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Author Topic: God's Promises for American Heroes  (Read 48028 times)
Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #360 on: December 02, 2006, 09:54:29 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-eight
Intermediate Training: Unit One
Protective Armor
Kevlar and Faith

Kevlar is the trademarked name of poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide, a nylonlike polymer that was first produced by Du Pont in 1971. Kevlar can be made into tough, stiff, high-melting fibers and is five times stronger per weight than steel. That’s pretty impressive. Kevlar has a wide variety of applications, the most familiar use being protective clothing, particularly the Kevlar helmet and vest used by military and law enforcement personnel.

Indeed, as body armor Kevlar is a very strong material and can stop all sorts of harmful projectiles that could otherwise cause serious injury or death. I would much rather pick myself up from the ground, bruised but not broken because my body armor stopped a bullet, rather than take up residence in a pine box. I doubt that anyone would disagree with me.

I can, however, think of several significant limitations of Kevlar. It won’t stop everything that might be thrown at you, it only protects what it covers. In order to have a certain amount of protection and allow the wearer to remain mobile, body armor is designed to protect from the neck down to the groin area. The theory is that a good marksman would aim for center mass of a human target. That leaves portions of the body unprotected. In fact, I remember a promotional film that was done for Kevlar in which the round fired at the brave human training aid missed hitting the subject’s vest and resulted in a leg wound. I kid you not! Talk about bloops and blunders! There are some situations where body shields are used with or without body armor, but guess what? Those shields won’t stop everything either, only protect what they cover, and are only useful in useful in certain situations.

What does Kevlar have to do with faith? The obvious conclusion is that one must have faith in the protective properties of one’s body armor to maintain maximum aggressiveness and effectiveness in a combat situation. While that is certainly true, there’s more.
Key Verse:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:11-16 (NKJV)

While many books have been written and even more sermons delivered concerning the ‘whole armor of God’, this writer offers a few brief points for the your consideration.

   1. While man-made body armor and protects only against external projectiles and cannot protect against every type of onslaught, our faith can protect against anything that is thrown at us! That includes external hostile forces and that which arises internally, out of our own selfish and sinful human nature.
   2. Our faith is available and effective at any time and in any situation, no matter how severe the onslaught from our enemy (principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual hosts of wickedness) might appear. There is absolutely nothing our adversary the devil can throw at us that our faith cannot overcome.
       

   3. Not everyone is issued Kevlar body armor, nor can everyone find it or even purchase it if it is available commercially. Everyone has access to God’s armor, including the shield of faith, but no one can afford it. The price is too high. It is ours for the asking, but only available because of God’s love and the price paid at Calvary.

So What?

Body armor can save a soldier’s or law enforcement officer’s life. It’s useless when left behind in an equipment locker or armory. With our faith, we are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. The operative terms here are ‘can’ and ‘are able’. It’s  greatly comforting to know that we as Christians have at our disposal a faith that can overcome any onslaught of the enemy.

As soldiers of the Cross, we are hit with all sorts of hostile projectiles fired from a variety of weapons ranging anywhere from water pistols to rocket launchers (an understatement?). A relatively harmless bit of water for one person could seem like an anti-tank round to another soldier in the foxhole. Regardless, we are all in the same foxhole of life and our faith can truly ‘quench all the fiery darts’.

Do we always overcome? This guy doesn’t, that’s for sure. Hopefully, as time passes and as long as I grow in my faith, my combat losses become fewer and fewer. The challenge is to continue growing! The excuse ‘The Devil made me do it!” is a lie. Just in case you aren’t sure that we can withstand anything with our faith in Christ, listen to the words of the Apostle Paul to the early church at Ephesus…

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.  1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

A verse from a favorite hymn comes to mind...

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God!

R Kelso Carter, ‘Standing on the Promises’
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« Reply #361 on: December 03, 2006, 08:31:24 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Twenty-nine
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Verifiable Intelligence Information
The Human Factor

One important Special Forces mission has always been intelligence gathering.  Intelligence reports from the field have their own specific format and include ratings for the reliability and verifiability of the information. The most trusted sources of information received high reliability ratings. Verifiable information is that which can be verified by multiple sources, including human eyes ‘on the ground’. In many cases, human intelligence, (HUMINT) is the only reliable and verifiable information!  As an example, consider a requirement to positively identify enemy forces and positions on the ground when both enemy and friendly forces use a lot of the same weapons, wear the same sort of clothing and have no distinctions discernable from aerial surveillance.  It is in just such a case that there must be ‘eyes on the ground’ verification.

Just as we are able to receive intelligence information from many different sources, we receive information about God, Christianity and how to live God honoring lives from different sources including the Bible, church sermons, Christian books and media broadcasts, just to name a few!  When we receive the same spiritual information or teaching from  multiple sources it could even be considered to be ‘verified’ information.

Here again, however, the ultimate verifiability is obtained from a human factor, or eyes ‘on the ground’. When we apply what has been received or learned to our lives it becomes real for us as Christians. When others can observe the light of Christ in our lives, when our Christian confession is lived out before them, whatever they may have heard or learned about becomes real for them (verified intelligence). In other words, after all of the evangelistic crusades, pulpit sermons, Bible studies and fellowships, what is truly verifiable is what is seen of Christ in Christian lives.
Key Verse:

Jesus, speaking of his own death on the cross said…

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:31 (KJV)

The disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit and sent into their world gave testimony (provided intelligence) concerning what they had seen and heard. As they lifted up the Jesus they knew and loved, and the Light of Life shone through them, men and women were drawn by the Savior to Himself.

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Acts 2:32 (NKJV)

 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:20 (NKJV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1John 1:1-3(NKJV)

Likewise, as we lift up Jesus with our lives, He draws men and women to Himself.

Near the end of my ODF (Out ‘Dere Flappin’) years the one thing that caused me to finally pick up my Bible again was the ‘light of life’ I observed in my beloved bride. She had gone to visit relatives in St. Louis, received the Gospel message and become transformed. The transformation was undeniable.  I saw a light that I couldn’t extinguish and decided to start reading the Bible again, which led to my ‘homecoming’ to Christ. It was seeing the light of Christ in her that made it real for me.

Some time later, during one of our tours in Massachusetts, our next-door neighbors asked us where we attended church, apparently because they had observed our lives, the openness with our faith and liked what they ‘saw and heard’. What was observed in lives made an impression.

Then there is my long time friend Georg (spelling is correct), who as a listener and observer ‘saw and heard’ one soldier sharing his faith with another and experienced his own ‘homecoming’. It is now many years later and Georg has left the service, lives in Pennsylvania with his family and regularly teaches and preaches in his church.

