rss

CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Specify Alternate Text

Say It! Speak It! Believe It!

Say It! Speak It! Believe It!

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak.  2 Corinthians 4:13

Do you catch yourself spewing negative words out of your mouth which demonstrate worry, fear, lack of trust? God wants you to believe and receive not be a doubter and pessimist. It is way easier to be a negative person. 

Who would you rather hang out with a person complaining or criticizing all the time or the person who intentionally is kind and courteous? Not a hard question and a pretty easy answer. 

Do you ever pray for healing for someone and then start doubting and negating your prayer in the process? Stand firm, take authority, use God’s word. Don’t just own a Bible but make a point to study it and memorize scripture. It will serve you well when ministering to those around you. 

PRAYER: Help me be convinced that when I pray you hear me and I trust you are answering prayers on your time table for your purposes. Give me the ability to receive graciously in the way you have planned. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Becky Juett Miller

God's Lemonade Stand

https://www.facebook.com/GodsLemonadeStand/

https://www.godslemonadestand.blogspot.com

 

Specify Alternate Text

Woman and the Gospel

Woman and the Gospel

"And He took the damsel by the hand."—Mark 5:41.

In selecting this text I have no intention of saying many words on the actual scene itself. The raising of Jairus’s daughter attracts our attention by its vivid narrative, and by its intense human pathos, while the two foreign words, summing up the interest of the story, linger strangely in our ears, impressing it effectually on our memories. Nor, again, do I purpose speaking of its direct theological import, whether as an answer to human faith, or as a manifestation of the Divine power. In this latter aspect this is one of three signal miracles, the anticipations of Christ’s own resurrection. It claims, and it has received, the most earnest study, both in itself and in relation to other incidents of the same class.

These more obvious aspects of the text are beside my present purpose. I wish to-day to treat it from a wholly different point of view. Christ’s miracles have always the highest spiritual significance. They are not miracles only, but parables also. The Messiah’s kingdom would have achieved comparatively little for mankind if it had brought deliverance to the captive in a literal sense only. A far heavier and more galling bondage would still remain—the bondage of sin. Physical blindness is only a type of moral blindness; Christ’s healing power in the one case is the pledge of His healing power in the other. The palsy of the body symbolizes the palsy of the soul. If the paralytic is bidden to take up his bed and walk, this is before all things an assurance to us that Christ is able and willing to heal the paralysis of the soul. From this point of view the words of the text are full of meaning to all who are met together to-day. "He took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Damsel, I say unto thee, Arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; and they were astonished with a great astonishment."

Need I remind you that this is the earliest miracle of raising the dead recounted in the Gospels? Two others follow. The widow of Nain and the sisters of Bethany receive back their dead. But the one was a growing youth, the other was a man of mature age. The young woman was Christ’s first miracle of resurrection. On her was wrought first this stupendous miracle. For her was won this earliest triumph over death and hell. Is not this a significant fact in itself, but especially significant for you, for it proclaims the fundamental principle of the Gospel charter? It announces that the weak and the helpless in years, in sex, in social status, are especially Christ’s care. It declares emphatically that in Him is neither male nor female. It is a call to you, you women-workers, to do a sister’s part to these your sisters. Christ’s action in this miracle is a foreshadowing of His action in the Church. The Master found woman deposed from her proper social position. The man had suffered not less than the woman by this her humiliation. Jew and Gentile had conspired together in an unconscious conspiracy to bring about this disastrous result. The Hebrew Rabbi and the Greek philosopher alike had gone astray. It is the recorded saying of a famous Jewish doctor that the words of the law were better burned than committed to woman. It is an opinion ascribed to the most famous Athenian statesman, that woman had then achieved her highest glory when her name was heard amongst men least, either for virtue or for reproach. A moral resurrection was needed for womanhood. It might seem to the looker-on like a social death, from which there was no awakening, but it was only the suspension of her proper faculties and opportunities, a long sleep from which a revival must come sooner or later. It was for Him, and Him alone, who was the Vanquisher of death, who has the keys of Hades—for Him alone to open the door of her sepulchral prison and resuscitate her dormant life and restore her to her ordinary place in society. When all hope was gone, He took her by the hand and bid her arise; and at the sound of His voice and the touch of His hand she arose and walked, and the world was astonished with a great astonishment. We ourselves are so familiar with the results, the position of woman is so fully recognized by us, it is bearing so abundant fruit every day and everywhere, that we overlook the magnitude of the change itself. Only, then, when we turn to the harem and the zenana do we learn to estimate what the Gospel has achieved, and has still to achieve, in the emancipation of woman, and her restitution to her lawful place in the social order. To ourselves the large place which woman occupies in the Gospel and in the early apostolic history seems only natural. To contemporaries it must have appeared in the light of a social revolution. The very opening of the Gospel is charged with Divine messages communicated to us through woman—Mary, Elizabeth, Anna; women attend our Lord everywhere during His earthly ministry. The sisters, Martha and Mary, are set before us as embodying the two contrasted types of character, the practical and the contemplative. To a woman, and to a woman alone, is given the promise of an undying hope beyond the glory of the mightiest earthly princes. Of her it is said: "Wheresoever this Gospel is preached in the whole world, there shall this which this woman has done be told as a memorial of her." To a woman were spoken those gracious words of pardon most tender and compassionate, the consolation and the stay and the hope of the penitent to all time: "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loveth much." Women are the chief attendants at the crucifixion, and the chief ministrants at the tomb. Woman is the first witness of the resurrection; and as it was in Christ’s personal ministry, so it is in all the Apostolic Church. In the first gathering of the little band after the Ascension, women are found assembled with the apostles. This is a foreshadowing of the part which they are destined to play in the subsequent narrative of the history of the Church. Cast your eyes down the salutations in the Epistle to the Romans. There is Phœbe, a deaconess of the Church of Cenchrea, commended as having been the succourer of many, among others of the Apostle himself. There is Priscilla, who with her husband had laid down her neck for his life, to whom he himself not only gave thanks, but all the Churches of the Gentiles. There is Mary, who bestowed much labor upon him and others; Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labored much in the Lord. There is Persis, to whom the same testimony is borne. There is the mother of Rufus, who had also been like a mother to himself. There is Julia, and there is the sister of Nereus. A long catalogue to appear in the salutations of a single epistle!

