Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Gig Line

The Gig line is a military term that refers to the alignment of the seam of the uniform shirt, belt buckle, and uniform trouser fly-seam. In order to be properly dressed, these three should align to form a straight line down the front of a person's body.

When we would be inspected every morning, The first thing our platoon sergeant looked at was our 'gig' line. That was an indication your uniform was on correctly. This was one of the marks of a disciplined soldier. 

As a Christian, we have a 'gig' line we need to check every day before we leave the house. Paul alluded to it in Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." We have to make sure our attitude 'gig' line is straight before the world inspects us. 

Before you leave the house, pray that God enables you to walk with a straight 'gig' line, and if something is out of place, ask him to help you straighten it up.

Jeff Henning

May 2019

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adaptation for Survival

As weapons developed throughout history, the tactics of warfare also changed with them. With the sword came hand to hand battles. The invention of the bow and spear allowed armies to engage the enemy before they were at close range. Gunpowder and the ensuing development of the musket allowed for engagement at great distances.

What is lost in this equation are those who would not alter their tactics to the weapon of the day. Many forces with superior numbers have been defeated because their weapons and tactics were outdated at that time. The Zulu in South Africa outnumbered the British 20 to 1, but they massed thousands of men armed with spears against the British armed with Martini-Henry rifles. The British column of 1800 men advancing to Ft Duquesne during the French and Indian war was massacred by a small force of French and Indians sheltered in the woods firing into the column from all sides. The British, used to massing on open fields of Europe did not have the tactical where withal to fight in the woods, and they panicked, broke rank and were slaughtered.

Tactics continued to change and adapt. Guerrilla warfare (hit and run, attack and night or when not expected) became a popular way for a smaller inferior force to be successful against a superior one. Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox” successfully fought the British in South Carolina this way. Ho Chi Minh successfully beat back both the French and Americans in Vietnam, and the mujahedeen drove the Soviet military out of Afghanistan by armed civilians fighting out of caves and other hiding places, and then blending back into the population. From the battles of Fredericksburg and Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, which pitted entrenched soldiers firing from protected positions against masses of men charging across an open field to the Polish cavalry charging Hitler’s tanks on horseback, those armies who did not adapt to the situation they faced were doomed.

The Apostle Paul wrote “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
(1 Corinthians 9:20-22).

What Paul was saying was that as Christians, we would have to change our tactics depending on those we were witnessing to. Like the Special Forces in Afghanistan who grow beards, wear native clothing and ride donkeys, we need to think, act and fight using tactics our enemy uses.

Like those who refused to adapt and were defeated, the church too often stays with the “tried and true”, burying their head in the spiritual sand and not recognizing the enemy isn’t fazed by old methods, because he has adapted to them. Because the “ancient church” did something doesn’t mean it is effective today. The ancient soldier fought with the broadsword. Would we consider this an effective weapon today?

The enemy has changed their tactic and we haven’t adapted. The modern world doesn’t live to work. Leisure and having fun is an important part of their existence. The church of the “tried and true” saw fun and frivolity as evil and carnal. Church services were stern and unemotional. Music was sinful unless it was psalms or hymns. All talk of human relations was prefaced as bad. Dating was frowned against. Church was a place where you heard a laundry list of what you couldn’t do. It was a place the youth ran from as soon as they turned 18.

Our enemy offers people a guilt free lie, not life. “Do what you want without consequences” is the pitch. We offer life more abundantly, so it should be a no brainer which people would choose. However, the lie is packaged to the unbeliever by the devil as follows: “the church doesn’t want you to enjoy life. Look at all their rules, touch not, taste not, perish with using, while out here you can have fun, enjoy life and live in freedom”

Why can’t we offer Christians the guilt free ability to “have fun, enjoy life and live in freedom”?  Where in the bible did it ever say those things were evil? Why has the message of grace and its corresponding freedom been reduced to a grace – law hybrid that brings defeat and death, not life? When have all our church rules kept people free from sin? From Baptist to Holiness, from Methodist to Charismatic, there is and always has been sin in the camp. The law with its regulations cannot redeem or make one holy.

