For the majority of my life I was a part of a church that was run under a paramilitary style of leadership. It has soldiers instead of members, officers instead of pastors, and the guy (or girl sometimes, they were kinda ahead of the curve when it comes to women and ministry) who is in charge of it all is called the General. Now, being raised in this since childhood, I kinda got used to thinking of theological things in war or military terms (not all the time mind you, but it was pretty much drilled into me from a young age, and the Apostle Paul did this occasionally too, and he rocked pretty hard, so it seemed to fit well). So from this you have all the, "fight the good fight" and , "put on the full armor of God" and what have you, and other such awesomeness (for more on this I suggest you read your Bible, I am just a blog guy after all, and as awesome as I might be, you just can't beat the Word of God). Well from all those super cool military references, (ten hut, drop and give me 20 prayers on the double*) I have developed a couple of thoughts of my own about the whole warfare and theology thing, and where I fit into all of it. So, without further rambling on my part, (wait a minute, that is all I do in this blog, so I guess I should say, and now for some further rambling on my part. Oh well) here are some of the things that I came up with, and since I am a movie guy, I will give some super cool film examples in case you want to see what I am talking about.
Ok, so I am saving what I am most like for last, but to start I will go with one of the things that I wish I was. Snipers are pretty awesome (assuming they're on your side), when ever I play a shooter type video game, (like Resident Evil 4, Goldeneye, Pac Man, you know, all the big ones) the first weapon I always go for is the sniper rifle. It has always just been pretty cool hiding out somewhere and picking off people one by one while they have no clue what just happened (strangely enough, I guess this would be a good way to go, one second you are bored, guarding your post, the next second your chillin with Jesus. He looks at you, you look at Him, you give Him a puzzled stare, He shrugs His shoulders and says, "Sniper", you take a second and then you both have a good laugh about it. Well, that is if the sniper that gets you is good, and doesn't miss just a bit and you die slowly wondering if you forgot to return that DVD to the library, or become a vegetable, possibly broccoli, or eggplant, but I am pretty sure either one would suck). So right about now you are wondering where all that God stuff I was talking about earlier is, so here we go. You know those little old ladies that have reserved seating at church, you know, the ones that have been there forever and will tell you to move if you are sitting in their spot. Sure you do, they are the ones that take their bulletins home, and highlight all the names of the people on the blue sheet (or, at least at my church it is a blue sheet, it may be a different color at yours, like yellow, or green, or fuchsia, depending how out there your church is) and then they go into their bedroom with said blue sheet and get on their knees and drop kick Satan through a spiritual brick wall, (and then depending how good at prayer they are, they might throw him down into the ground and make a cool crater of smashed pavement and water pipes, like what happen to Neo in the 3rd matrix movie, hey, I talked about him being Jesus in another post, how is that for synergistic self cross promotion). What I am talking about here is what most people would call, "Prayer Warriors" or, "Demon Kickers" as I like to call them. These are people who know how to pray, and I mean really know. Unlike the rest of us, (me being very guilty of this) these are the people who take prayer for what God says it is, talking to him directly and bringing those things that need attention before his throne. Demon Kickers don't always have to be old ladies too, sometimes kids fill this role, (cause they also tend to pray hard core, they love Jesus and when they are not praying for a pony, they scare the crap out the devil with their sincerity ) but truth be told, prayer warriors can be any age. Now, you might be asking, but what about the snipers, where do they come in? Well, Prayer Warriors and Snipers do the identical thing in warfare, whether it is physical or theological. They both work from the outside in. Snipers place themselves in strategic locations and usually cover the rest of the soldiers, with well placed shots that will save lives. Prayer warriors do the exact same thing, only with prayer. When Christians are down and being pushed around by life and Satan, Prayer Warriors are just like snipers, in the fact that they are not up front on the battle lines, (in this case what I mean is they don't show up at your house with a pot roast and sit you down and fix all your problems, or at the hospital, no pot roast this time, but possibly flowers, but then again, I do know some old ladies who might show up at the hospital with a pot roast, either way, prayer warriors don't generally do this. Aww man, now I want some pot roast) but they are definitely in the fight, and just as in all battles, they are absolutely essential for victory. So, when you "pray hard" and demons have to go change their undergarments, well then congratulations, you are a sniper, now go get shootin. (for some great sniper movies I suggest, "Shooter" with Mark Walhberg, "Enemy At The Gates" with Jude Law and the aptly named, "Sniper" with Tom Berenger)
Wow, that was a long description, but that is mainly cause snipers are fun to talk about, so the next couple of comparisons will be much shorter, I promise. And the next one is...