Turn again from the Church of which St. Paul knew least when he wrote, to the Church of which he knew most. Witness his relation to his beloved Philippian Church. He addresses himself first to the women who resort to the places of prayer among the individual women with whom he came in contact. At Philippi we read of Lydia, his earliest hostess in this city, of the damsel from whom he cast out a spirit of divination, and then of Euodias and Syntyche, women who labored with him in the Gospel; and indeed we know more of the women at Philippi than we know of the men.

But it was not only this desultory, unrecognized service, however frequent, however great, that women rendered to the spread of the Gospel in its earliest days. The Apostolic Church had its organized ministrations of women, its order of deaconesses, its order of widows. Women had their definite place in the ecclesiastical system of those early times, and in our own age and country again the awakened activity of the Church is once more demanding the recognition of the female ministry. The Church feels herself maimed of one of her hands. No longer she fails to employ, to organize, to consecrate to the service of Christ, the love, the sympathy, the tact, the self-devotion of women. Hence the revival of the female diaconate in its multiplication of sisterhoods. But these, though the most definite, are not the most extensive developments of this revival. Everywhere institutions are springing up, manifold in form and purpose, for the organization of women’s work. There has been, and there is still, a shameful waste of this latent power, boundless in its capacities if only fostered and developed. The famous heroines of womanhood will necessarily be few. It is rarely women’s part to save a city or guide a church. Only at long intervals on the stage of the history of the world appear such women as Joan of Arc; but here and there God raises up an exceptional heroine to do exceptional work, which a woman alone can do, or do so effectually, for her age and country. But generally it is in the quieter, less obtrusive, more homely, and more womanly way, that she is called to test her power, certainly not less real or less beneficent, though it may be less striking, than the power of man. She is a mother in her own household, her own kindred, her own parish, her own neighborhood; the guide, the helper of man. Yes; a priestess and a prophetess to the young, the sick, the frail and erring, the poor and needy—needy whether of spiritual or bodily healing. It is the province of the Church, when acting by the Spirit and in the name of Christ, to develop the power of women, to take by the hand and raise from its torpor that which seemed a death, but which is only a sleep; and now, as then, revived life and beneficent work will amaze the looker-on—"they were astonished with a great astonishment."

Among the most recent developments of the work of the Church of Christ your Girls’ Friendly Society has taken a foremost place. I would say in all sincerity, that when I read your last report with profound joy and thankfulness, I was impressed, no less by the completeness of your ideal, than by the variety and expansion of your work. I do not say this to commend; this is not the time or the place for commendation. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the praise." You will not be content, will you? you will not be content, if you are true to your ideals, with holding out the hand of loving sympathy in your own home and neighborhood to a humble sister needing a sister’s care and guidance? Your love will follow her about that she may never be lost sight of. It is a trite complaint that in this day the old relations between master and servant have vanished, or almost vanished away. The bond is no longer one of reciprocal loyalty, but of common convenience. Hence it is liable to severance at any moment in the feverish, ever-restless, fluctuating conditions of modern life. It was impossible that these relations should remain unchanged while all else was changing. The domestic servant or the shop girl has no longer a fixed home; she is a wanderer on the earth. It is just here that the catholicity of your plan should step in and counteract the evil. It is your part to realize this catholicity. When a girl once enrolls herself in your numbers, she is yours; everywhere, whithersoever she may go, the friendly eye will rest upon her; the friendly hand will be stretched out to her wheresoever she may be. She will find everywhere a home, because she will find everywhere friends. You cannot set this ideal before yourselves too definitely, or strive to realize it too earnestly.

