Basic Training

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by Stan Peterson

Ft. Benning, GA. Training grounds for the U.S. Army infantry. I attended basic, and 90% of all my training at this one post. Upon first coming onto the post you will undoubtedly run into Iron Mike. Iron Mike is a huge statue of a soldier, with a M-16 rifle in his left hand. He stands looking over his shoulder and with his right arm signaling advance to those who are behind. He is an icon and symbolizes the infantry motto “Follow Me”.

As I read the words of Jesus in Luke 9.23 “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me”.

It brings me back to Basic Training for a moment, but more importantly it reminds me of the basic tenet of Christianity. The cross and Jesus’s words to “follow me” .

The desire of my heart is to follow hard after God! This means WAR!

We are in a battle daily! The lusts of the flesh and the world come hurling at us at 65,000 images taken in on an average day. This war is like no other war, it is one of spiritual nature and not of the physical. The enemies are different, the weapons I am used to are no longer effective, and the strategies are upside down. But OHHHHH how our God has given us Himself (Romans 8.9), His weapons that are mighty for pulling down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10.4), and His mind (1 Corinthians 2.16).

We see the strategy of God in Luke’ s writing, calling us back to the basics. The War can get complicated and we must simplify it.

Simplification comes by stripping down to a warfare mentality by Denying oneself (rights/ entitlements), taking up our cross (remembering Jesus’s death and our unification in that) and obeying Jesus by following Him. This is for our good and God’s glory. Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Losing Sight

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by Gordy McCoy

In studying the book of Acts with the other Elders, I read several things that are exciting and even scary to think about. One of the scary things is found in chapter 9: 1-18.

“Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lords’ followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of The Way he found there. He wanted to bring them, both men and women, back to Jerusalem in chains.”

“As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from Heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting! Now get up into the next city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one. Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes, he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there, blind, for three days and he did not eat or drink.Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision calling, “Ananias”.“Yes, Lord”, he replied.The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”“But, Lord,” exclaimed, Ananias, I have heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! He is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for My Names sake.”So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

Could you imagine what it would be like to lose your sight? Sauls was taken from him for three days, three dark days. Think about the scales that fell from his eyes. What they were like, maybe like scales from a fish. Like larger scales from a big bass or many scales like those on a trout or a salmon. Only Saul knows the details. The scales blocked his vision. Scary!

I think one of the most important things in these verses was that God had specifically chosen Saul to be his chosen instrument. We are also His chosen instruments to share His message. It is not a suggestion. We have a job to do, just like Saul. Just like Ananias. The One that has given us sight, gives us insight, to His agenda to spread His Word. He wants us to get The Word out about how much He loves His beloved people.

He will do whatever it takes because He means business about His business. Saul learned that God meant business and Sauls’ life was forever changed. He learned to look at his life thru Gods eyes. I want that perspective.

Matthew 28: 19-20

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

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The G.O.S.P.E.L. Plain and Simple

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by Chris Pace

I recently went on a retreat with our youth. It was claimed by the majority of those that went to be “The best retreat I’ve ever been on!” We were there for less than 24 hours, had less activities than some of the other retreats we’ve been to, and we were one of many other groups that came. Some may have assumed that it wasn’t worth it or that it was boring. However, for those that went, they got what they came for.

The point of the retreat was to give those that attended an experience and a feel for how to share Christ with others. They suggested a tool that they use that is similar to a wordless bracelet, W.W.J.D., or all the other tools people have used before.  They teach it as the G.O.S.P.E.L. approach:

God created us to be with him.

Our sins separated us from him.

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds.

Paying the price for sin, Christ died and rose again.

Everyone who puts their trust in him alone has everlasting life.

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever.

The youth went not fully aware of what to expect. They left affected by the lessons and the worship. It brought them to a point of openness with each other, creating an even stronger bond and a deeper respect for each other. I, personally, was affected by every bit: The bonds that grew between them, and between me and them; the longing I saw in each student to find some way to express their faith to people in their lives they so desperately want to reach; the ‘Family Time’ when our group opened up and grew a deeper respect for the typically quiet students of our group, and a stronger bond with one another through moments of vulnerability; and through the worship.

During our last worship session they cleared the chairs, and had all the students against the chapel walls to represent the lost and all the leaders in the middle to represent the church. They told the students (the lost) that they were not to worship, but had to stand there and watch as the leaders (the church) worshiped, until two leaders (signifying the importance of going and spreading the gospel in pairs) came and prayed with them, allowing them to join the church in the middle. They asked us leaders beforehand to wait for two verses and a chorus before we left to pray with a student; that way they could understand how it felt. I couldn’t wait. I barely lasted a verse because it broke my heart to see those on the outside looking in. It made me think of all those I’ve missed my chance to share salvation with and all those we’re missing now. There are so many that may never come to know Christ as their own personal savior and Lord because so many of us, for one reason or another, don’t do what we were called to do, what we long to do: To share the amazing love that God so greatly longs for us to know; the love he blatantly showed on that blood-stained cross that once held his son.

So what is our responsibility? It is impossible for us to save others; otherwise there was no need for God’s sacrifice. We are only told to go and share the gospel. The Holy Spirit will take it from there.

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