Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lessons Learned in Simulated Combat

As I sit here writing this, I am staring at a picture of myself and 6 other people in combat uniforms. I am sitting and thinking back to 4 summers ago.

It was the summer of 2007 I had the privilege of serving as a chaplain to the 53rd Infantry Brigade that is part of the Florida National Guard. I was serving with them during their annual training at Camp Blanding, Florida. This opportunity was unique because they had set up their camp like a forward operating base in Iraq. The camp was complete with razor wire, simulated artillery going off, simulated bullets firing and people pretending to be Iraqi “insurgents” and civilians.

As I was visiting some of the troops at the front gate, a truck appeared carrying ““insurgents””. As I watched this training drama unfold, I was amazed by the coordination and partnering each squad did to protect the base from attack. As the men in an observation post took aim at the truck, one squad immediately took defensive position behind a barrier, another squad immediately went and cover another barrier and a third squad covered the first two squads. By the way, yours truly at this time was down near the ground behind a tree. I had determined that when your 6’5” and wearing a cross on your helmet you do not want to give the “insurgents” a big target. By the way as a chaplain, we did not carry side arms or weapons.

What amazed me during this exercise was the support that each team gave each other. Their focus was not only on the mission but also partnering together to assist each other. When the “heat” is on we need as Christians and churches must partner together to help each other in our battle against Satan and our call to carry out the Great Commission or what I like to call the “Great Mission”.

It is so easy to focus on our little corner of the mission field or our little corner of the church field that we forget to work together or support one another. This is Satan’s greatest deception and trick. Just like the military, if we do not partner together by helping and supporting one another then we will soon be over run by the enemy.

How can we support one another? Pray. Here are some ways that we need to pray for one another:

I. Pray That Closed Doors (Hearts) Would Be Opened To The Word

And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:3 NIV)

Paul was in prison, but he knew that His God was big enough to open doors of opportunity so that the gospel could be preached clearly and plainly. Paul was always enlisting prayer partners for ministry. Lets pray for one another that God will open hearts to hearing of His gospel and lives will be changed.

II. Pray For Boldness of Speech
“Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
Need to pray that the Lord will give us boldness to speak His Word. In our society today it seems that everyone is bold to speak out about their cause and yet when Christians speak out we are made fun of. We need to pray that we will still be bold in spite of persecution and ridicule.
Also we need to remember that boldness is not arrogance. Speak the truth in love and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Let God's Word convict that our emotions or arrogance.

III. Pray For the Free Flow of God’s Truth
“Finally, Brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1 NIV)

Paul reminds us that we never reach a place in our Christian service where we progress beyond the need of prayer. Paul prayed for the message to spread. The Greek word means to run. The image is of the brush fires running up and down the hills and valleys. Pray that God's Word will speak truth among people. Pray that His Word will spread like a wildfire among our society.

IV. Pray For God’s Protection
“And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men ….. ” 2 Thessalonians 3:3-3 NIV)
Need to remember that we are involved in a Spiritual war and we need God's protection.The word “evil” describes active hatred. It should be no surprise that there is a real Evil One and he seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. The Evil One will use people to hinder and destroy God’s work. Satan will seek to steal the testimony of Believers, rendering them ineffective. Pray for spiritual, physical, and emotional protection.

V. Pray For Understanding And Cooperation Among Believers
“Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there.” (Romans 15:31 NIV)
This one especially hit home as a church planter. There are pastors who will say that we are starting churches to still their members. This is not so. We are starting churches to reach the lost.
So many times there is suspicion and jealousy of one another in the body of Christ. This has to stop. We are in this together. God calls us to be on mission with Him. A house divided is soon conquered We should work as one body to bring Him honor and glory.

VI. Pray For Personal Revival And Refreshment
“So that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.”( Romans 15:32 NIV)

Living in God’s gave Paul a sense of peace and power. In the thick of battle, this Apostle found personal revival and spiritual refreshment. Pray that we all will draw close to Christ and experience revival and renewal daily.

VII. Pray For God To Make A Way
“And I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” (Romans 1:10)

Many Believers use the excuse of the lack of money for not going “On Mission” with God. To use this excuse without serious prayer shows a shameful lack of faith. God will make a way if it’s His will. We must trust Him!

God has established HIS CHURCH as a base for His Kingdom’s work here. If we do not work together, pray together or partner together, then it will not be long before parts of our base will be overwhelm. God’s Kingdom is not about survival or our own personal success but rather it is about advancing forward to accomplish His Mission. We must partner together to see this happen.

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