn't tell his closest followers what they could be, but what they were.  I guess you could say that Christians are members of God's Salt and Light Company (GSLC, Inc.)  That's quite an honor!

However, Jesus also told them that it's possible to be the sort of salt that is only good for melting ice on an icy sidewalk, and hidden candles that don't help anyone else see.  How and why we become useless salt are worthy topics I won't talk about right now, but I will ask a question we all have probably asked at one time or another.  Where am I supposed to be this salt and light?  I think I'll let a passage from Luke's gospel provide us with a clue.  A couple of groups of federal employees asked John the Baptist.

Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"

And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."

Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?"

So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages." Luke 3:12-14 (NKJV)

It looks to me like the preacher to them to act right in their current professions. Sometime later Jesus even commended a Roman soldier for his faith, but didn't say anything about needing to change jobs!
Check out Luke 7:1-10 for the rest of that story.
So What!

Jesus said that I am a 'GSLC, Inc.' employee whether I want the position or not, and wherever I hang my hat or earn a paycheck. My saltiness and brightness depends on how well Jesus (the REAL salt and light) expresses himself through me.
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« Reply #351 on: November 23, 2006, 12:51:17 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Nineteen
Basic Training: Unit Three
Training Preparation
Prerequisites

Since my retirement from the military I’ve been employed by technical businesses in their training departments.  It was a natural extension of my military career but now I get to carry a business card that says I am a ‘Training Engineer’.  I think I have either been involved in being trained or training others for most of my adult life.  Having said that, I am reminded that there always seemed to be a list of prerequisites for attending most types of training.  Certain test scores had to have been achieved, skills had to have been mastered, specific schools attended or career levels attained.  In retrospect, it was a very sensible and efficient way to produce qualified soldiers with the minimum expenditure of training dollars.  Is there anything familiar to you here?

From what I have read in the Bible, God doesn’t seem to use the same system.  I, for one, am certainly glad that he doesn’t.

Key Verse:

“…the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart…” 1Samuel 13:14 (NIV)

There was time in the history of Israel when the nation’s people decided they wanted a king rather than the prevailing system of judges and prophets.  The prophet Samuel told God about their desire for a king. God told Samuel to tell folks it could get real ugly, with a massive military draft, huge federal employment system and lost of taxes.  When they wanted a king anyway, God had Samuel anoint a fellow named Saul, who seemed to have a set of good credentials and had demonstrated the prerequisite leadership skills.

To make a long story short, Saul was anointed king, proved himself in battle, and even did pretty good in the popular polls.  Some time later however, Saul was guilty of insubordination to God and it cost him his kingdom.  God wanted a ‘man after his own heart’.  A shepherd boy named David, who didn’t seem to meet any kingly prerequisites, turned out to be God’s man – ‘a man after his own heart’.  I remember once having a mental picture of a comical looking fellow with a lopsided crown chasing after a cartoon heart with God’s name on it because he wanted to make it his own.

Moving along through history, there was another fellow named Saul who was on the road to a town called Damascus with the express intention taking prisoner anyone who happened to be a follower of Christ.  This Saul was the very last person one would think God would choose to start a bunch of churches!  Well, God chose him for that very purpose, changed his name to Paul, changed his heart, and turned him into the most dynamic missionary to ever walk upon planet earth!  You can read about his conversion in Acts, Chapter 9.
So What!

These are great stories, but what about here and now, in the 21st century?  I will let something the apostle Peter wrote to Christians everywhere during his day that still applies to us.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

I know for a fact that I certainly didn’t qualify for that one!  And if never committing a sinful act or having a sinful thought were prerequisites for keeping the job, I would have been fired a long time ago!  God knows me through and through.  Still he wanted a royal nation and holy priesthood.  So he did what we humans could never do.  He sent his very own Son to take care of the prerequisites.

All I can say is WOW!  All I can do is let Him have control of my life and try to walk worthy of this high calling.
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« Reply #352 on: November 24, 2006, 06:49:18 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty
Basic Training: Unit Three
Personal Hygiene
Sweet Aroma

There is a certain hotel in Cupertino, California (Greater San Francisco Bay Area, alias "Silicone Valley")that has an elevator with a very unusual characteristic.  When entering this elevator, in the early morning hours, I became surrounded by the distinct and wonderful smell of breakfast!  I noticed that the elevator was located quite some distance from the ground floor lobby, dining room and kitchen.  As I exited I noticed that this tantalizing aroma was absent from the hallway!  I think they must open a can of "Fragrance of Breakfast" intentionally pipe it through the elevator vents so that guests will be enticed to partake of the fare in the hotel dining room at fifteen dollars a head.

