Soldier

No no no. Not a soldier defending a country.
A soldier standing for Christ.

There inevitably comes the conversation about being a Gospel Soldier. The legalist will say we have to advance on enemy position by opening our mouths and pointing out faults, sins, and unrighteousness. Others will use that famous quote “Preach the Gospel at all times, and use words when necessary.”

I think a more appropriate picture of a Soldier for Christ is one that

  1. Stands in the face of opposition
  2. Fights their own Flesh
  3. Considers others more than themselves

These are pretty self explanatory and I won’t get too much into depth.

Side note: I love what my Pastor Luke shared today – to preach the gospel through both deeds and words at all times (Paraphrase)

A Soldier Stands

Matthew 5:38-39 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. http://esv.to/Matt5.38-39

I heard a pastor say from the pulpit, when they hear God’s name said in vain publicly, he would call that person out. Righteous indignation. I get it. A radio pastor, whom I admire, shared he cringes and is saddened, but never mentioned a public chastising of said individual. Righteous sorrow.

Me? I do fall into the pattern of righteous indignation. I get cranky about someone falling out of righteous lines. But we are never called to personally attack. For those who don’t know Christ, pray for them, love them and reason with them. Your fight is not with them. It truly is (as Ephesians 6 points out) against the powers of darkness in this world.

Exercising righteous indignation more often than not just feeds the flesh (under a cloak of Spiritual character) while righteous sorrow feels the wounds Jesus feels when His creation behaves offensively towards him.

A Soldier Fights their own Flesh

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. http://esv.to/1Cor9.24-27

There is a battle between the flesh and the Spirit going on inside of us and the flesh isn’t going to go down quietly. Anyone who has walked this Christian walk for a number of years can attest to this. If you feed the flesh, you will feed its desires, its lusts, its depravity – and like uncaged tiger its hard to wrangle and corner. But if we starve it, feeding Spirit, we will have more success here.

I live in the (post-Christian) United States of America. Just walking to the checkout counter of a grocery store, I am challenged with things that scream “Look at me! Feed your flesh!” I kinda chuckle at this serious deal because it is soooo prevalent, but how many times have I seen on a magazine cover: “blah blah sex …” or some young starlet showing us what a deep plunging V-line looks like on a glossy mag cover.

– Men want that hanging on their arm
– Gals want to be that

Different challenge. Same source.

➡️The Legalist says sternly: “obedience. Ifyou’re a Christian you will resist. Every time, just like me, Mr. legalist”
➡️The Free Grace crowd says: It’s okay if you drink it in occasionally. Jesus Died for you so you are free.

Both as absolutes are wrong.

❗️Dear Legalist – you ain’t perfect. Put down your pride and think rightly about yourself.
❗️Dear Freeper: God hates your sin. You better check your heart, that you’ve bowed yourself to the King. He’s coming back and he will take an accounting of all deeds

➡️The realist says: its a daily battle. I could fall at anytime but by the grace of God.

The point I’m making is, the real battle is spiritual forces outside ourselves, and the flesh within ourselves. Not other people. We cannot argue someone into accepting a message. And check your pride. You’re still a stinkin’ sinner.

Soldiers Consider others before themselves

Philippians 2:3-4 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. http://esv.to/Phil2.3-4

This passage continues

Philippians 2:5-85 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. http://esv.to/Phil2.5-8

I don’t know how many times I heard the equivalent of “Hang with the sprinters because they’re going somewhere, moving forward.” Sometimes when you’re forging new paths ahead its easy to forget what or who is behind you. With deference and consideration we must be a part of the whole, not just some stellar clique that “appears” to have it together.

Jesus looked at our helpless state, leaving behind the comfort, glory and honor of eternal dwellings to incur the abuse and filth of this world.

It is easy to look down our nose at someone who we think is struggling, or not following “the Plan” as we envision. God puts us all together as a body for a reason. When one part is sick, the whole is sick.

