Summary: Perhaps the greatest lessons I learned about life came during Marine Corps bootcamp, Paris Island, the Summer of 1978. Christians need bootcamp too.
(All my sermons use illustrations found at www.sermoncentral.com and all scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.)
When I was young I was a very active kid, I am sure many of you were as well. We may have to strain a little to remember those days, but most all of us could not wait to get outside and run around. Times have changed; many children today don’t wander far from their comfort zone of cable television, video game center and munchies. BUT, when we were young it was all Moms’ could do to get us to come in for supper.
If it was hot outside we were told the garden hose was there for re-hydration, there was none of these separate bottles of water for each child, soda pop was a luxury and Kool-Aid was the norm. When it was cold, we put on extra pants and coats and we made the best of it. And when we scraped our knees or our elbows our mother was there with Bactine, oh you remember Bactine. Mom would look at the little abrasion on our knee, get out the little white spray bottle and let it rip, and then we knew what real pain felt like. Then Mom would say something like “Well you don’t want to get an infection do you?” We didn’t understand infection, we only understood pain, and we didn’t like it. I know some of us were thinking, “Well a little infection wouldn’t be so bad, but the pain from that little white bottle has to stop.”
As we mature in life, we come to a realization that anything good in life, anything worthwhile, requires some sort of pain. Not only do we realize it, but we understand how hard it will be to get our children to realize it as well. I am calling this sermon SPIRITUAL BOOTCAMP because the greatest lesson I ever learned about the benefits of pain came from Marine Corps Boot Camp, Parris Island, South Carolina, the Summer of 1978. It was there I endured some of the greatest physical and mental challenges of life and it was there I learned that nothing truly good comes without some sort of pain or trials.
James understood that if a Christian or a church was to grow, they would have to endure trials and testing as well, they would have to ask for direction and they would have to accept that guidance as well.
James 1:2-8 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
There are three things contained in this short passage of scripture that I think can help every Christian and every Church if they are willing to hear and act on this advice. The first of which is:
I. ENDURE BRUTAL TRAINING
Now, if you look at the first two verses from our passage this morning, you can write novels on just that section. We are told to “Consider it JOY” we are told that we WILL face trials of MANY kinds. We are told that our FAITH will be tested, but this morning, can you see that the most important thing in this passage is ENDURE, it is perseverance that when finished, makes us mature and complete. It is those that weather the storm who in turn grow from the adventure. We are never truly defeated until we QUIT.
I learned this in Boot Camp, I learned that you weren’t done until you had given up. I learned that each time I pushed myself a little further, the stronger I grew. I learned that the longer I endured, the stronger I got. I learned that each adventure I pushed through made me more of a complete Marine.
But, I feel there was one thing in Boot Camp I don’t always see in church. TEAMWORK! Marines are trained to be a unit, to work together, hurt together and endure together. You would never quit, because it affected the entire unit. You wouldn’t slow down, because that slowed down the entire team. We worked together to endure, to get through, to succeed. Christians must see this as well. A church is dependent it on its people, it is the people. We covered that a few weeks ago. You know there is a lot we could learn from GEESE!