When I began to think about writing for this edition of the Encourager, the old Sunday school song “I’m in the Lord’s army” started running through my head. Like “Baby Shark” or “The Song that Never Ends”, it was ever present in my mind. It made me start to think, what does it mean to be in the Lord’s army? We sing songs about battle, victory, and being in a figurative army a lot in church. But do we really grasp what it takes to be in this army? Let me take our own military here in the states for an example. Each branch of the military has its own standard for a Physical Fitness test. This includes a timed run anywhere from 1.5-3 miles long, pushups, pullups, and sit ups. Each exercise must be completed in a certain amount of time and a certain amount of repetitions in order to pass. This is just in basic training. However, once you are in, the testing doesn’t stop. In fact, it is revisited every 6 months. So, what are my conclusions after this brief look at this test? Being in the military is hard, the requirements are hard, and the upkeep is hard. When God gives us clear direction and sets us on this path, we don’t always see the mission clearly ahead of us because we must trust God as he leads us. Therefore, our personal preparation and our spiritual fitness needs to be up to standard. When people are recruited or decide to go into the military, they don’t always know what the mission is going to be. All they know is that they want to serve. The preparation required is one that prepares them for whatever may come. This parallel to ministry preparation and service is challenging, because being in the Lord’s army is so similar. We don’t always know the mission, we can’t always foresee the challenges, and we cannot be unprepared, otherwise we will be defeated. In 1 Timothy 6:11-14, the apostle Paul was challenging Timothy to “fight the good fight”. There are several things we can draw from these verses to apply to our own daily life and preparation as we serve God. The first is found in vs 11 and I’m paraphrasing here, it says to run away from evil and run towards righteousness. Interesting that Paul is telling him to run! Running is hard. I hate it and I have run several 5K’s over the years. It’s not fun but getting to that finish line is extremely rewarding. Running away from evil and the temptations of our age is hard. Choosing to run after righteousness is challenging. But this is the way to live holy lives worthy of the call. Next Paul says to pursue faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Sometimes running towards righteousness seems vague but these 4 things are clear goals to aim for. This challenge Paul makes is a clear rejection of the flesh in pursuit of the spirit. In verse 12, Paul says to fight the good fight by holding tightly to the true faith. How do we prepare ourselves to fight? By depending on the belief that Jesus Christ is Lord. By living in the power of the Holy Spirit which God has given to us through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. The same power that brought Jesus out of the grave lives in us. So, hold on to that faith ladies! The last thing Paul challenges Timothy to do in vs 14, is to obey this command. Paul is simply reiterating his charge, to fight the good fight of faith and to do so without wavering. In doing so, we will stand blamelessly until Jesus comes! Exercising for a test like the one administered by the branches of the military takes daily focus and commitment. The same can be said for us. We are in the fight of our lives and our focus must be on our own spiritual health. We are not to run aimlessly as the apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 9:27, but for a prize that lasts forever. So, my challenge for all of you is to run away from evil and towards righteousness, to fight the good fight of faith, and to stand unwaveringly obedient to God. I recall the many ads on TV promoting the US Marines and in it you here them declare that they are “the Few and the Proud”. Going a step further Semper Fi means “the faithful”. The Bible clearly declares that “many are called but few are chosen.” Ladies we are the few and the faithful! Let us run, pursue, fight, and stand!