Thank You: An (Apologetically Late) Letter to Veterans & The Members of Our Military

This past Saturday, amazing people– people who served in unthinkable wars, and survived some of the world’s most brutal trauma– were celebrated, during Veteran’s Day.

But, honestly and sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, Veteran’s Day was not a holiday that I held in the forefront of my mind– at all. Reading BeautyBeyondBone’s post on how this holiday was basically ignored, I felt both convicted for not truly observing this holiday, and inspired to, once again, write on warfare in honor of Veteran’s Day, all at once.

But what was I to write?

After prayer and the Holy Spirit showing a couple of things to me, I believe I am led to write a short post of appreciation for all of my fellow Americans in the military, while also praying for their safety according to Psalm 91. Here it is.


 

Dear Fellow Americans in the Military– and those who are now out of it as Veterans,

From the deepest part of my heart, thank you. Thank you for mustering up the courage, bravery, and seflessness to do such a thing as put your lives out on the line for our freedom: freedom to speak our opinions, freedom to pursue the lifestyles and careers we want, and most importantly, the freedom to worship.

We all know that in other places in the world, Christians are not allowed to even openly believe in Jesus and His Work on the cross, much less meet together to celebrate, worship, and learn from Him through the Word being taught by pastors and teachers. It amazes me that Christ would plant me in America, born in the west, so that I might know Him from an early age, and grow in my relationship and walk with Him with little to no persecution. He could have planted me, planted us, in so many other places, all around the world, but He didn’t.

In Revelation 19, Jesus is called “Faithful and True,” the One who will rain down divine judgment and war (Revelation 19:11). This Mighty Warrior, Jesus, once called an ordinary man– one just like you and me– to fight for the liberation of Israel. His name was Gideon.
Gideon was scared at the thought of fighting against those who were oppressing Israel, the Midianites. But, in the midst of this man’s doubts, fears, and weaknesses, God said this.

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.
(Judges 6:12, NIV)

Whether you believe in Jesus or not, dear friend, I pray you would understand that Jesus is not a religion. He is a person; a person who deeply Loves and Cares about you. Every anxiety, every fiery trial full of gun fights, and every moment of PTSD-like memories you have, Jesus is right there, waiting for you to call on Him as Lord and Savior, for help. Please do not refuse His Help. For, with Him alone as your Lord and Savior, you have the ultimate victory.

I pray that this has blessed, and encouraged you. I wanted to bless you, by praying Psalm 91 over you.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

     Please bring these men and women to come to know You, so that they might rest in Your Shadow, and call you their Refuge and Fortress.
Please help them to trust in You when they are afraid (Psalm 56:3).

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.

     Please save them from falling into temptation, and the traps of their physical and spiritual enemies.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

     Jesus, please cover these active men and women with Your Feathers.
When all of the fighting and memories get to be too much, please be their refuge.
Please show Your Faithfulness to them– for it is great, Father God.

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

     As they are in the middle of the worst of the worst, Lord Jesus, I pray that You would protect and safeguard each man and woman who is fighting. I pray for amazing miracles, Jesus, to happen on the battlefield– miracles that will speak even to their enemies of who You are, so that all might come to know You!

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.

     Please give these men and women the faith to call upon You as their Refuge, dear Jesus.
     Remove the lies and fears that their own minds and their enemies give them; make them strong and bold in You.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

     Dear Jesus,
     Do amazing things before the eyes of these men, women, and the people they are fighting to protect. Do supernatural, awe-inspiring things in their midst, so that they will know that You are LORD alone.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

     Dear Jesus,
     Please bring back these men and women safely! Over EVERYTHING, dear Jesus, may they know You alone as their Lord and Savior!
I pray that they would have a humongous testimony of Your Faithfulness and Help in their lives, Jesus. May they call upon You, and always rely upon Your Love for them and Your blood– nothing else. 

     Please help those who are struggling with what has happened to them– who feel it is impossible to reconcile the fact that You are a Good, Loving God, with the things they have seen. In their doubt and anger, may You show Yourself to be real to them, despite their questions.

     Thank You, Lord Jesus. 

     In Jesus’ Name I pray,
     Amen!

You are all very Loved by Jesus, and by those who are calling upon Christ for you.
Thank you, again, for your service.

With Love, in Christ,
Annalee



Do you know Jesus?

This same God– this “Mighty Warrior,” called the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) — is also called “The Lamb that was slain, for the sins of the world” (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8). But why did Jesus have to die? Why did He willingly become a man, to be sacrificed for your sin and mine? Read more about Jesus– and why He did what He did– here.

 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
(John 15:13, NIV)

Thank a Veteran or member of your military for their service, today. Thank you for your love and prayers!!!

