Confrontations, Choices, Convictions, Windows & Radar

Passage: Matthew 11:20-30

11:20 Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent. 11:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 11:22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you! 11:23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued to this day. 11:24 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!”

11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. 11:26 Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

Soul Search Essay
“…Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent.” In this quote’s pericope (a fancy word for a chunk of writing), Jesus has been calling cities to account by name, but for what? Jesus is confronting these Israelite cities (Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum) for not listening to him to the level needed to act on what was heard and seen. Certainly, the people Jesus is confronting heard him and saw him. The actions they took based on sight and sound were not the right ones though. They let salvation slip by them.  In his charge, Jesus challenges them that infamously evil Gentile cities (such as Sodom and Sidon) would have repented on hearing him and seeing the acts that he has done in Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida. He indicates that the Gentiles in the infamous cities would infact listen to the level needed to act, yet the Israelis in their own cities did not.

Is this a blame transaction as described in the last essay? Is Christ blaming Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida? Certainly, many people unfortunately (and inaccurately) assume or even see God as punitive and judgmental. These harsh beliefs suggest that God has the biggest blame market in existence. Is this true? I argue the answer is “No.” Jesus engaged in confrontation of disregard, of indifference, of inaction.

Yes, confrontation can be (and often is) used in a blame transaction. Human use of blame, however, does not define God or his actions.  Also, confrontation grounded in truth (whether by human or God) is not blame. It is a challenge to the confronted person to become, in that moment, an agent of choice. It gives the confronted the chance to act in those moments as an agent of choice by providing a new or previously disregarded information and perspective.

Confrontations done in truth by God are often acts imposed on a person (a agent potentially capable of change) or they are pronouncements of inescapable judgement (or both in sequence as here). The fact that the choice is imposed by such a powerful being as God makes it at least uncomfortable, if not also shameful, embarrassing, angering, frightening, etc. Discomfort or being deeply unsettled due to truth is not bad.  It is frightening. Confrontation is unpleasant, perhaps fear inducing. Confrontation’s discomfort and disturbance, however, is necessary in salvation choices and after salvation as well.

Jesus’ miracles and statements in these cities were disruptive, shocking, and for many induced discomfort. The discomfort is induced by the wrongness of their lives in comparison to Christ’s words and acts (which is where the shame comes in).

Yes, the miracles created joy for those who benefited, but that was not each miracle’s primary purpose. What Jesus did was for a larger purpose than happiness or comfort or even healing.  Jesus served his Father.  In that service, he injected life into these cities by walking, talking and acting with a radically different agenda focused on very different elements; Kingdom elements that demand consideration.

Verses 11:23-24 make it clear that the citizens of Capernum (at least, but implicitly Chorazin and Bethsaida as well) now face devastating judgement (no salvation) due to ignoring the opportunities Jesus’ miracles and statements provided. In essence, their failure to act was an act.  It was a choice.  Passivity in choose did not protect them.

Rejecting discomfort and disruption caused by Christ injected truth can lead to destruction; even if done passively.

For believers, the destruction is not total (not loss of salvation), but it is very painful to have pieces of our lives destroyed by our refusals, by our inactive acts. God imposed discipleship challenges hold out deeper Kingdom life to you post conversion. The life of discipleship is offered to us in many different ways and in many different venues.  Yes, it can come through blessings.  Can you accept, however, that God will challenge you through hardship? Can you accept that these challenges are absolutely not rejections?  Not abandonments?  Can you recognize that God expects a deep soul within you?

Rejection of these challenging opportunities bring death into your life.  The death may be small – minor damage in a relationship, loss, low level sinful conflict, continuation of a destructive pattern in your life, etc.  Repeated rejection, however, brings sustained sin and many horrors attend sustained sin.   In fact, many wounds that we receive come from the sin of others.  Jesus injecting his life in Capernaum could have decreased the rate of sin against others.  Sin is not purely personal.  It is communal.  Jesus’ challenge to change to cities and his condemnation was of cities.  He gave these 4 communities and opportunity to change their very fabric.  They had to act though.  They also had a window of time that Jesus invested in them.