Do you ask how your work may be truly effective? I answer you in the words of the text, "He took the damsel by the hand." There must be an intensity of human sympathy, and there must be an indwelling of the Divine power. The lesson of the miracle which I have taken for my starting-point involves both these ideals. The current of womanly sympathy must flow out deep and strong and clear. Is not this the typical meaning of Christ’s action in the text? The touch of His warm hand restores the circulation and revives the life in those pale, motionless, death-like limbs. We want sympathy here, sympathy first and sympathy last—sympathy reflecting, however faintly, Christ’s own boundless compassion and love. The cold, mechanical formalism of the relieving officer will not suffice; the haughty assertion of superiority, the condescending patronage of the fine lady will be worse than nothing. You must be a sister to your sisters, treading in the footsteps of your Brother, Jesus Christ. Is not this also the meaning of those words which He utters to the girl lying helpless before Him? He speaks to her not in the Greek, the conventional language of outward life, but in the Syriac, the true language of the family and the home. It pierces her, notwithstanding her death-like slumber. He speaks to her, as He speaks to us all, with the voice of a direct personal love. This is always the language of Christ’s words, the language of Christ’s Gospel,—"How hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born?"

And over and above all this, animating, inspiring, sanctifying your human sympathies, there must be the consciousness of the Divine presence, the sense of the Divine energy, in your work. You will apply yourself to it with a strength not your own; the power of the living Christ will thrill through you. Is not this the interpretation of the symbolic action, "He took the damsel by the hand"?—He Himself, and not another. "Not I, but Christ in me," will be the inspiring motive of your work, as it was in St. Paul’s. His hand must guide your hand; nay, His hand must replace your hand, if the touch shall raise the damsel, and restore her to a better and a happier life.

And restore her it will; this intense human sympathy inspired by this consciousness of the Divine indwelling. It never has failed yet, and it never can fail to work miracles of resurrection and healing, in her helplessness, in her temptations, in all her struggles and perplexities, her bodily wants, and her spiritual trials. It will be to her comfort and strength and hope; it will throb her with the pulse of an awakened life.

But I have spoken hitherto as if these helpless girls whom you befriend were the sole counterparts of Jairus’s daughter. I have regarded them as only the patients whom Christ’s awakening hands raise from their death-like slumbers. Is this an adequate representation of the case, think you? Are there not others even more needy than they of this beneficent movement? Are we not taught on the highest authority that it is more blessed to give than to receive? But, if so, have we not a truer antitype of this damsel whom Christ raised in these befriended girls? Yes, Christ has taken them by the hand, and has revived them, has awakened them from the heavy, death-like slumber of a selfish, self-contained being. Christ has shown them the beauty and the power of sympathy, and it has been to them the throbbing of a new life. Surely it is not only the daughters of ancestral lineage and of Norman blood, not only a Clara Vere de Vere, who are sickening with a disease, and who need Christ’s healing hand; is there not in the home of the professional man many a daughter and many a sister on whose hand time hangs heavily, whose life is wasting away, fretting with feverish excitement, or sunk in self-indulgence and apathy, weary of self, and weary of others? How shall they wake up from their barren monotony and death-like existence? Sympathy, active sympathy for others; this, and this alone, can restore them. Mothers, train your daughters early to think for others, to care for others, to minister to others. Be assured this will be the most valuable part of their education. This heaven-born charity is the sovereign antidote to all the ills of womanhood. Is it some secret sorrow gnawing at the heart, some outraged feeling, or some harrowing bereavement, or some actual disappointment? Merge and absorb it in active solicitude for others. Is it some fierce temptation which shamed you, and each fresh struggle seems to leave you weaker than before? There will be no room for this if you devote yourself to the needs of others. All sin is selfishness in some form or other. Forget sloth; this is the best safeguard against temptation.

I appeal confidently to all those who have made the trial to say whether this medicine has healed them where all other medicines have failed? And, why, why? It is Christ’s own love constraining them; it is Christ’s own touch thrilling through their veins; hence they mark the resurrection—"He took the damsel by the hand; and straightway she arose and walked.’

Lightfoot, J. B. (1890). The Contemporary Pulpit Library: Sermons. New York: Thomas Whittaker. (Public Domain)

HOW To Share Christ With Someone

NOTE: What follows has been adapted from several lessons contained in Alistair Begg’s “Crossing the Barriers” series of lessons in personal evangelism.