Consider the words of the Apostle John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not.  John 1:1-5(ASB)

Mortal humans are not the light, but can be ‘light bearers’ as the life of Christ is expressed through them and as the Gospel is truly ‘seen and heard’. When the light of Christ is seen in the lives of believers, the Gospel of Christ becomes ‘A1’ information, totally reliable because ‘eyes on the ground’ have verified it.
So What?

It’s one thing to attend church, fellowship groups, and hang out with other Christians. It’s easy to be ‘light bearers’ in the friendly territory of our spiritual ‘base camps’.  It’s quite another to carry the torch high in hostile territory, which is just about everywhere else.  We risk not being popular, not fitting in, and often feel alone on the battlefield. The light of Christ in our lives sometimes becomes dim or cannot be ‘seen and heard’.

On the other hand, the closer we walk with Christ, the more we ‘see and hear’ of Christ, the more we become like the disciples who could not help but tell it!  The more the light of Christ fills us, the more the light of Christ shines through us!  The Gospel truth that maybe has only been heard becomes real for someone God is drawing to Himself!

Listen to the words of Jesus and be encouraged!

“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 5:14-16 (NKJV) 
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« Reply #362 on: December 04, 2006, 08:57:26 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Relentless Pursuit
You Can Run but You Can’t Hide

During the war against terrorism, that began after the New York World Trade Center disaster, the U.S. Defense Secretary was reported to have considered the use of American Special Operations Forces (SOF) to capture or kill terrorist leaders outside of their ‘home turf’.  Whether the relentless pursuit of an enemy as a tactic is necessary or could even be successful in eliminating the threat might be a matter of debate.  However, the message to terrorists clear, they can run but they can’t hide.  A terrorist on the run without safe haven anywhere on the planet would have reason to be more than a little paranoid.  Life becomes rather uncomfortable for that individual, to say the least.

No matter how efficient American SOF might be,  they cannot be everywhere at once, nor do they know the specific thoughts and intents of the enemy.  Although Special Operations Forces may be extremely efficient, they have limitations.  Nevertheless, this author would not want to be the enemy knowing who might be on my trail!

God, on the other hand, knows no such limitations. Listen to the words of the Psalmist David:
Key Verse:

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Psalm 139:1-5, 7-8 (NKJV)

David knew that it is totally useless to try and hide from the living God.  He also realized that the God’s ability to see and know everything about him was not a bad thing.  David knew that God was leading and guiding him.  Note his attitude:

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!

Verses 9-10, 14, 16

It is significant to note that while God pursues His children and knows all about them, His desire is to capture hearts and give life, not to incarcerate or destroy. Hear the words of Jesus to the disciples.

The thief (Satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)
So What?
If God just wants what is best for us, what’s to worry about?  Like one song says, “Don’t worry, be happy!”  There’s another side to this coin.  While God is always my friend I might not always be His friend:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? James 4:4-5 (NKJ)

If I am a Christian, His Spirit is dwelling within, leading and guiding.  If my priorities in life revolve around whatever I can get to be successful, richer, more popular, etc. (selfish materialism), I will face inner conflict with what God’s Spirit desires.  The Spirit’s yearning to draw me closer to God will either make my life uncomfortable, or cause me to rejoice knowing He is leading and guiding me into true peace and happiness.

If I am uncomfortable there is a simple solution – quit running!  Sound like a tall order with all the pressures around us? Not really! Here’s a key from scripture:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

Just like my computer, it’s a matter of selective input! It’s the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ principle.  I can’t control all of the garbage, but I can certainly be involved in the transformation and renewal process by reading the Word, having frequent conversations with my Lord, continuing in fellowship with other believers (more than warming a pew one day a week), and making God honoring choices for the conduct of my personal and social life.

Remember, you can run, but you can’t hide!  If you are running, be assured that what you are running toward only wants to squeeze you into a mold that will never bring true peace and happiness.  Realize you are running and respond:

·        Give up, life will be a lot easier and you will find real peace and happiness!

·        Be transformed – take out the garbage and initiate renewal!
And remember – God does want what is best for you!
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b (NKJV)
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« Reply #363 on: December 05, 2006, 07:04:53 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-one
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Personal Improvement
Measuring Growth

I will never forget when, in basic training, I was first able to knock out fifty pushups in a row. Considering my chosen lifestyle before enlisting in the Army, it was quite a feat! Years later, as a senior NCO and a student at the Defense Language Institute in California, it was nothing to roll out of my bunk early in the morning and knock out eighty pushups followed by eighty sit-ups.  Through the years it had been necessary to reach higher and higher levels of physical fitness.

I can remember being assigned to a mountain detachment and how we practiced for the standard Army physical fitness test during morning PT. Practicing for the PT test itself wasn’t the morning’s PT session as one might assume, it was something we did after our normal regimen!  It was a personal goal to be able to obtain a maximum score for my age at those sessions. Once I had grown to that point, the goal became the ability to obtain a maximum score for the age group below the one in which I was placed.  In other words, there were clear ways to measure growth in the area of physical fitness against established Army standards.

While it is easy to set personal measurable goals for growth and improvement in our daily lives, it can be a bit more difficult to measure spiritual growth.  What are the standards we can use to measure our growth?  Where are the charts, numbers and scorecards?  How do we know we are growing in His grace?  Is it even possible for human thought to set standards for what can only be described as the work of the Almighty God through His Holy Spirit?
Key Verse:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26 (NKJV)

Our faith walk is a spiritual thing, therefore it would be necessary to measure spiritual growth instead of something so tangible as physical development.  To the extent that God’s Holy Spirit empowers the above character traits in our lives, we are growing.  While we can exhibit these character traits in our human nature, when we are driven and led by God’s Spirit each of them transcends the natural and becomes supernatural.  Our motives can change drastically – from selfish to selfless.

So how do we measure our growth?  We can certainly examine our own motives for actions, but it sure is hard to build a chart or construct a scorecard!  Is there such a thing as a spiritual standard that can be used as a measurement tool?  I found one a few days ago that really caught my attention.  Oswald Chambers, in a work entitled Disciples Indeed, wrote the following:

“Measure your growth in grace by your sensitiveness to sin.”