Many options to change are time and/or situation limited.  Some opportunities end when the confrontation ends.  Why?  Does God end them?  As believers, we do not lose access to Jesus, the Father or the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes though, God lets a challenge to us expire.  Much more often – we end them.  How?

We deny that the confrontation applies to us.  We may do this immediately.  We may do it once the confronter is gone, or perhaps, we deny that we should even be confronted.  Regardless of our preferred avoidance method, too often we cease to consider the confrontation and its implications.

We disregard not only the substance of the challenge, we even avoid the meaning of the fact that we were challenged in the first place.   These recognitions  drop from our mind, from our radar, with little consideration.  We just shut the window the challenge created.

These cities had moments as persons (agents capable of change) when the God of the universe literally walked in front of them, stayed with them, spoke to them and performed miracles for them. True love walked in their midst!  Literally!  Yet, the individuals failed to act.  They did not repent.  Does accepting Christ as savior increase our responsiveness to Christ?  Yes.  We have the Holy Spirit.

Maintaining the responsiveness is the challenge.  Do we listen to the Holy Spirit?  God’s quiet voice as Elijah learned is an important voice to hear.


A Heart of Darkness Charges God

Passage: Job 1:6-12
1:6 Now the day came when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord—and Satan also arrived among them. 1:7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” And Satan answered the Lord, “From roving about on the earth, and from walking back and forth across it.” 1:8 So the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.”

1:9 Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? 1:10 Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land. 1:11 But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will no doubt curse you to your face!”

1:12 So the Lord said to Satan, “All right then, everything he has is in your power. Only do not extend your hand against the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”

Soul Search Essay
So, does God saying, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil” constitute setting Job up for a fall? (Which would be a moral charge against God that many would make in the heat of deep loss and perhaps after.)  No.  It is not a set up and ironically, it is Satan that testifies to this.

“Is it for nothing that Job fears God? 1:10 Have you not made a hedge around him and his household and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his livestock have increased in the land.”  Satan makes the charge that Job’s loyalty and love of God is nothing more significant than good business. Satan charges that Job enjoys a sweet deal (perhaps a special deal) in accepting the “good life” and therefore the loss of the good life will end the loyalty and the love (which would be a sham love if it ended for this reason).

So, was what Job had before Satan took action a sweet and special deal?  For that to be true, there would have to be favoritism or a quid pro quo business transaction.  God would have to show preferential treatment toward Job or God would need to owe Job for something Job did.  There are numerous scripture passages that make it clear that God does not play favorites, which eliminates favoritism.

There are passages, however, in the Old Testament that promise blessings for Israel following God’s law and catastrophe for Israel disregarding it.  In these promises through Moses, what is stated are not payments for compliance, but consequences.  The consequences followed the decisions and actions of the nation Israel.  The promises were to a nation not specific individuals.   Did YHWH honor individual decisions?  Yes.  Could individuals enjoy the positive consequences?  Absolutely.  Did this confer a special right to the good life?  Absolutely not.  Grace is not quid pro quo.

So, why would Satan make this charge of a special &/or a sweet deal to a God who does not do this?   Satan knows this is not true. So why use it?  Simple.  It works!  It will not work with YHWH.  It will work with humans.

Millions turn from Yahweh due to his perceived “failures” to prevent painful loss or “failures” to deliver the good, comfortable life we think we have earned.  We cry out, “Why didn’t God stop…!!!”  Also, we cry out, “God should…!”  Millions of non-believers and believers alike turn away from God because whether aware or not, they presume they are owed a good life or at least a reasonably good life. This particular tactic of Satan’s quite simply works and works very well against humans.

Why didn’t it work on Job?

Why? Job understands the nugget of truth in Satan’s charge without even hearing the charge being made (WOW!). What is that truth?

