"Wounded Warriors"    [ 19 ]   
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Oct 2010
 Dead Theologians Society

Our church hosts a monthly Sunday evening meeting called the "Dead Theologians Society". This may remind you of the excellent 1989 movie, "Dead Poets Society", so your suspicions about us blatantly ripping off the title to suit our own means is well-founded. The general idea of these monthly meetings calls for attendees to read up on one of the many super-devout theologians from the last couple hundred years or so, maybe listen to a sermon by John Piper about the dude, then meet to discuss our impressions and suss out how we as Christians are challenged by those who went before us. Though their day and age may seem vastly different than our 21st century times, they still wrestled with the same vexing issues common to man regardless of era, sometimes leading to revolutionary changes that altered the face of Christianity forever! It's pretty wild to take a trip back to years gone by when these people were living their ordinary lives as best as they could, just as we do today, but at a time when renouncing the authority of the Catholic Church, say, could literally get you killed.  ~  So far, we've checked into the lives and times of:

Jonathan Edwards
J. Gresham Mechen
Charles Simeon   John Owen
David Brainerd   Charles Spurgeon
Marty Lloyd-Jones   Martin Luther
William Cowper   John Calvin
 
St. Augustine and John Bunyan
will round out the year 2010

These guys weren't perfect, and therein lies the beauty of it – broken and flawed vessels availing themselves to the Holy Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 4:7) to work through them as He saw fit!

I was invited to assume more leadership-type roles at our church a few weeks ago. This really came as a shock to me because I just don't view myself as being all that "Together".. you know? I live in a constant state of amazement that the Bible study I lead each week (going on year #4 now) still puts up with me! On top of this, I am stretched pretty thin just taking care of my children at this stage in their lives. So I regretfully had to decline. However, I did agree to at least play ♫ keys at a men's retreat up in the pines this past weekend, availing myself as a designated 'prayer guy' for any of the men who might want some prayer, or to just talk about stuff they're going through in their lives, and help with some "finish interviews" for recent graduates from DBCC's "Game of Life" course. But even then, I found myself wrestling with doubts as I consider my own withering Christian walk before the LORD . . .  ~  who am * i * to presume to Lead Another In Prayer . .. ? . . to help launch fellows into well-suited ministry/volunteer opportunities .. you know?  Half the time I feel like I just need to * step away * from leadership at my church altogether because of how vile I sense my heart is at times, how inconsistent my Christian walk is . .. how full of sin I know my spirit is .. .

I brought these concerns to a trusted counselor/friend of mine, who responded with the following:

"Tom, what if we were in a war together, wounded yet still able to fight from the trenches, and
  a fellow soldier fell beside us. Wouldn't we try to help him?  Shouldn't we try, even though we
  are wounded ourselves? Of course we should!  Even though we're not 'trained physicians',
  wouldn't you agree it would be unconscionable to hold back when might be able to help?"

The words of Jesus Christ come to mind, warning against correcting behavior in others while harboring gross sin in our own lives! (Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42) —[ And for those quick to point to His preceding words in which He says 'Do not judge'... consider that in the very next verse, He plainly expects us to be cognizant enough to judge the character in others, steering clear of spiritual 'pigs' and 'dogs' . . . Even the apostle Paul wrote a lot about how God expects us to rightly judge character – but that topic is outside the scope of today's topic ]-- The point is: we don't have to be *PERFECT* to be qualified to humbly help another brother. The hypocritical man would claim to be *without* sin, pointing out and correcting the perceived flaws in those around him, all while entertaining something probably even worse in his own private affairs. – I'm not happy with all the crud griming up my soul, but why try to hide what is Plainly Seen by God (and others, most likely) . . ?  Honestly, what would a person hope to gain by putting on airs of false piety? My approach to such matters is more along the lines of what my friend described: we're ALL co-warriors, each of us wounded by various mishaps .. yes, some even self-inflicted (which tend to be the worst). None of us perfect, and yet ALL of us are able to help one another through this muddy, bloody slog of a battle, and eventually on to Ultimate Victory! (see Philippians 3:12-16)

Another friend at work offered his own unique counsel about how self-doubt breeds inaction. He said, "You can't steer a parked car, you know."  Heh . . that does make a lot of sense to me.  And as if to emphasize God's patient grace toward us, a much-loved passage has fallen into focus anew these days:

As a father has compassion on his children,
   So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him;
for He knows how we are formed,
              He remembers that we are dust.