When I let that thought sink into my sometimes thick skull, all I could say was - WOW! It makes perfect sense!  God is pure and Holy, hating sin but loving the sinner (me and you). Our human nature exhibits a tendency toward sin.  One could rightly conclude that our human nature is diametrically opposed to God’s nature, which is the same nature of His Holy Spirit that indwells every believer.  This principle of conflict is clearly illustrated in one of the Apostle Paul’s letters to the early church:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21(NKJV)

Just because we become Christians we are not rid of the desires of sinful flesh.  In fact, when the Spirit of God takes up residence within us, the conflict between God’s Spirit and our flesh begins!  Things we once did without a second’s thought, activities we engaged in and enjoyed freely, and even hateful emotions we considered ‘rightful indignation’ become uncomfortable for us.  That discomfort is just the beginning of our growth in Christ.  As we continue in the Word, fellowship and prayer the Spirit becomes stronger and the flesh becomes weaker. It’s a supernatural process!
So What?

As we grow in grace we become increasingly sensitive to that which is sinful.  When we are truly in love with our Savior, we have a Spirit prompted desire to get rid of the sin in our lives.  There are two basic approaches to the ‘sin’ issue we all face.  We could undertake a ‘search and destroy’ mission to seek out and do battle with specific sin or sins, but I fear that is largely a ‘fleshly’ pursuit and subject to defeat and failure.  The second approach is to allow the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus take hold in our lives and let the supernatural process kick into high gear.  This is where continuing in the Word, fellowship and prayer applies.

A truly wonderful ‘spiritual’ PT test would be to pause for a time of reflection, consider your personal walk with Christ and actually prepare a list of the ‘junk’ that has been relegated to the ‘garbage heap’ since becoming a Christian.  Odds are that such reflection would reveal sin that was dealt with very early in your faith walk and other ‘stuff’ that was tossed out later because its true nature was revealed during the growth process.

You may also discover that there’s a lot of  ‘stuff’ that is perfectly acceptable and even highly approved of by most folks around us while God has an entirely different opinion of the matter! Listen to God, agree with His opinion and yield to His perfect will.  The inner peace and serenity is truly amazing!  As you grow in grace and love be encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul:

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  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.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:15-17 (NKJV)
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« Reply #364 on: December 06, 2006, 07:05:33 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-two
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Personal Development
Mental Conditioning

Just about anyone who has undertaken an intense regimen of physical conditioning has also experienced and understands the value of the mental conditioning that is an essential ingredient for achieving physical goals. When those goals are part of a continuous certification process for remaining part of a special operations unit, mental conditioning can be even more significant. Among my fondest memories there is a particular twelve-mile stretch of terrain that included Ft. Devens, Massachusetts and the federal terrain that consisted of a large training area and live fire munitions ranges. Part of those twelve miles was a section known as ‘Range Road’. It was asphalt and marked with telephone poles at regular intervals as it cut its path through the training area next to a series of firing ranges. That twelve miles, including Range Road, was the route used for an evaluated road march for which every soldier had to wear a 45 pound rucksack (minimum weight), load bearing equipment (LBE) and carry an M-16 rifle. Minimum completion time was 3 hours for the twelve-mile distance. The more competitive types went for such time goals as 2 ½ or even 2 hours. In any case, by the time Range Road was reached, it was necessary to forcefully focus one’s mind on something other than aches, pains and hot, tired and sometimes blistered feet.

That’s where the telephone poles proved to be invaluable. One could use them as focus points and concentrate on reaching one, then the next one, jogging between two and walking between two, whatever it took.  Failure to refocus many times resulted in lagging behind, succumbing to physical exhaustion and even not being able to finish in the minimum required time. For the successful, the mental conditioning and focusing techniques were invaluable to their performance. That same sort of mental conditioning was even more critical in real-world situations. Most soldiers, if not all, have had similar experiences.

Mental conditioning is equally important for growth as Christians living in a world and culture that, for the most part, is self-directed instead of God-centered!
Key Verse:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV)

If our culture is based on individuals becoming ‘self-actualized’, while God’s design for our behavior as Christians is based on selfless love for one another while serving as soldiers in His Kingdom, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that most of what we are exposed to and therefore think about might not be in the best interest of our spiritual growth. The apostle Paul spoke to several early churches concerning the need to redirect our thoughts. His encouragement is no less important today than two thousand years ago. In fact, this old soldier thinks it is more important now than ever before!

Consider for a moment the typical day. We spend a certain amount of time with our jobs, education programs, or other activities we could define as 'work' in which our thoughts are primarily focused on those activities. The rest of our day consists of social interaction, times of solitude, the pursuit of some sort of hobby or entertainment, or sleeping. Is there a time other than sleeping when we are not engaged in some sort of conscious thought? Even when we intentionally select activities that do not challenge us intellectually (require serious thought) such as television, movies, or loud and mind numbing music, there is usually some sort of ‘thought’ activity. Get the picture?
So What?

We are always thinking about something. So what? Does it matter what we think about? Yes, it does! Thoughts are a reflection of the heart. When Christ becomes the ruler of our lives, He changes our hearts. We have a desire for ‘things above’. We do not however automatically redirect our thoughts upward. To a great extent we have control over out thought lives and therefore need to consciously refocus our attention.

Mental conditioning is critical to our spiritual growth. The world (our prevailing culture) wants to squeeze us into its mold. God desires to transform us!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God .Romans 12:1-2(NKJV)

I must ask myself:

“Do I allow the world to squeeze me into its mold, or am I engaged in mind renewal and being transformed into who God wants me to be for Him?”

An honest answer would reveal both. The personal challenge that results from this little exercise is to identify the former (the squeezing) and intensify the latter (mind renewal). We have the responsibility of renewing our minds, and God will take care of transforming!

Here’s a clue for engaging in the renewal process:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.  Psalm 1:1-3

Here’s the result:

…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
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« Reply #365 on: December 07, 2006, 01:13:13 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-three
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Personal Development
Radical Change and Special Needs

I have the privilege of participating in a weekly fellowship lunch in one of the dining facilities on Ft. Carson, Colorado. From the outside, the building containing the facility looks exactly the same as it did when constructed, probably more than fifteen years ago. Internally, however there have been many changes through the years. What amazes me is the number of choices the modern soldier has concerning cuisine! There are two different hot food lines (real food on one side and fast food junk on the other), a complete soup and salad bar, a cold sandwich section, beverages of all sorts, as well as a variety of desserts. Indeed there is something for everyone - or is there?

 

What about the person whose dietary needs are so unique that the dining facility cannot fulfill them?  Typically, there must be sufficient demand to justify the cost and preparation requirements. Therefore, while the majority can be more than adequately served, there remains a small minority than simply must find alternative ways to satisfy their unique dietary requirements. Simply put, what some folks might need, the typical military dining facility cannot provide.

