Paul Boyd - "Good Soldiers" - First Oak Lodge Convention, Australia - 1979

The scripture that are in my mind are in Timothy 2. We have heard already in this Convention "Endure hardness as a soldier," and that thought of being a good soldier seems to be a message to my heart.  When we think of leaving this place and beginning a new-year we are conscious of the fact that our heavenly Father has planned a very prosperous and good year for all of us.

We feel the need of a key to the secret, something that would help us to do what we have heard. In my experience, my failure has never been the shortage of knowing what to do, but the courage and faith to do it. I would like to tell you about a little child and his rooster, the little fellow pumped on the gate poet and sang out "cock-a-doodle......" What's the other word, Mum?

It is "do" - the ring part that is a problem. Well, we are conscious of the fact and it has been mentioned already, Satan is ready and waiting for us and there is no change in the corruption that is in the world and human nature is no better than when we came to Convention. It is getting worse and worse, it might seem kind of hopeless but for the fact that our Heavenly Father has provided a perfect way that we should "be good soldiers and get the victory" and that example, of course, is in His Son Jesus, the model soldier, the perfect soldier. I was glad for my years in the army, it was compulsory service and yet some of the things they taught us, I feel have been very useful to me in my spiritual experience. It wasn't long after we were taken into the army that some of the boys began to complain that the instructors were harassing them and I will never forget what the old Sergeant told us one day; we had a little time waiting for the supper bell and he just mentioned:  "We have a few minutes, I'll tell you boys something - you have not been to war.  I have.  I have been to two.  I hope that you boys never have to go to war.  We can't decide that, you might have to go.  When you go to war you will find out that nothing is convenient. It is always too hot, or too cold, or too muddy, dusty or the food trucks don't get through, the radio breaks down.  There is confusion in orders, nothing is ever convenient in war, plus the fact that people are shooting at you! What we want to do here - we have heard little murmurs of harassment, that is true, we are harassing you, we will continue to harass you and make it as hard as we can for you here, because when you get into a war, it is going to be rough! No matter how well trained, it is going to be rough, we would like you to be so tough here in spite of dust and mud, and the lack of this and that, so that, when the enemy is shooting at you, you will be able to endure that and carry out your mission. That is what we are here for - to make tough soldiers."  I have appreciated that good deal ever since. We are going out into enemy territory as it were, and this Convention, to me, is a little like the basic training we get in the army - a little help for us to keep in the humble place. I just wondered, one time, how many times the sergeant shouted to us ("Keep down, get down") like when we were on manoeuvres, he always shouted at us. Well, that is what saves your life. At the end of basic training, they took us through simulated battle conditions, they were firing machine guns over the top; we had to go over barbed wire, we are not shooting blanks he told us - they were going to shoot real bullets. Of course I had to look up; there were tracer bullets coming from many ways, it looked as if it was coming right at us, then at the last minute, they turned away, that is if you are down, but if not, you can loose your life. We learn in this meeting that keeping in the humble place, we are dust.

God refers to us as worms - that is good, that is the safe place. We think of our Master and His example, all the things the religious people said to Him and about Him that were wrong, lies and distortions, false accusations.  He never got upset, He just stayed down, He kept in the humble place. After we got back, the Captain said, "You boys learned today something. That you can go a lot, a lot further without water than you thought you could."  He did not have to repeat that. That part of the training helped me to understand a lot of things we feel we cannot do and about things we feel we cannot do without with. They are just mental blocks in our mind and we see that in the Scriptures, we see it in our own experience, don't we? We feel, well, I just can't give my testimony this time - you probably can.

When I went into the army, I felt I just can't kneel down by my bed and pray but I could and I did.  I found out the boys respected me for it, too. I just can't invite those folks to the meetings they might think we are some weird religious outfit. In this coming year, we will have a lot of basic training, some purely to help us understand there is no limit to what we can do if God's Spirit leads us and gives us courage and power to do it. So we have to have courage and power, don't we?