To a hungry guest (on a diet, living on the third floor, and using the exercise room every morning) the aroma of eggs, sausage and bacon sure is sweet!  It reminded me of a verse from Scripture that talks about what aroma God considers pleasing.

The concept of a sweet aroma to God actually can be traced all the way back to Noah, who built an altar after being saved from the great flood.

"Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma…" Genesis 8:20-21a (NIV)

We can see the same sacrificial system in the priesthood that was established after the Israelites were delivered from bondage. There are over forty references to sacrificial offerings being a ‘sweet aroma’ to God in the Old Testament, mostly in Leviticus and Numbers.  The Old Testament system of continuous animal sacrifices as a payment to God for sin established God’s requirement but gave way to the ‘once for all time’ sacrifice of his very own Son in the New Testament.
Key Verse:

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life."  2 Corinthians 2:15-16 (NIV)

It is amazing the power that an odor can have.  When operating in the combat environment we know that the odors of an opposing force can sometimes arrive before a first sighting.  In our current society we go to great lengths to remain odor neutral or wear a fragrance that is (hopefully) pleasing to those around us.

As believers, it is important to recognize that we will also have an aroma!  It will be offensive to those who are perishing and will be sweet to those who are being saved.
So What!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as sinful humans we are not now, nor could we ever be a sweet fragrance to God.  Christ, who lives within us and expresses himself through us by the work of His Holy Spirit, is forever our fragrance.  We are a sweet smelling aroma because we have been washed clean by the Holy Spirit because of Christ's blood sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary!

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."  Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)

The question is how do we remain clean and what part do I have in maintaining this personal hygiene?  How can I know if I have an aroma or if I just smell?  The Apostle John tells us:

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.   If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."  1 John 1:7-10 (NIV)

Here is our part of the hygiene process:  "Confessing our sins."  God's part is cleansing us.  How do I know if I am clean (aroma or smell)?

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.  This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. " 1 John 2:1-6 (NIV)
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« Reply #353 on: November 25, 2006, 07:43:45 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-one
Basic Training: Unit Three
Battle Ready
All the Way, Sir!

It was a greeting delivered along with the salute required when enlisted soldiers passed officers anywhere on Smoke Bomb Hill, the home of the Army Special Operations Command and Special Forces school at Ft. Bragg, NC. When rendered proudly, ‘All the Way, Sir!’ was more than just a greeting. It was delivered with a turn of the head, eye-to-eye contact, two soldiers of different ranks, united in purpose and dedicated to the SF motto “De Oppresso Liber!” – “To Liberate the Oppressed!” It conveyed an attitude of the spirit of the SF soldier, well trained and ready to carry out whatever mission necessary, whatever the cost, no questions asked.

In case you are thinking that not every enlisted soldier or officer engaged in the above scenario saluted with true respect or spoke from the heart, you are probably right. What I do know is that after my initial SF training, once I had earned the coveted Green Beret, I meant them. I was still really in the infant stages of a long career and had much more to learn, but I meant those words. I was ready to give it my all, to do whatever it took to carry out the mission!

Now that I have entered the private sector I have seen countless motivational phrases and cute mottos plastered everywhere from car bumpers to corporate office walls.
Key Verse:
 

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9b (KJV)

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42 (KJV)

Early in Jesus’ ministry, when the disciples asked him how to pray, he gave them what is probably the most familiar prayer in the history of Christianity. We hear it often in church services and gatherings of the faithful. Nestled in the verses of that prayer is what should be the ‘All the Way, Sir!’ of my life as a Christian. The words ‘Thy will be done!’ should be uttered with even more conviction and purpose of heart than the words spoken long ago as I greeted officers on Smoke Bomb Hill at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

A few years later Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing the cross, and for a moment cried out for relief. Our Savior was about to die, to fulfill His mission, to pay the ultimate price for the sin of all mankind, for my sin. Faced with certain death, Jesus was face with a conflict of wills, a very human will to live, and God’s will that he go to the cross and will the battle for the souls of all mankind.

