Christian Report July 2022
News of the Christian Military Fellowship
Spotlight on Regional Ministry: Pacific Northwest
PNW Regional Leader Scott Radetski tells us about his journey with CMF and his continuing ministry to the military.
It was in 1993 during a Discipleship Training Exercise (DTX) in Southern California. It took place at an Avocado farm not too far from Camp Pendleton, and it was there I learned to share my testimony, which ultimately led me to becoming a Navy Chaplain.
In 1994, we attended the Association of Christian Military Fellowships Conference and God opened my eyes to see the impact military members have on spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The military ministries of CMF, Navigators, Cadence, and CRU laid the foundation for collaborative ministry. After being commissioned as a Navy Chaplain Candidate and attending Bethel Seminary, my first duty station aboard the USS Duluth (LPD-6) proved the importance of collaborative ministry. With a crew of 400, plus 600 Marines when deployed there was no way I could reach the hearts and minds of so many without the help of other ministries.
Fast forward to our current ministry at my church in Poulsbo WA: Twice a month, 25-35 sailors from a local Carrier, in refit, join us on 6 acres behind North Kitsap Baptist Church for a Community Relations Project known as Nimitz Loop.
With the sailors working alongside us, we rub shoulders and the process of iron sharpening iron takes place. After working, we break bread with a hearty meal and hospitality envelops our sailors as they are invited into homes for a closer encounter with Christ.
A little about Nimitz Loop: It’s a 1092-foot trail (length of the flight deck) in the shape of a heart. Along the trail you will find several rest areas that represent passages in the Bible. Currently, the Loop’s rest areas include “The Landing Zone”, a 100 foot straight paved path (Proverbs 3:5-6), and “The Nimitz Nook” which has Bibles available to read and take (Psalm 119:9-11).
“Wisdom Way” has been adopted by CMF. Under-construction is a Narrow Gate that opens on Wisdom Way as well as a Wide Gate that leads away to Deception Alley. There will be four soils along the path that depict the conditions of our hearts (Matthew 13:3-23).
At the end of the paths are several large stones labeled “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” before the Cross comes into view. (John 14:6)
God’s finger-prints can be clearly seen in this beautiful, park-like setting, and His Word is found all around, making it easy to share openly.
We also host Monthly Military luncheons in our home as well as a home fellowship group attempt to knit hearts and minds together and draw us closer to Christ.
We are honored to labor alongside Christian Military Fellowship in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
Something Special for Our Deployed Members
Many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines live in cramped quarters with other personnel, in very uncomfortable and challenging circumstances, working hard and putting in long hours every day — too tired to read a Bible, even if they have one.
The Military BibleStick reaches these service men and women, deployed in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, with God’s Word in audio — It can go with them and sustain them in even the most difficult circumstances.
It contains the entire Audio Drama New Testament and selected Psalms chosen specifically for “warriors,” yet it’s only about the size of a pack of chewing gum.
Designed to military specifications for safe and discreet use in low-light conditions, it features a matte black finish and red-light-only operation — and runs on an included single AAA battery!
Non-deployed members can purchase a Military Bible Stick for $25.00.
Asking the Right Question
So Jesus used this Illustration: ‘If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!’” (Luke 15:3-7 NLT)
A young man called me from northern Iraq in much anguish over the perceived loss of his salvation. He had been engaged in a firefight and had inflicted casualties and had for the first time taken a human life. War in the best of circumstances (if there is such a thing) is at best ghastly. This warrior had experienced something that would change him forever. He had killed someone created in the image of God and was suffering from the experience.
The reason God gave King David for denying him the privilege of building the temple was that he had blood on his hands. This is the unseen red badge of courage that the warrior carries with him always (wounded deeply with no visible wound). I suspect that if the truth be known, there are not many of us who contemplate the possibilities of combat before we enter the military. I certainly did not. I suspect that the most horrific experience for a believer would be to kill his brother in Christ in combat. Those who have the ears to hear the Holy Spirit grieve will confirm that the soul would know if this event would occur.
For this young man the angst was real and the weight upon his heart was great! He thought he had lost his salvation because of his combat experience. I suppose that in order to lose something one must first possess it. In the case of salvation one must recognize that we, the believers, are not the possessor but the possession!
If the question is What is my salvation?, then I am looking for something that I had never possessed to lose.
If the question is, Who is my salvation?, then I will soon discover the correct answer.
In the former I am lost. In the latter I am found. Our salvation is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ! He is not lost. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. The question then should be, Is He sufficient to keep me?
“As he loved the unsaved enough to give His Son to die for them, even when they were ‘yet without strength’ and ‘enemies’; ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood’ and ‘reconciled,’ they shall be ‘saved from wrath through him,’ and ‘saved by his life.’ Such is the unchangeable love of God” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Grace).
“All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6 NLT).
