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Soldiers fight. That is what soldiers do.
Yes, they do other things. Soldiers feel the same things that non soldiers feel, think things that non-soldiers think, and want some of the same things that non-soldiers want, but in a major part of life, they are very different. Soldiers fight.
The soldier fights when others are at rest. He has a different schedule than the non-soldier. When he does rest, he doesn’t forget that there is a battle, and always feels that he himself is ready to respond at any moment. He is always ready. He may not be fighting, but he is never out of the fight. He must not resent the non-soldier’s abundance of free time. The soldier is a soldier by choice. His life is different by design and purpose.
The soldier fights because he understands what is at stake. Others may not understand the enemy, the battle, or risk, but the soldier understands that there is much at risk. Others may mock the idea of there being a battle or an enemy. Non-soldiers may imagine that soldiers exaggerate the facts, and embellish the reports. The non-soldier may imagine that the soldier is in the fight only for the glory. The non-soldier cannot relate to the intensity of the soldier’s mind and heart, for he doesn’t understand the battle. The soldier does, however, understand the non-soldier, for the soldier used to be passive, indifferent, and distracted, just like the non-soldier, until the reality of the fight was revealed to him. Then he raised his hand, committed his heart, and changed his lifestyle.
The soldier understands that he belongs to something much bigger than himself. He is not his own. He doesn’t make his own decisions. He doesn’t plan his own life. He listens for the voice of his Superior, and he responds accordingly.
The soldier cannot allow himself to be discouraged by those that analyze and make comments about the battle, but do not fight. The soldier knows that he is not fully understood except by those that fight with him, and share the same struggles. It is among fellow soldiers that he finds most of his best comradery. The analysts and pundits pontificate, while the soldier does the work. He sometimes resents the so-called experts that criticize from the safety of their well-furnished vantage points. He has justifiable anger at those who second guess his best efforts, but have never faced the enemy. Yet in all of this, the soldier fights for the pundit and for the analyst. He shakes his head from time to time at their naivety and arrogance, but then gets back into the battle.
The soldier sometimes wants to quit. He remembers past failures, and how those failures allowed others to be hurt, or prevented victories. He has heard the call to charge, but hesitated. He knows true fear, and at times reverts back into his instinct of self-preservation. He also fears making a mistake that will allow others to be hurt, yet he cannot allow himself to be paralyzed by fear, for the enemy keeps coming. The soldier must fight forward, regardless of his fear for himself or for others.
The soldier must be careful about his evaluation of his comrades. He understands their frailties, for he shares them, and has felt them. He may feel critical of his comrades at times. They may seem to lack intensity, focus, and dedication, but except for rare occasions, the soldier realizes that he has walked in those boots, and his criticism fades.
The soldier lives for the cause though others minimize the cause. The soldier fights for others who cannot or will not fight for themselves. The soldier hopes for the best for others, while often times, others only hope for themselves.
The soldier continues on though few thank him, shake his hand, or consider his sacrifices.
In all of this, the soldier realizes that he cannot be anything other than a soldier. It is who and what he is. He cannot do anything else, though at times he may want to. He is what he is.
He is a soldier. God has made him one.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3, 4)
From what I have seen, a great need among us humans is the need to be accepted. Translate that loved, valued, understood, noticed, heard, appreciated, etc. For now, let’s use the word accepted.
For many years of my life, I struggled desperately with wanting to be accepted. I wanted to be able to accept myself, and I wanted others to accept me. I was extremely unhappy with myself, and quite self condemning. It was crippling, it held me back, and at times, it felt consuming. I suppose that I am still predisposed to this sentiment, though God has done an incredible work in me.
I have noticed from my life, and from the lives of others, that the person who is desperate to be accepted will do “whatever it takes” to be accepted. They will commit crimes, they will give themselves away to others in damaging relationships, they will demean others in order to gain approval, they will anesthetize themselves; the list goes on. Some will even demand that you accept them no matter what they do, and will continue to push the boundaries to make you prove that you accept them. Read more »
My friend Roby Duke (now with Jesus) once said this to a group of song writers: “Your inspiration is perfect, but your songwriting needs work”.
We can be wonderfully inspired to express ourselves, but not quite have the ability, time, or energy to rightly say what we are trying to say. Perhaps the inspiration is fighting against good common sense that would tell us to slow down and think it through. Now is such a moment for me. The inspiration is perfect. I am rushing ahead. I hope this comes out O.K.