—  Psalm 103:13-14

I can, as a father, *totally* relate when my own children make some bone-headed choice or other (just like me). Of course, mistakes in judgment do not diminish my love for them, nor does it threaten our relationship. The only thing that could distance me from them would be their choice to abandon our relationship altogether, seeking to widen some gap between us. And so it goes, I believe, with God and us.

Beyond the qualifying members of DTS listed above, I also look to a number of contemporary theologians to observe how other clay-footed, imperfect beings follow and serve the Perfect GOD. I'll list a few here who come to mind, in case you wish to explore their works on your own:

Francis Chan (b.1967)
James MacDonald (b.1960)
Alistair Begg (b.1952)
Tim Keller (b.1950)
John Piper (b.1946)
  (over *50* theological books published in the past 20 years)
R. C. Sproul (b.1939)
Chuck Swindoll (b.1934)
Charles Stanley (b.1932)
James D. Kennedy (1930-2007)
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Okay, so the last two have already gone to be with the LORD, but I couldn't resist listing such distinguished examples of Great Christian Men in this post. All these guys live(d) not in perfection, but in Truth and in Honesty! And THAT is what makes their messy, earnest lives so admirable and compelling! Looking even further back in time to some of the 'original Wounded Warriors' reveals an even more motley bunch that God chose to work through . . .

 