 

Similarly, a Christian in today's culture, or any culture throughout history, is like that person who has special dietary needs and cannot eat what everyone else eats without certain risks, and possibly serious physical harm. The child of God, born of the Spirit, needs to feed the Spirit within in order to be spiritually healthy as well as to grow strong and become an effective soldier for the Kingdom of God. Just as the average military dining facility caters to the menu desires of the majority of it's clientele and cannot provide special food for special dietary needs, the culture we live in caters to the selfish desires of the masses and does not provide food for the Spiritual diet of the born-again Christian.
Key Verse:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Jesus, speaking to the Jewish leader Nicodemus, emphasized the need for a total rebirth in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Note Jesus' comment concerning flesh and Spirit. Jesus seems to be saying they are two separate issues, not complimentary character traits. Listen to the Apostle Paul's description of the contrast between our natural selves and new life in Christ.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)

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

Paul, speaking to the early church, calls the contrast between human birth and spiritual rebirth, the difference between death and life. Without Christ, we live by the rules of the one who controls our present world system and we are by nature concerned primarily with pleasing ourselves. When we acknowledge Christ as Savior and Lord we actually pass from death to life! In more practical terms, we have been reassigned from a life where we by nature lived to serve ourselves to a life where we are called to selfless service to the King of King and Lord of Lords!

Can you grasp the enormity and significance of God has done through Christ? I pray that you can, because I cannot finds words that can adequately express this awesome miracle! What I do know and can express with utmost certainty is that in order to live the life of service to the King we desperately need a drastic change in 'diet'.  The Apostle Paul agrees:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJB)
So What?

Our new birth in Christ is, to put it mildly, a radical change. Think about it. Death to life. Darkness to light.  In order to grow and become strong in our faith, we need a change of 'diet' that is equally as radical. We are in charge of maintaining the proper spiritual diet. The environment and culture in which we live and conduct our daily lives is like that dining facility at Ft. Carson that offers cuisine designed to appeal to just about any appetite. We are continuously offered a multitude of products, services, entertainment venues, opportunities for quick riches, and other 'stuff' designed to help us 'self-actualize'. Like the dining facility that does not and indeed cannot meet very specialized physical dietary requirements, a Godless culture and value system does not and cannot meet the spiritual dietary needs of new life in Christ. We can by choice consume whatever we choose, but an improper diet is hazardous to our health!

 

Here's the bottom line. Our old nature (dead in trespasses and sin) does not just disappear when become Christians. We are however given a new nature (alive in Christ). Our modern culture feeds, almost exclusively, the dead person. I don't know about you, but I've never seen anyone place a steak dinner at a gravesite!

 

If we are constantly being fed Happy Meals for the dead man, where do we get the right stuff? Jesus, speaking to Jewish leaders of His time said:

 

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. " John 6:35, 56-57, 63. (NKJV)

 

Jesus is the bread of life. The world (our culture) has nothing of real substance to offer.

 

What does that mean in practical terms? How can we overcome the disastrous effects of all the junk food?

 

I'm so glad you asked? Here's a start:

    *

      Don't go to the junk food bar.  (No rocket science there!)
    *

      Eat the right stuff! Begin with daily hearty helpings of the major spiritual food groups:
          o

            The Word of God - disciplined study.
          o

            Prayer - communicate with the Master.
          o

            Like minded fellowship (hang out with other Christians).
          o

            Don't forget healthy snacks between your main meals. The music we listen can fit in this category. I am sure you can think of others.
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« Reply #366 on: December 08, 2006, 08:14:29 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-four
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Mission Preparation
Understanding the Task

Mission: At 150335Z Mar ODA-315 will infiltrate operational area Tiger, move to the selected target, a communications facility located at 32TUT31957328 and destroy both the main radio transmitters and the broadcast antenna tower. Target will be destroyed no earlier than 180200Z Mar but not later than 180400Z Mar.

A typical Special Forces mission statement; brief, concise and leaving no doubt what the detachment was tasked to accomplish and when the objective had to be hit. The actual mission preparation would include planning the infiltration, movement to and reconnaissance of the target, detailed assault plans and exfiltration method. The operation would require detailed infiltration and exfiltration planning, logistical and communications support, extensive rehearsal of actions at the objective and significant staff and logistical support. The detachment would have to brief the unit commander in order to demonstrate their readiness to execute the mission. When the commander was satisfied they were prepared for success, they would launch.

No matter how extensive the preparations or how difficult the task, one thing was always certain. The mission statement was clear, leaving absolutely no doubt what had to be accomplished and when. We also knew instinctively that our small but important mission was a tiny piece of a bigger puzzle; essential to the master plan.

If only God would be so brief and concise with His mission statements to us! I don't know about you, but I cannot remember ever receiving an audible or written order from God to share the Gospel with this person or that person, to join a particular Christian organization, or to accomplish any specific task. But that doesn't mean that we don't hear from God or receive clear guidance concerning how we are to live and even how we can serve Him in specific ways as we travel down the path of life with Him. God has spoken very clearly in His word, the Bible, through the very circumstances in our lives and He deals with our hearts.
Key Verse:

Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. Jeremiah 20:9 (NKJV)

One of God's Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah, was the object of mocking and derision when he carried God's message to the nation of Judah. At one point Jeremiah became weary of delivering an unpopular message, but God's word burned so strongly in his heart, Jeremiah could not hold it back!

"For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20 (NKJV)

When the disciples Peter and John were commanded to stop speaking about Jesus their reply to the authorities was that they could not help but tell of the things they had seen and heard. They were so excited about their experiences with Jesus that they couldn't keep quiet about it!

Both Jeremiah and the disciples had heard from God. Jeremiah was given a mission to carry an unpopular message to a nation. The disciples had actually experienced Jesus; they walked with Him, talked with Him, watched Him minister to ordinary folks like you and me, and learned from Him. The result was such a burning desire to share what they had seen and heard that no authority, arrest or jail time could stop them! While Jeremiah had a specific mission to a specific location with a prophetic mission, the disciples simply spoke of what they had seen and heard - they shared their experiences with Jesus with others.

While we may never hear an audible word from God or receive a specific mission statement or operations order, He speaks to us through his Word and touches our hearts. When God speaks to our hearts, the result should be simple obedience.

Two short examples:

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

A person might read this, acknowledge divine truth and suddenly think of a friend that has not discovered this truth. There is a heartfelt desire to somehow share that truth. Desire turns to prayer for an open door to present the Gospel and a receptive heart for God's message of Salvation. God answers prayer and schedules a 'divine appointment' to share the Gospel with a friend, a neighbor, or maybe a total stranger. A seed is planted and another soul is ushered into the Kingdom!