“Have you not made a hedge….” “You have blessed….”  Satan charges Yahweh with extending grace in the form of protection and material, tangible blessings as a means of gaining loyalty.  He goes on to charge that withdrawing the grace would force Job to curse God.  The loyalty would end.  There is the “sweet deal” logic exposed. Satan supposes that Job must, must feel entitled after all of these years (probably decades) of receiving blessing and after blessing.  Business has been phenomenal!!  Family growth has been great!

It did not work, because Job knew that what he had for decades was grace given by God, not human earned obligations nor a sweet deal with God.  Grace does not give entitlement.  Ever.  Job knew this.

God knew what Job believed, what Job knew.  Also, both Job and Yahweh knew the only one entitled to remove the protection and blessing was the giver, the creator of the person and the blessings.  Satan presumed Yahweh bought loyalty, rather than extending grace as the creator.  Yahweh removing the grace was not God’s moral failure.  It was an action he was entitled to take (even in our lives).  God is an agent of choice.  God chooses.

The fact that we fear this kind of power and entitlement in God’s choices does not make it immoral for him to choose anything.  We are only owed what God promises to us (which is a phenomenal amount).  What we presume we are owed does not line up without deep understanding of who God is and what he promised to Christians (vs. Israel). The only immoral choice Yahweh can make is to violate his own character and morality.  He does not do that.

Yahweh’s capacity to choose means that everything in our lives depends on the character of Yahweh.  Everything.  Job understood that everything depended on God and his character despite Job being successful. Job was that rare, rare person that truly was honorable and God-centered despite success!  So, yes, a human can be phenomenally successful and avoid all the traps of success. It is possible to be godly and successful, but that requires tremendous awareness, ferocious intent and deep, deep participation with God.

If you think success has not changed you or that you are also one of these rare people, then have you considered yourself against Job?

He Did Not Charge

Passage: Job 1:20-22
1:21 Then Job got up and tore his robe. He shaved his head, and then he threw himself down with his face to the ground. 1:21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. May the name of the Lord be blessed!” 1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.

Soul Search Essay
He did not charge God with moral impropriety. He (Job) did not “….charge God….”

Job suffered a complete loss of his business. Job suffered the death of every child he had fathered (plus friends and servants). Yet, he did not charge God with moral impropriety. What is the point of saying this? What is the point of recording this so that thousands of years later you might read it here?

A huge reversal of fortune such as Job’s massive losses brings out in humans a profound craving for an object of blame. The pressure in our emotions, our minds and our social fabric ferociously pushes us toward blaming. We become fixated on it for a time (for some it is for all time). Most of the rest of the book of Job is a treatise on how the compulsion to blame plays out in our emotions, in our minds and most especially in our social fabric. What does this passage and this Bible book have to do with the dangers of business success? It is (in a sense) a matter of economics.

Businesses run on two currencies. One is money (as cash and credit). The other is blame. The money economy is positive in that having or possessing money confers power. In a sense, the blame economy is negative; meaning that not holding or not possessing blame is good. Thus it is negative, because the desired state is the absence of owned blame.  (Ownership of blame is externally imposed by a social grouping on the nominal owner or owners.)

The desired state of money is its positive presence (as cash) or at least ready access (as credit) and this clearly ties to business success. Businesses succeed, because they make money. Successful businesses, regardless of what they make, do, sell, or offer must make sufficient money to continue operating. Any business can (and often does) lose money of course. The question is not about the possibility of losing money. The question is about how long money can be lost. How long can you lose money at the current rate and survive? What about blame?

The desired state of blame is to avoid having it.  Avoid ownership at all costs.  How does this tie to success? Within a human organization (family, business, group, club, etc.), blame is like the fire, the wind and the raiders were to Job (see the events in the verses prior to our passage). Blame is a source of destruction. In fact, it is a powerful destroyer. Successful business people usually work very hard to avoid holding or possessing blame. Again, any business person can (and often does) possess blame at some point in a career. The question, however, is not about the possession of blame. The question is similar to the one for money.  How much blame can you absorb?  What direction is the flow of blame going?  Toward you?  For how long and how much in total?  The question in reality is about directing and controlling the flow of blame.