Our Lord’s answer to the Commander in Chief?

“All the Way, Sir!” - “Thy Will Be Done!”

In case you are thinking that it was easy for Jesus because He was after all, the Son of God, hear the account of a man named Saul (later to become the Apostle Paul):

Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Acts 9:1-6 (KJV)

After literally ‘seeing the light’, and submitting to the will of God for his life, Saul became Paul and the rest is history. He became the greatest evangelist that ever walked the planet’
So What!

My ‘Basic Training’ as a soldier in God’s army was completed a long time ago. I have been equipped to carry out the mission of believers everywhere, that of being a ‘reconciler’, or ‘peacemaker’, within my personal area of influence (where I live, work and breathe).

Occasionally I have been sent on specific missions. I have not always answered with a resounding “Thy Will be Done, Sir!”  For that, God’s Spirit within me grieves.

However, I am greatly encouraged because He loves me greatly and I can be forgiven for my slackness, take up the charge once again, look My Lord in the eye, salute, and earnestly proclaim…

“All the Way, Sir!” - “Thy Will Be Done!”

I would in turn encourage who are reading this, whoever and wherever you are, reflect on your own life and ask yourself “How am I Doing?”

Have you been well trained? Are you ready for the mission, whatever the cost? If so, then let’s go with a song in our hearts…

Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home:
Thro’ days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong,
And now, O King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King Eternal,
Till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace;
For not with swords’ loud clashing,
Or roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav’nly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning
Where’er Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o’er us;
We journey in its light:
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.

-Earnest W. Shurtleff
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« Reply #354 on: November 26, 2006, 10:58:00 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-two
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Force Planning 101
Doctrines and Principles

In the military, much is said about doctrine and principles, in just about any format imaginable! Adequate training and preparation for war fighting is critical. Because of this the United States Army, in 1973, created the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Their intent was to consolidate Army combat development activities and formulate doctrine to be used throughout the Army. These war fighting principles, defined within this body of doctrine, form the building blocks for training soldiers and are key to success on the battlefield. Setting aside or forgetting sound principles often has disastrous results.

Experience has taught me that the same is true in the life of a Christian. Walk into any Christian book store and you can find entire sections devoted to principles for Christian living, for just about any age group, topic, profession, or walk in life. A glance at the bookshelves in my home would reveal, to the casual observer, that I have purchased my share.

With all that help, why does my Christian walk seem to me to be so wishy-washy at times? Why do I seem, to myself at least, to be so inconsistent? What have I forgotten, or what am I missing? I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that a large part of the solution revolves around what some have said is the first word of the Gospel - REPENT.
Key Verse:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:1,2 (NKJV)

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)

So they (the disciples) went out and preached that people should repent. Matthew 6:12 (NKJV)

The above verses record some of the initial words of John the Baptist, Jesus and even the newly commissioned disciples. There seems to be a certain critical emphasis on the term ‘repent’. I cannot immediately recall seeing a recently penned book on the subject, nor can I remember repentance being a subject of a church sermon or Christian media discussion. But then again, I may not have been looking in the right places.

Nevertheless, I respectfully submit that that the principle of repentance is crucial to the doctrine of true salvation and deserves some consideration. The original Greek word for ‘repent’ is defined by Strong’s exhaustive concordance as follows:

   1. to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent
   2. to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins

Personally, I prefer the second of the two meanings because it seems to be more complete. Within it lies the real key to my being able to actually repent of my sin - a hatred of sin - otherwise defined as agreement with God concerning sin. Repentance requires that I admit that I am wrong, something my flesh doesn’t like very much. Being in agreement with God, on the other hand, is something his Spirit in me loves, and therefore, my new nature in Christ loves!
So What!

Hating sin can be difficult in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with material in many ways. It comes in forms that not only fail to call sin ‘sin’, but actually idolize and celebrate as beautiful much of what God abhors and calls unclean. Furthermore, we still have our old fleshly nature existing alongside our new nature in Christ. What can I do? How can I bring about true repentance in my own life? I can begin with another principle from scripture.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 (NKJV)

I can begin by feeding my new nature and starving my old nature. I can learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let my new nature grow in strength and stature. It works! What does this have to do with repentance and hatred for sin? By feeding the Spirit and starving the flesh, a hatred for sin, and thus true repentance, will supernaturally develop in the heart of any believer.