Sometimes we get a feeling from the testimonies that some feel that they are to get enough good things at Convention to last the whole year. It would be wonderful if we could be shot out of a cannon and line up for the next Convention but we have a whole year ahead. Our Heavenly Father has carefully planned and arranged for special experiences, right now we feel we cannot do it. He has some training in view for us. When I first professed, I have to confess, my spiritual life was pretty much like a car run out of gas, another car comes along and bumps it, it goes a little way, it just keeps bumping along till it gets to a place where it can be filled up. That was like my spiritual life, Sunday morning to Sunday morning, special meeting to special meeting, Convention to Convention, until I finally caught on. Like we've heard often in prayer and testimonies, we just have to learn to pray, we have to pray everyday, several times a day. I'll never forget what an old sister mentioned one special meeting back home. I don't remember anything else of what she said at this special meeting but her simple statement:  "Pray and pray, every day, pray more and more, pray as if your life depends on it - because it does."  I have never forgotten those words. That is what our Heavenly Father has provided, that perfect way for us to get courage and strength to do what we thought we could not do.

All along the journey of His life the Holy Spirit is seen as the controlling power in the life of Jesus. That is the thing that will enable us to do His Holy Will but we have to get the fuel every day and this prayer-life, we cannot say too much about it, or encourage it too much, and in my own experience I feel that is the most vital thing.

I have felt often quite concerned about manifesting the fruits of the Spirit. When we think of the fruits of the Spirit and what they are, how we would like to manifest them and have more of the fruits of the Spirit. We don't make the fruits of the Spirit, the Spirit makes them. Our job is to daily cultivate the place where the spirit can come and live and dwell in us - that is our part. If we are faithful in our fellowship with our Heavenly Father every day, we don't have to worry about our relationship with our brethren and with others in the world. This is the main thing, fellowship with our Heavenly Father, giving Him the time and opportunity to write in our hearts and put in our minds and fill us with, His Spirit. If we don't do that, we are goners. We just can't do it, and for you young folks, I especially like to encourage you, when you go home tonight, pray extra - the very first time you are way from Convention. That is because I felt that I saw the need to do that. We had not far to go away from Convention, it was not so late when we got home, we had a night meeting at the home.

After convention, we always were feeling pretty tired. Well, tomorrow morning I will pray. You just can't do that and have God's Spirit with you and that is where self-denial comes in. We have to get that sleep; we have to deny ourselves a little of sleep. Tired? You just have to go on a little more even though you're tired. That is what self-denial is. That is not popular in the world. It is not popular with our human nature - it never has been. Self-indulgence is. In our country it is do your thing, don't be concerned about others. Manifest your own will and the consequences of that kind of thing socially, morally and eternally are terrible. May we appreciate that model soldier, our Lord Jesus.

We have heard already about His temptation by Satan. This has been very, very real to me, that deceitfulness, that cunning and wickedness of Satan in testing Him so. Saying to God's Son: "If you are God's son 'do something God's Son would never do.'"  That is what he actually said. Jesus couldn't do that. He wasn't living for Himself. He was living for others. Satan suggested - all three temptations were the same. Isn't that the sneaky way Satan works in the world today?

When I was in high school, it was smoking.  Now, I don't smoke, and you are not a man unless you smoke. Well, I sweated a lot - I didn't know how to answer that. Isn't that deceitfulness? Any fool can smoke, it takes a man or woman to deny themselves - this is to go against themselves. Self-indulgence means the wrecking of your eternal testimony. It is the same with drinking. Where I was working, the foreman brings out the drinks. I said,  "No I don't drink."  He said, "Every man drinks, you are not a man unless you drink."  What do you say? That is Satan's sneaky business isn't it? No, if you are a man, you don't drink. Any fool can drink. That is the kind of world we are living in. How thankful we are we have as our example our Leader and Master. He who did all things perfectly. He never made a mistake. He never slipped up, there was nothing left out, there was nothing lacking and in every sweaty situation, we can just thing back to what Jesus did and we have the perfect answer and the answer to all our needy prayers is a little more of the life of God's dear Son to be seen in us. In all the sticky situations, we have heard even in a testimony, think:  "What would Jesus do?"  There is a hymn:  "What would Jesus do, what would Jesus say.."  So we can have the right answer every time.