Peter Talk about your poster child for disparity before the LORD! Peter proclaimed Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God - and then almost immediately was called 'Satan' by Jesus Himself! He is famous for denying Christ three times, yet was the only other cat with the faith to walk on water with Jesus! Ultimately restored and trusted with the Gospel message, I believe Peter "fought the good fight" imperfectly, but well enough toward the end of his life.
Paul The #1 persecutor of the first Christians, Paul, after encountering Christ in-person, became Jesus' most fervent witness in the first century world at large.
Stephen The first martyr for the faith, he trusted God and proclaimed Christ to his last moment on earth, which was not an easy way to depart this life .. .
James One of the half-brothers of Jesus, came to trust Him as LORD and Savior after Jesus rose from the dead and presented Himself to His followers. Imagine thinking your older brother is *whacked* for so long, only to discover that everything He said about His divinity was TRUE!
Mary Earth-mother of Jesus, chosen by God as a young maiden to bear this eternal blessing / earthly burden . .. What kind of faith did THAT require?!
Joseph And Mary's husband, patient and (eventually) faithful to God's Plan for him and his young wife . . . another one who exhibited tremendous faith and trust in God's designs above and beyond his own perspective.
John The 'Baptist' — got his head chopped off by a shameless public adulterer for adhering to his faith in Christ Jesus! As if subsisting on locust and living in the desert all his [earthly] life wasn't rough enough..!
Elijah & Elisha What a powerhouse tag team for God! These guys lived their faith OUT LOUD, saw God move in ways the rest of history only dreams about, and the elder even got a free no-earthly-death chariot ride up to heaven when his work here was done!
Shadrach
Meshach &
Abednego
THESE three are the very embodiment of Trust in God. They stood up to the most powerful man in the world, declaring that they would rather die to honor the one true God than bow down to a false god set up in statue form by this king. For their troubles, they were thrown into a vast hell-like furnace — and God delivered them without so much as a singe!
Daniel One of my personal heroes of all time . .. served God faithfully through thick and thin, never wavering, praying regularly throughout the day "as was his custom" in a vile and pagan land. (Something to aspire to, yes even in these 'modern' times) Courteous and respectful to the authorities governing him, he nevertheless did not budge in his convictions to serve God rather than men . . no matter how powerful those men may be. And *wow* did God ever work through this guy . . !
Jeremiah What a picture of faith through persecution! He served the LORD faithfully for decades, yet his faith never flagged no matter how horrendous the conditions of his life became. He didn't cop some lousy attitude when things got really REALLY vile for him (like some bloggers, who shall remain nameless..)
David Ah, David . . . the "man after God's own heart" and Supreme Dink of all opportunists! Now here's a guy not afraid to Put It Out There —( not unlike Peter, come to think of it )— a true warrior, a bona-fide sold-out soul to the LORD, and just as stupid as the next guy when his gaze fell upon a gorgeous [married] woman . . . Study his life for a classic exposé on stumbling your way through this life to serve God in earnest, brutal, and absolute honesty!
Jonathan Another grand unsung hero of mine – what a faithful man! Faithful to his dimwit father, faithful to his maligned friend David, and most of all, to God's Bigger Plan which did *not* include him assuming the throne as he rightfully should have -- and just making his heart/attitude OK with this! What faith! What trust in God! — WOW!
Samuel From start to finish, another fellow who embodied a ready heart to follow the LORD's promptings wherever that may lead. He saw some wild things, this guy . . even from beyond the grave!
Ruth & Esther I don't know who I admire more, here . . Ruth, with her willingness to follow Naomi to a strange land, content to live on the edge of society among the poorest rabble, waiting for God to deliver her (which he so *totally* did!) . . . or Esther who, against her well-founded trepidation, got railroaded into heathen royalty, and who bore the hopes of all her people when she dared to face the king (at risk of death) to accuse his top adviser of treachery!
Gideon What a wussy warrior, but faithful to act all the same! You gotta love this guy's trembling reticence to follow what appeared to be an absolute suicide plan as presented by the LORD . . who (of course) delivered him and the Israelites yet again . . .
Joshua The successor of Moses, passionate to just *be* in the LORD's presence in the tent of meeting . .. and full-on Warrior with a capital 'W' . . . Like Jonathan, he embodied pure sold-out passion to follow the LORD, no matter what, no matter where. I *love* this guy's tenacity!  "As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!" (Joshua 24:15)
Caleb The only other faithful man (along with Joshua) who viewed the Promised Land and its horde of hearty oversized denizens as No Threat to God and His order to route them out . . .
Moses No list like this would be proper without mentioning the guy who took his zeal for the LORD and His people, royally screwed it all up, then 'retired' to the bum side of the desert for 40 years before God even called him to lead the Israelites out of captivity. As if that wasn't enough, the dude wrote 'Genesis' (and the rest of the Pentateuch)!
Noah Faithful enough and trusting in the LORD to build an immense ship in the middle of a sun-seared desert, taking some 100 years to do it, all while claiming that God Above was going to flood the whole earth . . . (talk about nerve!)
Noah's wife She believed him – believed in God – and stood by her man through all the bizarro stuff God called him to do . . . wow!
Joseph Held fast to his conviction that God had not abandoned him in the depths of Egypt's dungeons. He literally fled from easy promiscuity, and was falsely accused for his troubles! Yet still he waited patiently for the LORD's timing in all matters. Years later, he was so incredibly blessed for his faithfulness that entire nations were saved by his God-given wisdom!
Jacob Bold enough to literally wrestle with God, this liar and schemer started out brash, but learned humility in time, literally having to lean on the LORD forever after his encounter with Him.
Isaac Trusted his father, and ultimately God, when Abraham laid Isaac down atop the wood on the altar for sacrifice, knowing that somehow, God would deliver them from this impossible nightmare situation!
Abraham Wow... trusted God to just 'Go!' . . leading his people to who-knows-where, tested like no other man in history, blessed for his faith with long life, power and wealth, and of all things, the birth of God's chosen nation!
Sarah Abraham's wife, though barren until 90 years of age, believed in her husband and his God enough to follow him everywhere, submit to his plans (or lack thereof), trusting that God would come good on His promise - after mocking Him! - which of course God did.
Job A true horror story come to life, this guy TRUSTED God though he lost *everything*!  One of the most profound testaments of faith, trusting in the goodness of God, EVER recorded in history.
Enoch Not much is known about this 7th generation (literally.. ever) man, except that like Elijah, he too walked so closely with the LORD that one day, God just swept him up and away from earth (Genesis 5:24). What a strange account, but so very very cool!
     

 

Oh man, I could go on all night like this! There are SO MANY fantastic examples in the Bible (and history) of God working through inept, imperfect, thrashed and doubtful Wounded Warriors . . . Some He delivered literally from the mouths of lions!  And some... well... He allowed to be horribly dispatched on this side of Eternity.  :-\  But WHAT an Epic Story to be a part of, eh?  What Better Truth could one hope to reflect than the glory of God, even if we ALL are nothing more than just a bunch of hacks when you really come down to it?  ~  Reminds me of one last verse:

 

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things
— and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so
that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you
are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God —
that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore,
as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!"

—  1 Corinthians 1:27

 

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