Paul reminds us to bear each other’s burdens. :

Galatians 6:1-5 1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. http://esv.to/Gal6.1-5/blockquote>

So let us be a good soldier and love each other deeply from the heart, binding up wounds. We are advancing on the gates of Hell through self-sacrifice and dying to ourselves. (Paraphrase TwitterID @lukedsimmons)

God’s Sovereignty: I Love it; I Resist it; I Love it

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (‭James‬ ‭4‬:‭13-17‬ ESV)

I have a great many thoughts I would like to “pen”, but not much time to engage the keyboard to get them into my blog. But on this 4th of July 2014, I actually have a free morning, so here I am. What rattles through my mind at times is my lot in life: what God has portioned to me. If I believe all things are gifts from the Almighty, then they are gifts from the Father of Lights above in whom there is no shifting shadow. (James 1:17 … go look it up 😉). I affirm all this and am grateful to God for what I have.

I Love the Sovereingty of God

I look upon my life with general gratitude and contentment. I have a home, a family, and frankly (despite the strain and long hours right now) a great job for what has shaped up to be a great company. I believe they are all gifts from God. Without his provision I would have none of this. Bluntly, I realize I deserve Hell. But He sovereignly determined before the beginning of time to rescue my soul from His wrath through the blood of Jesus. Check this out …Paul is quoting Exodus 33:19 God telling this to Moses.

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (‭Romans‬ ‭9‬:‭15‬ ESV)

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭29-30‬ ESV)

I am a blessed man:

  • God chose me to live in the United States of America – which is still the “free-est” nation on Earth – despite tyrranical rumblings from the top of our Government (all three branches, but I won’t get started here)
  • I have vehicles that are relatively reliable, and even my luxury “Harley Davidson motorcycle” to which I am eternally grateful to my buddy “Chizzle my Nizzle” for introducing me to riding.
  • A home
  • A family
  • A great church to hear from his Word
  • and again a good job

Blessed. All these AND more, I freely acknowledge are from God, by His sovereign choice to provide these to me.

I Resist the Sovereignty of God

Man, can I grumble. And complain.

  • “God! I don’t have enough of such and such.”
  • “God! Why did you give me this and not that!?”

I’m being dramatic in these statements, demonstrating what can happen in my mind as emotions, feelings and thoughts bubble up from my heart. (Oh, dear Reader, don’t judge me or look down on what I am sharing. You have the same problem as I. I am not fooled.) I do not let these thoughts escape my lips (in public or private) and I don’t attach God’s name directly to each thought, but each moment of discontent is me accusing God of not doing good by me or giving me what I think I deserve. (x-ref “deserving Hell” above.) The number of “change notices” my heart generates can be innumerable. Why didn’t I choose differently here? Why didn’t I act differently there? Why can’t I have such and such? Despite all my good, bad, and gambling choices, I am where God has deemed me to be. Yes, there are parts I struggle against. Ugh. This is where my sinful flesh can resist the sovereignty of God.

I Love the Sovereingty of God

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭24-25‬ ESV)

Despite my back and forth between gratitude and grumbling, in an eternal view, I ultimately settle on the fact God knows exactly what I need. My life, and this Earth, are ultiamtely fading away (‭1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭24-25) – my life faster than the Earth’s. When the fleeting thought of discontent crosses my synapses, I follow-up with thinking how me getting what I want (or think I deserve) could be a bad thing. One simple thing I can easily share is my current city of residence. I was living in California, from California, intent to stay in California. God had other plans: Arizona – away from all I had ever known. He created the conditions to make California turn South on me, and Arizona was the first to offer me a job that was a fit for my skills. The rest fell into place after that. Here I am on this side of the adventure (in a great house, with a great job, in a great community,) and I find my heart wandering back to California – only for the friends and family. In those moments I resist longing for what “could have been” or “could be” because I easily see the other side of the coin. If God were to give me that desire – as if I were spurning what I have right now – I would be in a position that I’d be living paycheck-to-paycheck, low-to-no savings, high debt and high rent, probably in a job that I was underprepared for and struggling, as well as having a disintegrating family life. Because of God’s Sovereignty, He guided me to avoid a bullet to the heart of my life, and He planted me in a place to strengthen my stance and thrive. He has given me what I need, because what I want would probably be detrimental. Not every grumble or complaint is easy to discern the other side of the coin, but God guides us in Philippians 2 to “do all thing without grumbling or complaining.” I love this passage:

do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭6-7‬ ESV)

God knows best, and I know he has protected me from myself. His grace is amazing. That is why I Love God’s Sovereignty.