Why can’t the church once and for all declare God’s people forgiven and pardoned? Why can’t we tell Christians there truly is “no condemnation” to those in Christ? We focus so much on the “who walk not” part of that verse we ignore the declarative statement “There is therefore NO CONDEMNATION…..”

Our enemy has adapted, will we? He promises freedom and delivers bondage. Let’s not do the same as Christians.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friendly Fire

Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. It is usually caused by the confusion and ‘fog’ of war. Friendly Fire, while a painful and embarrassing event is usually unavoidable and has happened in every war mankind has fought in.

The best known case involved former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman. The Army initially claimed that Tillman and his unit were attacked in an apparent ambush on a road outside of the village of Sperah about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Khost, near the Pakistan border. An Afghan militia soldier was killed, and two other Rangers were injured as well.
The Army Special Operations Command initially claimed that there was an exchange with hostile forces. After a lengthy investigation conducted by Brigadier General Gary M. Jones, the U.S. Department of Defense concluded that both the Afghan militia soldier's and Pat Tillman's deaths were due to friendly fire aggravated by the intensity of the firefight.

Friendly Fire exists in the christian realm also. We are in a war against evil and all believers should be on the same side. The bible tells us in Ephesians 4, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” The sad fact is many christians are “killed” by friendly fire” from those that should be fighting along side of them.

In Mark 9:38, the following story is related. ““Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” A few facts need to be presented here;
# The disciples themselves failed to cast out a demon in verse 17-18
# They has just seen the transfiguration and were full of spiritual pride.

Why were the disciples ready to rebuke those who were fighting evil? Remember, it said they were driving out demons in the name of Jesus (vs 38).

Friendly fire in the church is when ministries, ministers or christians attack one another over petty and things that have nothing to do with our faith. Evil stands on the sideline while christians battle each other over doctrines of baptism, laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, types of dress, music or even versions of the bible.

What causes us to turn on each other? Galatians 5 tells us one reason “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Gossip, slander and what they used to call “poor mouthing” fellow believers leads to this. Warriors are one body, and the soldiers creed says:
I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.
If we placed the mission to overcome and “destroy the works of the devil” first, then we would welcome all allied help we receive. Soldiers on the ground in a firefight will gladly accept any reinforcements, as long as they will fight the common enemy.

Another reason is the ‘fog of war’. This is a state when in a heavy battle, with the noise, smoke and moving lines people panic and fire at noise and movement before verifying their target. A good illustration of this is the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:22

“At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the LORD caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves.”
and the story of Gideon in Judges 7:20

“The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the .’”men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords

To sum it all up, nobody preaching salvation through Jesus Christ, casting out evil spirits in that same name or healing the sick in His name is against us. When you see a preacher in a denomination you don’t believe in preaching a sermon you don’t agree with from a translation of the bible you don’t think is legitimate, remember they are not your or Christ’s enemy. You and I need them in the battle against sin, secularism and perversion. They are your fellow soldiers, so fire along side of them at the devil, just don’t fire at them! Friendly fire has ran too many christians out of churches and the ministry. If Jesus accepts them, why shouldn’t we?

Jeff Henning
March 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Combat Fatigue – When the Fight becomes Overwhelming

“So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up” (Galatians 6:9, The Message)

Combat stress reaction (CSR), in the past commonly known as shell shock or combat fatigue, is a military term used to categorize a range of behaviors resulting from the stress of battle which decrease the combatant's fighting efficiency. The most common symptoms are fatigue, slower reaction times, indecision, disconnection from one's surroundings, and inability to prioritize. CSR is usually short term, but repeated exposure to the stresses of combat can cause Post Traumatic stress Disorder, or PTSD for short. PTSD can bring on the following long term symptoms:

*Repeated "reliving" of the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
*Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
*Recurrent distressing memories of the event
*Repeated dreams of the event
*Physical reactions to situations that remind you of the traumatic event
*Feelings of detachment
*Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
*Lack of interest in normal activities
*Less expression of moods
*Staying away from places, people, or objects that remind you of the event
*Sense of having no future

In years past this fatigue was called “cowardice” or “being yellow”, but thankfully medical experts have convinced most this is real and caused by no fault of the person. This is a physical and psychological issue that can be treated.

