, and with it God has pressed me to share a special study on what He would have for both those of us who serve/served (a great many of us who serve in law enforcement have also served or are serving in the military) and for those
"serve and protect" as well.
Let's start with some background. Veterans Day is NOT Memorial Day. Veterans Day honors all who have served (and are serving) in the U.S. military, while Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of our nation (see
What is the the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
). In short, Veterans Day is very much about the living (and with it, the
God has for vets, law enforcement and civilians alike).
The freedoms we enjoy today in America, including the freedom to move from place to place as we wish; the freedom to elect our governing officials, the freedom to assemble, speak and protest lawfully; freedom from tyranny; the freedom to gather openly to worship and even the freedom I have to share this study (at least for now) are all freedoms that have been bought at a terrible price (in blood).
Likewise, ultimate freedom -- including freedom from the ravages of sin and hell -- is available to all who repent and place their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, also came a terrible price (also in blood).
In our military and police world, we commonly see incredible heroism --
-- being displayed by those the world would call "common." Likewise, it was the most common of commoners -- the son of a poor Jewish carpenter -- who displayed the ultimate valor in laying down His life for others.
So with this foundation in place, let's explore just 2 verses of Scripture (
2 Timothy 2:3-4
) that point us to what God has for us on this special day.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer.
This passage gives us 4 E-words for us to explore on Veterans Day:
ENLIST, ENDURE, ENGAGE
You can’t become a veteran if you don’t enlist. As Paul says in another translation, “A soldier wants to please his enlisting officer” (
2 Timothy 2:3-4
NCV). Thankfully, our country no longer uses a forced draft. Recruitment officers are sent out to encourage people to volunteer, but men and women have the freedom to choose whether or not to serve in the American military today.
Likewise, God does not force anyone to serve in the service of His Kingdom Army. He does send out recruitment officers, like you and I, to encourage people to serve in His Army, but it’s our choice. People make the decision for different reasons. Maybe you were brought up with the faith of your parents, maybe you sensed God’s leading in your life, or maybe you came to Christ looking for a sense of purpose and direction. No matter the reason, it’s a life
decision and not one to be taken lightly. Jesus said, “
If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower. Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower
Following Jesus is a life-altering commitment that requires full devotion. It’s a personal pledge that you are going to let Christ become the
(General, Chief) of your life.
: American soldiers in ever branch of the military have a lot to endure, not the least of which is the grueling physical punishment experienced during basic training, officer candidate school, BUDS (SEAL training), Airborne, etc. This kind of training involves PAIN -- and those who are successful learn to "embrace the suck" (my fellow vets will know exactly what that means).
As Paul told Timothy, “
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ
2 Timothy 2:3
NKJV). Thank God and our Armed Forces that we live in a country where Christians don’t experience the kind of hardships they do in other parts of the world—hardships like the ones Paul experienced. During his missionary journeys Paul was flogged, stoned, shipwrecked and much more. But even in America, life is full of hardships. Bad things happen. Our faith if tested.
Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is hell!”
Whether it be in the military or in law enforcement, we MUST be prepared (trained) and willing to ENGAGE the enemy/law breakers. Through training and actual combat, we training exercises and combat practice they stay sharp and vigilant, always prepared for battle.
As Christians we need to do the same. As Paul explains, “
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
NIV). King David understood this concept as well: "
Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle
In other words, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we have to be prepared to engage in spiritual warfare. We battle temptation. We are called to boldly share our faith while standing opposed to false teachings and worldviews that are hostile toward biblical Christianity. We are called to defend our faith with reason and precision. We can’t be afraid to stand up for Jesus either in the public square or in our personal relationships.
And in the Lord’s Army, we aren’t fighting alone. Just as soldiers in a squad, platoon or company depend on each other, Christians rely on our church family and (for us cops) our FCPO chapters to support us, encourage us and stand beside us ("backup"). Most importantly, we have the "
God of angel armies
" -- the ultimate warrior King (
) -- on our side!
: The last e-word that Paul uses in these two verses is entangled: “
No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life
2 Timothy 2:4
During OCS training, I heard a story about a young candidate who asked his commanding officer for a pass so he could attend a wedding. The officer gave him the pass, but informed the young man he would have to be back by 1900 (7 p.m.) on Sunday. “You don’t understand, Sir,” said the sailor. “I’m in the wedding.” “No, you don’t understand,” the officer shot back. “You’re in the Navy!”