Many people who want to succeed can ask themselves in a blame crisis, “How can I orchestrate my thinking and behavior so that blame easily passes from me to another of my choosing?” OK.  OK.  Yes, I know most people do not think in terms as Machiavellian as this. The thought is more along the lines of “Crap! I could lose my job! This isn’t my fault!” even though objectively it is the person’s fault. These two sets of thoughts are the same.

You see people avoid awareness of how Machiavellian they can become. They prefer to not admit that they think in terms of “How can I make blame pass quickly from me to somewhere else?” (Of course, even the “somewhere else” is simply self delusion. Blame passes to and from agents capable of choice. To say “somewhere else” is to deny the truth of how we choose to pass blame. It is a double falseness. Many of our spiritual issues involve this type “doubleness.”)

So, to help understand this consider that in money and in blame, we have transactions. Things in actual existence actually change hands. This is the foundation of an economy – transactions – things passing from one person to another for the benefit of at least one party in the transaction.

“In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.”

Humm, so Job did not engage in an economic act. He did not engage in a blame transaction by passing the blame currency (a blame token) to God. That was a dumb business move.  He failed to benefit from choosing a blame transfer transaction.  This left him wide open to becoming the recipient of blame transactions.

Skim through some sections of the rest of Job. Say 4:1 through 8. What is happening so early in this book? Eliphaz is attempting economic management. He is attempting to direct the blame into Job’s possession. There are many verbal blame tokens scattered in the verses.  Why?  For the same reason business people attempt to direct portions of the blame economies in their organizations.

Answers are power.

Having an apparently accurate answer (the blame token) gives the bearer power (even if it is a lie). If you answer the implicit, yet ferocious question of “Who is to blame” and the person you deem the recipient can’t avoid blame delivery, then a transaction has occurred. You are the benefiting party.  Your answer imposed on another is an attempted act of economic power. If the market (the peer group, bosses, etc.) accepts that this other is to blame, then this is one of the most powerful transactions that occurs in business. No money changed hands, yet power flowed. The power was implicit in the creation of the need to blame, not in money.  The power was created by the anxiety of the group.

The power was implicit and present due to the ferocious human need for answers, especially for answers about blame.  Blames’ latent power is ever present.  Anxiety is never far at work when things go wrong.

The book of Job contains a huge series of blame transaction attempts.  Why?  Some of these attempts by Job’s friends are made seemingly on God’s behalf (and without his permission).  Why? There are two reasons that I see.

”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” Reason one, we reject the reality that life is not about us. This statement by Job is an acceptance and affirmation that Job is not owed anything by God and since everything is owned by God as its creator (including Job), there is no basis for blame due to the losses Job has suffered. Therefore, there is no blame market.

Job possessed these elements of his life that he lost, but he did not own them.  With no explicit, factual ownership, the implicit need to blame is weakened.  Job could blame due to the losses and the attendant grief.  Job, however, somehow understood that there is no right to bring a blame market into his life and therefore, he cannot bring a charge of blame against God.  With no market, there is no blame transaction between Job and God (or anyone else). The book of Job could end here. It does not. The compulsion to have an answer (and hence power) forces Job’s friends to create a long lasting market. Indeed, it seems at times to be a bull market that cannot die.  Count the verses in the book spent in the market of blame. The percentage is significant. It is most of the book. The friends attempt blame transactions over and over and over.

Reason two, has to do with the inherent power of the blame market. To direct blame through answers (real or made up) is to have significant power. To use answers not just to direct a single blame transaction, but to actually control a section of the blame economy is to have formidable power.  Being a blame market maker and/or a market controller is heady power. With that power, business rivals can be weakened or eliminated. With that power, your status is free from the effects of your poor choices, opponents efforts or simple bad luck.

