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I have been beaten time without number. I have faced death again and again. I have been beaten the regulation thirty-nine stripes by the Jews five times. I have been beaten with rods three times. I have been stoned once. I have been shipwrecked three times. Another time would come on his way to Rome. I have been twenty-four hours on the open sea. I have faced danger in the city streets, danger in the desert, danger on the high seas, danger among false Christians. I have known exhaustion, pain, long vigils, hunger and thirst, doing without meals.

I have been cold and have lacked clothing. Do you think anyone is weak without my feeling his weakness? Does anyone have his faith upset without my own longing to restore him? That's the sort of dignified exit I can boast about! And then meditate, if you will, on his words in reference to his hardships: He called them "light afflictions!

Paul goes on to say, "One who goes to war doesn't ever get himself entangled in the everyday business affairs of this world. We must keep our "eyes fixed on Jesus, both the source and the goal of our faith. Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.

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It is not a matter of looking for the hardships of wartime austerity, but the Bible does warn us that they will come and that to please the One who has called us to be a soldier, we need to toughen up. Paul emphasized to the Christians in Corinth that though we live in this world, it is not a flesh and blood battle that we are waging. Therefore, "…the weapons of our warfare are not of human design and forge, but are divinely potent for the destruction of the enemy's strongholds in our minds, casting down imaginations and every imposing defense that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

Have you ever asked your friends, "What are you thinking about? Our minds are always active-even in our sleep. The research that is currently being conducted on the brain and how it functions is yielding fantastic insights to the Scripture, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made…intricately and curiously fashioned…" Psalm The capacity of our minds to think, to reason, to draw conclusions, to analyze and to dream is phenomenal. And to make choices.

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There is the key. We have a choice not only in our actions but also in the very thoughts we think. In fact, it is the thoughts of our yesterdays that become the actions of our todays. Thus, Scripture admonishes us to think on these things: "Whatever is true and honorable and just, whatever is kind and gracious, whatever is pure and praiseworthy, fix your mind on these things.

But when cure is necessary, when we have allowed the enemy to establish a stronghold in our minds, we must "declare war. That stronghold must be destroyed-in this case by humbling ourselves and asking the person for forgiveness.


What if's and If only's also erect huge enemy strongholds in our minds. And though we have asked forgiveness of God and the others involved-and they have assured us of their forgiveness, we cannot forgive ourselves. The stronghold the enemy has built around those thoughts keeps them going 'round and 'round in our minds to the extent of causing despair, and even causing thoughts of suicide.

Whereas if only's refer to laments of the past, what if's speak of the anxieties of the future. These walls of anxiety-fear-that are built up around our minds disallow us the freedom to think God's thoughts of creativity and determinative action. They keep us locked in a prison of immobility. Jesus said in His discourse on healthy living, "Take no anxious thought for tomorrow. Thus, also to be dealt with are the what, where, when, why and how's of today. The frustrations of the present can be equally immobilizing.

Having a firm grasp on His will for my life and walking with Him in those chosen steps does a lot to keep me focused. Trusting in His sovereign Plan frees me from assuming responsibility for more than He expects of me.

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I am challenged to the maximum with just what He shows me He wants me to do. All of these negative thoughts concerning regrets of the past, frustrations of the present and anxieties of the future can be brought into captivity. His Word declares it! The same discipline of Christ-like living is necessary to "cast down imaginations.

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Picture yourself standing on a high mountain with Jesus. And then imagine the enemy, the devil, showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the habitable world in a moment of time. Jesus' thoughts whatever they were are interrupted by satan, "To you I will give all this power and authority and their glory…" We know what Jesus does: "It is written '…worship and serve only God. Any moment's hesitation of our combating that offer with a strong "It is written," would allow our imaginations to go wild.

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Let me be in charge! Whether the imagination is as apparently mundane as wanting that new gismo for our car or as radically serious as "coveting our neighbor's house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, donkey or anything that is our neighbor's" Exodus , it is most easily cast down with a strong, "It is written…! Another area in which our thoughts must be brought into captivity is the area of knowledge. Knowledge is increasing at a rate that can barely be measured. Much of the knowledge of the world, however, stands in opposition to the knowledge of God.

With minds programmed to accept detailed data and researched findings, the stacks of evidence can erect an "imposing defense that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Theory after theory that previously had been held inviolable has fallen to new information and ultimately has aligned itself with the knowledge of God. We fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.

Words, and more words, could be written. But, in the final analysis, the Words of Scripture-already written-will bring the thoughts of our mind into obedience to Him.

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This also is the discipline of Christ-like living. This principle of Christ-like living presented in Romans was quite completely covered in Chapter 1, but we mention it here, also. For no one can survive on the battlefield without the continuing, regenerative intake of His thoughts-of His very life. On the battlefield, we are in daily contact with the world and the ways of the world.

In such a setting it is so easy for the enemy to squeeze us into his mold of conformity. Jesus prayed, "It is not that I want You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. If we are going to please the One who has chosen us to be a soldier, we will learn His thoughts and His ways.

Just War Theory

In this way we are submitting to the discipline of Christ-like living. As an introduction to this section, I want to emphasize that though I do not believe in the concept: Prosperity-Your Divine Right , neither do I believe that a Christian-in order to be a "really good Christian"-has to be a pauper. There is in the Word the story of a rich, young ruler. In the final analysis it was necessary, Jesus said, for him to sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor and then follow Him. This was not because he was rich. Jesus knew his heart. Though he had done a commendable job at keeping the Law-even from his youth-it was his wrong attitude toward his wealth that was holding him back from following Jesus.

See Luke On the other hand, a family of Bethany-Mary, Martha and Lazarus were also very wealthy. They had in their own backyard a hewn-out tomb. They had a house large enough for Jesus and his entourage of followers to come whenever they wanted to stay in Bethany. And think of the food bill! Jesus never once told them to sell all, give to the poor and follow Him, because they were evidently using their wealth wisely. I like the counsel of Agur's prayer in Proverbs : "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but just enough; lest I be wealthy and say, 'Who needs the Lord?

In the discourse which has come to be called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed us about our attitude toward wealth, or lack thereof.

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Listen to the wisdom of His reasoning:. For where your treasure is your heart will be also.