One Of The Few (book review)

one-of-the-fewI love to read stories that take me “behind the scenes.” Which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading autobiographies, where the author is candid and transparent, and gives me the scoop on things I wouldn’t have experienced myself. That’s exactly what I got in One Of The Few by Jason Ladd.

Jason takes us inside the United States Marine Corp, specifically into the seat of a Marine pilot. We get to see firsthand the grit, intelligence, and perseverance it takes to be one of the few, the proud, the Marines. Learning a little more about what it takes to attain this elite status, increased my respect for our men and women in military service even more.

But as I read Jason’s story, I quickly learned that he was learning from his own life experiences as well. As he pursues his dream, as he learns new skills, as he is confronted with the harsh realities of wartime situations, Jason must also come to grips with his beliefs about spiritual matters. His journey is uniquely his, but he shares his story in a way that will benefit anyone who is either wrestling with spiritual questions, or anyone who is trying to befriend someone who is skeptical about the Christian faith.

One Of The Few resonated with me on many levels: a great personal story, excellent leadership lessons, new military insights, and great Christian apologetic skills. Definitely put this book on your “to be read” list.

I am a Boone Shepherd book reviewer.

The Key Decision For Influential Men

Influence like JesusNo matter how you look at it, being a Dad is hard work! Men have this constant balancing act between being tough and being tender. Guys have to have their game face on at work, and their family face on at home. They’ve got to work hard knocking down work competitors, and then work just as hard building up their family members.

But there is one key decision that will determine how successful a man will be at work, at home, in his social circles, and even in his relationship with God. 

In Acts 10 we meet a centurion named Cornelius. Centurions were professional military officers in charge of a centuria (usually 100 soldiers). Centurions were always “on the clock,” never letting down their guard nor their professionalism.

All of the centurions mentioned in the New Testament have noble characteristics associated with them. Whereas someone might be uncertain how a typical Roman soldier would behave, people felt more assured when the centurion was on the scene. Even Roman governors like Pilate, and Jewish kings like Herod, all seemed to fully trust the judgement, honesty, and resourcefulness of centurions.

Centurions worked hard to get where they were, and had some well-earned perks:

  • Good pay (one built a temple, Luke 7:1-5).
  • “Men of authority” with soldiers and servants reporting to them (Matthew 8:8-9).
  • Opportunity for advancement (Rome was the dominate world force).
  • A certain degree of autonomy (they had their own residences (Matthew 8; Acts 10).

In order to keep this position, they would have to buy into kurios Caesar (Caesar is lord). To do otherwise was to put their position and future advancement at risk.

Yet Cornelius was different. 

He was a trusted centurion, but something unusual stood out about his life. Luke the historian describes him as devout and God-fearing, mentioning his pious activities of prayer and giving to the poor. Cornelius’ own soldiers referred to him as righteous and respected by notable people in the community.

But probably most telling of all: God noticed how committed Cornelius was (see Acts 10:3-4)!

Cornelius had a lot to lose by rejecting kurios Caesar for, as the Christians said, kurios Iesous (Jesus is Lord). Yet after carefully weighing his options, he saw that trusting God was the best thing he could do for his family. His view of the eternal outweighed anything that he could gain in the temporal.

This one decision changed everything! 

Because Cornelius trusted God, look at the expansiveness of his influence, not only at home, but at work, and among his friends and extended family, and throughout his community:

  • His family—ALL his family were devout and God-fearing (v. 2)
  • His employees—a devout soldier (v. 7)
  • His community—respected by ALL the Jewish people (v. 22)
  • His relatives and friends—his relatives and close friends (v. 24)
  • In fact everyone around him—we are ALL here in the presence of God (v. 33)
  • And most importantly, with God—your prayers and gifts have come up as a memorial offering before God (v. 4)

Fellas, you can have this same level of influence if you, too, will decide to live karios Iesous: Jesus is Lord. If you will do that, you can have said about your life what was said about Cornelius and Jesus: “God anointed ___________ with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him!” (see Acts 10:38).

Authority Comes From Submission

Authority comes from submissionOut of all the unlikely places, I never would have expected that guy to be a theologian! After all, the ones with the amazing insight into how God works are supposed to be deep into Scripture, know the ancient biblical languages, and be able to preach profound sermons. This guy had none of that.

He was simply an officer in the military who had an aide-de-camp who was sick. He had enough basic knowledge to see that Jesus could do something for his faithful assistant, but—strangely enough—he didn’t think he was worthy of having Jesus come into his home.