That type of power is intertwined in modern American business success.  Whether acknowledged or not, the power to supply blame answers courses through business like a flash flood in a wadi. Wadis are dry riverbebs created by infrequent, but very strong water flows.  Wadis are easily forgotten, until a flash flood comes. With that flood of blame, kingdoms and business fiefdoms are bartered, internecine rivals are slighted or even slain. Their careers and characters are sold in the gushing currency of blame. Their characters and reputations are placed in the market pits clamor and they are sold.

The power of blame management that is inherent in American business’ blame economies is why Job’s statement in 1:21-22 matters. The point of Job’s statement being recorded is that it speaks to the heart of what we too often do in business. It speaks to the darkness in that heart by highlighting the absence of this sin in Job’s choices. The fact Job did not charge God (or anyone else) is phenomenal.  The depth of soul required to accomplish this with the level of provocation Job experienced is mind boggling.

Please never pass this verse again except with deep appreciation of the character Job possessed.

“1:22 In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with moral impropriety.”

How in the world did he do this??

Next we will turn from the question about Job to consider the source of the darkness in the business heart.

Where Is the Love?

Passage: Review James 5:1-6

Soul Search Essay
Despite how hard and confrontational the prior devotions have been, the love of God is absolutely present in James 5:1-6. It is present in giving you both the option and the ability to change. No the passage does not give you a recipe to get better. It kicks your door in (as it did mine; repeatedly). It kicks the door of idolatry in and, within the passage, love is in the awareness carried in through that open door. SIn fact, sometimes someone has to love you enough to kick mental, emotional your door in.

Jesus said that as believers we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. Yes, that truth includes facts about Jesus, Yahweh and the Holy Spirit. It also includes facts about you. Some are very ugly facts specifically about you. Those facts persisted after your salvation and some of them have grown. These facts and the acts tied to them were fully redeemed by Christ’s blood, yet they are still present and destructive in your life. That is the inherent tension within Christian life. The life of the disciple is inherently tense.

Things are done, but not yet done.

The period after salvation is about spiritual maturation. It is about choice. Your salvation came from a choice you made. Maturation also comes from a choice and from choices. The choice is to cease being a baby Christian. The choices are about progressions of intimacy and awareness (there are multiple progression paths involved).

Baby Christians, especially those who have been babies for decades, do a lot of damage. They hurt themselves. They hurt others. They get rejected. They are often confused, lonely and unwilling to give up their chosen destructive solutions. God’s love comes to you in the letter of James via the call to leave babyhood behind. It comes in accepting the tension of the Christian disciples life. It is the call to accept the need for true courage over the lures of false comfort. James is issuing that call, but he is doing it with the knowledge that many prophets have. Many, many believers reject the prophet’s call. Prophets are generally called to fail. Why?

Spiritual maturity comes from willful vulnerability. Again, spiritual maturity comes from willful vulnerability to a majestic, loving and frightening God. Also, the vulnerability needs to occur as life is happening. This is not spiritual retreat vulnerability. This is vulnerability in the real moment. This is vulnerability today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that one. This vulnerability requires not running away when your mental and emotional doors are kicked in by a loving, holy and outrageously committed God.

Love must include truth. Truth in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and Yahweh always includes love…regardless of whether it feels like love or not. Love is much, much more than a feeling. It is a position. It is a state. It is an emotion. It is a decision and it is decisions.

Our ultimate experience of love hangs on our salvation and Christ’s finished work. It is secure. Our current experience of love, the true love of Christ in this present world, depends on personal courage and personal choices. It depends on willful intimacy that is frightening, yet freeing in ways you may not even have a category for yet.

Courage is required in the Christian life. Courage is a core component of how you intimately participate in God’s plans.

View Reversal

Passage: James 5:6
5:6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person, although he does not resist you.