In the constant battle against evil, the Christian can become fatigued. Constantly attempting to do good in a corrupt society, following the rules while everyone around you cheats or trying to live righteously in unrighteous surroundings can wear us out, both mentally and physically. Add to this the “friendly fire” we suffer at the hands of our churches and ministry organizations, and we can become fatigued quickly.

Many times Jesus had to withdraw from the crowds to pray. We have always assumed this was to hear from God. We tie it to our “getting away to fast & pray” for power or a special need. Have we ever considered Jesus withdrew himself to heal from fatigue? Could the constant daily grind of needy people around him coupled with the hostile actions from the religious leaders have been overwhelming? Could Jesus have needed down time, just to heal and de-stress? Please read the following account in Luke 5:1-16 and see if this could be so. Notice how it emphasizes the press of the crowds, the troubled disciples and the needy.

In 1 Kings 19, we see the great prophet Elijah at the place of fatigue. The mighty one who stood down 450 false prophets on Mt Carmel was now on the run and tired. It says in verse 3-4, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said.”

This is a classic example of one who could not take any more. Elijah suffered from combat fatigue. No one could question Elijah’s courage or boldness, but years of being one of a few who would stand against evil became too much. He needed “down time” to heal. God gave him a place where he could rest, eat and heal.

Today’s soldiers are experiencing stress like no other. It used to be that with the draft, men only had to do one combat tour. After that they were done. They could volunteer for more, but you did your year and came home, or at least off the battle lines. In the all volunteer army, soldiers are deployed for a year, brought home for 12-15 months and deployed again. Some have served four or five combat deployments. The cumulative effects of this stress will not be known until later, but this wear and tear on the human soul cannot be good.

Likewise, the wear and tear on the soul of the believer who never heals from their combat fatigue is cumulative also.

Remember the symptoms:
*Feelings of detachment (“I don’t belong”, “nobody cares about me”)
*Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
*Lack of interest in normal activities (“preparing for a church meeting is difficult)
*Less expression of moods (expressionless, no longer share with the body)
*Staying away from places, people, or objects that remind you of the event
*Sense of having no future (see the ministry you are involved in as a failure or not succeeding)

Those of us who have been out on this battlefield many years tend to think we are invincible and made of indestructible material. We push and push, we follow our master’s orders, and we engage the enemy over and over and we try to do good, but we never have time to heal. Our ‘down time’ is filled with friendly fire, the problems and difficulties of family and friends.

We must not grow weary while doing good. If you must, get off the battle lines. The war will not be lost because you aren’t there. Others will stand in the gap for you. If Jesus and Elijah needed to heal, who are you and I?

Jeff Henning
February 2011

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Essay

Many people see Memorial Day as just another holiday, a day where they don’t have to go to work. They think of trips to the beach or firing up the grill. If you ask many, they would tell you it is the beginning of summer vacation season.

Memorial Day is a day we pause as a country and people to pay homage to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It should be a somber occasion, one where we honor the many Americans who died in countless places around the world performing the duty their country called them to.

Starting with the patriots fighting for liberation from Britain to our modern day soldiers fighting terrorists, the end result of war is death for many. The battlefield is a hostile place where young men and women venture because of a sense of duty and honor. On the battlefield they can count on each other during and after the fight. You see soldiers all come home, the living and the dead. As Col. Hal Moore told his troops before going to Vietnam (and to the battle of Ia Drang Valley chronicled in “We Were Soldiers Once ….And Young”) “I can't promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together.”

When you see the dead come home in flag draped coffins, what you might miss is the care and honor the color guard shows as they lift each coffin off the transport. It is the same honor presidents who have died are afforded. The military family understands each person who was killed in combat was a hero, and their coming home is as important as the ones who lived.

