by Pastor Chris Popadich

   How good it is to be encouraged in our faith by hearing the testimony of God's Faithfulness in the lives of men here at FPC March 9 & 10 we heard six stories of men who have experienced courage and commitment in Christ because of God's good work in their lives. When we think of courage, we might only think of those running towards a burning building, towards flying bullets or blood. But when Ben Wiele (paramedic), Kobe Johns (fireman), and Brad Stevens (retired Fresno PD), articulated courage they spoke of confessing their faults, loving people around them, and actively remembering God’s presence as they show up at their job. These, they said, are the things that require courage.

   One of the most vivid images for me was Brad Stevens talking about the day his Sargent dropped a 60lb SWAT bag in front of him signifying he was accepted into the SWAT program. That bag had a specific propose, to keep them alive in difficult situations they would face as a SWAT team. Brad then made the connection between that SWAT body armor and the armor of God listed out in Ephesians 6.

   When we become believers, God places our body armor at our feet. In there we find a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of righteousness, shoes fitted with for the readiness of the gospel, peace a belt of truth, a sword, which is the Word of God, as well as a shield that extinguishes flaming arrows of Satan. These are to keep us alive in the faith.

    After receiving the SWAT armor, Brad said they would run miles and climb obstacles in their SWAT gear week after as part of their training. They did this so that no matter what situation they came into as a SWAT team that body armor would feel like their own skin allowing them to be able to accomplish whatever the situation demanded.

   Brad's commission to us was for us to take up the armor of God daily. Courage becomes necessary when we leave on our Spiritual body armor not because it's comfortable but because of its function. It keeps us alive in Christ. Ephesians 6:10-12 reminds us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We keep it on because it keeps us alive in Christ in all situations. And that takes courage.

   On Saturday morning we heard from John Martin, Dick Lee, and Jeff Rooney. These men spoke of how in their livesareas they have experienced the long road of commitment. As Jeff shared from Isaiah 6, our commitment to God is first and foremost to him. Jeff posed great question to us “What feeds your commitment to God and how might you nurture this?” It's a fascinating question that drives us to the heart of why we remain committed to God for the long haul. Our answer should lie in not only what we receive from Christ but out of our steadfast conviction of belief in who God is as the creator and sustainer of the universe who has chosen to redeem our souls through the shed blood of Christ.

   I trust that God worked deeply in each of our men during our time together. If you missed the weekend, I encourage you to seek out our speakers. They have great stories to tell. I am so thankful for each of them being a part of our church and I am thankful for all those who attended.