The purpose of this BLOG (aka Field Manual) is to cut to the chase. Expose the mystery (G3466 hidden thing, secret, mystery) of the gospel (Eph 6:19), and make the truths useful.
Why? Because the truth will bring clarity to life, and cause the tough times to strengthen you rather than break you.
In Naval aviation we had what was called NATOPS - Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization. It had, for example, the automatic ejection procedures for out-of-control-flight passing 10,000 ft. AGL: EJECT!. I lost one good friend, Todd "Gunny" Bridges, who stayed with the aircraft passing 10,000 ft. trying to recover it. He, for the fraction of a second, tried to use his skill to defy physics and airmen before him who wrote the procedure in their blood. A point we will get to in the FIELD MANUAL, is the bible is a lot like NATOPS, it is written in blood.
2Pe 3:15 (NKJV) and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
The goal is that each successive chapter/blog, drills down on critical understanding that helps unravel the "mystery of the gospel" (Eph 6:19), establishing a starting point and stepping stones. One of the best examples of what I am attempting, is Rom 8:28 which I heard over and over growing up, but without a user manual, it was mystic and so all but meaningless to me. I will walk through that verse in CONCEPT 1 and it's embedded promises and foreshadowing, essentially breadcrumbs leading to stepping stones - which provided ultimately firm ground as I dug my feet in for understanding.
Concerning seeking understanding; the below verse from Daniel is an invaluable promise to all who seek God, expanded out in other scriptures. I find this particular verse interesting in the story unfolding with Daniel. The speaker is a messenger from God, an angel, and he is not speaking his words, but God's words, as angels are messengers:
Dan 10:12 (NIV) Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
CONCEPT 1: CALLED TO SERVICE
Rom 8:28 (KJV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Honestly this seemed meaningless and hollow growing up. Like most folks, when the bad things happened like a parent dying young, these words where absolutely useless explaining anything. Finally, when I was older, much older and desperately seeking to make sense of all the woes that persist in the world and life, I just asked God for a cornerstone of scripture I could build on that brought perspective. In my little quiet inner mind I followed it back to Romans 8:28... but this time I read beyond the abstract first sentence:
Rom 8:28-29 (NIV) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to hispurpose.. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son...
This was a MAJOR ah-ha for me... it established: that there was a decision to make, did I believe in him or not?, and did I love Him; and that there was a purpose. It importantly stated that the purpose wasn't necessarily some grandiose plan to build a church in middle of nowhere Africa, but simply to begin conforming me to image, or likeness of Jesus, and included assuming I loved Him. That's simple. A role model, and a path to emulation. If I didn't love him why the heck would I emulate him. That was simple but foundational. It made particular sense because my earthly role model died when I was young, and I was always skeptically sizing up authority figures as replacements. Notice I skipped over "predestined", as that is a longer subject to get to, and believe it or not, there is a path to appreciating the whole concept and how it fits into life.
CONCEPT 2: TRAINED FOR BATTLE
Once this sunk in, then all of a sudden James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Sounds like training steps: joy, trials, testing, persevere, mature...
This sounds a heck of a lot like boot camp, flight school, special forces school, SERE school, etc., I joyfully join military to be torn down and rebuilt. The more intense each successive training, the better prepared and equipped I am able to fight the enemy in any battlefield.
This is simple stuff, yet for me, it was elusive for a long time, and still a battlefield of the mind way to frequently.
So, in likening this blog to an Army Field Manual, I was shooting to contrast the idea of the Army of the Lord in the sense that we are soldiers:
2Ti 2:3 (KJV) Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Yet, keeping a complete perspective, we also see that as soldiers there is a very different war raging than the straight forward “kinetic” war. It more likens to a “cyber” war that also bleeds over into life and physical domain.
CONCEPT 3: THE BATTLEFIELD
2Co 10:3 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
So there it is... it is more complicated than just taking out enemies/problems/anger with bullets or money or booze.
2Co 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 2Co 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
But this confuses again... strongholds, and casting down arguments and every high thing... what does this mean and how do I apply that to the "image/likeness of his Son" which I am suppose to be conforming to.
So the passage begins setting up how much of the battle is in my mind. And the mind, like a juicy database in cyber warfare, is a major target of the cyber criminals and nation-states. So the idea of being conformed really plays out in my mind. Well, yes, that's called decisions I make, such as whether to cuss at someone who just cut me off in traffic, or be patient and politely ignore them. Or as my wife would do, actually pray of them. That is still beyond me as a military guy.
But as the passage says, "thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" sounds an awful lot like "conformed to the image/likeness of his Son (Christ).
So now if look at CONCEPTS 1, 2, 3:
SO I can now know that I can joyfully live through trials, they serve a purpose like military training, that they conform me into a Christ version of Special Forces, and that the most common battlefield in my own mind.
Ok, I get that.
CONCEPT 4: COMMANDING GENERAL ORDERS
Dan 10:21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth.
Like with any type of written history, laws, orders, manuals, etc. the basis of our seeking, understanding and obeying God is his word which we have recorded in the bible. Since this manual is a series of studies digesting the Bible, a key reference point (at least in what I believe) is that the bible (in the original Hebrew and Greek/Aramaic) is inerrant (follow link for more on topic), which may have an effect on your willingness to accept the deeper meanings which radiant out of the studies. My own experience (Doug) is the deeper you dig, the more profound it gets, and I am convinced the Bible is direct from God, which is simpler than theological words like inerrant. It's from the Commanding General of the Army of God, and as a soldier I consider it my marching order, mysterious and cryptic or not.
Pro 30:5 (NKJV) Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Heb 11:3 (NKJV) By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
2Pe 3:5 (NKJV) For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
Luk 4:4 (NKJV) But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' ”
To really plant the seed, take root, and grow, it is key to appreciate the "word of God".
Luk 8:11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Heb 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
And here is where it gets even more interesting,
Jhn 1:14 (NKJV) And the Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is here identified as the Logos (capital L as proper name), the living word, the word of God, the mystery of the gospel, fulfilling prophecy.
Rev 19:13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word (logos) of God. Rev 19:16 (NKJV) And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
These verses in Revelations simply reflect Jesus is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end,
As we progressively build this Manual, there will be verses that will be taken from different versions of the bible in key word searches, the results can seem completely different. Which forces one to understand the deeper context, as it is deep in every sense of the word. It takes using the concordance and lexicon of the words in the original Hebrew and Aramaic. I use the online Blue Letter Bible which I am linking to for this blog.
CONCEPT 5: PERFECTED FOR A MISSION
Back to Romans 8:28
(NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son...
Now we are getting to some seriously important points that tie all things together. One that makes perfect sense for a military person.
When you join the military, and go to boot camp, you come to understand there is a breaking down process and a rebuilding process. The idea is you from from "I" to "Team" and that whatever you Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is going to be, you are trained, and trained, and trained some more. If you are infantry in the Army, and ultimately a Green Beret and Special Forces, you really understand not just training but breaking down and testing. Everyday is a test of mind, body and spirit. Final, you earn the Special Forces tab, and you understand the reason for all the hardship, especially after engaged in a Direct Action assault. You are a machine and working in perfect harmony with your team.