So when you are at the beach enjoying the sand and waves, remember those who never made it off Omaha beach. When you are flying to your vacation destination, remember those who never made it to their destinations, shot down over Guadalcanal, Ploesti, Hanoi and Bagdad. When you are hiking up the mountains and hills, remember those who never made if off the hills and mountains with names like Hamburger Hill, Little Round Top and Mt Suribachi. And when you go sailing, please pause and remember those who never made it back to shore, those who sailed on ships with names like Jeauneau, Yorktown and Hornet. And when you drive to your vacation destination, remember those who never reach their destinations in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Yes, by all means enjoy your day off. Have a good time but please remember the reason we call it Memorial Day. Those names carved into the Vietnam Wall may not mean anything to you or I, but each one was a son or daughter, a father or mother. Each one died defending a way of life we take for granted. Freedom isn’t truly free. Even with the Christian faith, someone had to die to make us free. His name was Jesus and he spoke the following words “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”

When you look at the tombstones or names on a memorial, remember those were your friends. They willingly died so we could have the rights and privileges we enjoy today as Americans. Honor them as such.

Jeffrey Henning
Veteran - US Army


Friday, April 23, 2010

Do You Know Your MOS?

The acronym ‘MOS’ stands for Military Occupational Specialty. This is the advanced training a soldier, sailor, marine or airman (known today jointly as “warfighters”) receives after basic training. This is specialized training for the job they will be performing in their respective units. No warfighter is specialized in every task needed. For instance, I was a 68G30, which was an Aircraft Structural Repairer. The ‘30’ designation meant I could provide technical instruction and supervisory oversight to other 68Gs. This was my primary task, even as I constantly trained on the things all warfighters do, i.e. weapon qualifications, drills and refresher training. Others specialize in engine repair, hydraulics or avionics. Together we formed an aviation maintenance unit.

All warfighters know how to fire an M-4 rifle, and many know how to fire an M-249 SAW, but to be a sniper requires advanced training. The military can deploy whatever specialty that is needed for the task.

In Romans 12:4-8, Paul wrote about the specialized ‘MOS’ of the body of Christ. He wrote:

4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

He also wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:

4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

As you can see, God believes in specialization also. He distributes the gifts and talents to us as he (God) sees fit. These gifts are our ‘MOS’, and we should become proficient in them. They are the advanced training we need to perform our task in the service to the body.

I have always questioned how effective someone is who claims to have all the gifts (or how honest!). Nobody can do many things as well as a single thing. The military knows this. This is why someone with an MOS in truck repair is able to fight if need be, but will never be as adept at it as one who’s MOS in Infantry.

In the same way, if my ‘MOS’ is hospitality, why can’t I be content with that? Why must I want the gifts Paul said were “presentable”, or out front and visible if that isn’t my spiritual MOS?

Part of the problem with a church (not a building but a group of people) is they all want to replicate the same few gifts but leave the other ones needed alone. A group of 30 believers assemble together and 15 have the gift of teaching, preaching or prophesy and the other 15 feel as they have no gift. Where is hospitality? Where is the gift of giving? How about administration? Encouragement? Serving?

One of the biggest failings in the church is our lack of knowing what God has called and trained us to do. Less than 1 in 10 Christians I know can tell me their spiritual gift and or calling. How can we do the master’s work if we don’t know our job?

What is your MOS? If you don’t know, why don’t you know?

Jeffrey Henning
April 2010


Friday, February 5, 2010

The Butter Bar

In the Army, a slang term used for a 2nd Lieutenant is “butter bar”. This refers to the insignia of a gold bar shaped like a stick of butter.

The term generally is used in a condescending or patronizing manner towards a boot lieutenant that thinks he knows everything, yet couldn't lead the way out of his own home with a map and flashlight.

After completing OCS (Officer Candidate School), a large number of newly minted butter bars tend to think that they are General Patton reincarnated and have the belief that after months of schooling they know much more than 30 year combat hardened NCOs.

Some have been so stupid as to actually stop a Sergeant Major (the highest NCO rank in the Army) and demand a salute. Several pounds of flesh and ego are stripped before the Lt. knows what is happening and before you know it he's standing locked at point of attention.