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch. He is the soul-winner. People are not won by us for Him. They are won through us by Him. He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say. But He has chosen to work through us and with us.” - -Leith Samuel

In previous CMF Newsletters we ran a 4-part series called “Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture” In Part 1, Be Available, we shared real examples of how doors seem to just ‘open up’ for sharing the message of the gospel, and what can happen when there’s a willing and available gospel messenger ‘on location’. In Part 2, Situational Awareness we compared our ‘Situation’ as believers in Christ – our status and true citizenship, with our condition (situation) before repenting of sin and believing in Christ. In Part 3, Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, Our Highest Calling the focus was on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. In Part 4,  How’s Your Weep? we talked about maintaining a heartfelt burden for the lost souls all around us.

Now that we talked ABOUT sharing Christ, it’s time to tackle HOW. Hopefully this article will be of help to you.

Concerning his followers, Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus (John 17:15 NIV)

If we to draw a picture of that, it would look like this:

Following Jesus’ model of Christians ‘In Contact’ with the world, think of your gospel audience in terms of long-term and short-term contacts. Long-term contacts could be family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. Short-term contacts could be those we meet standing in lines, shopping, travelling, bus stops, waiting rooms - people we might not ever see again.

Before you just jump in the deep end of the pool, remember this:

“We should remind ourselves frequently that effective witnessing begins when we are on our knees, not when we are on our feet.” – Alistair Begg

 

 

EXPLODING SOME MYTHS

1. IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON. You don’t have to be a gifted evangelist or a natural extrovert. Think of Jesus’ first disciples. He chose all sorts of men to train and send to the mission field!

2. YOU NEED TO BE A WALKING BIBLE DICTIONARY. Anyone can share how his/her life has been changed by Christ, but it doesn’t stop with a changed life. The changed life testimony leads naturally to the message that discusses our sinful helpless condition before God and the answer found in repentance and believing in the one God sent.

3. I AM PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE TO SPEAK TO EVERYONE. That myth leads to guilt and depression. You will feel compelled to speak to everyone you meet/see! We are to be fishermen, not salesmen.

IMPORTANT GUIDELINES

1. BE NATURAL.  Don't change speech patterns, how you talk, tone of voice or terminology. Use ordinary conversation to move to spiritual matters. Jesus merely showed up at the well to ask for a drink of water. NO evangelical jargon. Using Bible words is not synonymous with sharing Bible truths.

2. BE LISTENING. We learn much about the other person just by listening. Their likes, dislikes, interests, etc. Heartfelt listening shows that you care.

3. BE VULNERABLE. We need to get out of our Christian bubbles. Vulnerability creates opportunity with unexpected parties. Jesus was vulnerable. It wasn't 'kosher' to speak with Samaritan women. As Alistair Begg might ask, “When does the salt help the mashed potatoes?”

4. BE BRAVE. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. “ (2 Tim 1:7)

The toughest of our non-Christian friends are more scared of us than we are of them, thus their 'toughness'. Don't worry about where the conversation might go. You can always stop/pause and continue later. It wasn't 'kosher' to speak with Samaritan women.

5. BE IMAGINATIVE. Seize opportunities to share your faith. What's the common topic of the day? War, sports, stress, etc. Don't use the same lead-in every time. Walk on common ground.

6. BE DIRECT. As the Spirit leads, get to the gospel, but you don’t need to use a specific ‘method’.  Let the conversation tell you the best method.

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS

No matter what method you use for sharing the message of the gospel, address these three truths, in the order given here.

1. THE HUMAN CONDITION

Things are messed up. Why? Ask questions. What's in the newspaper? Magazines? Look at the music, dysfunctional families. Why do you think that is? Talk about it.

2. THE BIBLE’S DIAGNOSIS

Suggest that the Bible has a diagnosis. The heart of the problem is the human heart, which needs to change. Have a Bible and open it. Share favorite passages of scripture that speak of the condition of the fallen hearts of all men.  You might use Romans 1:18 about God’s wrath, or Romans 3:23 and the fact that ALL have sinned and fallen short pf God’s standard of perfection. And sin brings consequences (Rom 6:23) – 'The wages of sin is death. You might need to go back to Genesis and the sin of Adam. Just talk about it from the Bible and let God convict.

3. GOD’S REMEDY

Share that Christ died for OUR sins. It was prophesied in the OT and fulfilled in the NT (Isaiah 53:6, Matthew 1:21, John 3:16). Just keep sharing what the Bible simply says.

4. PERSONAL RESPONSE

The truths of the gospel message having already been discussed, it’s time to talk about the need for a personal response. Introduce, without directly asking for a response, the necessary steps.