This young man had not sinned in the taking of life in combat. However, he was surely wounded by his experience. Just as we are “without strength” when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6 KJV), we are often found “without strength” and bleeding from the wounds of life.
The New Living Translation says, “When we were utterly helpless.” What has changed? Are we not “utterly helpless” in Romans 6 when we are a slave to sin? Are we not “ utterly helpless” in Romans 7 when we are under the law? We can see the victory only when in Romans 8 we see a new law in effect, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
Whenever parables are taught, I have noticed a consistent phenomena; We reach the wrong conclusion because we are asking the wrong question. The aforementioned parable of the lost sheep is no exception. When the parable of the good Samaritan is taught, the question always asked is, who is my neighbor? The question taught by the parable is, whose neighbor am I. When the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is taught, the thought that invades the conscience is, “I am glad I am not like that Pharisee. The lesson taught is, we are the Pharisee. With the parable of the lost sheep it is easy to focus on our waywardness, “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB) and miss the “unchangeable love of God.”
“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1)
This young warrior just needed a hug and a reminder that God’s love is unfailing! Jesus said, “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29 NASB). Eternal life given that is eternally secure in Christ Jesus! We are in good hands!
ADCS (NAC) Robert W. Flynn, USN (Ret) Bob has been with the Christian Military Fellowship since 1981. He has served in a host of capacities including President/CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Bob enlisted in the United States Navy in 1968 and served on active duty until 1991.
Sharing Jesus Part 2 – The Sin Problem
Before we start talking about ‘sin’ let’s give our conversation partner a name. We’ll call him/her ‘Pat’ (a good gender neutral name). The next step in the conversation we are having with ‘Pat’ is to define the extent of this ‘sin’ problem. And just like we asked a lot of questions when we started the conversation (the Colombo technique), we’ll continue our discussion with another question:
“So ‘Pat’, what do you think sin is?”
The first answer you will most likely hear will refer to bad things we do or mistakes we make, which is the most immediate and natural response.
You might also hear that sin means NOT doing things we ought to do. We do have a natural sense of what the ‘right’ thing to do would be at certain times, but we fail to do it.
And since we left off the first part of our conversation agreeing that we all have an ‘inner problem’, you might even hear an answer that talks about our natural selfishness and/or inner tendencies. And that, my friends, is where we want to go now – the sinful human nature — or tendency to sin. Once you’re there, you can ask the big WHY question:
“So Pat, since you have rightly recognized that we have an inner problem, a natural tendency to do bad stuff, and sometimes to NOT do what we know would be right, WHY do you think we have a natural tendency to sin?”
It’s the natural and logical next question. Regardless of the response, this is the opportunity to discuss what the Bible has to say about the WHY. We did the same thing earlier in the conversation when we said that the Bible calls man’s inner problem ‘sin’. And remember that you are sharing the ‘Christian worldview’ and not trying to convince Pat of your personal opinion. Just share what the Bible has to say and let God do the convincing. It would be good if you have a Bible handy to share straight from scripture.
In sharing what the Bible says about our sin problem, you can take it all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the story of creation and the fall of man. After all, that’s where our sin problem started – when the first couple disobeyed God. The point is that God created everything good, and it went sour because of man’s disobedience. Adam’s sin impacted the ‘nature’ of every human being born since then.
Regardless of what we think about the fairness of Adam’s sin affecting the rest of the human race, it did. We are told several things about the ‘natural’ man that describe him in rather ‘dark’ terms.
The entrance of sin into the world rendered the human heart deceitful beyond all things1 and desperately sick, the human mind blind to spiritual things, 2 hostile to God, 3 and unable to please God. 4
It’s really important for us who share Jesus with others and for those listening to our message to grasp just how bad the sin issue is. It’s in knowing just HOW bad the bad news is that we can most fully understand and appreciate the good news of what God has done in sending his Son to die for OUR sins. The main point about sin is that it’s more than what we do or don’t do, it’s part of our very nature as sons of Adam.
Sadly, much of today’s ‘evangelism’, both in churches and person to person, minimizes the real issue of our sin problem and in some cases, omits it entirely. We would rather attract sinners to Jesus with our ‘changed lives’ rather than speak the truth about our bondage to sin, instead of trusting God to open stone cold hearts and effectually draw men to the cross. Are our lives irreversibly changed when we have trusted in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and in his death on our behalf? Of course they are, but as a result of the cross, not as the reason for believing in Jesus.
And once the reality of sin has, with the help of the Holy Spirit, sunk into Pat’s heart, the conversation can move on to the consequences of, and a solution to the problem. Stay tuned for Part 3!
Dan Cartwright is a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces and long-time member of Christian Military Fellowship. He also serves on the CMF Board of Directors.
1 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “Jer 17:9
2 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Cor 4:4
3 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” Rom 8:7
4 “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:8