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." John 12:32 (KJV)

A person reading the Bible would learn that Jesus was speaking of His crucifixion. If this old soldier happened to be that person and, at the same time, he was also seeking guidance for spreading the gospel there might be a heartfelt urging to allow Jesus to be 'lifted up' or demonstrated by letting His love and grace shine through my life to others. And if I 'lift up' Jesus with my life, He will draw others to Himself. Not a specific task, but a principle for living from God's heart to mine. The desire of the heart becomes to learn how to let the light of God shine through one's life. The practical application might be increased devotion to God's word, study and discipleship to become a more effective soldier of the Kingdom.
So What?

God might not issue such detailed specific orders to carry out missions for His kingdom, but He never leaves us without a purpose in His Kingdom. If the object of our salvation was just to make it to heaven when we die (fire insurance), why are we still here? Could it be that since we are still knocking around this old planet that we have been left down here for some divine purpose?

The manner of service, the specific work we do for Him might be described as a matter between the heart of a perfect and holy God and the hearts of imperfect humans. Our immediate task is to yield to His will and become available. Furthermore, God will never send us on a mission that He cannot handle, nor will He neglect our preparation for the task.

You might be reading these words as a new believer; you might be a seasoned soldier; you might be in one of God's training camps and eager for the day of God's calling for a specific mission. You might have an inner compelling to serve God in some specific way and at the same time wonder why God would choose you. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual walk, know that you have been chosen for service. If you wonder why God would choose you, be encouraged by a bit of wisdom from Oswald Chambers:

"We say, 'It seems out of all proportion that God should choose me - I am of no value'; the reason He chooses us is that we are not of any value. It is not a question of our equipment, but of our poverty; not what we bring with us, but what He puts in us; not our natural virtues, our strength of character, our knowledge, our experience; all that is of no avail in this matter; the only thing that is of avail in us is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrade."

The big question: Are you available?

If your answer is "Yes", there will be more opportunities for 'divine appointments' and service than you can imagine!  Trust me!
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« Reply #367 on: December 09, 2006, 11:48:45 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-five
Intermediate Training: Unit Two
Operational Readiness
Rapid Deployment

Just about anyone who serves in military combat units has had the privilege of participating in a unit operational readiness test of some sort. It might have slightly different names in different branches of service, but the goal is the same - to assess the ability of a unit to meet deployment requirements in the event of war. Some units, such as special operations and rapid deployment forces are required to deploy from home stations more quickly than others. One of my fondest memories involves being alerted in the wee hours of the morning and being on an aircraft within a matter of hours, headed for a distant drop zone and knowing that we would not receive the exact details of the mission until we had reached our destination. Such is life in the world of special operations. Maintaining a posture of constant readiness for immediate deployment was routine.

 The same state of readiness should be the order of the day for followers of Christ. We should stand ready to be used of God. I would also dare suggest that while the above example had a short time fuse, God's mission requirements might even have more severe time constraints! Of one thing I am certain. The blood bought Christian living in a fallen world has already been deployed. No infiltration plan is necessary. We are already in the combat zone, but are we ready for whatever mission or task God might assign? Assuming we have declared our availability to our Lord, how can we maintain our readiness? History's greatest evangelist and church planter provided a clue in his counsel to a young preacher.
Key Verse:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 3:16 - 4:2 (NKJV)

Paul first declares the authority of the inspires word of God and then instructs young Timothy to preach God's word and to be ready to respond whether or not there was an opportunity (in season, out of season); whatever the need of the moment, to rebuke, teach and encourage, with all patience and sound doctrine. Notice that the task wasn't to find a pulpit opportunity and then figure out what to preach. Also note that Paul didn't tell Timothy to have an opinion poll about the word and suggest applying it, but to be ready and just preach it.

I know what you're thinking. Timothy was called to be a preacher. Most of us are just regular people living everyday lives. Are you sure about that? Listen to something the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians dispersed throughout Asia during the 7th century that still applies today.

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 submit to you that Paul's challenge to young Timothy reveals both a principle for living that cannot fail and a challenge to all believers everywhere for all time. The principle is this: Scripture, God's revealed word to His children, contains everything we need to live and grow individually as Christians, as well as to serves others.

The ultimate example of being ready with God's word has to be Jesus Himself when he was tempted in the wilderness. Three times he was tempted by the devil and three times he replied "It is written……….." The very Son of God, when tempted by the devil, quoted scripture!  Need I say more? The account of Jesus' wilderness temptation can be found in the fourth chapters of Matthew and Luke.
So What?

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

The same Spirit of God that inspired the Bible and gives it life and power is the same Spirit that indwells every believer! A love for God's word goes hand in hand with genuine faith. When we read the Bible with an open heart and sincere desire to hear from God - guess what happens? We hear from God!

Does that mean that when we prayerfully read the Bible we have opened a direct line of communication with our creator? You got it!!!!! Over the years I have discovered that when I begin the day reading God's word, in communication with our Lord, I seem to 'be ready' for just about any challenge that may come my way. I am better prepared on a personal level  - I can be a brighter light and saltier salt. I am also far more likely to step through any doors God opens to share His Gospel.

I would be a liar if I told you I have always been faithful to tried and true principals. If I wanted to discuss the various reasons why I have not been always faithful it could be a very short conversation - SIN. If I am in physical circumstances that don't allow for turning on a light and reading I can still commune with God through prayer. Scripture I have read and memorized somehow fills my mind and invades my heart. I just have to have an open heart. Sin can block communication with God better than an eighteen-car pile-up can stop traffic on the freeway. Trust me on that one.

How can we restore communications?

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)

You might be surprised how quickly our heartfelt confession and God's forgiveness can blow open clogged lines of communication! But then again, maybe you wouldn't be surprised at all because you've 'been there and done that'.

So pause for a moment and perform a 'readiness check'. How good is your communication link? Are you limited to a jammed up 56k analog dial-up connection or do you have a high speed, digital 'always on' broadband hook-up? Are you satisfied or is it time to upgrade?

A few words of encouragement from Psalm 119:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!

