by Allen B. Clark www.combatfaith.com
Biblical Reference: I Peter (New International Version Life Application Bible) by Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan.
Linda and I have completed our move to her deceased son's home. Our early mornings are spent in what we call our sun room with windows on two sides, where the rising sun greets us with its morning presence and the south sun lingers through the afternoon. Also it is where we converse and pray together in our recliners facing each other. The wall across from me has a framed small flintlock pistol and powder horn and a striking original painting of my childhood hero and role model Robert E. Lee as a newly-minted lieutenant graduate of West Point. Across from Linda behind me is displayed a tapestry picturing Jesus and also a framed print of Jesus. These represent, of course, the two worlds in which we have lived, for me the military and, for us both, the spiritual as Christians.
My secular military world was defined in no uncertain terms with obedience and discipline from age eight when I had tunnel vision to study and prepare myself for a cadet appointment at West Point. In my two all male secondary prep schools, I studied literally four to five hours per night. At West Point it is a life of all-consuming obedience and strict discipline to achieve the "prize" of graduation and commissioning as an officer, where the discipline was not as intensive, but yet overarching as I received the "prize" of the pride I felt in being able to serve my country.
In our secular arenas we constantly seek life's earthly "prizes," admission to and graduation from our first choice college, marriage to the spouse of our dreams, advancement in our career fields leading to the "prize" of financial security in our "golden" years. We discipline ourselves to save for the future. We discipline ourselves to eat healthily and exercise (in many instances less successfully than were our goals) to achieve a longer earthly existence. We are obedient and disciplined in our life's work and avocations.
Unfortunately, for our own greater peace and satisfaction, we typically do not exercise the requisite obedience and discipline in our spiritual dimension, where the "report cards" are not as evident. The ultimate "prize" of earthly spiritual existence is eternal life exemplified in 1 Peter 1: 3-4, "...In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you,..." This ultimate "prize" of salvation is only achieved by those who, by faith, accept Jesus as Savior.
In my early thirties I moved to the next plateau of my spiritual life, that of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. My dear wife Linda achieved this spiritual level at a much earlier age. This is a state wherein we exert discipline and obedience reflected in lives well-lived as members of the family of God. We are summoned to holiness, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy because I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:14-16).
We are told to live our lives in "reverent fear," (healthy respect of a believer for the all-powerful God). Footnote (I Peter 1:17). We are advised (and in military terminology "ordered"), "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind" (1 Peter 2:1). In other words, to live lives of integrity and loving hearts, to become like Christ. We are to "Live such good lives among the pagans, that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us" (1 Peter 2:12).We are to imitate "Christ in all (our) social roles,..husbands and wives, church members and neighbors" (1 Peter 2:18-3:17).
In 1 Peter 3:18-4:11 we are told by Peter that "Christ should be our model for obedience to God...." Our greatest obstacle to a life of obedience and discipline is, as it is written, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith,.." (1 Peter 5:8-9).
A unique contrast is evident in that in the secular world our "prize" comes after exertion and dedication to obedience and discipline. In the spiritual world our "prize" of knowledge of eternal life comes as early as one commits in faith with the consequent expectation from our merciful and gracious Father that in obedience with discipline we will then reflect "good" and do "good works.''
[Editor's Comment: I met Allen and Linda Clark in April of 2007 in San Antonio, TX, at a combined Military Chaplains Association and National VA Hospital Chaplains Convention. I immediately bonded with these Spirit-filled Christians. I spent quality time with them during those days.
Two years after Allen graduation from the West Point Academy, he volunteered for a tour in Vietnam where he served as a Military Intelligence officer assigned to the Fifth Special Forces Group. Allen sustained injuries in an early-morning mortar attack at the Dak To Special Forces camp on June 17, 1967, that necessitated the amputation of both legs below his knees. His military service and sacrifice were recognized with receipt of a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. He was airborne-qualified.
Allen's impassioned commitment to public service and to helping veterans began with an appointment in 1979 as the Special Assistant for Administration to Texas Governor William P. Clements, Jr. In 1981, Allen was President Ronald Reagan's selection to be Deputy Administrator for the Veterans Administration (now the Department of Veterans Affairs). However, he chose to remain in Texas where in 1982 he received the Texas Republican Party's nomination to run for State Treasurer in a race that was won by former Texas State Governor Ann Richards.
In 1989, he was nominated by President George H.W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary for Veterans Liaison and Program Coordination at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1991, he received his second VA confirmation as Director of the National Cemetery System, a position in which he served until the end of the Bush Administration.
While I was Director/Endorser of Chaplains Ministries, IPHC, I was elected Vice Chairman of both the NAE Chaplains Commission and the Endorsers Conference of Veterans Affairs Hospital Chaplains. I nominated Allen to be the Centurion of the Year. He was elected by the members of the NAE Chaplains Commission and I was given the opportunity to introduce this great American and Patriot. He was awarded that Centurion trophy in January 2010, by Chaplain (Colonel) Paul Vicalvi, US Army Retired, the Executive Director of the NAE Chaplains Commission.
The Centurion Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated his/her support of the chaplaincy and its work among the men and women of our nation’s Armed Forces and civilian institutions.
Nominees include civilian and military leaders from around the world who recognize and champion the work of chaplains in the lives of the people they serve alongside. Only active and current members of the Centurions can nominate and vote to approve the nomination each year.
Several years ago now, Allen and Linda Clark asked me to be their personal pastor. Mind you, they are born again, sanctified, Spirit-filled Anglicans and I am an ordained minister of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Only God could have arranged that ministry. God has given me some special assignments and this is one I greatly cherish and value because I love Allen and Linda Clark.
Both Allen and Linda Clark are in much demand as speakers. Allen is presently in the process of writing his third book. Linda writes scripts about great women of the Bible and she acts out the parts. She makes the appropriate dress for each character. She is a gifted seamstress. She has insights into the lives of these women Bible characters that no man would ever come up with. She has blessed me over and over with her writing. She is a student of the Bible and a woman of prayer.
In this article or message, Allen gives a clear and convincing Gospel message, as well as a call to holiness. This emphasis is in keeping with our theme and core value as Pentecostal Holiness Church members in 2016. I hope you can say "Amen."