Friday, March 20, 2015


                Every August, the Minnesota Vikings show up in Mankato, MN for training camp. The purpose of this event is to prepare the players for the regular season. The coaches want the players to be ready to handle whatever their opponents throw at them.

                When a young person enters the military, they are sent to boot camp. The purpose of this is to prepare these young people to serve in our military. The goal of the drill instructors is to prepare the troops for whatever the enemy might throw at them.

                When a young person is learning to drive, they attend drivers’ training. The purpose of these classes it to prepare the young person for the responsibility of driving. The goal of the instructor is to prepare these new drivers for whatever they may encounter on the roads.

                We all know the value of training. Most of us have gone into situations less prepared that we should have been. In the midst of the situation, we usually wish we had prepared better to face the challenge.

                What is true in life, in general, is doubly true for our spiritual lives. Just like the Vikings going to training camp, and soldiers going to boot camp, and young drivers going to drivers’ training, so we should be enrolled in soul training. We should be preparing our spirits to face whatever challenges our enemy, Satan, is going to throw at us. It is important to prepare for the physical challenges of life. It is even more important to prepare for the spiritual challenges of life. Paul challenged Timothy to be actively involved in soul training. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

                One of the ways that we do soul training is to gather the right equipment. Just as football players and soldiers need proper equipment, so we need proper spiritual equipment. Paul calls this equipment the armor of God. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

                The goal of soul training is to prepare us to face both the positive and negative side of life. At Vikings training camp, the players learn how to execute offensive plays and defensive plays. So it is with us spiritually. We must learn how to live for Christ and how to defend ourselves against Satan’s attacks.

                The positive side of this equation is the easier and more enjoyable side of training. We learn how to study God’s word and apply it. We learn how to love one another. We learn how to walk with Christ. We often spend much time refining our offensive plays. On the other hand, we tend to overlook the more difficult side of training. We will not always be on the offensive. In fact, we will spend much more time on the defensive. There are three major areas of soul training that we need to work on. We need to work on facing temptations, trials and tragedies.

                Temptations are those obstacles Satan throws in our way to knock us off track. These are usually negative things that lead us away from Christ and a Christ-like life. Some temptations are blatant and many are subtle. We have to be on our guard and ready to counteract these temptations. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

                Trials are the hardships that we face in life. Some of these may be direct attacks from Satan, or they may just be part of living in a fallen would. Trials can discouragement us and immobilize us, if we are not prepared for them. God often uses trials to strengthen us and to refine our faith. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

                Tragedies are the devastating events in life; a death or a significant loss of some kind. These are the hardest obstacles for us to overcome. They often take us by surprise. We are rarely prepared for them when they happen. It is during tragedies that our soul training pays off. It is during these times we discover the depth of Christ’s love, kindness, compassion and care. It is during these times that we need to dig deep and hold onto God’s promises. The greatest promise that God has given us is summarized in His words to Joshua before he led the people of Israel into the Promised land. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) Jesus reaffirmed this promise when He commissioned his disciples to take the Gospel into the world.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

                We all need soul training, so that we will be prepared to face all of the challenges of life. Whatever life throws at us, we can rest in the promise that we do not face those challenges alone. Jesus will always be with us, leading the way. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

                 I want to recommend a great soul training book. It is "Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering" by Tim Keller. It is an excellent resource to help us prepare for the inevitable struggles we will face in life. 

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