  1. Admit you are a helpless sinner. There are differences in degree of sin, but not the fact of sin. ALL have sinned enough to be condemned and lost.
  2. Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to be the savior we have admitted we need. 1 Pet 3:18 – Christ died once for all.
  3. Receive, by faith, (full confidence) the forgiveness of sin and cleansing from sin.

At this point 3 further questions may prove very beneficial in bringing clarity.

1. HAVE YOU PERSONALLY TRUSTED JESUS CHRIST OR ARE YOU STILL ON THE WAY? 

Defines Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ and provides opportunity for Yes/No/Still on the way

2.  HOW FAR ALONG THE WAY ARE YOU?

Critical point. Satan gets busy. This is where very personal/conditional topics might come into play. If the answer is 'I want to home and think about it', remember this might be the only time, hand them something like a tract, possibly. Be sensitive to 'indicators'.

3. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME A REAL CHRISTIAN AND BE SURE OF IT?

If the answer is yes, go back to the need for personal response.

ADD counting the cost of becoming a Christian. This is where the rubber meets the road. If they are not ready for a 'revolution', they are not ready to respond genuinely to the offer of salvation.

If they are ready, lead them to the Cross.

"Dear Lord Jesus, I admit I am a helpless sinner before you, I've tried many times and failed. I believe the bible is true in saying Jesus is the savior, I accept the cost, please forgive ME."

I Have a Dream

I Have A Dream

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial
in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Weakness of Violence

The ultimate weakness of violence
is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate....
Returning violence for violence multiples violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Sovereignty of God in the Affairs of Men

It’s probably safe to assume that almost all Christians will at least say they believe in the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. There are too many declarations not to. Here are a few from the Psalms:

19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all (Psalm 103:19). 3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). 5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps (Psalm 135:5-6).

The meaning of sovereignty can be summarized this way: To be sovereign is to possess supreme power and authority so that one is in complete control and can accomplish whatever he pleases.

While it’s easy for us to say God is sovereign in a general sense, we might be slower to agree, and might not agree when it comes to specific areas of our lives or in human/national affairs. IS God sovereign in all the affairs of men?

Let’s take a look from a biblical perspective.

In the Old Testament we discover that throughout the history of the nation of Israel, God controlled the fate of His chosen people, using pagan nations to accomplish His purposes. God used Egypt to for the preservation and growth of the nation Israel for 400 years before they inherited the promised land. God displayed his power and greatness through the hard-hearted Pharaoh. He used surrounding nations to chastise Israel when the nation fell into sin and disobedience. Then he used other pagan nations to destroy the chastisers of His people.

God used the Assyria and Babylon to lead the Jews into captivity. The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was even called God’s “servant” (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10). The sacking of Judah and Jerusalem was no accident of history; it was no mere fate. It was the outworking of the plan and purpose of the sovereign God of Israel to achieve His purposes, to fulfill His promises and prophecies

Not only did God use the proud and arrogant Nebuchadnezzar to chasten the Israelites, He also brought the pagan King to his knees, turning him into a grass eating ‘beast’ for seven years, until he would acknowledge God as sovereign.  

“At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?””

Daniel 4:34,35

Fast forward 2,000 years to the world of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Ours is a time of chaos and change. The USSR completely dissolved before our eyes. The Berlin Wall was been torn down. Civil war rages across the globe, and thousands of innocent lives are being sacrificed as we look on, helplessly it would seem. Christians seem to be shaken when a certain political party goes to unimaginable lengths to try and get elected to the highest office in the land. In this time of the coronavirus pandemic, some so-called ‘experts’ seem to be running the show as government officials worldwide, at all levels, control of businesses and citizens to degrees hitherto unheard-of except where socialism/communism rules. IS God sovereign in this mess?

If the answer to that question is “yes”, it must mean that God is sovereign over the decisions of the President of the United States, over the laws passed by Congress, and even over the decisions reached by the Supreme Court. God is even sovereign over the Internal Revenue Service. God is sovereign over kings and kingdoms. If this is true, then we need to believe that every king, every person in a position of political power, is there by divine appointment (see Romans 13:1-2). This means that we owe such authorities our respect, our obedience, and our taxes, unless any of these specifically require us to disobey God (Romans 13:1-7). It means that the laws, decisions, and decrees they make—even those which punish or persecute the saints—have a divine purpose. We may be required to disobey government, like Daniel and his three friends, but only when obeying that government would require us to disobey God. In the chaos and wickedness of our day, let us not lose sight of the fact that God is sovereign in history, and sovereign even over pagan powers.

__________________

Portions of the above were adapted from Let Me See Thy Glory – A Study in the Attributes of God by Bob Deffinbaugh,

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Part 4 – How’s Your Weep?