He said something that caused Jesus to be amazed. When Jesus is amazed by something a man does, that gets my attention!

This military officer said, “Although I’m an officer who can tell people what to do—when I say, ‘Jump!’ they say, “How high, sir?’ When I say, ‘Go!’ they say. ‘Yes, sir!’—I’m also a man under authority. I recognize that you too, Jesus, are a Man of authority. So if You simply say, ‘Go!’ to this disease, it will go.”

Jesus was amazed!

What theology came from that guy—a Roman centurion! This military officer saw that authority came from being under authority. Jesus had authority because He remained under the authority of His Heavenly Father (see John 12:49-50; Philippians 2:5-11).

We can learn a valuable lesson from this unlikely theologian. Authority comes NOT from trying to get our way, but from doing things God’s way … from staying under His authority. All the authority you will ever need is found in the Word of God (see Matthew 9:6-8; 10:1; 16:19).

This is a great story. Check it out for yourself here.

Links & Quotes

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“The spiritual life is life in Jesus Christ, our risen and reigning Savior and King. We are in Him and He is in us, and we are learning to desire Him and deny whatever keeps us from depending solely on Him for full and abundant life.” —T.M. Moore

“The Bible itself gives us one short prayer which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: ‘Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief [Mark 9:24].’” —C.S. Lewis

“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here…. [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.” —Jonathan Edwards

Senator Ted Cruz calls on pastors to speak out about abortion: “Preaching from the pulpit biblical values on life and comparing those values, the teachings of Jesus, to this nationwide business of trafficking in the body parts of unborn children is a message that needs to be heard across this nation.”

When 200 retired US generals and admirals speak out on this Iranian deal, I would think our Senators should take notice.

Links & Quotes

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“You see, growing in grace doesn’t mean doing more or greater things for God. True growth comes in doing the same things over and over, with more heart assurance that we’re doing everything for Him.” —David Wilkerson

“As males, we draw sexual gratification and chemical highs through our eyes. If viewing sensual things merely provided a flutter of appreciation for a woman’s beauty, it would be no different than viewing the awesome power of a thunderstorm racing over the Iowa cornfields. No sin. No problem. But if you’re getting sexual gratification, it defiles the marriage bed, and you’re also paying prices you may not even see. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction (Galatians 6:7-8).” —Steve Arterburn

My neighbor shared this thoughtful quote with me: “What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?”

I love working with ICCF. We have helped on two projects in Cedar Springs already, and a third project is now in the works. Check out the wonderful family we will be helping. And if you would like to help, click here.

China’s expanding military plans are quite alarming. We must remain vigilant!

[VIDEO] Pastor Bobby Conway answers the question: What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?

Links & Quotes

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“O I would beloved, that the Holy Spirit would make you feel the promise as being spoken to you; out of this vast assembly forget the rest and only think of yourself, for the promises are unto you, meant for you. O grasp them. It is ill to get into a way of reading Scripture for the whole church, read it for yourselves, and specially hear the Master say to you, ‘Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“Freedom from greed comes from faith in God’s future grace.” —John Piper

John Piper has a great reminder in his post What God Can Do In Five Seconds.

Seth Godin suggests another story for “failure” in his post Failure Imagined (24 Variations).

History buffs will love this―The Real Story Of George Washington’s Christmas Attack At Trenton.

“My grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one” —John Newton

[VIDEO] John Maxwell and Nick Vujicic on the uniqueness that is you―

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“As much as half of the water in Earth’s oceans could be older than the Sun, a study has found.” This report is more evidence of the accuracy of the account of Creation in the Bible. Of course the water has been around longer than the sun: Genesis says that God created water in Day 2, but the sun wasn’t created until Day 4.

“I have little fear that any nation or combination of nations could bring down the United States and Canada by military action from without. But this I do fear—we sin and sin and do nothing about it. There is so little sense of the need of repentance—so little burden for the will of God to be wrought in our national life. I fear that the voice of blood will become so eloquent that God Almighty will have no choice but to speak the word that will bring us down. I do pray often: ‘Oh God, send a revival of repentance and the fear of God that will sweep through the continent that we may be spared and that we may honor Thee!’” —A.W. Tozer

Max Lucado challenges us to invite God in.

Sarah Rainer, a PhD in psychology, shows how Christianity and psychology should be integrated.

It is unconscionable to me how my tax dollars are being diverted by a so-called “health care” program to destroy life. Read how Obamacare funds Planned Parenthood’s heinous, murderous activities.

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