              - Verses 1-2

 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

              - Verse 97

 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

              - Verse 103

 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

              - Verse 105
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« Reply #368 on: December 10, 2006, 11:49:07 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-six
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
Professional Development
The Power of Motivation

During a period of United States history known for peace, love, and flower children a particular song hit the top of the charts, and remained there for five weeks in spite of the fact that didn't it fit the pop culture mold of the times.  The song was The Ballad of the Green Berets. While this skinny kid from San Antonio loved the song, becoming one of 'America's best' was not even on the radarscope of human possibility. After the skinny kid enlisted an SF recruiter hit Ft. Polk, Louisiana, one thing led to another and about a year and a half later a skinny kid from Texas became a Special Forces soldier. To say that a high degree of personal motivation was involved in the process might be an understatement. Motivation became a passionate self-determination and that determination to become one of 'America's best' eventually prevailed. The same principles of motivation and self-determination toward success are at work to some degree in the life of anyone who enlists in any branch of military service or pursues a career anywhere in the civilian world. The degree of success a person achieves can be directly related to that person's level of passion for his or her chosen endeavor.

Assuming the above is true for success in one's chosen career or profession, do motivation and passion apply to serving our God as a Christian in a fallen world? If so, how do we receive that passion for Christian service and how can we best put that passion to work?
Key Verse:

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world

cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. At that day you will

know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. "John 14:16-17,20 (NKJV)

Before he was crucified, Jesus promised his disciples that although he would leave them, another would come who would never leave. Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit. A result would be that his followers would know Him because He will dwell inside of them. This Holy Spirit of truth was to print indelibly on their hearts the eternal truth of all that he had taught them! Well, Jesus' words certainly aroused the disciples' curiosity. What did Jesus mean? When was 'that day'?

The disciples were together in a room in Jerusalem when the promised day came:

When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.  And they were filled with the Holy Spirit... Acts 2:1-4a (NKJV).

What a day that must have been! In an instant doubts and fears vanished and Jesus disciples knew. They knew! A street ministry spread throughout Jerusalem as the disciples, led by Peter and John, spread the Gospel with Spirit empowered Holy energy and without fear. That energy and drive did not go unnoticed by the hearers of their preaching.

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)

The same Spirit that filled, motivated and empowered the early disciples is available, undiminished, to every believer - every soldier, sailor, airman, marine - who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Divine motivation and enabling power is not reserved for a select few who are called to be preachers, evangelists, chaplains or some other 'full time ministry'. We have all been called to full time ministry, to be bright lights in a world darkened by sin.

Everyone who enlists in military service does not become a medic. However, it's a basic training requirement for every soldier to learn how to apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding of a wounded comrade. A sterile compress is a required item to be attached to pistol belts and equipment harnesses. Each member of a Special Forces 'A' team might carry an IV bag and knows how to use it. The specially trained medic cannot be everywhere a soldier is wounded or dying on the battlefield. In like manner, we live in a battlefield where souls destined for eternity are at stake and the preacher, evangelist or chaplain cannot be everywhere.
So What?

So how do we become motivated? Here are a couple of examples:

    * A young soldier realizes the need to share the Gospel but wants a real burden from God  - call it divine motivation. He doesn't want to just go through the motions because it needs to be done. He prays, picks up his Bible and reads:

       For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written:

            “As I live, says the Lord,

            Every knee shall bow to Me,

            And every tongue shall confess to God." Romans 14:10b-11 (NKJV)

In his heart and mind he sees people he knows kneeling before the judgment seat    of Christ and acknowledging the King of Kings for who He is before having to turn away to face eternal separation from God because they never made a decision for Christ before they died.

    * A young woman attends a small group fellowship and Bible study at an Army chapel. Someone in the group shares the following scripture passage:

     Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

The young woman becomes excited. "That's it!" she exclaims. The rest wonder what she means. "I lost my weep," she explains. She then applies for some time off  work in order to spend time with God in fasting and prayer in order to renew her burden - to recover her 'weep'.

The similarity is clear. Passionate motivation is essential for success in our careers and effectiveness in God's Kingdom. The difference is the source of the motivation! I suppose that leaves us with a couple of questions:

    * Do you 'know'?
    * Are you motivated?

Ask yourself these two questions. If you have doubts, listen to the words of Paul to the members of the church at Ephesus.

 …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:18b-21 (NKJV)

The word 'be' here means to keep on being continually filled and is not a one-time experience and something merely 'get'. Let God do the 'filling' and divine motivation will follow. Not only might your taste in music change, you will have a burning desire to share what 'you know'. Trust me.
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« Reply #369 on: December 11, 2006, 03:38:45 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-seven
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
Principles for Success
Carrying the 'Right Stuff'

A Special Forces team preparing for a mission calculates the precise amount of explosives necessary to destroy a specified target. The team infiltrates enemy territory to carry out the mission. A mission support site (MSS) is established where at least two team members secure and guard any equipment and materials not essential to the target hit. The team travels by foot under cover of darkness to the target site, where a two-man surveillance team is waiting. The operations sergeant is updated on enemy activity at the target while the other members of the assault team await final instructions. A whisper travels from a team member through several team members to the operations sergeant.

 "I forgot the demo." is the message passed between team members. The exact words whispered in the operations sergeant's ear are a bit more 'flowery' but convey the message. A decision must be made whether to continue the mission with whatever weapons the team carries or to return to the MSS, retrieve the explosives and return another day. There might be a possibility to still inflict damage with small arms, but there is no possibility of accomplishing total destruction of the target required by the mission statement. Regardless of the final outcome, someone forgot the demolitions need for maximum effectiveness!

 Could it actually happen? The above scenario actually played out during a training operation. Good thing it was just training! A similar scenario can and does play out in the lives of Christians who, although knowing Christ as Savior, occasionally 'forget the demo' .
Key Verse:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

In a letter to churches in a region of what is now Turkey, Paul urges Christians there to live there lives empowered by the Holy Spirit rather than returning to the system of rules and regulations that governed their lives before they received salvation through Christ and the precious gift of The Holy Spirit. While rules and regulations have a necessary place in society and are useful for conducting civilized business, God has provided a much better way to live out our Christian faith. If we turn the Holy Spirit loose in our lives, we are no longer bound by a system of a long list of 'thou shalts' and thou 'shalt nots'. This is not to say that there are things we should do and things we should not do, but we need a better way of getting the job done. That's what the Holy Spirit does for us - provides a better way. Some would call this a severe paradigm shift. Read Paul's description of the contrast between life controlled by the flesh and life lived through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like... Galatians 5:19-21a  (NKJV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 (NKJV)

To put it simply, when we march in step with the Spirit of God, the rules and regulations take care of themselves. We're carrying the 'right stuff'. The Holy Spirit doesn't misbehave. We are called to adhere to a standard of Godly behavior and a life of obedience to God's Word, but not by the power of our own strength. Here's the key:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

The same God who provided for our salvation through the death of His beloved Son, fills us with His Holy Spirit and provides the compelling motivation for our behavior that transcends anything that is attempted by human power or strength or will!
So What?

