I have been asked many times to describe the ministry of the Christian Military Fellowship. It is always hard to pick a place to begin the description.
The thought that first comes to mind is the fact that CMF is a ministry that is owned and operated by its members. CMF is an indigenous ministry! Yes, you read correctly. CMF is about Christians in the military leading others to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and encouraging fellow believers. Therefore, CMF ministry exists wherever CMF members are involved. They might be riding ship, a member of a flight crew, or carrying a rifle.
Another thing that makes describing CMF difficult is that we are not about waving the CMF flag. In fact most of the time the activities of our membership will occur in or associated with the local Command Religious Program. CMF members teach Sunday School classes at base chapels, teach Bible Studies, and assist with worship services. The idea is to do the ministry and leave no fingerprints!
Now the first thought that comes to mind after reading these two paragraphs is that one does not necessarily need to be a member of CMF in order participate in these activities. However, you begin to see the utility of CMF if you look at your presence in the military as divinely appointed and consider that your are serving in an environment that brings with it the possibility for not one, not two, but three wars. First, there is the war that is within you:
"We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do. If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me. So I find that this law is at work: when I want to do what is good, what is evil is the only choice I have. My inner being delights in the law of God. But I see a different law at work in my body—a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of. It makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is at work in my body. What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind, while my human nature serves the law of sin." (Romans 7:14-30, GNB)
Second, there is the war against principalities and powers:
"Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age." (Ephesians 6:10-12, GNB)
Finally, there is temporal warfare. The wars and rumors of wars in this fallen world.
"You are going to hear the noise of battles close by and the news of battles far away; but do not be troubled. Such things must happen, but they do not mean that the end has come. Countries will fight each other, kingdoms will attack one another. There will be famines and earthquakes everywhere." (Matthew 24:6-7, GNB)
One of the accepted principles of warfare is called “Force Concentration.” “Force concentration is the practice of concentrating military power on a target to cause disproportionate losses for the enemy. It's based upon the formula that the combat power of a military force is the square of the number of members of that unit” (Army Command and General Staff College). It does not matter whether you are talking about putting a bullet through a piece of armor or a brigade through an opposing force, the principle is the same. If you want to win the battle it requires a concentration of force!
"After this the Lord chose another 72 men and sent them out two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go. He said to them, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest." (Luke 10:1-2, GNB)
No let us put ourselves into this battle. We are standing in the war zone where the enemy has his highly trained and motivated troops focused upon you. He has done his reconnaissance and knows you and your weaknesses and those of your fellow believers. He has one mission and that is to see to your demise. Now consider that he would rather put a bullet through your temple then have to lay siege to your castle. Oh I forgot to mention, this enemy is invisible! Oh I forgot to mention, you were abruptly taken out of the warmth of your local fellowship and are now standing on the far side of the planet in the middle of a temporal battle field where there is yet another enemy who wants to nail your to the floor of hell. You know who your temporal battle buddies are because you have been training with them for months. However, you haven’t a clue as to the identity of your eternal battle buddies or their capabilities because you were all going to different fellowships and have never trained together. Do you see in the situation an opportunity for you to create a concentration of force?
“And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20, GNB)
I have heard many sermons that focused on the need to put on the whole armor of God. But not one sermon on how to put on God’s armor and how to know when you have it on! I found the answer to these questions in an unusual way. I was driving along in a car listening to an album that my longtime battle buddy had given to me. It was a group called Harvest. One of the songs on the album contained the following words:
“Are we walking into the enemy camp, laying our weapons down, shedding our armor as we go, leaving it on the ground. We’ve gotta be strong in the power of His might to prove to the enemy, we are the army of the Lord and we’ve won the victory.”
Now here are some words that will put fear in the heart of any warrior. The thought of walking into the enemy encampment would be tough enough. But to throw down one’s weapons and armor as well? Then it struck me like lightening. How do you put on God’s armor? You have to take off your own. Pastor Andrew Murray, in his book by the same name, calls this “Absolute Surrender.”
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:17-24, NKJV)
How do you know when you have on the whole armor of God? When you pray like this:
“Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18, GNB)
The staff and infrastructure of CMF exists to provide whatever it takes to resource, equip and encourage our membership in the performance of their ministry. So, if the Chapel program at your base isn't what you think it ought to be, or there appears to be no one interested in conducting Divine Worship Services aboard your ship then my question for you, Christian, is "Why not you?" But then the question again arises, "Why CMF?" I certainly do not need to be a member to do any of these things! But what if you desire to serve and do not know how? What if you think you know how but have been frustrated (the war you cannot see) in your efforts? Maybe you are discouraged and are suffering through tough times in your own life! Now you are beginning to get the picture! This is combat and the enemy is real! Soldiers do not go to war untrained and unequipped do they? No one goes to a war and escapes without wounds! What if I am already attending a Church? That is great! Start a CMF group at your church to support and encourage those in the military that attend with you. The church cannot go on deployment but your fellow CMF members may well deploy with you. If you are interested in learning more about how to become an "Owner/Operator" give us a call. We will even pay for the call. (800) 798-7875. Or check out our Home Office website.