After several years of seasoning, and realizing that head knowledge doesn't make them a great leader, the butter bar becomes a 1st. Lt. and usually has a clue by then.

During basic, one of the first things I was taught by my Drill Instructors was if I was to stay alive during a battle, I MUST listen to my NCOs (non commissioned officers). The second was that most ‘butter bars’ would get you killed if you followed them.

The Army, like most branches of the military, has an official chain of leadership, and an ‘unofficial’ one. The official chain has the platoon sergeants and first sergeant (known as “Top”) answering to the platoon leader, i.e. the butter bar. In the unofficial one, the butter bar will always consult their NCOs and will treat Top as a superior.

This is because wise leadership places a premium on experience and ‘on the job’ learning as opposed to text book knowledge. When facing an enemy, soldiers need to follow someone who has actually faced the enemy in combat, one who knows their tactics and tenacity. The butter bar has learned tactics in a classroom, but in the heat of battle with men dying around them, they may lose their cool.

In Acts 15, we see that Paul didn’t want to take John Mark with him on his missionary trip:

37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Why did Mark desert Paul and Barnabas the first time? The bible doesn’t say. Maybe Mark was like many young, inexperienced people……full of zeal but short on practical experience. Maybe when the battle got hot, he became overwhelmed and ran. Like the butter bar, his experience level couldn’t cash the check his bravado wrote.

In today’s church, there is a movement toward youth. Worship, leadership, small groups and methods of evangelism all seem to be youth driven. In many fellowships, the older warriors are shoved to the side as irrelevant. The classic example that comes to mind was the scene in the movie 'Heartbreak Ridge' where “Gunny” (played by Clint Eastwood) stands before his new CO, a former supply officer, who tells him “This is a new man’s Marine Corp, relics like you are obsolete”. Gunny was a 40 year combat vet of WW2, Korea and Vietnam as well as a recipient of the Medal of Honor and he was being told he wasn’t needed by a ‘superior’ who never faced a single bullet.

Spiritual ‘Butter Bars’ bring in the methods they learned in Bible College and seminars, and easily discount the proven methods the warriors of the past successfully used. The question isn’t using new methods …… warfare tactics constantly change. It is about the dismissal of past methods used by warriors who wear the decorations of valor on their hearts. Rather than partner with these ‘vets’, spiritual butter bars use authority to push them out of the way.

Remember this statement at the beginning of this article …… “After several years of seasoning, and realizing that head knowledge doesn't make them a great leader, the butter bar becomes a 1st. Lt. and usually has a clue by then.” John Mark grew up and became a warrior himself. Paul later wrote about the one he rejected to go into battle with him “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help to me in ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11) This was penned some years after Mark deserted Paul. Mark, it seems, was no longer a young ‘butter bar’, but now a seasoned warrior.

The bible warns of having zeal without knowledge. It also tells us that elders are placed in the body for stability, guidance and wisdom. Youth’s energy and elder’s unflinching courage and guidance, a biblical recipe for success.

Butter bars ……… they have promise, if they respect those warriors who serve under and with them.

Jeff Henning
Feb 5, 2010


Monday, January 18, 2010

U.S. Military Disaster Relief in Haiti

As the world learns the toll of the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. military is once again leading the American response to a devastating natural disaster. By the 13th, U.S. Air Force special operations personnel had secured the airport at Port-au-Prince, and about 5,000 soldiers and Marines from the 82nd Airborne Division and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit are on their way to Haiti to assist the UN force there in providing security and support for relief efforts.

At sea, the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and the Bataan amphibious group have arrived, loaded with helicopters to assist the relief effort. Coast Guard cutters and aircraft are already on the scene. Air Force airlifters have brought in personnel and supplies to the island. U.S. Army and Navy helicopters are flying relief drops and critical injury extractions.

Military involvement in disaster relief is nothing new. U.S. Southern Command alone has been involved in 14 disaster relief missions since 2005. More prominent were the post-tsunami relief effort in 2004-05 and earthquake recovery efforts in Pakistan in 2005.