Friend, my challenge and encouragement to you is to feed the new nature and starve the old nature! When you have a choice of ‘food’, make the right choice! The results are guaranteed!

At the same time, we can be comforted that when become casualties of sin, we are not condemned, but.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

True repentance leads to confession and confession leads to forgiveness and cleansing. What an awesome promise!
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« Reply #355 on: November 27, 2006, 09:25:26 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-three
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Team Building 101
Maximizing Skills and Talents

During the early stages of Special Forces training, I was asked what SF specialty I wanted to pursue in Phase II of my SF training. I could become a medic, radio operator, engineer (demolitions), light or heavy weapons specialist, or junior operations and intelligence (O&I) specialist. Since the path to eventually becoming an SF Team Sergeant and running my own ‘A’ Team (the most prestigious position in SF) required being O&I qualified, O&I training was my first choice.

Well, since a review of some of my earlier Army test scores revealed to the SF cadre that I had nearly ‘aced’ the test for evaluating natural talent for Morse Code, the ultimate decision for my specialty training was made for me, and I became an SF radio operator.

Being a radio operator meant that while the rest of the team was involved in more dangerous and exciting activities, I was often near the top of a mountain or hill with my communications equipment, banging out Morse Code messages, encrypting and decrypting messages, fine tuning my antenna system, and trying not to be spotted by enemy aircraft (commo sites were at the top of the enemy target list).

Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? Maybe not, but we also had a saying “If you ain’t got commo, you ain’t got nothin’!” It’s the truth - whether it’s simple Morse Code or sophisticated, high speed, digital communications over satellites and computer systems. As the team’s communicator, I also had the responsibility of cross-training other team members in the skills I had mastered, while other team members such as the medic, demolitions expert and weapons expert trained us in their skills. All of our separate skills were equally important to the cohesiveness and success of the team!

Every talent and every skill is important. It’s not much different in the Christian community, the body of believers that is the church, the precious Bride of Christ. As individuals we have been blessed from birth with natural gifts and talents. Likewise we are provided with various and differing spiritual gifts when we are born into His Kingdom that have critical places in ministry, all of which God wants to develop within us for His Glory, none of which is more important than the other.
Key Verse:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4 11:15 (NKJV)

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NKJV)

We sometimes have a tendency, when we think of or try to define ministry, to focus our thoughts on that which we see and hear most often, the most visible elements of ministry. That can mean our pastor, chaplain or church leaders, books we might read by well-known teachers and authors, music we listen to and even that which the visual media brings to us. I would submit that there is greater potential for ministry right where we live and work and breathe.

Jesus never passed out a tract, cut a CD, organized a crusade, published a book, or televised a sermon. Being God, he probably could have preached a sermon from on high that could have been heard across the planet and put all of our modern technology to shame! He didn’t. He became man to walk among the masses, touching, healing, loving, and offering grace and truth. In walking among us, Jesus provided the greatest example of what we should be doing in our everyday lives, with our talents and gifts, filled with His Holy Spirit, as we walk ‘among the masses’.

Paul, in speaking the churches at Corinth and Ephesus, provides a glimpse of the real source of skills, talents and gifts – God. I guess that means we don’t own them anyway. Paul also provides a several glimpses of their purpose and emphasizes that they are provided from the same source for God’s purposes.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12: 11.
So What!

I might be soldier, sailor, airman or marine, cook, clerk, or combat warrior. I might be a private or sergeant major, lieutenant or general. While there may be perceived degrees of importance or prestige associated with our jobs or the particular rung of the career ladder upon which a foot might rest, the truth is we need them all! I find it comforting that God places no degrees of importance on our station in life, or where we might be in our careers. Quite the contrary…

The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does.  Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God’s Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Not only are we equal members of the Body of Christ, he provides us equally with talents and skills, along with whatever spiritual ‘tools’ we need for ministry wherever we live, no matter what we do for a living or where we are on the pecking order. One of my favorite musicians, Rich Mullins, was in the habit of signing autographs with two words -  ‘Be God’s.’ God just wants us to be His – available for His service right where we are, with whatever skills, talents or gifts we might possess.

