The Hard Corps: Combat Training for the Man of God
Men, it's time to go back to basic training.
We live in a world filled with distractions. Whether they're good or bad is irrelevant, either way they tend to take us away from the important things in this life, namely the cause of Jesus Christ, the power of the Gospel and the hope of glory. We're often aware of this most acutely after we read a book or hear a particularly penetrating message that gets at the heart of our own personal struggles. If we're honest with ourselves, it's not that we're uninterested in becoming a soldier for King Jesus and joining in the battle. Before we get out there on the front lines, we have some problems that need to be dealt with. First up is our feelings of unworthiness, shame and guilt. The reality of our situation is that in the face of a holy God, we are unworthy. We've all done things that have rightly left us filled with shame and guilt. Try as we might, we're unable to clean ourselves up. We're a lot like that white t-shirt covered in grease and grime after we changed the oil in our car. No amount of washing with detergent and bleach is going to make that t-shirt white again. Does this mean we're doomed to a life of despair, because we're unable to clean up our own act? No, this is exactly the place of realization each of us needs to come to. The truth is we can't do this on our own, it's impossible. That's precisely why God the Father sent his precious son Jesus to this earth. He came to seek and save the lost. That's you, that's me, we're all lost.
If this is all new to you and you're still in that place where you're trying to clean yourself up, I recommend you take some time and read through the Gospel of John. As you make your way through this gospel, ask God to help you understand what you're reading and that He would reveal to you what bearing it has on your life. Undoubtedly, you're going to have some questions about what you read in the Gospel of John and other questions about what it really means to be a Christian. When you find yourself at that point, seek out a friend or acquaintance who you know is a Christian and ask if you could meet with him or her over coffee to discuss what you've been reading and learning. If there are questions that they are unable to answer, you may also want to ask them to introduce you to their pastor, who I suspect will be more than happy to speak with you about the gospel and the life-changing transformation that occurs when we come to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Whether you're a brand new follower of Jesus Christ or you've been a part of God's family for quite some time, there are times when we find ourselves in a place where we're feeling spiritually stuck and complacent. I know this was me during my early days as a follower of Jesus Christ. For me what was really lacking was mentoring and instruction on how to live as a man of God. Let me rephrase this using the army analogy found in The Hard Corps: Combat Training for the Man of God. It's like we're enlisted, we passed the physical, but we've been sitting at the bus depot waiting to be transported to basic training. Well soldier, your day has finally come. In fact I hear a bus pulling in to the station right now. It's big, it's green and it has a white and orange Good Book Company bumper sticker on the back. You better stand at attention! Drill sergeant Dai Hankey is stepping off the bus right now and he's coming your way. He told you to grab your bag and head to the bus, so you better get a move on. The bus is full and it's time to move out of the station. I bet you're feeling a little excited and a little nervous at the same time. In the end you know this training will be worth it.
Now this isn't you're average basic training. You're going to be studying some of the most elite soldiers to ever grace a battlefield. These are King David's mighty men that we read about in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel in chapter 23. Let's take a quick look at your training manual titled The Hard Corps. In this book you're going to learn about:
*Josheb-basshebeth - chief of an elite squad of 3 mighty men, who single-handedly slew 800 enemy soldiers in one spectacular stand-off
*Eleazar - the swashbuckling Samurai of the group who struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, but never lost his grip on his sword
*Shammah - He made a stand against the Philistines in the midst of the lentil fields at Lehi. After all it's the promised land, these are God's beans.
*Three Nameless Ninjas - The 3NN were willing to sneak behind enemy lines to bring their King a glass of water from his favorite well in Bethlehem.
