Friday, September 20, 2013

Winning the Victory

I was talking recently with my friend, Stephen, describing to him a serious issue my family was facing. He said, “You realize that this is a spiritual battle, don’t you?”

In the Christian life we can expect to be attacked, especially if God is working on something significant in our lives. So, what should we do when we sense the enemy coming after us?

The following is a tool that I have found very helpful over the years. Written and adapted by Avery Willis as a part of Lifeway’s MasterLife discipleship process, this has been proven to be an extremely helpful tool by missionaries, ministers, and God’s faithful followers for years.

First, we need to understand the nature of the conflict. It’s a spiritual battle. Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 6:10-20. We don’t wrestle with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces of darkness. And we, as followers of Christ - as soldiers, if you will - are instructed to engage this enemy, particularly through prayer.

God equips every believer for this struggle. He has given us the means to victory. He wants every believer to:

• Stand against Satan and his schemes.
• Withstand his assault.
• Be standing when the battle is over.

In 2Chronicles 20 is an account of God’s people facing a daunting foe. As they considered what to do, the king called the people to prayer. Following this period of fasting and prayer, God spoke through one of the prophets to assure them that he will fight this battle, and that they are to 1. take their positions, 2. stand in place, and 3. watch God win the battle.

The battle is won in prayer, and the victory is claimed as we advance and engage this unseen foe. Here are the means to put on the armor for waging spiritual warfare.

The Helmet of Salvation

1. Thank God you are his child. Remind yourself that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world."
2. Praise God for eternal life, and remember that this salvation cannot be taken away.
3. Claim the mind of Christ. (1Corinthians 2:16) It is yours because of your salvation.

The Breastplate of Righteousness

1. Ask God to search your heart and reveal any wicked way.
2. Confess any sin.
3. Claim Christ’s righteousness, that covers your sin and gives you right standing with him.

The Belt of Truth

1. Ask God to sanctify you in the truth, which is his word. (John 17:17)
2. Hold firmly to the truth. Pray that God will reveal his truth to you. Remember that Jesus promises us that we will know the truth.
3. Master your emotions. Don’t trust your feelings, that can deceive you. Ask God to fill you with his Spirit and produce in you the love, joy, and peace that are yours for the asking. (Galatians 5:22-23)

The Shoes of the Gospel

1. Be prepared, before the struggle begins. Know how to verbalize your faith.
2. Share the gospel. Look for how God can use you to declare his grace and mercy.
3. Intercede for those who are lost, and who may be tools the enemy is using to come against you. Pray for their salvation.

The Sword of the Spirit

1. Grasp the Word. Know it. Spend time in it. Speak it to remind the enemy that he is defeated.
2. Let the Spirit use the Word. It is his tool.
3. Pray on the basis of the Word. If you know that something is God’s will, pray for it boldly, confidently. (see 1John 5:14-15)

The Shield of Faith

1. Claim the victory.
2. Advance in faith. Put feet to your prayers.
3. Use the Word to quench the fiery darts of the enemy.


You are now clothed and ready to move forward. Talk to God about the concerns of your heart. Intercede for those who need to know Christ. Claim the victory that is yours. And STAND firm against the fiery darts of the enemy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Of Heroes and Villains

First Platoon, Co A, 1/46 Infantry

A few years ago the American Film Institute came up with a list of heroes and villains from the movies. At the top of the hero list was the character, Atticus Finch, from the film To Kill A Mockingbird. And leading the villain list was Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs.

This topic of heroes and villains is of interest to me because of my combat experience. I’ve often wondered, given the right set of circumstances, if it would have been possible for me to have played either role. In my position as a combat platoon leader, I saw heroism demonstrated by the young men under my command. However, I never witnessed any of the villainous acts attributed to some soldiers who fought in Vietnam. Apparently such despicable acts did take place, and some American fighting men allegedly did horrific things, but I wasn’t an eyewitness to any of this.

It’s my contention that every person is capable of great heroism, and may also be capable of despicable, even villainous behavior.

Take, for example, Lieutenant William Calley, who was convicted of ordering the slaughter of the entire village of My Lai. As a young, inexperienced junior officer, Calley was caught in an ambiguous situation in an area that had been declared a “free fire” zone. Some have argued that Calley was unprepared for the command he was given. Prior to his commission as an officer Calley had been an unemployed college dropout who had managed to graduate from Officer's Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1967. ( However, other young men, also lacking in education and without the advantage of several years of officer training, were recognized for great heroism. A recent visit to the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning underscores this. An entire section is dedicated to the OCS hall of fame, a tribute to OCS grads who performed acts of heroism in combat.

So what makes the difference in whether a person is a hero or a villain? It has always been a troubling question in my mind, especially given the fact that I came from a similar background as Calley. I flunked out of college and was drafted as a young husband and father, despite my protestations and attempts to obtain some other kind of deferment. While in basic training I tested and applied for both officer candidate school and flight school, and, to my surprise, was accepted into both.

I graduated from OCS on October 16, 1969, just a few weeks before the My Lai massacre came to national attention. However, instead of being sent to Vietnam, I was given orders to an infantry unit in Germany. But after eighteen months the Army sent me to Vietnam. By this time much had changed in our rules of engagement, and there were no longer any free fire zones. Also, by this time our mission had changed to providing security for a gradual withdrawal. As a result, I never had to deal with the ambiguous circumstances faced by Calley and his platoon, even though my unit was a part of the same Americal Division.

There was nothing particularly heroic in my service as a combat commander. But there was also nothing villainous about my conduct or that of my men. We did our job the best we could and served with honor, then came home, took off our uniforms, and tried to return to a normal life.

I am proud of the men that I had the privilege of leading, and I’m thankful that we never had to discover how we would react under such ambiguity as that faced by Calley and his men.

By the way, the photo is of some of the men I commanded in combat. At this time I had been reassigned to the firebase to command the battalion mortar platoon, and, to my delight, my rifle platoon pulled a week of firebase security, giving me an opportunity to see all of them again. I only regret not being able to remember all of them, 42 years later.