Basic Training

Basic Training: Orientation


It’s an honor for me to be able to say that my family has a love of country and of military service. My dad served in the Army, as did his dad. My husband served in the Air Force. Our oldest is currently serving in the Air Force, and his younger brother is currently serving in the Navy. Numerous members of my extended family have served or are serving in every branch of the military.

If you’re close to someone in the military, maybe you’ve heard him tell heart-wrenching or horrifying tales of combat. But often, the more humorous stories are the ones that transpire prior to battle- while greenhorns are being transformed into soldiers, AKA: boot camp.

At boot camp, recruits undergo rigorous physical training, but they also learn the most basic of military customs, procedures, and protocol: how to stand in formation, how and whom to salute, how to march, how to properly wear their uniforms, and so on. Sometimes they goof these things up, and their drill sergeants…well…let’s just say their drill sergeants correct them in such a memorable way that the recruit won’t goof it up next time.

The military doesn’t expect civilians to know military procedure, which is why basic training exists. But they certainly expect seasoned soldiers, sailors, and airmen to know the fundamentals as well as they know how to breathe. We might chuckle at the story of a rookie confusing “attention” with “at ease,” but a lieutenant? A captain? We’d wonder what was wrong with him and why he hadn’t been properly trained.

Now, ladies, you and I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery. We may never fly o’er the enemy, but we’re in the Lord’s army! Yes, sir! (A little VBS humor there for all you oldsters like me.) If God has been our C.O. for a while, we should know the basics of Christianity and the Bible.

But, sadly, I’m discovering more and more Christian soldiers who are clueless about some of the some of the most fundamental tenets of our faith. Not because they’re dumb. Not because they’re rebellious. Not because they don’t sincerely love the Lord. But simply because they’ve never had a drill sergeant who properly instructed them in these things.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re a Christian who has spent most of her life in a church that was heavy on comfort and encouragement and light on doctrine. Maybe you’re a baby Christian who’s never darkened the doorstep of a church. Maybe you’ve been in a good church all your life and were out sick the day a particular subject was taught. We’ve all missed something along the way. Nobody has “arrived” yet. We’re all still learning, and we’re all in this together.

That’s why I’m starting a new blog series today that I’m calling Basic Training, and it’s for everybody, whether you’ve been saved for five minutes or fifty years. We’re going to cover several of the practical basics of church, the Bible, and Christian living. Things like…

  • Repeating a prayer doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian.
  • Christians are to join, and faithfully attend and serve, a doctrinally sound local church.
  • While Christians are not under the Old Testament law of the tithe, we are to generously, regularly, and cheerfully give offerings to our local church.
  • Homosexuals have to repent of their sin in order to be saved, just like everybody else.
  • Baptism is important and isn’t optional for a believer (not to become a believer).
  • Ditto the Lord’s Supper.
  • Being “led” by the Holy Spirit and studying and obeying the Scriptures He authored are not two separate and unrelated things.
  • Scripture prohibits women from preaching to, teaching Scripture to, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of believers.
  • Just because Jesus didn’t address a particular topic during His earthly ministry doesn’t mean we can do what we want to about it.
  • The Bible, not our own feelings or opinions, is to govern what we believe and what we do.
  • Cohabitation and sexual activity prior to or outside of wedlock are sins.

I probably won’t address every single one of those topics, and there are others I will address that aren’t included in the list above, but you get the idea: basic things you would expect someone who’s been a Christian for years to know and are surprised to find out she doesn’t.

Here’s where I need your help. As you can see, I’ve got a good list of topics started, but I don’t want to leave out something that’s important to a lot of people just because I didn’t think of it. What are some things you as a new believer, or someone who’s new to sound doctrine, need to know? If you’re older in the faith, what are some basic biblical teachings or issues you’re surprised to find other believers just aren’t aware of or knowledgeable about? Comment below and let me know. Let’s help each other out!


38 thoughts on “Basic Training: Orientation”

  1. Among my daughters’ age group (25-40ish) the women seem interested in having a “sign” on a decision that they should or should not do. They will pray about it, and if some ‘manufactured’ sign occurs (in other words a coincidence), they take that as affirmation/or negation. This has even involved the death of a child….they prayed to God for a ‘sign’ that their child would go to heaven at their pending death. When a clock stopped at the time the child died, that was their “sign” that God took them to heaven.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. For many women I know, there seems to be a lot of confusion about the spiritual gifts, how they are manifested, what they do, who has them (or even how to identify what spiritual gift one has without those “tests”), and what gifts still operate in the church. That can lead to inadvertently following false teachers who claim to exercise such gifts. I also have found that conversations about false teachers inevitably lead to a discussion of spiritual gifts.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Michelle! I was one of those who fell through the cracks when I was told and thought I was saved. I didn’t even know what “salvation” really meant; I only knew that I loved Jesus and did not want to spend eternity without Him. But I was never provided discipleship (didn’t even know what it was until I was in my 60’s!). I’ve studied quite a bit on my own since then, but I’m always ready for a comprehensive and deeper discipleship.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am concerned about the worship music we listen to. How important is it for worship music to be doctrinally sound? Seems like the lyrics in popular worship songs are romanticised as if Jesus is a lover rather than our sovereign Lord.