One time when accusations were made against a woman, they asked Jesus:  "What do You say about it?"  Jesus didn't say anything - He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Somebody has said:  "He had to write the message on the ground because their hearts were hard and He couldn't write on their hearts."  That is true. He didn't say anything at first - maybe that is the answer for me - a lot of times we feel we have to have an answer, maybe it is better not to say anything for a while. It is pretty hard to do some times.  "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me."  Look at a soldier, the time that he spends in preparation is immense in comparison with the time he spends in battle. That is a good clue for us, isn't it? I often feel so impatient in the place of prayer. I have to get up and go, going to do things. That is not the answer either. We just have to take time we have to make the time. We talk about sacrifice, we would like to offer our Heavenly Father an acceptable sacrifice - there it is - time! One of the hardest things to offer, one of the easiest things to waste! The reason I am mentioning these things is, that is my need. I don't know about you folk but I know my need, I feel I have to get going, doing things, but there is a lesson in the training of soldiers: training, training, training and in this warfare we are waging, the training. A lot of it lies there in the secret place. Take the time and make the time and spend the time. A very nice thing about a soldier's life, at least in the training part, we had a schedule.  It was all arranged, and that is one of the things they told us when they hauled us in there:  "You don't have to worry about anything, you don't have to think. Jump when we say jump, you don't have to worry about food, that will be provided; you don't have to worry about clothing, that will be provided, don't worry about getting up, we will get you up."  They had planned every hour. We were very, very glad when that hour came for sleep, we were always ready for it but there again this was discipline: a definite time for this and definite time for that. And how often my heart condemned me when I look back and see how careless I have been about that definite time I should have spent in God's presence. It is not something we work in when it is convenient, this is the main necessity in our life, give the time in the morning first of all and how often have we failed to do this? A sad story. We would miss the time in the morning and be just kind of at Satan's mercy all the day long.

I saw an exhibition one day, you may have heard about.  "Taiquando" or, Karate. This man was giving a demonstration. He had a class there and he was stressing the point in this manly art of self-defence. To keep the opponent off balance is the first objective. He said, "I will show you."  He called one of the students, a big husky fellow, "You get ready!"  He did something very quickly, we didn't see what he did, he did one thing, just one thing and he had the poor fellow so helpless, he had him off balance all the time. He was a good, strong, capable man but he could not do a thing, he was off-balance. I got a lesson from that. That is what Satan would like to do first thing in the morning - if he can do something to get us to miss the time with our Heaven1y Father, we are off balance. The telephone rings, somebody comes, we are off balance. We never get our feet off the ground, we never make any progress. We cannot emphasize these things too much, can we?
 
And then, there is the battle. Actually that is a battle to make time and take time and spend time like we should. That has a great share in the battle, that is where the victory is decided. There is a very nice picture when David went out to fight Goliath. A brother mentioned this in a Convention some years ago. It just thrilled me. He said Goliath had defeated every soldier of Israel, they did not have the courage to go and fight him. Every one of the soldiers of Israel knew defeat in his own heart because he did not have the courage to go out and face Goliath. The time came when David went out. He laid aside King Saul's armour, he went out in the name of the Lord of Hosts and got the victory. That day David gave victory to everyone of the soldiers of Israel. Isn't that nice? Victory for David meant victory for everybody. That is our privilege in God's Kingdom. Our enemies, it says in one of the Psalms, are confederate against us - that means working together the world, flesh and devil.

Confederate against us. If the world gets a victory over us, that is a victory for that side, not our side, isn't it? Since every one of God's children, when they fight the battle and get the victory, it means victory for everybody. That strengthens God's Kingdom. Every-time we have a defeat it weakens God's Kingdom. We are all together in this. One thing they taught us in training, they taught us the "buddy" system.

You are supposed to look out for your buddy on the left and on the right. You see something that he cannot see because of his position, his position is a little different than yours. You look out for your buddy, your buddy looks out for you. That is the Spirit of Christ, isn't it? They tell a story bout a man going across the Atlantic in the night. He was sleeping. The cabin steward came pounding on the door to get him up, "Put on your life jacket the ship is sinking!"  The man said, "It is not my ship," and went back to bed! We are all in this together, victory for one is victory for all. Defeat for one is defeat for all. We are all part of this great Kingdom.