Bombers are mainly used in warfare when you need to effect damage on a large scale yet very selective area. Bombers are used less now a days because of all the super cool satellite rocket smart bomb thingamajigs, (I love that my spell check actually knew how to spell that word) but throughout the history of modern warfare one thing is certain, the country that held the air, won the war, and bombers were an incredibly important part of that. So, if snipers are prayer warriors, then bombers in my mind would be super evangelists. Now when I say super evangelists, I want to be clear, I mean real evangelists, (so if they are on TV and smack people on the head to beat their cancer out of them, or sell super purified holy water that was taken from a small village in the mountains of Wannahaukaluggy, or ask for money so that they will not die in the next 7 minutes, well, those are not the people I am talking about) and I can think of no one who fits this role better then, you guessed it, Bono. Yep, Bo..... What the heck, sorry, I got to stop listening to old U2 songs when writing these things (truth be told, I wasn't listening to U2 while writing this, I was actually watching a movie, but saying that I was listening to U2 made for a better joke. Ahh, I am glad to get that off my chest, now I will return you to your regularly scheduled post with a clear conscience). What I meant to say was, Billy Graham. So how is Billy Graham a bomber? You see, no one sends a bomber to kill one man, (well, that is unless that one man is ARNOLD, in his latest blockbuster, "Stop, Or I Will Throw My Walker At You", coming soon to a theater near you) and just the same, Billy Graham never came to town just to tell one person about Jesus. Billy Graham is a bomber, sure and true. He showed up to a town and would lay waste to sin that was holding people captive on a large scale, and then just as a bomber, once his job was done, he would fly on to the next mission. So, the next time you see a super evangelist, (for some of the Acquire The Fire generation, Ron Luce would fit the bill too) think of bombers, and you will probably laugh a little bit, and possibly duck and cover. Moving on. (For some great movies about Bombers watch "Pearl Harbor" (which is not a great movie, but it does have a lot of bombers), Tweleve O'Clock High with Gregory Peck and the best bomber movie of all time, "Memphis Belle")
Commanders, Majors or Generals, these are all pastors (the main difference between them is the size of the church they lead). You see, the complexities of being in charge of large groups of individ....(aw, you should be able to figure this one out by now, so I will give you some credit and plus, I want to get to me and my super cool military God stuff, cause this is all about me after all, so lets just say you get it and we can move on.)
Ok, so we are finally at the whole reason I wrote this post and the main reason I developed some of these crazy philosophies. Out of all the war and soldier type people and styles that I know of, there is one that fits me more then any other, and that is WETWORKS Wetworks is a term that is not commonly known by most people, but what it basically means is close combat killing. Now, most people right now are either shocked or confused, or possibly shofused (shofused is a word that I just made up for people who are both shocked and confused, yet too busy to do both, see how thoughtful I am) but just wait a minute and I will explain, but first I have to have a flashback (insert cool wavy blury visuals and a neat echoy sound effect here as I think back, it totally makes this post better). It was last year some time, that my church had a men's retreat, which I had the chance to attend. At the retreat one of the speakers was talking about some men who were doing great things for God. One of them was setting up mines in Africa that benefited the whole area, (one of the conditions for this expert mine digger was that he would only dig if the company that hired him would build a school and hospital in the community where it would be located. Good on him.) and there were several other ones (to be honest I can't remember them all), and they all are doing some pretty awesome stuff for God, running business and large ministries. Now, the reason I am mentioning this is that after hearing all that, I stood up and admitted that I am useless in all those areas, but that is only because God made me for something different. Now, on that day, I kinda talked about wetworks theology, but not in so many words, (I actually developed wetworks theology about 5 years ago, and I did a big post about it on my first blog, pity I deleted it all, since I am lazy, and recycling is good for you and the environment, even the virtual kind) so here it is, why I am a wet works guy. Wetworks is all about up close and personal combat, where you have to be up in the sweat and guts and blood of the person you are fighting. Unlike snipers who are off in the distance, and bombers who are all about the mass effect, wetworks is very personal. Now I will be completely honest, the reason wet works is called wet works is cause quite often, when two men try