Over the last decade or so, disaster relief has become a core — if rarely acknowledged — mission of the U.S. military. Debates over the future of the military size and funding have concentrated on what sort of enemy the United States might fight in the future. While important, this debate obscures an equally critical role the military plays as the provider of global disaster relief.

For massive disasters like the Haiti earthquake or the tsunami, the U.S. military is the only entity that can organize the necessary air- and sea-lift to get to disaster stricken areas with sufficient relief aid in a quick enough time period. There are no substitutes for the Navy’s aircraft carriers, and the Air Force’s airlift fleet outstrips what’s available for contract.

As you can see, the U.S. military is always; underline that word ‘always’; there when disaster strikes, anywhere in the world. They have the best and fastest supply chain, the largest supply of equipment, and they can put “boots on the ground” within 24 hours anywhere in the world. They also have the doctors, engineers, search and rescue teams, nurses, mechanics, police and support personnel already on payroll and ready to go at a moments notice.

So the next you might be tempted to complain about the size of the defense budget, don’t just think about war. Please think where the people in Haiti would be if they only had civilian relief organizations aiding them. The U.S. military IS the largest relief organization in the world, and I for one am proud of them!

Jeff Henning
Jan 18, 2010


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Boot Camp

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus." - 2 Tim 2:3 (NIV)

When I joined the US Army in 1976, my first stop after being sworn in was Ft Jackson, South Carolina. This was one of the Army's Basic Training facilities. Every soldier goes through eight weeks of basic training. This was the 'basic' training that a civilian needs to begin the transition to a soldier.

The primary function of basic (or boot camp) is to break down the civilian's individualistic will and teach then to function on a team as one and to obey orders without question. The tactics used are sleep deprivation, verbal (and in my day physical) abuse and endless repetitive training. By the end of the cycle (8 weeks), we were no longer civilians, but soldiers. We knew the language and the protocols of military life and could recite the Code of Conduct, article by article. We could field strip an M-16 or M-60 blindfolded and could be in formation with full field gear within 7 minutes of being harassed out of bed. We could march 20 miles with an 80lb pack on our back, we could function on little sleep, and we could think and act as one. After eight weeks, I was in the best physical shape of my life.

Paul equated the life of a soldier with the life of a Christian. A Christian needed to have the civilian individualism taken out by disciplined training and the 'team first' concept installed in it's place. He wrote "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs" to mean that way of life had to cease. Being a soldier was a serious, full time job.

Have you ever wondered why vets have a special bond regardless of when they served? Have you wondered why men would sacrifice their lives for the good of the mission or for their fellow soldiers? How part of their honor code is "never surrender" and "never leave a fallen comrade in the field"? It is because a special lifetime bond is formed serving together. It is a bond the soldier knows and the civilian will never understand. A trust in the man next to you, one you can depend your life on. It is hard to find that close a bond in blood family or marriage. It is a bond of loyalty drilled into the soldier since boot camp. Team first, mission first, fight and die for each other as one.

About the Church, and Christian in particular, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26 "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." This implies shared sacrifice, shared suffering, shared duty and shared reward. This is what we learned in boot camp, and what we should learn as new Christians. Jesus understood this concept. He said in John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends".

Our problem is we bring our civilian mindset into the church. "my needs", "my desires" and "my glory" is what matters. Shared suffering isn't tolerated. The mission is clouded by special interest; Everyone wants to give orders, but no one wants to carry them out.

What did the Army teach me? The same thing the bible did, that I must die to self ..... self will and self ambition. I must place myself at the disposal of the team (my brothers and sisters in Christ) and the mission (proclaim the kingdom message), and be willing to give up my life to do so. The team can depend on me and I can depend on them.

I will never forget my Drill Sargent's words at the end of our eight week training. We had in the beginning hated his guts, but now we respected him. He told us it was his job to get us ready for war, to give us the best chance of survival. This is why he was hard on us. My Drill Instructor (DI) was a Vietnam vet, so he understood. He didn't ask any more of us than was asked of him. This was the one thing that turned my attitude toward my DI from hate to respect. When he woke us at 4 am, he would have had to be up at 3 am to do so. When we ran ten miles, he ran it too. He did this every eight weeks with new recruits. It was discipleship by shared experiences. Paul only asked of us what Jesus asked, that we are to endure together. They never asked us to do what they wouldn't...."endure hardness with us......".

