Basic Training 1: Staying Connected to the King
The first and most essential principle of our training is this: we must stay intimately connected to the King—we in him and he in us. Whatever else happens or doesn’t happen, Warriors stay close to their King.
Jesus is where our Life is and where it comes from. Through his own deeply connected relationship with the Father, Jesus showed us how we, in turn, can live our lives in a similar connected relationship with the Father, and why we must. And he removed everything that impeded our intimacy with him and the Father (His prayer in John 17 confirms it).
Basic Training 2: Fighting for Freedom
Setting captive hearts free is no mere abstraction. It’s as real as the friend who struggles with alcoholism, the wife who bears the wounds of childhood sexual abuse, or the guy two seats over in church who is contemplating suicide. They’re why we fight: because they’re in pain, bound and brutalized by an enemy they can’t see in a war they don’t comprehend. And a Warrior well knows, “That used to be me.” And feels compassion to those still broken or bound.
Basic Training 3: Seeing with the Eyes of Your Heart
Through Christ and in Christ we are free, yet we live with a gravitational pull toward the old ways of the old nature. So after our initial healing from our wounds (during which we confess and repent as often as we need to), we continue to vigilantly engage our will and say no to whatever our enemy throws at us that will impede our freedom.
We are trained as our Father’s Beloved Sons to see, listen, and discern between the presence and voices of two kingdoms: Life and death. This is what the Father is up to in the hearts and lives of his Beloved Sons. It is what Jesus practiced, and so must we.
Basic Training 4: Listening and Patience
It’s all training: what to do, what not to do, and learning how to exercise care in drawing conclusions. The false self is quick to run crazy commentary of how we should act, react, judge, or accuse. Every moment consists of a multitude of variables, it’s never just one thing.
The Heart of a Warrior must learn that God is good and is up to good in his life and in the lives of others.
The Father’s aim is to deploy his Beloved Sons into many different situations where he wants a Kingdom presence. Learning how to be that presence takes time.
Basic Training 5: Solitude and Cunning
Being still (Psalm 46:10) is a daily practice of a Warrior that is uncommon to most men. The Message version of the Bible does a beautiful job of rendering Jesus’ instructions about praying in solitude:
Here’s what I want you to do: find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. -Matthew 6:6 (MSG)
Only by practicing stillness aggressively, pushing all the clamor and busyness of life aside, can a man truly experience God. In the still and quiet, discernment is learned so that in the heart of the battle it can be practiced. If a man can’t practice it when things are still, there is no way he will be able to do so when the arrows are flying.
Basic Training 6: Moving in Glory
The letters of Peter, James, John, and Paul to first-century believers were all written with a common expectation: those who read them would “get better” because they were oriented and equipped to get better. The new believers’ old hearts of stone (Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 11:19) had been replaced with new ones (Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 18:31). Now, at the center of their being, the heart, they were made noble and good (Luke 8:15).
So it is with us as well! Now we too are to learn how to live our lives out of the good heart within us. Our Father invites us to get better, to become more—more loving, more kind, more patient, more like Jesus in thought, words and deeds, more who we truly are as Beloved Sons.
Basic Training 7: Love
Love is what we were made for, and in love God restores us. Our job as men is first to receive and experience God and then offer him to others—because he is love.
Love is the family business of the kingdom. It will take some training, and everything we have and everything we are as men, to protect love and see it done. Love will not happen without a fight. If we fight for it, the outcome is certain. He became like us (sinful man) so we could become like him (glorious ones, Romans 8).
For most of our lives, as with all those lives around us, we have experienced love so “conditionally” that the vital move toward unconditional love will take time.
A man can’t just buckle down and make it happen in a moment.
Love is something that happens to a man and then settles the heart within him.
What does that love look like? Jesus. Jesus!