North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    One of the things I wanted to bring to my fellow Soldiers during my military service was the gift of “Encouragement”. Everybody needs it and it helps individuals and groups persevere through difficult times. But no matter how inspiring or encouraging a person may be it’ll only help so much. There’s a limit to one’s “intestinal fortitude” inside and outside the military environment. What everyone needs, though some may deny it, is an all-consuming, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a touch from God, a divine power source that can help them overcome the mountains and challenges of life.    In my Army officer training for chaplaincy there’s certainly an emphasis on religious support; that’s what military chaplains do. And spirituality is a foundational guide to the chaplaincy corp. But there is, I’ve found, a lack of evangelism emphasis that’s placed in the chaplain’s arsenal. The emphasis on evangelism is highly personal and is to be used at the discretion of the chaplain. We have to adopt a pluralistic mindset; which means holding our deepest religious convictions and differences, not in isolation, but in relationship to one another. It’s expected of the chaplain to be a model of balanced-living; not given to too much of anything other than the ministry of presence in times of war and peace.

    At the on-set of my military chaplain career, I didn’t pressure, or emphasize greatly, if you will, that Soldiers needed to be saved. I certainly didn’t hesitate to share the pathway to salvation if a Soldier asked me. And I had given my testimony many times. But I would never say, “Hey Soldier, your problem is that you need God and if you don’t get Him, you’re going to hell!” While I had a call to missions, I hadn’t been trained to do ministry that way in the military. Salvation and how to gain it was not emphasized to a great extent at the chaplain’s school.

    While at annual training (AT) in Virginia, there were seven Army chaplains assembled to provide religious support (RS) to some 1500 military personnel. One of the chaplains I met was CH Knach. He served in a unit from New York. At the time he was one rank higher than me and was the supervising chaplain. After our first UMT (Unit Ministry Team) meeting he heard I was also a Southern Baptist minister. He called me to the side and said, “Dobson, are you introducing your Soldiers to Christ? Are you winning them for Jesus? Are you showing them how to be saved? Are you preaching the gospel to them? Tell me Dobson, how many have you led to Christ? Are you giving them the love of Jesus?”

    I thought to myself, “Who is this guy?” He’s mighty bold getting in my face and asking questions like that! Is he trying to insult me? What’s his game in this?” He was like an intimidating bull dog barking at me. Initially I thought he was arrogant and I tried to avoid him. A few days later while talking to God during my morning prayer, I realized this was God’s Word of encouragement for me! I needed those questions asked of me with the passion CH Knach possessed! He got my attention. What have I been waiting for? Here I am with the answer to all of life’s problems: It’s JESUS! From that point on, rather than give my Soldiers some positive thinking, a Scripture, and send them on their way, I vowed to God I’d start introducing them to Christ at every opportunity. The importance of faith can’t be overly emphasized. Faith is necessary to salvation, serenity, and security.

    It’s important we share faith because it brings “PARDON”. May people are trying to get to Heaven on their good works, but this is impossible. Regardless of one’s intensity and sincerity, self-effort can’t bring pardon. When God sent an earthquake to deliver Paul and Silas from the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, the keeper asked in desperation, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The requirements for forgiveness of sins are the same today as they were in Paul’s day. Those who repent must simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    Faith is important because it brings “PURITY”. The Holy Spirit purifies Christians who unreservedly yield self-will to God’s will. It’s called sanctification by faith (Acts 26:18). You can’t reserve certain portions of your life for yourself and expect a new release. God will settle for nothing less than complete surrender. He must come first.

    A third reason to share faith is to bring “PEACE”. Peace isn’t gained by possessions, pleasure, meditation, or psychology alone. There’s no real peace outside of God. Peace can’t be earned or purchased. It’s God’s free gift to His children. By committing our lives to do His will, God then bears the responsibility to give us peace.

    Faith brings pardon, purity, peace, and finally it brings “POWER”. Naturally, military power is necessary for survival. But the power of God is the greatest need of humankind. Hope and help are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 1:16 says, “The power of God comes to us by our belief in Christ”. Faith makes it possible to live, succeed, and survive. With God’s power manifested in your life, sins are forgiven, burdens are lifted, problems are solved, and your disappointments are turned into His appointments.

     CH Knach told me before we departed the mission: “Dobson, Southern Baptists have a rich history in mission work. That’s why I drilled you. You’re called to this; we all are, no matter what denomination we represent.” After a parting prayer, I thanked him. I had been renewed, revived, and a fire in me had been rekindled.

    As you face the coming days, don’t give people “hell” and the world’s way—you give them “JESUS” because he’s the only true way to abundant living.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s the author of the following books: “Living With Purpose (Volume’s I and II)”; “Soldiers of God: A Bible Study Guide for Spiritual Warfare” and “The Authentic Teenager: A Bible Study Guide to Truth and Positive Living” and “Spiritual Fitness For Runners” and “Understanding the Higher Power”. Matthew can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living.

Posted by on Dec 12 2015. Filed under Church News, Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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