My book, Boot Camp, is in the final stages of production. Here is a sneak preview, the preface to Boot Camp, Basic Training For The Believer.
“Your basic combat training is designed to accomplish two purposes: familiarize you with the fundamental requirements of military life, and teach you how to fight and defeat an enemy.” (Department of the Army Pamphlet, PAM 350-43, The Soldier’s Basic Combat Training Handbook, March 1973, pg.7)
I had my Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. As soon as I got off the bus I knew I wasn’t a civilian any longer. Sure, I still looked like one but the Drill Instructors (DIs) wasted no time in making their objective clear. They were to receive us as recruits, tear us down to practically nothing, and rebuild us into disciplined, motivated, highly trained, well indoctrinated fighting machines.
I hadn’t been at the reception station more than five minutes before the DI’s were telling me where and how to stand. Imagine. I had been standing for more than 20 years and now someone saw the need to teach me the correct way. Later that day, I would be sent to the barber shop along with the rest of my platoon. Afterward, it would be real hard to tell each other apart. The DIs would have us standing, walking, talking, thinking, looking, and acting alike; as one unit, combat ready. I guess that’s why we had to have name tags on our uniforms and dog tags around our necks.
They were soon to begin drilling into me such things as military courtesy, discipline, the importance of having a healthy, fit body and mind, and how to function as a team (whether walking, running, eating, getting chewed out; everything as a team). Drill and ceremony would fill up a week’s worth of training. Weapons familiarization, survival in the wilderness, and taking care of others in the field were some other areas of soldiering I would become proficient in. It would definitely prove to be eight action packed weeks. I’d never be the same.
There are many similarities between joining the army, entering boot camp, learning the discipline it takes to work and fight as a team, defeat the enemy, return to either fight again and/or train others to do the same, and joining the Body of Christ as a new believer, growing into a soldier of the Lord.
The Lord opened my eyes to these similarities back in 1988 while my wife and I were pastoring our first church. I taught a series entitled, “Basic Training”, and went through a lot of this material then. Now, twenty some years later, I see an even greater need to share this message with the Body of Christ. There are many Christians who haven’t the slightest idea what it means to be a soldier for Jesus Christ. Too many are like civilians who go to a military surplus store. They buy a uniform with unit patches, stripes or stars, and several medals. They rush home, get all dressed up with their new purchases and spend the next hour admiring themselves in the mirror. Sergeant Rock! General Patton! John Wayne! Audey Murphy! That’s the image they want to see, but being a real soldier requires a lot more than just the uniform.
Throughout this book I will give examples of Basic Combat Training (with notes from an old copy of “The Soldier’s Guide”, June 1952, Army Field Manual, and my Basic Training Handbook from March 1973). I will share some of my personal experiences as well. I am sure any veteran reading these stories will know exactly what I’m referring to. I’ll compare BCT with becoming a soldier in the Body of Christ (with notes from a not so old copy of “The New King James Version of the Bible”).
May the Lord use His Word and these writings to bring us to the place where we can be counted on to not only look like a soldier, but be a soldier indeed.