Now that’s ministry!
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« Reply #356 on: November 28, 2006, 05:12:02 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-four
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Selfless Service 101
Whose Life is it, Anyway?

Bob was a remarkable, young and single SF soldier. Not only was he good at his job, he continuously sought opportunities to become a better soldier, such as attending and graduating from the Special Forces HALO school. HALO stands for High Altitude, Low Opening, or parachuting at altitudes higher that radar can detect and opening one’s parachute lower than radar normally detects. He was also a dedicated Christian, who sought opportunities to present the Gospel to his fellow comrades-in-arms. I can remember one day entering the barracks building where Bob resided and watching him begin to share the gospel to another single soldier, as we were walking up the stairs to the second floor. Later Bob told me that he had asked God for some sort of a sign that it was His time and I walked into the building. He took my entrance as his sign since he knew that I would support him, if needed.

Bob was ‘Uncle Bob’ to my young son Danny, since he would frequently visit our home and spend time in fellowship with us and laughing and playing with Danny.  When Bob was killed as a result of a parachute malfunction, a tragic occurrence while being inserted into a training operation, it really hit hard. I was angry at God for taking one of His front line soldiers, one of the few soldiers I knew who made sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ life’s number one priority.  I just couldn’t understand why God would let such a thing happen. The events that followed answered my thundering “Why, God?”

I was part of the same training operation, running the communications operation at the battalion’s forward operating base where the commander and his staff were located. Since I had known Bob, I was volunteered to meet with a local minister that would be presiding at a memorial service for Bob at our field location. I met with the minister and we just talked about Bob and his life as a soldier and as a Christian. The minister came to our field site and walked into a very quiet small room filled with soldiers, the battalion commander and his entire staff. The expectation of the attendees of similar memorial services is to listen to a short memorial to a fallen soldier and go about their business. What was heard that day was a clear presentation of the precious gospel, the very truth that had been the apex of Bob’s life! The ministered shared the fact that Bob, while he lived on earth, had decided to follow Christ and now rested in eternity with God. There was not a person in that small room that did not come face-to-face with the reality of ‘eternal values’ and the need to make a decision that would last forever.

After the service, I remembered Bob having told me once that he wanted everything in his life to be used for the glory of God. It was at that moment that I realized the significance of that small memorial service in the field where an entire battalion staff with it’s support personnel received one of the clearest presentations of the gospel of Jesus Christ I have ever heard! It was then I understood that God had used Bob’s death for His Glory! Bob had lived for opportunities to spread the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. Even that small memorial service served to that same end – an opportunity to share the gospel.
Key Verse:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3 (NKJV)

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Romans 6:11 (NKJV)

We live in a culture that worships the god of  ‘self’. All one has to do is turn on the radio, glance at a magazine rack in the supermarket, tune in to just about any syndicated television, or view advertisements in just about any format for just about any product out there. It’s mostlyl about satisfying ‘self’ in one form or another. Our schools, from elementary school to institutions of higher learning, preach self-actualization, self-esteem, self-empowerment, self-pride – just to name a few. The cult of self has even invaded the church, as evidenced by a plethora of teaching that takes God’s precious promises and turns them into mechanisms for us to ‘demand’ things from God, often under the guise of ‘claiming’ our ‘rights’ as children of the King.

If a preacher or speaker said to an audience “Jesus calls us to follow Him,” very few in that audience would argue. In fact, in some churches, the “Amen!” corner would strongly voice its approval. On the other hand, if the speaker announced:  “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die,” I wonder just how many would agree. One of the great martyrs of the church, Dietrich Bonhoffer, not only said it, he believed it to the extent that he left comfort and safety in England during WWII to return to his German homeland and serve with the persecuted church, ultimately being arrested and later executed by the S.S. Black Guards. Was this young Lutheran pastor right? What did Jesus himself have to say about it?

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them,  “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34,35 (NKJV). See also Matt. 16:24–27; Luke 9:22–26

If the authors of three separate gospels record the same statement of Jesus in almost identical words, who am I to even try and argue the point? Furthermore, the picture of having passed from death to life is seen over and over again in the New Testament when describing the difference between a Christless existence and our new life in Christ. I have often observed a contradiction between what God has declared and what my life demonstrates. I might even have some company here. My desire to please myself goes down kicking and screaming at times, but that does not alter the truth that “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
So What!