QUESTION: “It is easy to live vicariously through others, but is that really living?”
Let’s start with one of many definitions for the word “vicarious”.
“Felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of others”: a vicarious thrill.
There is a place for such experience in moderation, but our world is making it increasingly easy for people to feel emotions that don’t have any corresponding personal experience.
We can dial up, Google, Net Flix, read, browse, or Pay Per View our way to any emotion we want, without ever having to actually “do” something that requires dedication, effort, commitment, or faith.
If there was ever a generation that could become addicted to “feeling without doing”, that generation is now.
One might ask what the danger or problem is with living vicariously through the great accomplishments of others. Some of that might be O.K., in that it might inspire us to aspire to do great things. Plus, it certainly feels good to feel good. So what’s the problem?
The problem is this: That kind of living, if it becomes the habitual lifestyle of a person, does nothing to produce in them the quality traits needed to actually enjoy those emotions from first hand accomplishment.
I understand that some of the things that “thrill” us are only for a few to actually experience. We can’t all go out and win gold medals, climb Mt. Everest, or do world tours singing about changing the world.
But I wonder, if vicarious living comes to satisfy us to the point that we don’t pursue what we COULD BE DOING, then has it gone too far? I say “yes”: then it has gone to far.
So….what is it that you are actually supposed to be doing?
I submit to you that actually desiring, struggling, sacrificing, and dedicating one’s self on a personal level is far more important than taking the vicarious route of simply feeling the goose bumps from someone else’s accomplishment. The satisfaction that comes from personal accomplishment is much more valuable than enjoying someone else’s “bigger than life” accomplishment.
Finally, if you are a follower of Jesus, then He wants to live through you. Your part is to surrender, seek His will, believe His promises, walk in holiness by His power, and take small and big steps of faith in responding to what He wants to do through you.
That process has been the most satisfying part of my life, whenever I have actually gotten out of the way long enough for it to happen. The small victories of having my life so bound up in His life have been the most satisfying experiences of my life. My experiences may not compare to some of the great accomplishments of others, but they don’t need to. They are my experiences with God, and I can have first hand satisfaction from them.
Rich Mullins said it well: “Jesus, write me into Your story…whisper it to me.”
Filed under: Decision Making
, Dying To Self
, Fellowship With God
, God's Will
, Good Intentions
, Spirit Filled Life
(Editor’s note) I’ll be writing on this topic for a while. This will be the first of a few articles.
I may make a few enemies by sharing my thoughts on what many are calling “sexual addictions”. It is a very difficult subject to address for many reasons. A lot of shame is connected with the topic of sexual sin, and men are very reluctant to bring up the topic. Wives aren’t thrilled about it either. A great degree of “disgust” is associated with this sin. I certainly don’t mean to talk down to anyone, be unsympathetic, or unloving, but I am concerned about the mindset of many Christians regarding what is being called “sexual addiction”.
Also, some may think me too simplistic in my approach, and that I don’t understand the complexities of those who struggle with sexual sin. I do not claim to know of every psychological viewpoint concerning this issue, or of every emotional profile described by the “experts”. I do however, know and believe what the Bible says about it. I trust that God can and will work out the “complexities” in every heart that will surrender to Him.
The descriptions many Christians use concerns me. I am hearing the phrases “sexual addiction”, or, “addicted to porn” used very often. I am still trying to understand why these terms are being used. Read more »
For the purposes of this article, let’s use the following definitions. (www.dictionary.com)
Panic (noun)- a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.
Panic (verb)- to affect with panic; terrify and cause to flee or lose self-control.
There is much in the world today that causes Christians great concern. It seems that some Christians are losing their peace, their joy, and their spiritual health. Circumstances are causing some Christians great worry.
Read more »
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God dried up the Jordan for them, and they crossed over on dry land.
God then told them to set up Memorial Stones in Gilgal, so that when their children asked about those stones, they would tell their story of God’s faithfulness to them.
I want to share some of my story regarding my experiences in Mexico. Some of you have heard this a few times. If that is the case, skip forward to the latest photo album, courtesy of Pastor Sam Scotti, of Genesis in Upland. Sam has posted images of our latest Leadership Conference. Thanks Sam.
The images are under the “Vizcaino Conference 2008″ folder and if you double click on the photos they will enlarge.