In the first three parts this series of articles, Pt 1 – Be Available & Pt 2 – Situational Awareness, and Pt 3 - a Duty, a Great Privilege, and a High Calling we discussed our being available to share our faith and the nature of our God given role in the salvation of lost sinners.

This fourth article of the series has to do with maintaining a heartfelt burden for the lost around us, thus the title “How’s Your Weep?” That title came to mind thinking about something that happened quite some time ago (30 years?) in Ft. Ord, California.

I was attending the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, CA studying Polish and living on Ft. Ord.  I had connected with the Ft. Ord chapel community and was involved in a small group weekly Bible study.  During one of those evening studies (I don’t remember the exact topic), one of the young soldiers in attendance, with a look of sadness in her eyes, uttered a very simple yet profound statement:

 “I’ve lost my weep!”

She was talking about her burden for lost souls.  Something in our discussion that evening had triggered her sentiment.  She seemed to have realized in that moment that while she once had a deep burden for the lost, for some reason it had gone by the wayside.  Determined to find it again she took time off from work to get alone with God and learn to ‘weep’ again.

Hers was not an uncommon experience with Christians.  We remember a time when we shared our faith, not only with excitement over what God has done in saving us, but also with a heartfelt burden for the lost with whom we live and work every day. That burden comes from knowing and understanding the dire straits of all who are living apart from Christ – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is how the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards described it. 

Then ‘life’ happens and our burden for lost souls diminishes.  Perhaps it’s the hectic pace of our jobs or scholastic endeavors.  Family situations might demand more and more of us. Our social lives and desire for acceptance often distract us.   And of course, there’s the possibility that some of those with whom you would share Christ are complete jerks! (in temporal terms).  And the list of distractions (excuses?) can go on and on forever

Then one day you realize, like the young lady at our Bible study, that something is wrong. Sure, you share Jesus with others, but without the intense burden you once had for their souls. Maybe you’ve never experienced such a burden. So how can you find what you lost? How can you discover what you might never have had?

You can get away and get alone with God, like the young lady at our Bible study.  You can pray and get into the word.  Those are rather broad suggestions. Can we narrow it down a bit? We’ll try.

First, revisit and remember your own condition before you encountered Jesus as your savior and lord.  Apart from Christ we were:

  • Dead in trespasses and sin, disobedient, under Satan’s control, concerned only with our own passions, and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3)
  • Enemies of God and unable to please God (Romans 8:7-8)
  • Unable to even understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • Slaves of sin (John 8:34)
  • Already condemned (John 3:18)

That’s the short list, trust me.  REALLY reflect on your condition apart from Christ.  Read those passages in context. Let it sink deep into your mind and heart.  That was YOU, that was ME!  We were completely and utterly hopeless! (Ephesians 2:12).

Did it sink in? REALLY sink in?  When it does. . .

Now take ALL of that and apply it to the lost all around you - to co-workers, family and friends, acquaintances, passersby. Even if they’re jerks.

As a final note, we’re not saying you must have a deep concern for or physically weep over lost souls to be an effective witness for Christ. Far from it.  But just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39), and Paul had a great love and burden for his fellow Jews (Romans 9:1-9), a genuine heartfelt burden for those to we share Christ will add a sincerity that will be unmistakable to the ears and hearts of our hearers!

Be blessed!

 

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Pt 3 – It’s a Duty, a Great Privilege, and High Calling

This article focuses on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. Bear in mind that God, being GOD, is able to save lost sinners in any way He chooses to do so, with, or without, our involvement. God has not only provided for the salvation of His people; he has chosen the means by which he saves lost sinners.  – the preaching of the gospel (sharing Christ).

Our Duty

18And Jesus came and said to them (the disciples), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:18-20)

You might be thinking that there is no command for personal evangelism in the above passage of scripture, I beg to differ. Jesus’ command, to ‘make disciples’, by its very nature requires sharing the message of the gospel. Disciples are only produced from saved; blood bought sinners. Jesus disciples (followers) were commanded to make disciples of those were already believers and preach the message of the gospel to those still lost so that they could then be made into disciples.  

Our Great Privilege

God not only provided the way of salvation of His people in the death and resurrection of His Son, He also decreed the means whereby men are saved.

13“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

The above passage is crystal clear. Those who call on the Lord will be saved. Calling on the Lord means believing in Him. To believe they must first hear the good news (evangel). For them to hear, someone must preach Christ to them. Those who share the good news are ‘sent’ by God to do so.

Dear friends, WE ae among those who are sent to share the good news! The Great Commission was given specifically to to Jesus’ immediate disciples and it was meant for all believers for all time.

God has chosen to use flawed you and me to share His perfect message of salvation! How is that NOT the greatest privilege bestowed on God’s children?