A Christian trying to 'walk the walk' in the strength of human flesh is like that SF team member that 'forgot the demo'. Since even after our rebirth we still have our flawed human nature along with our new nature in Christ, it is not a difficult thing to slip back into lots of rules and regulations. We even have help from well meaning Christians at times.

How can one know who's in charge and running things in the behavior department? One way that has worked for this old guy is to occasionally ask myself, "Self, how's your Christian walk? Are you focused on a list of what's right or wrong behavior, or does it seem to come naturally out of a love for your Lord and desire to please Him? If it seems to come naturally and produces joy in your heart, it's a good sign that you didn't 'forget the demo'.

The principle applies in our personal walk as well as when we are engaged in service and work for the Kingdom. We can go through the motions and check off the stuff on our 'to do' list, or we can let the Holy Spirit drive the train.

Why not take a few moments to check yourself out? How are you doing right now? Are you 'forgetting the demo'? If so, head back to the MSS, 'get the demo', and continue on the mission!

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen". Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV)
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« Reply #370 on: December 12, 2006, 08:43:39 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-eight
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
Mission Survival 
Rally Points

A Special Operations team has been inserted into enemy territory to locate and provide surveillance on suspected enemy missile sites and to assist in bringing in friendly fighter aircraft to destroy those targets.  This team could be U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Marine Force Recon, British SAS, or men from any another country that is part of a Joint Forces operation to defeat the enemy.  Once on the ground, this team must travel anywhere from 10 to 20 kilometers to the surveillance location.  At strategic points along the carefully planned route there are rally points to be used in the event the team is split up or compromised and must regroup to decide whether to continue the mission or request extraction. Multiple rally points are selected during mission planning and each team member commits their locations to memory!

As Christians we already living in enemy territory, surrounded and pressured by an enemy most appropriately described as sin - an enemy that has many faces and is a master of deception.  Along our patrol route through this life, we also need rally points where we can 'regroup' and continue the mission.  Please note that I did not mention requesting  extraction.  Fellow warriors, our is to continue the mission until our Commander in Chief decides it is time to leave our assigned AO (Area of Operation).

Our rally points along the way can be attending a church service, being involved in a Bible study with our comrades, or maybe listening to Christian music that glorifies God.   I am sure you could name other types of 'rally points'.  Each of us engaged in the 'good fight' might even have our personal favorite 'rally points'.  With all the possibilities available as effective rally points, one is especially unique in that it can be available at any time, doesn't require transportation, and doesn't need to be switched on is the Bible; specifically, memorized scripture verses or groups of scripture that have a theme.

Consider for a moment an 'enemy ambush' that might have me doubting my very salvation! It happens.  When the attack comes, if I have committed the following scripture to memory, I can use them as a rallying point to prevent injury to my faith and drive away the enemy.
Key Verse:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. John 10:27-29 (NIV)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39 (NIV)

We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:9-12 (NIV)

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.1 John 5:13 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pet 1:3-5 (NIV)

The above verses are actually the assurance of salvation verses from a Christian Military Fellowship DTO (Discipleship Training Objective).  CMF DTO's are excellent lessons for Christian growth and can be found at the CMF Web site (www.cmf.com).  The first time I memorized them I actually typed them on paper using small enough typeface to be able to cut the verses into strips and tape them to 3x5 cards.  I was technologically deprived at the time but it was well worth the labor!

Just committing scripture verses and groups of scripture with a central theme is powerful enough in itself, but we have a significant bonus here.  That bonus is the indwelling Holy Spirit that lives inside of each and every Christian.  God wrote the book! His Holy Spirit inspired the authors long ago and at the same time that self-same Holy Spirit works inside us today to lock the truth in our hearts!  When the truth of God's word is locked in our hearts, the enemy can be driven away!
So What?

If this sounds like a simple principle, it just might be.  What is not so simple is the scripture memorization part.  It's easier to head to some 'rally point' to hear someone else preach an uplifting sermon, participate in a small group bible study or turn on a radio or CD player and listen to Christian music.  So let me ask a couple of questions. How often is it possible to attend a church service?  When and where are the Bible studies you can plug into? Do you always have access to radio, tape or CD player?  Is there a Christian radio station where you are right now living?  Consider the answers to these questions then consider this fact:

"No matter where you go, there you are!"

 I heard that one the first time over thirty years ago. It was a favorite expression of an SF team sergeant from my past.  I have heard it many times through the years from several sources.  If you think about it, it's true! You will always be right where you are! If you have God's precious word locked in your mind in your and heart, you will always have a 'rally point' when the enemy attacks and a weapon to defeat the enemy!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV)

Scripture memorization is invaluable as a tool for personal growth as well as a vital ingredient for effectively sharing the Gospel with our friends and colleagues.  My challenge to you, the reader, is to undertake a systematic scripture memory program, if scripture memorization is not already part of your Christian growth.  Whether you learn single verses to apply in certain circumstances or groups of verses around a central theme, the results will be awesome!
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« Reply #371 on: December 13, 2006, 03:10:06 PM »

Special Forces:  Day Thirty-nine
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
The Combat Operations Order 
The Commander's Intent

US Army Field Manual 100-5, 14 June 1993, states that:

The commander's intent describes the desired end state. It is a concise expression of the purpose of the operation and must be understood two echelons below the issuing commander . . . It is the single unifying focus for all subordinate elements. It is not a summary of the concept of the operation. Its purpose is to focus subordinates on the desired end state. Its utility is to focus subordinates on what has to be accomplished in order to achieve success . . .and to discipline their efforts toward that end.

I remember at least one former SF commander that included the commander's intent as a mandatory short paragraph in combat operations orders. Not only did its inclusion provide us a snapshot of our commander's overall intent, it provided a purpose for combat excellence above and beyond the simple destruction of a bridge, power plant or capture some enemy VIP.  We weren't just hitting a target; we were serving our commander and his goals!
Key Verse:

"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21(NKJV)

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. " John 3:16 (NKJV)

"For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” Luke 9:5 (NKJV)

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 (NKJV)

So what are God's goals? What is God's desired 'end state?'  The first thing that comes to mind is an eternal home in heaven. When we know Jesus as Savior and Lord, an eternity in God's presence certainly is the final end state for us mortals. There's a distinct difference however, between the commander's intent described in FM 100-5 and God's plan. No amount of soldierly discipline and effort can secure the eternal objective!  Sin has so corrupted God's original creation that we don't even have it in our human nature to seek Him on our own!