As Christians, we too should prepare the new converts for the reality of spiritual warfare. We should give them every chance to survive. Paul understood this. He, like my DI was a war vet. He bore the marks of conflict against evil. He knew the cost of success. He knew that untrained, or under-trained Christians would fail on that battlefield. He knew that unless they were disciplined they would be overcome. He knew the new Christian had to be able to handle the word. It needed to be so much a part of them that they could quote it in prison or under duress. Paul knew the Christians needed the full armor of God and training so they could deploy them blindfolded.

Boot camp was tough, rugged and unrelenting, but it put in me the sense of honor, duty and courage. Christians, have you been to boot camp since you were sworn in to the Army of the Lord? Do you think you can take it?

Jeff Henning
Jan 12, 2010


Friday, January 1, 2010

Have You Earned Your CIB?

“Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Galatians 6:17

In the US Army, the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) is one of the highest awards a soldier can get. It is awarded to soldiers who have been under fire in actual combat situations. Though there are higher decorations given for individual valor, the CIB on a uniform tells everyone that the wearer is a warrior, one who has faced the enemy and persevered.

In ancient times, warriors took great pride in their battle scars. The old healed wounds told the younger warriors that they were battle tested, that at the time of testing they stood firm.

The Apostle Paul alludes to this in the scripture in Galatians. Paul was a warrior for Christ. He proudly showed everyone his scars, the ones he received from the beatings and floggings because of his faith. This was Paul's 'CIB'. These were marks every Christian could see and therefore know Paul was a warrior, not a wimp. Listen to what Paul boasted in:

“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 6:4 -11

This warrior mindset was part of ancient Israel and the early church. Whether by crucifixion, or in the arena at the hand of wild beasts, the martyrs were warriors who's blood was their 'CIB'. Hear what the bible says about them:

“Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith..”
Hebrews 11:36b - 39a

In the middle ages, men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin and many other nameless reformers stood up to the enemy and earned their 'CIB'. Some by imprisonment, others tortured and put to death. They stood up to the enemy and “loved not their lives unto death”.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:3-4: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer.”

What Paul was telling them, and is telling us now is to be warriors, to live out the kingdom life as a soldier who is duty bound.

The US Army came out with “The Warrior Ethos”, a creed all soldiers live by. I have modified it below to reflect what I believe to be the “Christian Warrior Ethos”

I am an follower of Jesus.
I am a Christian and a member of a family. I serve God and live Kingdom values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the faith in close spiritual warfare.
I am a guardian of grace and the Kingdom way of life.
I am a follower of Jesus.

In speaking with a brother, he shared with me that he wanted to see Christians with the battle scars of warfare. These tested believers have engaged the Devil and demons and wrestled with their flesh and came out scarred, but still standing. These Christians can mentor the younger ones. These are the warriors that the Church can look up to as examples. These are those that can be depended on when the going gets tough.

Today, there are too many of us who are unblemished and pristine. We do not have our 'CIB', for we have never been in combat with evil. Some of us have quit the fight, running back to the world and leaving our fellow soldiers to face the enemy. Some have avoided the conflict, leaving the fighting to others. Today, God wants warriors, both men and women, to lock-and-load and engage the enemy of our souls. Whether winning souls in the streets, casting out evil spirits from the possessed, debating the skeptic in open debate or preaching an unpopular truth, the scars we gain from these engagements are a testimony to the church that “we are soldiers, in the army of the Lord”. Please read the words of the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”

1. Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.

2. At the sign of triumph Satan's host doth flee;
on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

3. Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

4. Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
but the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never against that church prevail;
we have Christ's own promise, and that cannot fail.

5. Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
this through countless ages men and angels sing.

As this hymn conveys, God desires warriors to engage the forces of darkness. Our scars are not a sign of weakness, but of courage.

Have you earned your CIB?

Jeff Henning
Jan 1, 2010