The question “Whose life is it, anyway?” sort of blasted its way into my brain housing group one morning a few weeks ago while I was sucking wind on an exercise machine in a small gym facility. It wasn’t the first time I was too tired to interrupt what God was trying to get through my thick skull. The question keeps coming up. Other questions seem to follow. “Whose time is it, anyway?” “Whose money is it, anyway?” Who really owns our family homestead at 914 Candlestar Loop in Fountain, Colorado?”

I don’t know about you, but I need the occasional reminder of God’s truth. He has declared me dead to sin and that my life ”… is hidden with Christ in God.” That means that my part is to agree with God, let go of my highly regarded ‘self’ and yield to the Holy Spirit so that Jesus Christ is free to live His life through me.

Our Lord does call us to die, to let go of ourselves and become lost in Him to the point that, like my friend Bob, all that we are can be used to share His love and grace.

So I am left to ask myself one more time: “Whose am I, anyway?”

And I ask you today, “Whose are you?”

If we say we are His and really mean it, we can share these prayerful words by Frances R. Haveregal from his hymn, "Take my Life"…

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord to Thee;

Take my will, and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine;

Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne...
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« Reply #357 on: November 29, 2006, 08:03:45 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-five
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Improvised Demolitions
Breaching Walls

This morning I was listening to a song about breaking down walls and I couldn’t help but think about all of the walls I encountered in my SF career. Walls outside and inside of buildings; walls I had to climb up or rappel down; walls of brick, wood, plaster and ice; walls we had to blow through and walls with doors we could move through. Believe me when I say that we knew lots of ways to deal with walls that impeded the mission. It was also quite normal for us to have to use whatever explosives we carried along with common materials to construct the demolitions charges required to breach walls that needed to be gotten through. The point here is that walls had to be destroyed in the normal course of the mission.

The same is true with life in general. If you think about it, walls are everywhere. Not only physical walls, but walls between people, families (I’ve been there), countries, religions and churches - just to name a few. Volumes have been written, seminars conducted, international conferences convened, and monies appropriated for the purpose of tearing down walls that divide people and nations.

I submit however, that all of the above measures are for the most part useless unless what I term the Wall of Walls is first breached. I am referring to the wall of sin that separates us from God because of that long ago fall of Adam and Eve at the dawn of creation. There is one essential difference between this wall of sin and others I have encountered. I am totally powerless to tear it down. God, however, dealt that wall of separation a deathblow by sending his Son to die on a cruel cross in order to give us a door – a pathway through the wall.
Key Verse:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

Mankind’s sinful condition did not disappear because of the cross, but God provided a door! Not only did he provide the door, he only asks that we open that door.  It seems that the door can only be opened from our side. Once we open the door, Jesus says that he will come in to us and dine with us. We don’t have to walk through to him, but he will come through to us and live in our hearts!

If this is true and I sense walls or obstructions that hinder my walk as a Christian in service to the King, they must be ‘Danmade’ walls. The sad truth is that through the years I have built some walls that have either delayed of prevented the accomplishment of what I have accepted as God’s mission for my life of service in His Kingdom. I won’t go into detail, but I will call them ‘Danmade’ walls of sin and rebellion. The bad news is that I built many of the walls. The good news is that the walls can be totally demolished.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

Once the walls are down, we can ‘dine’ with Jesus. I don’t know what picture that might bring to your mind, but I think of a fine restaurant, white linen tablecloths, bright shiny silver, fine china, and carefully prepared exotic dishes. There are no fast food chain restaurants here!
So What!

Ignoring walls in my life won’t make them disappear. If I really want a continuous ‘dining’ experience with Christ, there are actions that I can take to assist in their destruction.

·        I must recognize the sin that traps me and hinders my progress. This is at times easier said than done. There seems to be a lot that is described clearly in FM-1 (Field Manual 1, the Bible) as sin and abhorrent to God that is no longer considered sin, even by some supposedly Christian organizations. The Bible has to be my final authority. God wrote it and His Holy Spirit will enlighten me as to it’s truth.

·        I must agree with God about my sin, earnestly confess my sin and truly repent, turning away and not picking it up again, no matter what others might tell me or what my lying sinful human nature might have to say.