 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44 (NKJV)

 But wait. There's more to this than just making it to the pearly gates. Jesus died so that we might live in His abundance in the here and now!  We're not talking about lots of money, fancy cars or big houses - don't get me wrong. He died so that we might live lives free from the sin that so easily tempts us and to which we so easily succumb in our flawed human nature. And that's not all. He wants to work through us while we're still walking around on this old earth. He wants to show Himself through us to everyone around us! We are to discipline our efforts with a new focus - to let Him shine through us instead of running after all the 'stuff'.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)
So What?

Friend, how are you doing with the Commander's intent? Are you certain that your name will be called at the great manifest call around God's throne on the last day? If there is any doubt, I invite you to receive Jesus Christ as the sole remedy for all sin for all time. If you've checked the manifest and know you're on the list, take a few minutes to check your focus. Are you seeking Him first and letting Him meet your needs according to His abundance or are you chasing the 'things'? Sometimes we just need to recalibrate our spiritual eyeballs. The calibration tool has three parts - prayer, the word, and fellowship. These are moving parts, mind you, and God provides the critical movement! His Holy Spirit moves when we pray, read His word, and fellowship with other believers. Let these words of the Apostle Paul be an encouragement to you today:

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light  (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10 (NKJV)

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
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« Reply #372 on: December 14, 2006, 11:40:11 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Forty
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
Positive Principles 
Remembering our Roots
I'll never forget the day, when after having completed the rigorous year long training program, I finally won the coveted Green Beret! Talk about a sense of pride and accomplishment! Then I was assigned to a real SF unit and became the 'baby' on an SF  'A' Detachment. It didn't take long to realize that the real work had just begun. There was a career ahead of me filled with more schools, more training, more sweat and more pain. Looking back from the present with my 20/20 hindsight I am not at all certain which was the greater challenge - two years of intense training to make the cut; or the dedication and effort it took to remain 'in the game' for the next 25 years. So what's my point? The point is simply that it took a lot of hard work - work to make the cut and work to stay in the game
What a huge difference between the world of Special Operations Forces and the Kingdom of God!
Key Verse:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:12 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24 (NKJV)

John, one of the original members of the Lord's 12-man 'A' Team, records that all it took to make the cut and join the family of God was to 'believe in His name' - to believe that Jesus was God in human form and sent from God to be light in a world of darkness, the Light for all men for all time. (Dan's paraphrase of the previous eleven verses).

The Apostle Paul, in a letter written to a church he had established some 40 years earlier, thought it important to emphasize that salvation was solely an act of the grace of God and had nothing to do with any works. It is so easy to slip into a mindset that somehow we 'did' something, even if that was making a decision to follow Christ. I confess that I thought my great decision to finally give up and let God run things was something I accomplished. God even let me get away with it for a while! Then He brought me following scripture and straightened things out for me!

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him;" John 6:44a (NKJV)

It was even an act of God's Holy Spirit that brought me to Him!

Finally, Jesus Himself summarized it rather nicely by stating that our belief in Him results in having everlasting life in the present. As believers, our eternal life is now! And to remove any doubt whatsoever, Jesus said specifically that we would not come under judgment at some time in the future! Lost in our sinful state we were dead spiritually. Not just sick mind you - we were DEAD! Our new lives began at the moment of our belief in the Savior!
So What?

It's 42 years later than that long ago graduation day and half a dozen years since I retired from the Army. Stories of tough rigorous training and the exploits that followed are many, shared by comrades at annual reunions and picnics. I don't know about you, but I find such times of reflection somehow special. Of course it's not good to live in the past, but a quick glance in life's review mirror or occasionally sharing the 'good old days' with friends can usher in pleasant thoughts and memories.

It's the same with our spiritual walk. In fact it might be more important to pause now and again on our journey and remind ourselves that it was the blood of Jesus and God calling us to Himself that brought us into eternal life. We NEVER could have been 'good enough' to make the cut. Not only that, but it is God's wonderful grace that keeps us 'in the game'.

Does that mean our lives don't change; that it will be 'situation normal'? Certainly not! Listen to the Apostle Paul:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)

 Stay tuned, my friend...
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« Reply #373 on: December 14, 2006, 11:40:59 AM »

Special Forces:  Day Forty-One
Intermediate Training: Unit Three
Positive Principles 
Power to Obey

As of this date I am in Kirkush, Iraq serving as one of about twenty drill sergeants for the New Iraqi Army (NIA) training program.  Without going into great detail, I must confess that I am beginning to think that nothing short of a miracle will instill a spirit of willing obedience into the hearts of our trainees.  The trainees here with prior experience in the old Iraqi Army have even informed us that obedience is just not in the nature of the average young Iraqi male.

In all honesty, there is no difference between the men here in Kirkush, Iraq and basic trainees in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter).  Obedience to authority is not a character trait inherent to human nature.  By nature we seem to be all about pleasing ourselves.  All that 'self-actualization' stuff is just a flimsy cover for that innate selfishness.  Obedience to anything outside of our 'self' is a learned trait. If you don't believe it just observe the growth of an infant for the first year or two!

Well, if we have a hard time obeying those in authority whom we can see, how then can we, as Christians, truly live a life of obedience to God, whom we can only see with eyes of 'faith'?
Key Verse:

 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 (NKJV)

The setting is the Upper Room in Jerusalem just prior to Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has told His disciples he had been hanging out 'with' them but soon would return to 'be in' them! That must have thrown a little sand in the old brain housing group! Later, during a post resurrection appearance, Jesus reminded them of something wonderful to come in the near future.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 4:4,5, (NKJV)

On both occasions, Jesus was speaking of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit - an 'outpouring' that would result in an 'indwelling'. It is that indwelling of God's Spirit that more than makes up for our natural rebellion against anything that would dare invade the kingdom of 'self'. The Apostle Paul summarized really well when he told a young church at Philippi:

"for it is God who works in you both to will (desire) and to act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
So What?

As a Christian in whom God has chosen to dwell by His very own Spirit, I have no excuse for willful disobedience to His desire and pattern for my life. There is absolutely no way I can deny it, rationalize it, or disguise it. Disobedience is disobedience. Sin is sin.  The tendency to treat the matter of sin lightly is not new. Hear what Paul had to say to the early church at Rome:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)

If, after dying and being planted in the local cemetery, God miraculously brought you back to life, would you jump back in the hole? Of course not! Don't have to stray to far into the logic zone on that one, do we?

Our loving God has given us both power and strength sufficient to keep us from jumping back into the hole - His very Spirit! All we have to do is follow the desire of our new nature in Him!
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