When you take your oath to serve under the American flag (be it military or law enforcement), you are expected to be completely committed to your country and to allow nothing to prevent you from performing your duties and serving faithfully.
Likewise, when you serve under God's (Christian) standard, you are also expected to be completely committed to Christ and His Kingdom. You are expected to serve Him faithfully, not allowing anything to keep you from doing His will (and, praise God, we who are "in Christ" have the Holy Spirit to help us).
Unfortunately, countless Christians, after coming to a saving faith in Christ, find themselves entangled in the affairs of this world. They let other things become more important to them than Jesus. In fact, Jesus told a story about that very thing. He talked about a farmer who scattered seed everywhere he went. Then Jesus said, “
The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity
We need to be careful about the things we let distract us from Jesus. As Paul has said elsewhere, “
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
Finally, it is vital that we understand that a great many of our brethren (the majority in law enforcement) serve without a saving faith (thus outside of God's saving grace and protection). Rather, they choose to utter "
rest in peace
" in the false (unbiblical) belief that all who serve -- even non-Christians -- will be saved when in truth "
" applies ONLY to those who are in a genuine, life-saving/life-changing personal relationship with God in Christ (a Christian as only God gets to define the word) at the time of their death (see "
Rest In Peace?
Others quote Scripture verses such as
Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends
.") in the false belief that their so-called "good works," service and sacrifice in law enforcement and/or the military will provide a "free pass" into heaven and out of hell. Folks, context is critical, and part of this context is found in the 2 verses that follow: "
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
Clearly, this passage of Scripture points to history's greatest and most fearsome (to His enemies)
who, out of love, willingly laid down His life to rescue (save) all who would repent of their sin and surrender to Him in faith (and thus become His "friends").
The context here should now be clear: who are Jesus' "friends"? ONLY those who truly know Him as Lord and Savior as evidenced by obeying His commands and living for Him (see
What is true friendship?
). So does this describe you? If not, or if you're not sure, stay with me!
To all my fellow vets,
THANK YOU for your service
. Likewise, let's give thanks to our true Commander in Chief, Jesus Christ, for His ultimate protection, service and sacrifice on our behalf (our sure VICTORY over death and evil is because of Him and Him alone).
In closing, and with this study in mine, let me again ask the most important question that can be asked. Do YOU
Christ -- the ultimate warrior and vet -- as Lord and Savior? Are you "saved" (a genuine Christian) as God defines it? If you died today, would you go to heaven or to hell? Why? And are you sure of your answer?
If not (you had BETTER be right...), then I plead with you --
of the eternal kind -- to scroll down to the
Happy Veterans Day!
(1) Do you
believe that you can "earn" or otherwise "badge" your way into heaven and escape hell because you consider yourself to be a "
" cop, "good" warrior or "good" person? That you can be "good" enough without God? That you "deserve" heaven because of your so-called "good" service? Take the
Good Person Test
and see how you do!
(2) Jesus' first recorded words in His earthly ministry were and remain, "
Repent and believe in the Good News
is a "180" -- a complete,
change of mind and heart as it relates to our sin (as God defines it). To "believe" (
in the original Greek) as Jesus intends it here is to wholeheartedly trust and
your life to Him in faith in the same way we have "faith" that our body armor will do its job against the rounds it is intended to stop; that a well-maintained weapon will function properly when used in defense against criminals intent on destroying us or others; or that our parachute will open when it is supposed to (we stake our very lives on it)! For more, see
What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
(3) This same concept of "
" (the saving kind) is further revealed in
where Jesus says, "
... you must be born again
." Again, note our Lord's emphasis on the word "
" (not "may" or "should" or even "someday"): this is ultimately the life-saving AND life-changing personal relationship (and NOT "religion") with Jesus Christ that I stress here every week (see
What does it mean to be a born again Christian
? [hint -- there is no other kind]).
(5) Need more? Then check out this powerful, short video message from police servant-leader
Cops and Salvation
(6) Have you now said "yes" to Jesus as Lord and Savior but are wondering what to do next? The "now what" is also an important part in dealing with the issues that can lead to suicide and sin in general. Click on,