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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trials to Prove Our Faith

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you:

1Pe 4:13 but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy.

1Pe 4:14 If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you.

1Pe 4:15 For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men's matters:

1Pe 4:16 but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name.

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?

1Pe 4:18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?

1Pe 4:19 Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator.


... A common question, asked today, is why does God allow such a thing? First Peter four explains it well if you will sit and meditate upon these scriptures a bit. Just for clarity on exactly where I stand on this issue, God knows everything! God knows exactly what I will do in any given situation but I don't. I enjoy thinking that I do but that is not something that God is just wild about. You see, God need men and women that are fully confident of their faith and are not afraid to, as the pilots I flew with in Vietnam put it, push against the envelope. The envelope, in this case, is the mysterious limits of the machine and the pilot's ability to exceed them and prove them wrong.

... Just as every good pilot in Vietnam was tested by gunfire and missal avoidance, the Christian is also tested by the fiery trials of Satan, when God permits them. (See and read the book of Job.) During the course of my three tours in Vietnam, my helicopter had every right to just collapse and burn numerous times as I served with the Killer Spades. The reason I live today is because my LORD had a mission for me to complete and in Vietnam I was not a Christian but as I now look back at the times such as the time we were not in Cambodia and the 1st Div. Of the North Vietnamese Army did not put 300 bullets through my aircraft because Uncle Sam said we were never there, I very clearly see the hand of God on my life, even when I thought I was His enemy.

... If we will just look to God when our trials come upon us, and if you are a Christian, they will come, we will not fail the test. Just as I hated tests when I was in school, the Christian today, in America, seems to despise the tests, a.k.a. trials of God. God did not allow Job to be tested just for grins, God was making Job a strong, fire tested, God loving man. After the fiery trial was over for Job God made him richer and better off than he had ever been and He will do that for each of us if we will just rely on Him and nothing else, no matter what.

... Many today hate Randy “Duke” Cunningham and I cannot judge his condition today since he has destroyed his reputation but there was a time over North Vietnam when the Duke refined his faith to a sharp edge in just a few seconds, really. That day he had already flown his mission, dropped his load from the F-4and he was clear to go home and put it on the carrier. But as he was flying back to the ocean (known as feet wet) he saw a pilot trapped inside a carousal of eight MIG-17 fighter jets. The F-4 Phantom carried no guns and the MIGs were very well armed for aerial combat. He knew that if no one helped that pilot that he and his copilot would, likely, die that day.

... He turned into the outer edge of those fighters circling the F-4 and flew right between two of them, pulling a couple of the bandits out of the formation, giving the F-4 a chance to break free. Duke slammed the throttle forward and as the bandits turned back he came about, locked on one and brought it down with a missal. That was his third kill and he went for one more. After downing his fourth and the second for that day he turned home.

... As he was going for no less than “feet wet” he spotted another bandit flying straight at him and he chose to engage him and graduate to Ace that day. As they engaged, Duke realized that he was probably fighting North Vietnam's number one Ace. Not having the speed of the F-4 he forced Duke to engage him at speeds where he held the advantage. Realizing the folly he shoved the throttle forward and forced the enemy to disengage and turn for his home base. When he did Duke came about, caught an angle where he could not be seen without a good deal of effort, locked on and brought his third for the day and his total to five for the status of Ace.

... As he and his copilot were once more headed home they saw a SAM launch. He managed to elude the SAM but when it was close to him it exploded and he was on fire. He had lost the hydraulics and all the control surfaces in his wings and the rudder and elevators were engulfed in fire. He had lost all communication and could not hear all the other pilots screaming for them to bail out. Suddenly the F-4 yawed and was upside down. Duke prayed for God to help him and when the aircraft was right side up he thought to himself, “That was my superior ability to fly this baby, not God.” Suddenly, the aircraft flipped upside down again and Duke was terrified and praying, he asked God to forgive him and to get him out of this.

... Just as suddenly as the F-4 had just flipped, it was right-side up again. They were just short of the water and to bail out was to be sent to the Hanoi Hilton to have their arms broken as they were tortured so that they might never fly again, they did not want that. Suddenly the aircraft was shuddering and the tail of the ship broke off and they were in a flat spin with no control at all. Once more they did not hear the men screaming into their mikes for them to get out of that death trap. The ship, flying much like a burning Frisbee was just high enough for ejection and they were well enough into the ocean and they bailed out, just ahead of the crash. God had been faithful, even when Duke Cunningham doubted.

... I cannot tell you Randy “Duke” Cunningham's spiritual condition at this moment but that day sharpened his faith to a razor edge. Regardless of his recent history, there is a great lesson about the alue of trials to be learned from his experience in Vietnam. My prayer is that, from this story and from the story of Job, you will take the strength you will need when, not if, the trails hit you.