and kill each other in close quarters combat, (usually with blades of some type, maybe knives, possibly swords, or in some cases the rarely seen woman's pink razor, it all depends how hard core you want to go) it becomes very messy and very sticky, and very very bloody, and when it is all said and done, even the man who is left standing is, well, wet (with blood, but wet none the less, hey, Marvel comics has a major league superhero that is all about wetworks, take a stab at who it is, or just look at the picture below, either way works). Ok, so here is why this applies to me, you see, I can't dig mines, or run a big ministry, but where I do my best work is up close and personal, where I can get messy in the lives of people. This is not a ministry that many have, especially when it comes to teens (I often find that lots of people love working with kids, cause they are cute and funny and often think that their leaders are amazing and will tell them so, all the time. Teens on the other hand are always going through stuff. They have problems, attitudes and hand shakes, that to be honest, are all incredibly complex and hard to understand (Shout out here for my buddy Josh and our squidy props) and they tend to roll their eyes a lot. All those things and many more cause most leaders to shy away from teens and run for the kiddies as fast as I run for the boarder, ahh, the beauty of Taco Bell**) but for me, the closer I get to people the easier it is for me to help them. Now, this often becomes, "wetworks" because when the way you help people is by getting close to them, so that they learn that they can trust you, it often gets messy, cause no matter how cool, sweet or smart you are, or nice your family is, everybody has issues, and they are never pretty. Wetworks is all about getting into the guts, being as close as possible and not being afraid to get dirty doing it. This also goes along really well with another gift that God gave me, which is abstract thinking. I once took a psych test, and I mean a real 4 hour long psych test, and I was pretty average in a lot of areas, but I scored off the charts on 2 points. The first was being funny, and the second was abstract thinking (ok, the being funny thing is not true, but if they did have a category for that I would have totally killed it). Abstract thinking is where you can take things that are concepts and ideas and understand them fairly easily, and in my case I can also explain to others how it all works, (this is great when working with teens, cause when they drop the "I know everything" act, they start to ask awesomely hard questions). Practical things like how an engine works in a car, or plumbing under a sink or computer systems, well, they all baffle the heck out of me, but want to talk theology and the propitiation*** of Jesus' act on the cross, then I am your guy. Ok, here is what wetworks is not. It is not fast, (you have to develop relationships, this takes time and lots of trips to coffee shops and cool video game sessions) it is not widespread, (you can only help a small number of people compared to other styles of ministry, I personally have about 30 teens I am getting close with, and in that group there are probably 10 that I am starting to go deeper with, so I am really learning to try and use my time wisely) and most of all, it is not clean, (when my people feel pain, and share that pain, it effects me, I cry when they cry, I hurt that they hurt, and although I love that I can help, it is not always the easiest path to be on). I would love to be a sniper (God, we need to talk more anyway) and I never wanted to be a bomber, (preaching can be fun though) but getting dirty in peoples lives so that they can become closer with God, well, that is home to me, that is where God has placed my heart, and that is why I am a wetworks guy. (For some movie references about wetworks I recommend "The Hunted" with Tommy Lee Jones, and "The Chronicles Of Riddick" and "Pitch Black" with Vin Diesel)
Ok, so there you have it, my crazy warfare theology. I could go on and on, about the different roles people play in ministry and which type of soldier they are, but I hope you have gotten the idea by now. Saying that, I would love to hear anybody else's take on ministries that they think fit the bill, so feel free to leave a comment, (you know, in the area just below this that says, "Comment". Yeah, you can actually leave me a thought, or message, or your personal banking information, which ever you feel most comfortable) so until next post, stay classy internet people, stay classy.
*This is just a joke, they don't actually make you do that, although I am a little surprised they don't.
**Just to let you know in case you were wondering, I am not sponsored by Taco Bell, but would love to be, or if you like me you could just by me a double beef cheesy burrito, I'm just saying.
***I know that propitiation in is a big $6 word, so here is what it means, "to turn away wrath", so in this case, Jesus fulfilled propitiation for us when he died on the cross, taking all the wrath that we deserve and placing it upon himself. Now, go impress your friends with your super cool new word.