Our Highest Calling

I recently read an article in a local newspaper about an F/A-18 Super Hornet  weapons system officer who was actually the first female pilot to bomb ISIS from an F/A 18. Here is how she described ISIS and her role in the bombing:

“They are a horrible crop of humans, with an utter disregard for human life,” she said. “To witness that, day in and out, to witness mass murder, you have such an understanding. I’d trained for so long to protect innocent people on the ground, and when I saw that violated, and to finally use my skills to do that and use weapons, there is no higher calling.” (Emphasis mine)

With no disrespect to either a fine Naval officer or anyone who fights global terrorism, I have to confess that the immediate reaction of this old soldier was “But there IS a higher calling!” – to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us, and often hostile culture in which we live.

I would suggest to you that personal evangelism, sharing Christ, is at least three things; our duty, our great privilege, and our HIGHEST calling!

In many churches these days much is made of living our best lives now, discovering our special purpose for our time on planet Earth, and even achieving our ‘dream destinies’. Friends, I suggest to you that all of those things are merely temporary at best. I also suggest to you that our duty and great privilege to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world, and the eternal consequences at stake (heaven and hell), define the great commission as the highest calling  a blood bought child of God has received from heaven!

I have no way of knowing if the brave Navy officer mentioned at the beginning of this article was also considering any kind of spiritual calling when she called destroying evil terrorists her ‘highest’ calling. I don’t know the full context of her remarks, so I choose to believe the best, and pray that all of us who name Christ as savior and Lord fully realize that sharing Christ with the world around us is indeed Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, and Our Highest Calling!

Be  blessed!

 

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture Part 2 - Situational Awareness

I find it interesting that the first paragraph of military combat orders cover the battlefield “Situation”, followed by “Mission”. Many of us might think that a statement of the missions would come first.   ‘Situational Awareness’ (SA), a term familiar to many of us, means nothing more than recognizing your circumstances; knowing what’s going on around you. For instance, a military commander must be aware of the total situation (enemy and friendly) around him and his unit on the battlefield, as well as the bigger ‘strategic’ picture.  Total situational awareness is essential for successful military operations against any enemy, on any battlefield, for any warrior.  As Christians, and warriors in the Kingdom of God, we need to maintain complete situational awareness as inhabitants of planet earth (the battlefield environment), as well as our Commander’s intent (God’s strategic picture).

Sadly, we often lose focus of both our battlefield environment and our Commander’s intent, for a variety of reasons, ranging from our tendency to focus almost exclusively on ‘personal’ growth and fulfillment, to applying human wisdom and worldly principles to the operation of the ‘postmodern’ church as a whole.  At both levels, the result is that the Lord of the harvest, the Holy Spirit, sits in the back of the bus as we arrogantly occupy the driver’s seat!

Dear readers and friends, it is past time to regain our ‘situational awareness’ and overcome our spiritual ‘nearsightedness.’  For that task, we need to ‘begin at the beginning’ of our lives as Christians and go from there.  In a familiar and often quoted verse of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

What a promise – the greatest makeover of all time!  When we place saving faith in Christ, we step out of darkness and into the light, passing from death to life!  We are given a new nature in Christ as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our being, giving us a desire to serve God and the power to live a life of obedience to Him. This is common knowledge, not rocket science.

Our ‘makeover’ is so complete that in another of his letters to the early church, Paul presents what is a mystery to limited human logic.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:6 

This is a bit more difficult for human logic to grasp, but notice the past tense verbs in this verse. Paul is saying that as Christians, although we physically remain here on planet Earth, we have already been ‘raised up’ and ‘seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.’  Paul partially explains this mystery in more easily understood terms a bit later in the same chapter:

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. . .” Ephesians 2:19

A citizen is a legal resident of a nation, country or state.  Paul is saying that, at the moment of salvation, our ‘legal citizenship’ status changed!  One could say that if before we received Christ, we could have visited the ‘heavenly realm,’ we would have been ‘illegal aliens.’  We are not like the child born to an American military family overseas, who has dual-citizenship status until he or she is 18 years old and needs to make a decision.  We are NOT dual citizens.  Now listen to the Apostle Peter in one of his letters to the early church:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 

Do you see the contrast here? Paul tells us that at one time we were ‘aliens and foreigners’ to God’s household, while Peter tells us that as Christians we are now ‘aliens and strangers’ in the world in which we live!

Why is the world in which we live ‘foreign territory,’ why are we ‘aliens and strangers in it,’ and how do we apply these truths?

First, we need to understand that the world in which we live is not, the world that God created and pronounced ‘good’ and ’very good’.  In fact, Scripture tells us that the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden affected more than just our little piece of turf.  There is a clear description of the present condition of God’s creation in Romans 8:17-24, in which we find the following:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22

All of God’s creation is somehow tainted, polluted by sin, and in need of redemption.