*Abishai - Commander of the squad of 30 mighty men, who wielded his spear against 300 men
*Benaiah - "Pastor's Kid" who exhibited great courage taking down two ariels of Moab, a lion in a pit, and an Egyptian giant
Using these mighty men as a springboard, drill sergeant Dai will help you to reflect on who your are, who God is and show you what it's going to take for you to become a full-fledged soldier for Jesus Christ. Each training class (chapter) finishes with some special combat training. This special training helps to reinforce what you read in the preceding chapter, draws you deeper into God's word, and helps you to begin applying your training to your own life and particular circumstances. Now I know some of you may have a tendency to skip over questions that come at the end of a chapter, but this is an important part of your training. If drill sergeant Dai finds out that you're slacking in your combat training, he's likely to tell you to drop and give him 50 push ups. You might be thinking that's an awful lot of push ups, but that's just how seriously he takes this stuff. I'll let you make your own decision here, but consider yourself warned
As you are nearing the end of your basic training, you're likely going to feel pretty good about yourself. It's good to be confident. You've made good progress, you're achieving goals, but remember this is just the beginning. When the training is over, it's time to begin your mission. You're probably thinking you'd like your name to be listed in the hall of heroes that you saw in the lobby on your way into camp. It's possible, but it's a lifelong pursuit. As you begin applying the training you learned in The Hard Corps, it's going to impact all areas of your life. The legacy you will be leaving for your family, your community, and the Church is going to be far different now that you're a fully trained solider in the service of King Jesus. Following this training, remember to fully stock your armoury with the weapons (books and other resources) talked about at the end of your training manual. These will help you to always remain sharp and on mission.
Many thanks to Dai Hankey for writing and The Good Book Company for publishing The Hard Corps: Combat Training for the Man of God. This is a book I wish I had been able to read in my late teens to early twenties. As Christian men we all need to respond to the call to be drafted into the service of King Jesus. Dai's style throughout is entertaining and engaging. The military theme and graphics in the book make this a fun read for both young men and those of us who are still young men at heart. Whether you're 15 or 50, you'll find much to benefit from in these pages. If you're a Christian man who's tended to stand on the sidelines, get yourself a copy of this book and read it. If you have friends and family who would benefit from this book, consider hosting a small group of men in your home and work through the book together. If you have a men's ministry or some men's small groups at your church, get copies of The Hard Corps into the hands of your leadership. As Christian men, we need to be in community, praying for one another, and sharpening and challenging each other. I pray that The Hard Corps would be a catalyst that God uses greatly to kick us out of our apathy and complacency towards unashamed, life-long service to King Jesus!
About the Author:
Dai Hankey is a DJ, a rapper and a church-planting pastor in the Welsh valleys, where he lives with his wife and four young children. He is also part of the Acts 29 network and runs Porterbrook Training in Cardiff.
This book was provided by the publisher for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
September 19, 2012
A Call to Spiritual Combat
The Hard Corps: Combat Training for the Man of God is a rallying cry for men in the church to ready themselves for battle in service of King Jesus. Dai Hankey goes about accomplishing his task through several preparatory Ã¢ÂÂcombat training sessionsÃ¢ÂÂ (which consist of a summary point, a Scripture passage to read, and some questions for reflection) that set the stage for a creative exposition of 2 Samuel 23:8-39, which focuses upon a cast of characters who were all great warriors serving under King David.
HankeyÃ¢ÂÂs keen observations about the bravery, obedience, and faith of these warriors are enough to stir anyone into combat so long as they have a heart to serve. But his equally keen observations about their troubled pasts, their many failures, or their lack of recognition are enough to inspire confidence in those of us who might not feel quite up to the task. All every point Hankey rightly recognizes that spiritual warfare is real and he believes that the man of God needs to be equipped.
When itÃ¢ÂÂs all said and done, this is a book about GodÃ¢ÂÂs calling, empowering, and most importantly, his loving-kindness and grace. HankeyÃ¢ÂÂs call to arms is really a call to loving the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, which manifests itself in our love for others and our obedience to what God asks of us. Being a soldier in the LORDÃ¢ÂÂs army isnÃ¢ÂÂt about physical strength or oneÃ¢ÂÂs ability to fight; itÃ¢ÂÂs about recognizing our own weakness and depending on God to get us through every battle.
The creative exposition is supplemented with plenty of personal anecdotes about being a dad, a husband, a DJ, and probably most relatable to most readers, a sinner, which helps to make this book relevant for a wide range of men. Whether you struggle with fear, pride, pornography, apathy, or something else, IÃ¢ÂÂm confident that Hankey has a prophetic word for you. The intended audience seems to be late teen to early 30s given HankeyÃ¢ÂÂs vernacular, which btw, is not affected much by his Welsh accent, but thereÃ¢ÂÂs plenty that will be useful to older men as well.
The call to step up and be better sons/brothers/husbands/fathers is timely and welcome. His language can be a little colorful at times (e.g., when he refers to getting kicked in the nuts ), but itÃ¢ÂÂs really no big deal. Still though, parents presenting this to their young boys might want to take this into consideration before doing so. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend it to the men in my church without hesitation.
September 13, 2012