Soul Search Essay
This essay is even harder. Literally this passage’s translation is “You have condemned, have murdered, he does not resist.”  Wow, laying it on a little thick aren’t you James? Hammering it home in short phrases, guy!  Is this really necessary?

Have you ever been wronged and felt deeply hurt? Hurt in a situation where you could not fight back, because the power differential was so great that to respond invited worse pain or frightening consequences? Didn’t you feel condemned? Murdered even, if the hurt was extremely deep? Why wouldn’t I feel that at your hands? Are the wounds you inflict on me cosmically exempt from my perceiving them as murder? Only if God directed you to carry out the confrontations or actions.

Did he? Changing how we see is based on vulnerable truth. Harming others is about avoiding vulnerability. It is using power ostensibly to protect yourself. Changing how you see is about becoming vulnerable enough to feel what you did to me. It is changing how you see (the method of seeing) to the point you can objectively look through my eyes at what you did. When I did not resist, it is possible that I chose vulnerability over winning. What does that say about you when you look through my eyes?

Where Will My Courage Come From?

Passage: Jeremiah 2:1-3

2:1 The Lord spoke to me. He said: 2:2 “Go and declare in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, through a land that had never been planted. 2:3 Israel was set apart to the Lord; they were like the first fruits of a harvest to him. All who tried to devour them were punished; disaster came upon them,” says the Lord.

Soul Search Essay
Courage comes from love. Love comes from remembering and choice. In this passage, God is fondly, lovingly recalling his prior relationship with Israel. Through Jeremiah, he is stating clearly to the current Israelites how his love gave the early Israelites courage. He is implicitly asking the current Israelites to share in his loving memories and recognize that his love also conferred real life protection.

Why focus on real life protection? It is in real moment-to-moment life that people abandon God for alternate solutions. Much of the book of Jeremiah is about how Israel during very real stressors and threats chose alternate solutions due to there collective multiple failures of remembering and multiple failures in choices. Yet, Yahweh still loves them. He still loves them. The consequences of the Jeremiah’s peers failure to remember and to base today’s decisions on those memories were very, very real…people died, homes and businesses were destroyed, children died…yet, the love for these Israelites was very, very, very real.  It is as real for you as it was for them.  It is as present in a disaster as it was in prosperity. Yahweh’s love does not change. The source of true courage does not change.

Yahweh lovingly recalls his relationship with you as a believer in Jesus Christ. Yahweh’s loving relationship with Christ directly applies to Yahweh’s loving relationship with you. It is this love that generates the courage to enter, endure and triumph in the inherent, inescapable war between Christ and the prince of this world. As strange as it seems, war requires love.

Look to a modern human example of love in war generating courage.  In the coming weeks, go find a combat veteran from our military, one of the guys that actually fired a rifle at someone in combat. These men and women are all around you after 3 wars in the last 55 years. Ask him or her about the importance of the fellow soldiers or marines to the right and left in those times. If he or she will talk with you (it requires tremendous courage to recall the horrors of combat) watch the face, the hands and the eyes. Men and women in combat run into hell to help their budies. They stay in hell to fight for their buddies. There is a bond forged in combat that is extraordinarily deep.  That bond is what creates these marine’s and soldier’s courage. It is the loving connection to others. Yes, absolutely yes, marines and soldiers love.

You cannot manufacture courage sufficient for war on your own. What you create will be a poor forgery of courage. It will not sustain you. You will most likely then begin blaming when that courage fails. Blaming yourself. Blaming God. Blaming friends and family. Blaming situations. Why? We hate failure. We hate weakness. We hate vulnerability. Yet, these are the flames that forge love into courage. There are reasons that basic training is so brutal. It is a progressive forge, which is building bonds through common, shared failure and trauma. Christians also experience basic training. It is what comes between the milk of early faith and the external focus of mature Christianity.

Your courage to change must come from love.  For your internal battle is in fact a war.