·        I must realize that in some cases it might be a short firefight while at other times it could be a longer, protracted engagement before I see final victory. It can seem like only having a hammer to bust through an obstacle when dynamite or C-4 is needed.

·        The final battle has already been won.  Armed with His Grace and Power I have the mission of conducting ‘mop-up’ operations that include bringing down personal ‘Danmade’ walls and being a peacemaker or reconciler wherever live, work and breathe.

Having said that, I must remember that God is the master tactician here. His ways are not my ways. As I walk in obedience to his Word and his Spirit, I can trust by faith that God will bring it to pass, that walls will come tumbling down.
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« Reply #358 on: November 30, 2006, 07:58:03 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-six
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Strategic Principles
Force Multiplication

Special operations forces  (SOF) are sometimes called  ‘force multipliers’ because they can turn small numbers of military or paramilitary fighters into larger numbers of well-trained soldiers. The types of missions that result in force multiplication date back at least to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in WWII, when small numbers of operators infiltrated into areas controlled by Nazi Germany to train existing underground forces. The awesome impact of a small group of men that has the capability of literally training a small army has caused enemies of the United States to dispatch very large numbers of troops to try and capture a few well trained and effective ‘force multipliers’. This same principal of force multiplication is prevalent today around the world where Special Forces is involved in training other countries’ forces for a variety of missions.

In reading the Bible, one can see a certain similarity between the force multiplication principle for military purposes and Christ’s great commission to his disciples. In fact, I personally find the similarity fascinating! When Jesus commissioned the twelve disciples and finally sent them on their mission, he didn’t tell them to build buildings, establish programs, package the Gospel according to current marketing techniques, pass out tracts on street corners, or establish denominations. They were sent out to be ‘force multipliers’. Listen to what Jesus told the disciples when He appeared to them after his resurrection.
Key Verse:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

Jesus told the first disciples to go out and duplicate themselves. By definition, a disciple is a pupil, student, learner, and follower. As Jesus had taught the twelve, they were to teach others. Just as Jesus brought new life to his followers and instilled his character in them, they were to present the Gospel and then teach the principles of new life in Christ to their world. Those new disciples, when trained and ready to be sent, could in turn make more disciples in their own worlds, or areas of influence. And on and on and on………

I am not saying there is anything wrong with new buildings, programs, tracts, denominations, or being culturally relevant with the ways we present the Gospel. They all have their places in ministry. What I am saying is that they are not the main focus of ministry, the number one mission, which is ‘force multiplication’ for the Kingdom of God. The potential impact on our world and on our own areas of influence is staggering!
So What?

I believe that God has called all of us who name Christ as our Savior to a ‘force multiplication’ mission for His Kingdom. How we undertake that mission with the talents and gifts that He has given us may differ, but the mission is the same. It is a mission that we all are able to perform where we live and work. Perhaps that is why I have been involved with the Christian Military Fellowship (CMF) organization for so many years. I fell in love with their mission statement...”To Win…To Disciple…To Equip…To Win”!

One could argue that the ‘making of disciples’ is just for a select few that are involved in full time ministries or have had a lot of training or formal schooling, but is it?  Listen to the observation of listeners to two of the original twelve, after they had been empowered by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

The Apostle Peter, in a letter to Christians of his day, challenged them with these words…

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13(NKJV)

Peter and John had ‘been with Jesus’ and were empowered by Holy Spirit boldness. No Bible college or seminary, but they had been with Jesus. The master himself had taught them. There is certainly a place and a need for formal education, however we all are called to the mission. How many people do you know that would not set foot in a church or chapel, attend a crusade or Christian concert, or even consider accompanying you to a Bible study? My uneducated guess would be a number that far exceeds those who might accept an invitation. There are places you have been or will be where a chaplain or pastor will never have the opportunity to set foot. Think about it. Who is God’s man or woman in those places and situations? We are!!!!!

Listen to the words of the Apostle Peter as he encouraged and challenged Christians of his day…

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9,10 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a disciple, not just a pew warmer one day a week. I take the words of Jesus to his disciples as a personal mission. I confess that I am not always faithful to that mission. However, when I am reminded by the words of Peter of the magnitude of what God has done through His Son, and who He has called me to be, I am ashamed of my slackness and both encouraged and compelled to continue with the mission!