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Spiritual Armor: Protecting Oneself for the Fight

In the past two blog posts, “The Noble Soldier” and “The Army with the Afterlife in Mind,”  I have been discussing the concept of how the military here on earth– especially the militaries fighting ISIS and radical islamic terrorism– are very much like “The Lord’s Army,” all Christ Followers who are seeking to glorify Christ and fight evil, darkness, sin, and oppression by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But through writing these posts, one thing came to the forefront of my mind: with what does the Christian soldier fight with, in the battle against darkness? I felt it important to 1) address the reality and importance of the enemy’s schemes in our lives, and 2) express what the Bible says about how we fight back.

The Christian Life: A Battleground

Many Christians today, especially in the West, see their discipleship to Christ as something they do on Sundays, or whenever they meet for church. Because Christianity can be, as of now, openly practiced in the United States of America, many Christians do not take their walk with Christ seriously. They see their walks in this life as more of a playground, instead of a battleground. (This is not, of course, stating that to have fun and enjoy life is sinful, or unwise– everything has been given to us by Jesus for our enjoyment, 1 Timothy 6:17).

But, nothing could be further from the truth. Without using scare tactics to freak out Christians about the enemy, the truth is that there is an enemy of our souls.battleground

Here is what the Bible says about the enemy of our souls, satan.

Knowing Our Enemy

It is important to note that not everything bad that happens in our lives is directly from satan’s scheming; much of the time, it is also our sin and it’s consequences, or the result of living in a broken world, one riddled by sin (1 Peter 4:15; Romans 8:19-23).

But, every good soldier must have a good understanding of the enemy they are fighting. The Bible says:

  • He (satan) fell from his place in heaven because of pride, wanting to be God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
  • He can come deceitfully, under the guise even of an “angel of light”
    • And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  • He comes to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10)
    • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John  10:10)
  • He tempts humanity, even Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11)
  • He incites humanity.
    • “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21)
  • He is “The Accuser of the Brethren,” accusing us night and day, bringing false guilt and condemnation. (Revelation 12:7-10)
  • He prowls around, like a lion (not as a lion), looking to see whom He can deceive and destroy.
    • Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Think about that last point. satan prowls around– not as the Lion (as in the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ), but like a lion, a false and cowardly imitation of Christ. Cowardly as he is, satan prowls around, looking for someone to devour.
The definition of “devour” is “to consume destructively.” This definition provides a wake-up call for Believers: You have an enemy that, though he cannot touch your salvation, wants to destroy your life, your testimony to Christ, and your walk with Christ.

With such a formidable enemy ready to attack us, what can the Christian do to defend themselves, as well as to attack the enemy?

Ephesians 6 is full of scripture about spiritual warfare, but James 4:7 uncovers one powerful way a Christian can cause satan to literally run away.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
(James 4:7, NIV)

It’s simple, yet it involves us humbling ourselves before Christ, and doing His Will (therefore rejecting the devil). When we do this, the enemy has no other choice than submit to Christto flee from us!

Fighting The Enemy

It is in this humble submission to our Loving Jesus that Ephesians 6 encourages us to stand firm and strong against the enemy.

Ephesians 6 starts out this way: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth‘” (Ephesians 6:1-3). What is the common thread here? Submission! In submitting to those who are higher up and/or leading you, your relationship and spiritual life flourishes. 

Diving into Ephesians 6:10, submitting to Christ and to those He has placed over your life, Paul discusses the many different ways a Believer can stay strong against the enemy’s attacks, discussed below (I am using this Bible Study guide as my main resource for this portion of the Blogpost.):

