2 Eureka effects!
I was listening to one of the classes we had in Bible School in USA about “Spiritual Growth” where I had my “first eureka effect” what spiritual growth is about:
. Forming beliefs.
. Strengthen what we believe.
. Encourage / stimulate/charge to take action about what we believe.
. And looking for abandonment (retreat, walk away) of beliefs.
Our teacher used Paul’s missionary trips to show us this pattern.
If you study Paul`s life as a believer in Christ then it is exactly what he did in his ministry—to form belief everywhere he went.
When Paul came back later to the people who became Christians through his testimony, he went on to strengthen the belief and encourage the brothers and sisters to activate what they believed.
Also, if you look more carefully, you see, that Paul was looking for abandonments of the faith among the believers.
Actually Paul was looking for believers who dropped their mask, showing their departure from the faith, signaling they were retreating because of frustrations, lost hope and no biblical perspective.
This is why spiritual, biblical formation and growth is so important.
This why we should never loose the real perspective, with passion, of the Great Commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-20, Acts 1:8).
Hey, I knew all that, but it never really sank into my heart until that moment and I know why it made “blink” in my heart or I felt this “first eureka—the now I know why or I see now”.
Well, because of some very disturbing issues which I observed (not intentionally) in churches and among believers where they biblical doctrines are abandoned (actually the word doctrine is a taboo today among many Christians and churches),
structure in church or cell group, the Word of God (Bible) and even abandoning the faith because Christianity doesn’t seem to work or it is too messy, too frustrating.
Please don´t misunderstand me, I was not looking for these issues to finally have a case against the church and believers to hammer on.
No, these observable issues were thrown into my face like Jeremiah when God told him “What do you see (observe)” among my people Israel.
And Jeremiah had to be honest in front of God about the behavior of Israel which was bad behavior and at some point very ungodly.
Then, as I was continuing to listen to this teaching, realizing, (my “second eureka effect”), that what Paul did was exactly what I went through in my 7 years of military service, in the famous French Canadian Royal 22 Regiment (infantry).
“What does military have to do
with spiritual growth?”
Well, I am happy you asked and let me explain!
I want you first to know…
...that I am still a soldier at heart, I love military movies, I love to use military illustrations to make a biblical points and I honor soldiers who went to war for an honorable purpose and not for vicious gain.
I must admit that I have problems with people who despise or give all the time bad critics about wars and soldiers, thinking they are peace makers “It´s only about peace brother, peace sister”.
For these kind of people I might seem a war sympathizer because I love to use war illustrations for spiritual truth in the bible.
I would love to expand on this and recommend some books and movies for you about soldiers and why wars are sometimes a must do diligence (duty) but I will not because it is not the purpose of this teaching and would cause rabbit trail debates.
My aim in this teaching is to use what is in my heart to communicate in the best possible way, biblical truth.
If you have an open heart, the following illustrations will help you understand the biblical pattern or structure which Paul used in his ministry in minor Asia.
So, you have been informed of my intend and I hope you receive it with an open heart!
In the military…!
You do not become a real soldier and surely not a professional soldier in one day or a week or after you saw “Rambo”.
“No way José”
This is not how it works!
To become a real soldier you need training first “Boot camp” and lots of it, because your life, the life of your brothers (and sisters) in arms, the mission and the aim of the war depends on it.
Also this is not ending there, you need to train on a regular basis as trained and professional soldiers.
This is all helping you to be ready for action, stand your ground and never to retreat, except for a strategic retreat which is another story.
“Again, what does this have to do with spiritual growth?”
Okay, okay, I will answer your question now, but please read the following carefully if you really want to know what the military has to do with spiritual growth!
Actually, as you read this, I want you to try to connect this with biblical perception.
First - I had to be formed through a basic training (boot camp) being connected to - Forming beliefs.
I had to become a soldier through hard and long basic training which formed me to be a professional soldier with the belief (confidence, assurance) that I will do well when the time comes for me to go in action, into battle.