My friend, ‘force multiplication’ is our mission. How are we doing?
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« Reply #359 on: December 01, 2006, 05:30:26 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-seven
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Leadership Principles
The Commander’s Open Door Policy

I can’t remember when I first became aware of an  ‘open door policy’, the mechanism by which a soldier could express concerns or grievances directly to a company commander. Open door policies were designed to provide direct access to unit commanders when using the normal chain of command or established policies and procedures did not seem to be operating properly. Prior to such policies, soldiers rarely, if ever, had direct access to their unit commanders. The commander’s open door policy served to encourage the chain of leadership to operate smoothly, as well provided a ‘last resort’ in case of a leadership or procedural breakdown. Although in my 28 years of service I only remember going directly to my commander a couple of times in order to resolve issues, it was comforting to know that such an avenue for solving problems existed, even though the commander’s door was open to anyone and everyone only an hour or two during a normal week. After all, commanders are very busy persons and really cannot afford to be available to anyone and everyone all day, every day.

 Similarly, after the children of Israel were led out of Egyptian bondage and God passed the Law down through Moses, God established the policies and procedures required to approach Him or enter into His presence. An entire system of sacrifices to atone for sin and proper protocol for priests was put in place, with dire consequences for violations of established procedure. Only members of the priesthood were allowed into the very presence of God and then only at certain times, in order to represent the common people, present sacrifices to God and receive atonement for the sins of the Israelites. After the required sacrificial ceremonies, which were repeated over and over again on behalf of the Israelites, the priests would bless the common folk.

 Then came Christ.
Key Verse:

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:11-15 (NKJV)

 If you read the Old Testament book of Leviticus, you will find that the rules and regulations surrounding the offering of sacrifices are quite lengthy. Failure to abide by those rules often resulted in death, such as when two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, offered ‘profane fire’ and were killed (Leviticus, chapter 10).  Access to God was very limited and highly regulated. An understanding of those limitations and regulations greatly enhanced this man’s appreciation of our access to God through Jesus Christ.

Our Lord became the ‘once for all’ sacrifice for the sin of all mankind, past, present and future. Through the death of His beloved Son, God provided for our salvation and established His own ‘open door policy’, giving us 24/7 access to the throne of grace!

 Jesus made it clear to his disciples that He is the door…

Then Jesus said to them again,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:7-9 (NKJV)

Jesus said to him (Thomas),  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

The apostle Paul also described our access to the Father, as well as how we should use our freedom of access.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)

For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:18 (NKJV)
So What?

This is not a criticism of liturgical church services, nor is it meant to discourage corporate worship and fellowship. Rather, it is intended to cause the reader to consider the awesome nature of God’s ‘open door policy’ and encourage an honest evaluation of how we use our 24/7 direct access to the Father through His beloved Son.  God has provided us with the ultimate ‘open door’, but it’s up to us to use it effectively.

     ·        Do we approach God lightly, or with a sense of awe, wonder and humility that His goodness and holiness demand?

    ·        Do we commune with God mostly on Sunday mornings and sporadically during the week as the need arises?

    ·        Is our communion with God mostly about what we want Him to do for us, or is it a real two-way conversation in which we make our petitions known but also listen with open ears and eager hearts for His instructions to us concerning our quality of service to Him?

 These are good questions, and we certainly need to consider them. However, our ability to enter the very presence of God through His Son anytime we want or need to is just part of the equation. The apostle Paul provides us a glimpse:

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

 In these few words I see the possibility of living in constant communion with the Father! Jesus died to give us access. The Holy Spirit dwells within us to allow us to live moment by moment in communion with God! We don’t have to limit our communion with God to certain times - we can live in His very presence!

 Easier said than done. This old soldier is living proof of that fact. The first step, however is to accept the possibility. The rest is about letting go of self and surrendering all that we are to Him. A favorite hymn sums it up rather nicely:

Take My Life -Frances Havergal

1 Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

2 Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Swift and beautiful for Thee.

3 Take my voice and let me sing Always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee, Filled with messages from Thee.

4 Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold; Take my intellect and use Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose, Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

5 Take my will, and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine; Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne, It shall be Thy royal throne.

6 Take my love—my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store; Take myself—and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee, Ever, only, all for Thee.
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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