  • The belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14)
    • The belt of truth keeps one’s sword-carrier and the rest of their armor intact (source). Without Truth, the rest of a person’s spiritual armor is in grave danger of falling off!
    • Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one gets to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). Without Jesus as the Truth, everything else in a person’s life is in danger.
  • The breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)
    • The breastplate protected one’s abdomen and vital organs. Without righteousness, the enemy can go straight for the heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. — causing catastrophic damage in the spiritual life of a person. 
    • 1 Corinthians 1:30 states, “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.” Jesus Christ is, for the Believer, Righteousness. Without Him, we have no life, and are subject to death, much like a person who has wounded his vital organs.
  • “Feet Fitted with the Readiness that Comes from the Gospel of Peace” (Ephesians 6:15)
    • The feet are some of the most delicate parts of the body, especially when it comes to their undersides/the sole of the foot. In the middle of the battle, one needs shoes that provide protection from debris, and allow the fighter to focus on the battle at hand. 
    • When we are focused on Jesus, and on sharing His Gospel with those around us, we are given a firm foundation, ready to fight and protected from the many distractions of life.
  • The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:16)
    • The Shield of Faith is not just something one puts on; one needs to wield their shield of faith, especially as the enemy shoots his fiery darts of discouragement, doubt, fear, and temptation. Believing Jesus’ promises can help us “curve” these fiery darts!
    • Psalm 3:3 proclaims that Jesus is our Shield: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. It has been said that it does not matter how much faith you have, as much as it matters where you put that faith in. Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” (John 14:1). Trusting in Jesus as our Shield and Promise-Keeper keeps us safe from satan’s attacks.
  • The Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)
    • The helmet can mean life or death for those in the middle of warfare, as the brain is the most vital organ of the body. When one keeps Jesus’ sacrifice at the forefront of their minds, it protects their minds from distractions and discouragements (source).
    • Jesus is our Savior, the One who has saved us! Keeping our eyes and thoughts on Jesus protects us from the evil one.
  • The Sword of the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)
    • The Sword of the Word of God, held by the belt of Truth, is the way to fight back against the enemy of our souls.
    • Think about it: the more we know the Word of God, the more we know the promises of God; the more we are focused on Jesus and spreading His Gospel; and the more we are rooted in the Truth, that Jesus is our Righteousness! Learning how to yield the Sword of God is crucial to our spiritual health. More than this, Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1).
  • The Cloak of Zeal (Isaiah 59:17)
    • While not mentioned in Ephesians 6, the cloak of zeal is mentioned in Isaiah 59:17, which says, “He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.” Our zeal and passion for Jesus can keep us from even the worst of outside conditions, just as cloak protected one against the outside elements. Like a coat, today, zeal keeps a soldier performing at their peak.
    • Our zeal must be based on right knowledge; many people have zeal today, but it is based in something evil or sinful. It was Jesus’ zeal to obey the Father and be the propitiation for our sins that saved us; when we base our zeal on Jesus and sharing His Gospel, no one can put that flame out!

Make no joke; our enemy is a formidable one. But, with submitting to Christ; putting on Jesus as our Righteousness and Truth; resting in His Salvation and Gospel; and growing in Faith in Him and zeal for Him, nothing the enemy does can keep us from walking in Christ’s victory.

christ's victory

As important to our spiritual walk as the clothes a soldier wears on a daily basis, I pray that we would put on our spiritual armor. May we walk close to Jesus, our Commander, in the midst of this fight. For, unlike an earthly commander, Jesus is with us– always.



Do you know Jesus?

Are you wounded, today?
Has the fight of life you are in seemingly decimated you?
Even when we are too weak to stand, Jesus is right there, ready and waiting to lift us up, and strengthen us, just as David said in Psalm 3: “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high” (Psalm 3:3).

In these times, we can call to Jesus for Refuge, and rest under His Loving Care (1 Peter 5:7). Because Jesus is not just our military Commander, barking out orders; He is our Loving Father, deeply interested in every detail of our lives (Psalm 37:23).

Learn about this Powerful, Loving, God– Jesus Christ– and just how much He Loves you, here.



Please pray for…

  • The Chibok girls; as of today, there are 113 of them still in captivity. Please pray for a breakthrough in their hearts, minds and lives!
  • Those who are on the physical front lines, including soldiers, aid workers, and members of vigilante groups, especially in Nigeria. Please pray that they would all come to know Jesus, and would fight under His ultimate Lead and Protection.
  • Those who are on the spiritual front lines, including missionaries, clergymen, and every Christian involved in the daily fight against evil (which is all of us, in some form or fashion!). Please pray for protection, wisdom, guidance, discernment, and boldness as they fight the good fight of faith.
  • The members of Boko Haram, deeply influenced by evil and falsehood. Please pray that Jesus would bring even these men to trust in Him, and would turn their lives around for His Glory, just like Saul (also known as Paul) (Acts 9).
  • For the continued protection and sustaining of those who are caught in this evil crossfire.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

The Noble Soldier

This post is dedicated to the four American green berets that lost their lives fighting terror in Tongo Tongo, Niger, along with the countless men and women who give their lives every day in the military.

On October 4th, 2017, four soldiers from the United States were killed in a fire fight between US/Nigerien soldiers and ISIS. In the firefight, one soldier named Sargent La David Johnson, was separated from the rest of the team. After the fight had ended, it took an extra 48 hours to find his body, to bring it back to Dover Air Force Base on October 7th.

This sad, sad news reminds me that it is not only civilians that are suffering in this insurgency, that has now spread to most of the Middle East and Africa. Be it Boko Haram, or ISIS (they are one in the same– Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015), this insurgency is killing hundreds of innocent soldiers, soldiers who have given their lives so that Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are vanquished.

These men and women are not just numbers and statistics. Behind every fallen soldier is a mother left without a son; a man left without his best friend; and a wife or husband left without their spouse. Millions– millions of people outside of those directly attacked by Boko Haram– have lost their fighting loved ones to Boko Haram. Continue reading