This is not specially connected with this subject we were hearing about, Enoch and how he loved to be with God, he walked with God. It has always been a little mystery to me how his body wasn't found at the end. We read that God took him. Well, we have an expression in the English language that applies to that. Did you ever see anybody absorbed in a book and somebody comes and goes, maybe they know about it, maybe not, they are so absorbed they don't take any notice of them. I remember one time seeing a little boy. In all the primary schools in Korea they have to teach, I guess you call it, courtesy. Most of the children walk quite a long way to school in the morning and evening. The sides of the road are lined with girls and boys going to school. Some time ago the children thought it a great game to throw rocks at buses. It got to be a problem. They did a very wise thing. They did not go to the Transport Minister, they went to the Minister of Education. The Minister sent a notice to the primary schools that the children be taught courtesy. They were all supposed to wave to the bus driver. There was nothing about throwing rocks, just that everybody was supposed to be waving. Of course the idea was:  if the little kids waved, they would not be throwing rocks at the bus. I was walking along the road and saw a little boy had found something. I don't know what it was but it was very interesting to him. Then I heard the bus coming down the road. All the little kids were waving - this little boy was watching, watching what he was doing, he was absorbed in his nature study. Well, that is kind of like what Enoch was. He was absorbed in his fellowship with God. Everything that went on in this world, he must have had some part in it obviously, but that wasn't the main thing in his life. Sometimes we say he was just taken up and he wasn't in the world any more and, to me, that is a lovely picture of our Heavenly Father in all experiences. In this life, He would like to get us so taken up, so absorbed in this wonderful fellowship with Him. We are still in the world, still waving to the bus drivers, but that is not where our heart is. And then, at a certain time, which our Heavenly Father decides, we will be missing too, we will not be here anymore. Isn't that a nice thought. We would be taken up with our fellowship with God and literally taken up and I secretly kind of envy some of the older folks here. That time is drawing near to some of the old folks and we feel kind of sorry for them getting deaf, blind, or crippled up, they can't get to meetings or Conventions and so on; that is alright. We sing a hymn, don't we:  "We would see Jesus"... and one of the lines of that hymn says, "All the blessings of our pilgrimage are failing, we would not mourn them for we go to Thee."  Isn't that lovely?  Here our loving Father is kind of taking us up, so He shuts off some of the world's attractions. Maybe we used to hear something that doesn't bother us anymore; then maybe our sight goes, we are not attracted by some of the temporal things. He is taking us up little by little. Then, finally through our physical disabilities we can't get to meetings or Conventions any more, but we are still able to have fellowship with God. Still able to enter in everyday and what is marvellous to me, God can then have some loyal dependable soldiers there, that have the heart to pray for others. Isn't that nice?  People say, "Too bad, they are laid aside."  No, they are not laid aside. The Spirit and influence is really different but none the less vital and important and appreciated in God's Kingdom.

I find that sometimes at a gospel meeting I just feel so helpless about having something to help perishing souls and then in the meeting something comes, a little gift from God to pass on to others and we are very, very conscious that somebody was praying for us and words cannot convey what that means. Some of these places where the Gospel is preached in other lands, there are very, very different conditions. Problems and things that would make Westerners just feel you cannot have a meeting in such circumstances but there is no other chance for those folks so you have to have a meeting because the Spirit wills it so. God can do something for somebody in that meeting. It wasn't our endeavours and we are very conscious that some loyal soldier of the cross was praying for God's servants.  Maybe they couldn't see, maybe they couldn't hear, and couldn't get to Convention, and their help is going out across the world - there are no limits. That is God's Kingdom and I feel we will never get to understand, until later, how wonderful that is.

Here eternity is with us right now, and God is trying to get us absorbed in His Kingdom and His fellowship. He has gathered us in and He wants to get us taken up with all the things what we call of real worth. God in His kindness gradually shuts off the attractions, the distractions. Today I was getting ready for the meeting and even said, "I hope you will excuse me for a minute, I have to pack my bag."  I shut off my hearing aid, and I could have quiet! That is not a disability, that is a blessing. Isn't it nice when all these things that might seem to be discouraging yet our Heavenly Father plans it that way.  In days to come, there will be experiences, very difficult, that could make us sweat and despair of ourselves and we just have to get down, get in that humble place, get into the secret place. We just have to get help from God. That is what He intended all along and then, listen, one of these days God will remove the worn-out body, gather it in so His own are all taken up with Him so it is not too great a shock.

Don't pity the old folks, don't envy them, either. It is nice everybody in God's kingdom has a meaningful place. Shift the old folks, get rid of them they say in the world, but in God's kingdom, they are valuable.

Well, there are lots of other things about being a good soldier, you look up every reference for yourself. These thoughts have been a real help to me. I hope they will be a little help to you folk. I would just like to mention:  the friends and workers in Korea send greetings to all of you and you especially here in this area - you know how much we appreciate Eddie and the few years that he had there with us and I think you can understand how the friends and workers feel in Korea, just the same as you do. I am very thankful for this privilege of being here with you and like others have said, "I would like to express our thankfulness in willing service, willing obedience, unhesitating obedient service for Jesus' sake."