Thursday, June 14, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Last night, I was talking to my dad about the killing of a nurse in Buffalo. The alleged shooter is a surgeon who had served 18 years as a decorated special forces soldier. As we talked about how sad this situation is, my dad reminded me of another decorated soldier who is in a maximum security prison for a similar crime. My dad then said, "It's sad because these men have been trained to kill and fight but they have not been trained to live. That phrase struck me as I thought about us as Christians. We have been taught how to fight the enemy. We know how to resist the devil and make him flee. We know how to put on the whole armor of Christ. We know how to fight but many of us don't know how to live. Yes it is true, we have many good teachings on family and relationships however, a teaching and a sermon is not enough when it comes to training. A good soldier does not just listen to instructions and watch how-to videos. No, a good soldier trains and develops discipline. He practices how to put his gun together in seconds. He also knows how to shoot that same gun and can hit the target every time. He lives the life of practice, practice, practice. According to the Barna research group, "conservative Protestant Christians, on average, have the highest divorce rates among conservative Christians and are significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics." Wow! The "research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages." (quote from This is not a condemnation to those who are divorced, I only use this example to show that in our churches we are not doing a very good job teaching people how to live. We need to take the same principles as special forces soldiers have done in training to fight, and apply them to living. For example, if you don't know how to communicate to your spouse than practice communicating until you can do it right. Don't give up just because you have a fight or get wounded. Remember we need to be able to live better than we know how to fight. If you don't apologize well, or don't know how to, or just plain don't like to, than you need to practice until you get it right. If you don't know how to serve one another in love than practice until you can do it in your sleep, and with a good attitude. By the way, attitude is learned behavior. A good attitude takes a lot of practice and skill. As I gave this some thought, I paused when I thought of some of the greatest warriors, prophets and kings in the Bible. These great men knew how to fight but they didn't know how to live. King David, raised a bunch of fighting kids who fought and killed each other. Solomon obviously had relationship issues as he had 700 wife's and 300 concubines. Mannasseh was one of the most wicked men mentioned in the Bible and, yet, his father was the godly King Hezekiah. Samuel had two of the most wicked sons, Joel and Abijah. We should not forget Isaac's two fighting sons, Esau and Jacob or the priest Eli and his wicked sons. For me, this is a wake-up-call. We all need to learn how to live, not just fight. As for me, I will practice until I get it right. I hope you will too.

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