Second - when basic training was accomplished (graduated with honor) I received special training/qualifications and we all went to maneuvers every year for the purpose of staying in shape in case we were called for action, meaning I was strengthened in what I learned (formed) in basic training and learned new stuff.
I was being qualified to become a better soldier where it is connecting with - strengthened in what we believe.
Remark, that to be strengthened also reminded me (us) who I was and what I had to do as a soldier.
Third - in 1990 when the war broke out in Kuwait, I did not really want to go because, yes, “War is ugly and the enemy in front of you is also a professional soldier with a gun!” but I was ready to jump over this feeling and face the enemy because we were constantly affirmed about who we were and what we could do being now connected with -Encourage/stimulate/charge to take action about what we believe.
To be stimulated, to be affirmed and to be constantly encouraged really helped me to remind me of who I am, what I can do and what I must do in this or that situation.
I remember one particular part in the WWII movie series “The band of Brothers” when a soldier by the name Albert Blithe was suddenly overwhelmed, frozen by fear in his foxhole (Personal trench) by the furious German attack on their position, meaning he was unable to shoot, then Lieutenant Ronald C. Speirs saw this from behind, came to help and lift up the soldier in Blithe.
He picked him up gently from the bottom of his foxhole to stand straight up wich encouraged and stimulated him to start shooting because he was a professionally trained soldier, and guess what happened, the encouragements and his training kicked in and he started to take action with the Lieutenant who was on his side shooting, providing even more encouragement and telling him how great he was doing.
Wow, even now I am personally overwhelmed with emotion, remembering this true event in WWII being an act of courage and duty which only a soldier can understand and feel.
Fourth - some medal seekers in my regiment really wanted to go fight in the Gulf war of 1990 to 1991, evidently without their brains and false imagination, how war really was. I had a good idea how ugly war was because of my uncle.
I knew some facts because of my uncle Ted Rogers went through WWII, being shot 4 times.
He told me that the is enemy was real, dangerous, but the most serious threat to you is the soldier on your left and on your right, who decide to retreat or abandon their post because of the fury of war, the bullets flying all around them and the fear of death becoming a reality in their brain.
My uncle was telling two things:
1. Never to retreat except if the commander says so!
2. Watch out for those who will retreat or those who abandon their post, meaning watch for
abandonments which is connecting with - looking for abandonment of beliefs.
Just a little side note about those medal soldiers in my regiment and me.
I told these super soldiers that I was not keen to go fight because of the reality of war which my uncle told me about.
But if I had to go, I would go fight in the Gulf war and at the same time, I would look for two things:
1. The enemy.
2. Fearful or madness retreat or signs of abandonment, meaning that if one of them retreated because of
fear or else, they would become my enemy, too.
Look, I am a nice guy but when pushed to the wall I become Mister Hyde.
Nevertheless I am getting better since I am a believer in Christ.
Now I watch for abandonments in the belief for the purpose of helping believers (which is the blog all about) getting back into the Word of God instead of abandoning the faith or some part of what we believed before (like healing or miracle) with the quote “It does not work” or something like that.
Concluding part 1 “Hooah”!
I hope you already figured out a deeper pattern/meaning about discipleship or spiritual formation/growth or if you prefer to become a mature ambassador for Christ in the school of Christ with a bunch of stories about the life of a military boy like me.
I know that some of you are Bible tiger diggers, the studious type, and you would love to say to me that you don`t need illustrations.
But think about those who need them, not being at the same level as you are or where the passion is just at level zero what pure studying is concerned, not understanding the serious matter of pattern to become smart through a process of time and be effective ambassadors for Christ.
Remember this that Christianity is not about you, but about Christ and wanting to serve in ministry, help, educate and to fight a righteous fight.
But before Christ can use us
we must be prepared to be usable!
End of part 1 of 2
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I will go on with part 2 showing that to get a proper discipleship training is worth the effort, honoring what Christ done for us all and do what we are suppose to do as His ambassadors with the focus of the Great Commission of Christ in the heart!