    Does that make sense? And does it matter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dori-

      Yes, it absolutely makes sense and it is extremely important. The music we use in church (or listen to at home) teaches us theology, and it sticks in our memories (which is why a lot of children’s Scripture memory programs set Bible verses to music to help with memorization). You probably couldn’t recite verbatim a quote from last Sunday’s sermon, but I’ll bet you know the lyrics of a lot of songs by heart. It’s important that those lyrics contain good theology. Excellent suggestion! :0)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Can you please give some examples of artists or songs for this teaching if you do it?I’m not sure where to start when it comes to this.


      2. I’d be glad to, but you probably won’t like them if you don’t like Southern gospel music :0) (If you do, I really like Gold City.) If you like contemporary worship music, try Keith and Kristyn Getty and Sovereign Grace Music. I’m not really familiar with any other doctrinally sound contemporary musicians.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Bianca-

        I wanted to let you know that I’ll be addressing this question in more detail (and with some helpful resources) in tomorrow’s (1-30-17) “Mailbag” article. I hope it’ll be helpful to you :0)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. How about learning what the true sovereignty of God means? Who is responsible and gets the glory for your salvation? If the answer isn’t 100% God, then we are deceived and have reason to boast. I believe this error (so prevalent in the church today) keeps many from ever really loving Him like we should and becoming the discerning Bereans we are to be. I only learned this doctrine when my church hosted a conference against reformed theology. I started studying it to try to understand why it was so “dangerous” and ended up beyond humbled at His grace and mercy in my life and a new desire to learn His Word.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. <> I love this, Regina! A conference AGAINST Reformed theology! Now THAT’S a good use of time, doncha think?? Gotta love it. ~Robin ~who didn’t start growing as a Christian for 10 years when God put us in a church with Reformed doctrine.


  6. I love your blog and the work you do, and my husband (a pastor) is also a supporter — he’s how I found this new, wonderful series you’re starting. Blessings!


  7. I find that people aren’t taking sin seriously, following God’s commandments are very serious and if you break one you break them all. How do you think on that?


  8. Hi Michelle – I am looking forward to this series. In your list, I think participation in a local church is an important topic to address. I would like to see gossip addressed, including examples of appropriate ways to couch prayer requests, and seeking discreet wise counsel. In my new blog ministry, I desire to teach others that God’s Word is sufficient to address every issue of life, so you might include some basic training on knowing God’s will (He tells us in the Bible – no signs necessary) and how to use God’s Word to put off sin and put on righteousness. (I’ve written a novel about battling gluttony with God’s Word, which will be published soon.) The old term for that is mortifying sin. Someone suggested evaluating music choices – good idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You might consider reviewing the “big” but basic Christian terms that are not longer taught in churches: salvation, reconciliation, justification, as well as redemption and atonement.


  10. Can you tie the Christian stance on all of the important and “controversial” social issues that face us? Also, would you explain the difference between Christian mercy/service and social justice.


  11. Honestly, the most important thing to be discipled one on one. This is my opinion, but when this happens there are so many benefits. First, not only do you have the distinct privilege of helping someone be grounded in the Word, but to help that person to become discerning which is so important these days. Michelle, as you have spoken so many times on the subject of false teachers, discernment is crucial. And with discipleship come a great friendship. I am discipling a friend over the phone, I live in Arizona and she lives in Nebraska. There have been weeks that we are able to study the Bible 5 days a week and sometimes 2 times a week, all depending on whether we have doctors appointments or other things we have to attend to. I am 64 and Lori is 38 and it has turned into the best part of my day. I actually started her in the book of Revelation and she loves it. I know, it seems strange to start in Revelation, but it showed her what was going to happen with the judgements and why but ended with the glorious description of Heaven and our faith being made sight, and the fact that there is a special blessing for those who study Revelation. So I guess what I’m trying to say is this, ask the Lord for someone to disciple you or be the one who takes the step and commits to discipling another believer, get in their life, sometimes it’s messy but worth every minute and then the person who is being discipled will be able to disciple someone else in time, they will have discernment and easily identify false teaching and be strong in the faith. It’s worth it. We only use the Bible, it is sufficient. Thank you Michelle for speaking the truth.


  12. Hi! How about (1) Hearing from the LORD aka Discernment/ “Rhema”/voices (what the Bible really says); (2) Rapture and the End Times; (3) Forgiveness (from God to us, from us to others; is forgiving forgetting; what the Bible says compared with what secular psychology says about trauma, etc.; (4) What the Bible really says about God’s plan, and how we women fit in; (5) This one I keep hearing a lot about — is the “Jezebel spirit” true (maybe this can be connected to the other commenter’s suggestion of “Spiritual Warfare”); (6) What the Bible does or does not say about mothers who work outside of the home and away from her children; (7) How to respect out husbands (again, as the Bible says, not as psychology–scholastic or pop–says); (8) “Teach us to pray” – Jesus’ own words and the rest of Scripture vs monks vs New Age/the new contemplatives/Ignatian. May the LORD bless your work.


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