Scripture also gives us an interesting description of the state of the human race after the fall of Adam, as well as a who seems to be controlling things (the god of this world).

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Ephesians 2:1-2

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

As believers, we are citizens of the household of God, with a new ‘landlord,’ servants of the Most High God, no longer bound by the god of this world.  And as members of God’s household, we are now foreigners and strangers to the world we live in and enemies of the ‘god of this world.’

If you still aren’t convinced of your citizenship as a Christian, listen to the words of Jesus from his high priestly prayer:

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:13-16)

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that we are living behind enemy lines!  Perhaps this has caused your thought process to pause for a moment of speculation.  Maybe it came to a screeching halt because your first reaction was “No way!”  Then hear what the Apostle James had to say to believers in his day who were becoming a bit too ‘friendly’ with the fallen culture around them.

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

If you still aren’t convinced that we are living in enemy territory, I encourage you to read James 4in its entirety, followed by Jesus’ words to his followers in John, chapters 15 and 16, concerning what to expect from the world that is hostile to God.

All of the above leaves with an inescapable question: “Why are we still down here?”  That might be connected to the second paragraph of a Combat Order – “Mission”. More to follow.

- Dan Cartwright

 

 

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Part 1 – Be Available

It’s not exactly rocket science that our American culture seems to be more hostile to public expressions of Christianity with each passing day. Christian values across the board are ridiculed when they run counter to a society’s prevailing values and attitudes, and it’s nothing new. At the same time, sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both the mission and great privilege of all believers. So how are we to accomplish this mission knowing that merely expressing our faith in public settings outside of our respective faith communities?

This is the first in a series of articles addressing this all-important issue from the personal perspective of an old soldier who just wants “to leave something behind” (to quote the title of a Sean Rowe song) that might help others traveling along the Gospel Highway.

As the above title states, the first step is to just ‘be available’. It sounds easy, but it might be more difficult that it sounds. While all of us have at one time or another told God (not without a certain amount of pride) that we are available to do whatever he commands us to do, who among us has not taken a step backward when thinking about the very real consequences of just being open about one’s faith in public these days? It’s kind of like being all excited about becoming a paratrooper until that moment when you’re all suited up and standing in a row of other paratroopers and the jumpmaster yells “GO!” Paratrooper metaphor aside, it can be scary. So before you declare to our Savior your willingness and availability to share His gospel with the world around you, consider the cost in terms of what it will mean, the impact it will have in your life. It will affect every area of your life. Trust me. Are you ready to be open about your Christian faith, no matter what? That’s the starting point. Keeping your faith to yourself isn’t an option.

While I might not know you, I do know that if you are available, God will use you. Here are a few examples I know of from within the Special Forces community.

  • A small detachment of SF soldiers was training in the Allegheny forest in Pennsylvania. One of the men was known by all of the men to be a Christian, although he didn’t advertise it. Another of the men, a team medic, was dating a girl from Boston who was a Christian and talked about God now and again. The entire detachment was sitting around a camp fire in the woods (non-tactical) and the medic started talking about his ‘Christian’ girlfriend from Boston and asking questions.
  • An SF Battalion field headquarters was established in the Cape Cod area for a training exercise. During the exercise one of the SF soldiers in the Bn died when both of his parachutes failed during an infiltration operation in upstate NY. His name was Bob and he was a strong believer. The Bn Commander in the Cape Cod location wanted to have a memorial service for Bob and asked for someone who was close to Bob to visit with the local minister who was to mold the service in the field headquarters. As a result of the meeting, the entire field headquarters heard a clear presentation of the gospel message, from the commander (LTC) on down.
  • An SF “A” Team Leader (CPT) was killed over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988 returning from an exercise planning event. The Pan Am aircraft was destroyed by a bomb. One of his Team Sergeants, an E-8, who had served his Team for a year before being reassigned to another position in the 10th SF Group, was a believer and all of the team members knew it. The former Team Sergeant attended the funeral service at the SF Chapel at Ft. Devens.  When the casket bearers were walking from the chapel to the waiting hearse, the former Team Sgt’s eyes and the eyes of the casket bearers met and a silent reminder of the finality of death passed between them.

We share these examples to show you what can happen, in God’s providence, just because you are available.  There have been more in my life and if you think about your life you will probably find a few yourself. No initiating religious conversations, passing out Gospel literature, or “I’m a Fool for Jesus, Whose Fool Are You?" bumper stickers. God opens doors. All we do is walk through those doors and let God be God. Seeds of the Gospel are sown and souls are eternally saved.

I leave you with a question.

Are you available?

Be blessed as you grow in Christ!

 


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contact Us

  • Address:
    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: Office@cmfhq.org

Webmaster

Book Offers