I looked across at my eighth grade, almost 14 year old grandson, in the swim spa a few days ago. We were playing “swim spa tag”–a game the grandsons made up. All of a sudden I was gripped with another 14 year old boy I rode around Ukraine with 4 years ago doing ministry and around Kiev to see the sites. Max just turned 18 and was drafted into the military and sent to the East, the very front line of the war with Russian. I sent him a letter through his family they translated and sent off to him. I believe it speaks of life in general, not just what he is facing. I hope it helps him a little–and helps the rest of us A LOT!
It seems like yesterday that you and Tammy picked us up at the airport in Kiev and we Toured the City and some of the country together. We pray for you and your family often, and since this war began, daily. It was like yesterday you were a boy in his early teen years, and now you are a man preparing to go to the front lines of a war you didn’t create. I was praying about what I should say when I wrote you and I feel like God spoke to me some very specific things. As I have had some time to reflect, I think these things are as much about life and facing the circumstances that come our way as they are about a soldier training for the front line of duty in wartime. These ideas apply today, tomorrow, the next day—and every day after!
First: LIVE INSIDE THE POWER OF THE LIVING GOD, NOT THE PRIDE OF HUMANS. The story of David and Goliath brings out some remarkable things. The pride the Philistines had in both the size of their armies AND the size of their giant soldier, Goliath, was immense. Human pride is both the number 1 sin and the greatest downfall. Much of war is based on human pride. Putin’s pride in Russia has brought him to the place where he is obsessed with reclaiming Ukraine as part of his domain. Not only that, Putin (BECAUSE OF PRIDE) believes that Kiev is one of Russian’s greatest cities. (Some historians claim his basis for this is because of a spiritual revival that occurred sometime in the 19th century where hundreds/thousands were baptized in the river). Notice that Putin, even in his wicked and evil mindset, tries to “spiritualize” his purpose. It comes down to basic pride. HERE IS THE CHALLENGE FOR YOU: Can you come against the evil Russian pride with a more powerful Ukrainian pride??? The challenge is to NOT fall into the trap of pride whatsoever! Back to the David and Goliath story: The Israelites were at a fearful “stand-still” completely neutralized until the little shepherd boy David brought food to his brothers from home. What got David’s attention was NOT the exchange of war, but the pride that was controlling the place. David was able to overcome Goliath with one simple stone to the giant’s head because he said “I COME AGAINST YOU IN THE NAME OF THE LIVING GOD!” Instead of living inside of pride, David lived inside the power of the living God! Don’t live inside your own pride, Max! Live inside the power of the living God. Don’t go against Russia because of your pride in Ukraine, go against Russia in the power and name of the living God. Stand firm, be courageous, but not in Max’s strength. Stand firm and be courageous in the power of the living God. Further, share the story of David and Goliath with your fellow soldiers. Lead others to living inside the power of the living God!
Second: IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US??? If you live inside the power of the living God, there is no enemy or harm that can really touch you! However, part of living inside the power of the living God is to live your life completely surrendered to God and FOLLOWING HIM. Following Christ means to obey His teaching. Jesus said, “God causes it to rain on the unrighteous and the righteous, and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust.” Remember that living inside the power of the living God doesn’t mean you won’t have day to day struggles, but you will have the assurance, peace, and patience to know that your life doesn’t belong to you, your life belongs to God. If your life belongs to God, whether we live or pass into eternity, we do it all in a surrender to the power of the living God! This is the only way to live life, and if part of living life is fighting wars, then it applies to fighting wars too.
Third: God is giving you an important opportunity you will treasure the rest of your life and can make a real difference in the eternals if you let it. Do as the Apostle Paul tells the Philippians in Chapter 3—“forget those things that are behind and strain toward what is ahead to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward”. You should view your service in the military no different than your day to day life. Live each day for God and if everything you are or every will be IS God’s. Living with your mind and heart in this place you will begin to form a powerful and living testimony of God’s power in your life. The kind of testimony you can share with others. When I was a young person our Youth Group at Church was called the Overcomers. Our Youth Group was part of other Youth Groups across the country and around the world. We began our service by quoting together Revelation 12:11—“And they overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony and loved not their lives unto the death.” In other words, Jesus took care of our sins, when we repent and turn our lives over to Christ we begin our TESTIMONY. As we live each day inside the power of the living God it is the surrender of (dying to myself—or as it is worded in Scripture “loved not their lives unto the death.”)
YOUR testimony is what God has done and is doing in you right now. Share your testimony. Live your testimony. LEAD PEOPLE INTO A BELIEF IN A LIVING GOD. Don’t just follow the crowd in drinking, smoking, and laughing. Don’t follow the crowd. Lead the crowd into the battle against selfish pride and to the miracle of humility that comes through serving only God.
Finally, God wants to send a revival that sweeps the world. This world wide revival starts in places like you are RIGHT NOW. In the heart of a soldier….but it requires the soldier (you, Max) to live in God with your whole heart. Let it begin!
God Bless & Much Love,
Pastor Marc Royer