BASIC TRAINING

Listen to the podcast episode for this blog post: Welcome to my Podcast! https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Welcome-to-my-Podcast-euiitg

Christians are often called the army of God. We sing songs as kids about being in the Lord’s army; we are told in scripture to fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10); we read about God strengthening his followers’ hands for battle (Psalm 144:1).

The Bible is filled with language and imagery about battle and war. There are few groups that form the bond and unity like the military. While one of my least favorite genres of movies is war movies, I have seen my fair share of them (often not of my own volition). 

Consider the United States military. There are different branches and ranks. Soldiers are equipped to perform different tasks based on their abilities. There are snipers and skilled weapons specialists, but there are also clerical and medical experts. There are soldiers who disarm bombs and soldiers who prepare meals that are the bomb (I’m from the 90’s, sorry!).

But there is one thing every member of the military has in common; THEY ALL COMPLETE BASIC TRAINING.

Basic Training or boot camp is designed to prepare military recruits for service.  Depending on the branch of the military, recruits are put through months of training tailored to that branch to give them the basic skills they will need to be able to perform effectively.

The different branches vary in what is required physically to complete Basic Training. The Navy has a requirement that recruits must be able to tread water for 5 minutes. But all branches require a timed run ranging from 1.5 to 3 miles. 

Whether a soldier is swabbing the deck (I got that from a movie, though it may have been a pirate movie) or filing a report, they all need to be able to run. They all need to be able to endure long distances.

As the church, it seems we have discounted the importance of Basic Training for the believer. Once someone finds their faith and is planted in church, it is crucial to train new recruits in what’s required and expected in the army of the Lord.

Could you imagine joining the Army and immediately being put on a plane to a combat zone, given a gun and dropped off? You would be totally unprepared. 

But unfortunately, the church does this to many new believers as they sign up to join the Army of God. They come to church and are bombarded with cliches and theologies when they can’t even find the book of Matthew yet.

If we want to be effective in sharing the gospel with hurting people, we have to be trained in the basics of our faith.

When I was saved 15 years ago, I was very privileged to be at a church that invested in Chrstian education. I was able to take classes about prayer, serving, and evangelism that helped build the foundation I needed to be able to serve the Lord and run well.

This is an area of faith I am so passionate about. Teaching believers the basics of faith. How to pray; how to study the Bible; why we give and serve. For many people, the benefits of the Christian life stop at the point of salvation. They can trust Jesus to save them from hell, but are not taught how he can sustain them on earth.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a Boot Camp series on basic training for Christian living. God has such a great life planned for his children and we learn about it through his Word, fellowship and prayer. 

My prayer is that you will not jog casually through your faith journey, but run well with endurance. I hope you can join me in the comments for some good discussion!

What Are You Wearing?

I recently went to a Milwaukee Bucks game. I’m a Dallas Mavericks fan so I personally don’t own any Bucks gear, and out of principle, never will. But one thing that stood out to me was that to the onlooker, there was no room to doubt who the Bucks fans were. It was easy to identify them as fans by what they were wearing. 

In the Old Testament, we meet a king who was identified by what he was wearing, but unfortunately, it almost cost him his life.

“So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went ahead and attacked Ramoth Gilead. The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Wear my kingly robe; I’m going into battle disguised.” So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise.

Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them), “Don’t bother with anyone whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only.””

When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “There he is! The king of Israel!” and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. God intervened and they let him go. (2 Chronicles‬ ‭18:28-32‬ MSG)

You can tell alot about a person by what they wear. Their interests and hobbies can often be assumed based solely on their attire. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was a victim of mistaken identity because of what he was wearing. 

This led me to wonder what are we spiritually wearing as Christians? Are people able to identify us as followers of Jesus Christ? Do the people on our jobs or at our schools know that we have a relationship with Him? Is it radically obvious that we’ve had an encounter with Jesus?

Because Jehoshaphat has agreed to go into battle dressed as the king of Israel, he now has a target on his back. He is being mistaken as someone he is not, simply because of what he is wearing. 

Many Christians have failed to intentionally distinguish themselves from the world, despite their relationship with Christ.

Many believers still dress like the world, listen to the same music as the world, watch the same shows as the world and wonder why they still have the same problems of the world. We have done very little to set ourselves apart as we’ve been instructed.

Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6:17)

Jehoshaphat is dressed just like Ahab so that’s who the enemy thinks he is!!!! For many of us, the struggles we go through year after year are because we haven’t taken the time to make a clear distinction between us and the world.

AND THE ENEMY CAN’T TELL US APART!!!

It saddens me to look out at God’s people and not see God’s abundance. It hurts my heart to see the people of God struggling in their finances and their marriages and their faith, to see people attend church week after week and not be transformed and renewed. 

We’re supposed to live such abundant lives that we draw unbelievers to Jesus because they want what we have. But many unbelievers don’t want what we have because many Christians don’t have anything different from them. 

We have the same bad attitude, the same gossip, the same speech, the same worries, the same credit card debt, the same bad marriage.

We have not heeded to Romans 12:2 and allowed our minds to be renewed by the word of God. We have equated the word of God to a book of suggestions. For many of us, the word of God is nothing more than a self help book. “A verse a day keeps the devil away!” 

But the Bible is not a book of suggestions or advice. It is the living, breathing word from God on how we need to function and live as his children. But unfortunately, we have aligned ourselves with culture and customs and practices and people that are opposite of what we say we believe. 

And like Jehoshaphat, when the enemy comes, when trials come, when the battles come, we handle them like the world because we’re dressed like them. 

How do we get the right clothes to be prepared to live this life of faith?

We get them by reading our Bible, by praying in the Holy Spirit, by tithing, and serving. We clothe ourselves by fully following God with unwavering devotion and aligning ourselves with his word, regardless of what the culture is doing. 

But when we clothe ourselves in the wrong things, we will not be prepared for the attack of the enemy.

Many believers have failed to progress from the point of their salvation into sanctification (the act of being set apart). They’ve accepted him as savior but haven’t submitted to him as Lord. 

When we surrender our lives fully to Christ, we can’t help but to take off the things that cause us to look less like him. We start taking off the malice, envy, bitterness, wrath, anger, lying, and the old self.

We take off those old garments and we trade them in for a robe of righteousness, a garment of praise, and a crown of life. We make the decision that we are not going to misrepresent our father God, but will leave no room for doubt to the onlooker as to who we represent. 

May your priest be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy. (Psalm 132:9)