I was on staff at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa from 1989-1991. During that time, I was singing in a band called The Mirrors. The Iron Curtain fell, and Eastern Europe opened up to the West. We traveled with Brian Broderson (then pastor of CC Vista, CA) to Yugoslavia and Hungary, and sang and shared about Jesus. Lots of young people got saved, and churches were birthed. Read more »
Pray for this Easter season, for those who will join us in our churches, and for those who need to be with us.
“It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men.
The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance.
From start to finish, it is war. From the hour in which he first draws sword, to that in which he doffs his harness, the Christian warrior is compelled to “endure hardness like a good soldier.”
E.M. Bounds- The Necessity Of Prayer
“I don’t have a life like other people”.
(Regarding the Apostle Paul and his suffering:)
“Humility comes from being in God’s presence”.
“Believing was more important than living”.
(Re. the apostles and the dangers in their lives)
“It takes a crucified man to preach a crucified Christ”.
“What you are is ultimately what you will preach”.
(Editor’s note)- For more Blessed One Liners, check the archives for December 10 & 11, 2007.
Don McClure’s teachings can be purchased through his we site: http://www.calvaryway.com/index.html
Daniel Fusco’s teachings can be heard at http://www.reasontorejoice.org/
Can you dig it? That is a very “old school” phrase that people used back in the ’60’s and ’70’s. I don’t know about that personally. I read about it in a modern American history book.
Actually, I did live during that time, but I never used that phrase. I never thought it sounded as cool as everyone thought it did.
In 2 Kings, God told some people to “dig it”.
2 Kings 3:15, 16 (Elisha said)…But now bring me a musician.” Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him. 16And he said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Make this valley full of ditches.’
Take a few minutes and read that great account found in 2 Kings 3, then come back and read this article.
You can find 2 Kings 3 here:
God did an amazing work for those people that day.
He not only brought them water, but He encouraged them emotionally and spiritually through this miracle, and then used the miracle to fool their enemies into defeat.
God did His part, but only after the people did their part. They could have come up with many reasons to not dig those ditches.
1. They were extremely tired and thirsty, and didn’t have the energy.
2. They were going into battle the next day, and needed to save their strength.
3. It didn’t make sense to dig ditches. Why couldn’t God just “make it better”?
4. It wasn’t part of their plan, and that wasn’t what they were there for.
But, they obeyed, and were blessed according to their act of faith.
Small trenches would have brought a small blessing. Larger trenches brought greater blessings. God blessed them way beyond their expectations.
All they did was dig holes. Not too glamorous or impressive. But God blessed their acts of obedience.
What are the very real needs in your life? What are the trenches that God is asking you to dig? Prayer? Forgiveness? Having a quiet heart? Reading God’s Word? What reasons might you be giving for not doing your part?
Many times, we believe we have legitimate reasons for not obeying God. Imagine how it would have turned out for these people if they refused to follow God’s instructions.
I’d love to hear from some of you about the trenches that you have dug, and how God has filled you with His blessings.
There is a lot of reaping and sowing that goes on in life, and this was definitely a year of joyful reaping.
This summer our two oldest children got married to their best friends. Sarah married her long time friend Caleb, and Chris married Melissa. We are so pleased with the choices of spouses our children have made. They love the Lord, and we are so blessed to have them as our children.
Debbie and I have been married almost 26 years, and a lot of sowing has been done. We have done what we could to raise our children to follow Jesus. We guarded them through childhood, prayed for them through adolescence, and watched them enter into adulthood and then marriage.
As the farmer plows the field, sows the seed, and cares for it, so we have made this journey with our children. We certainly made mistakes along the way, and undoubtedly could have done some things better. Yet, by God’s grace, we did not quit. We continued to entrust our children into the hands of God, and He has done this wonderful work in them.
We endured the plowing, sowing, and watering. We have been privileged to see the harvest of spiritual fruit that has come forth. Looking back over almost 26 years, this is a moment for us to enjoy, and be thankful for.
Debbie and I both know that it was and is God that brings these things to pass. Some parents put forth that same effort, and have yet to see the blessings. Some parents put forth no spiritual effort, and God still reaches into those children’s lives, and does something incredible.
The point that I wish to make is this: I am happy that we never quit hoping and praying for our kids. We have lived to see the blessings.
Not quitting is a great thing. Persevering is a great thing. Some blessings will come only by not quitting.
I am fully aware that none of these present blessings were ever “guaranteed” to us, but we are surely enjoying this wonderful season of God’s grace in our lives.