JAC Online

Tour de Force
by Colonel Richard Munn


Reformation 500: Here We Stand


“The Kingdom of God has been forcefully advancing,
and the forceful lay hold of it.”

Matthew 11:12



Jesus, without flinching, it seems, joins the forceful advance of the Kingdom of God with the forceful personality of his cousin, John the Baptist.  Anyone who calls the religious leaders of the day a ‘brood of vipers’ and criticizes the local despot for an incestuous marriage might well indeed be considered a forceful character.


In our army, engaged in a real war with real casualties we resonate with this imagery, this is not for the effete or faint of heart.


As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this robust description from Jesus surely applies to bull-necked Martin Luther, a tour de force if ever there was one. 


While wrestling with his studies he reputedly threw an inkwell at the devil.  When formally excommunicated from the Catholic church he arranged for the document, and a few other papal decrees for good measure to be publicly burned at the city gate.


Today we might say he had ‘an excess of personality.’  And yet, it is precisely this dogged chutzpah and forceful courage that God needed to forcefully advance His kingdom through medieval religious corruptions.


What Kingdom principles from Luther’s life can we learn and apply?


Promise Made:  Promise Kept


It all began in a violent storm when young Martin, stranded from shelter, promised God that if he survived he would become a monk instead of a lawyer


Martin did survive, and followed through on his vow.  An early indication of integrity and character.


In answer to the question ‘Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  Psalm 15 answers this way: ‘Those who keep their oaths, even when it hurts.’  (15:4)


Made any promises you need to follow up?


Blunt Honesty


In the monastery, Martin took confession so literally, so seriously, that he drove his superiors to despair with hour upon hour of daily detailed, meticulous confession.  No stone left unturned.


If ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery, it was I’ he later wrote.  This was not some abstract, hypothetical game Luther was playing.  Hell was real, and heaven was unreachable.  The gift of God’s grace by faith were soon to be in sight for this troubled, gut-level honest monk.


Hear God’s good word on the matter: ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’  (1 JN 1:8,9)


Got any sins you think you’re hiding?  Got any forgiveness you’re needing?


Principled Stand


On public trial for his rejection of papal authority and assertion of scriptural authority, standing before religious hierarchy, university scholars and regional royalty Luther was given one final chance to recant.


He asked for an evening respite to ponder his response.


Knowing the consequences, he is reported to have said these immortal words: ‘Here I stand.  I can do no other. God help me.’


‘Stand for something or you’ll fall for everything’ said Alexander Hamilton and Malcom X.


Hear the word of the Lord: ‘Blessed are those who fear the Lord … surely, they will never be shaken … their heart is secure, they have no fear, in the end, they look in triumph on their foes.’  (PS 112)


Ready to take a stand?


Let’s keep our promises and honestly stand before the Lord.


Now, there’s a tour de force.


Richard Munn, Colonel

October, 2017











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