From the Preface of Boot Camp: Equipping Men with Integrity for Spiritual Warfare.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all
that we ask or think, according to the power that works within
us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all
generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3.20-21, NASB)
There is a rock that has a special place on my desk. A single word is engraved on its face: IMAGINE.
The world of men has been shaped by the power of imagination. Timeless myths of extraordinary valor are handed down from generation to generation. Little boys spend ordinary afternoons pretending to be medieval crusaders who fight for the worthiest of causes. The athlete relentlessly trains with visions of a gold medal hanging around his neck. The artist dreams of his crowning masterpiece. The astronaut straps himself inside of a rocket pointed for the stars. Why? George Bernard Shaw offered a theory when he wrote, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream of things that never were and ask why not.”
Our God-given ability to imagine allows us to dream of what could be. It challenges us to see what should be. An unquenchable thirst drives us–in varying aspects of life–to go beyond the ordinary and to reach for the incredible. What we don’t always appreciate, however, is that there is no more vital arena wherein such determination is needed than the life of the disciple of Christ.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him” (Gen 1.27). Despite the countless physical characteristics that distinguish human beings from each other, we are each image-bearers. The Creator of the universe “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc 3.11), blessing us with the capacity to yearn for something more. He is described in his revelation to mankind as the One who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, and he beckons us to join him in a quest of magnificent proportions.
Men love the epic tales of warriors who have defied the odds, proven to be larger-than-life at the decisive moment and led other men in efforts that have literally shaped the course of history. From the Iliad and the Odyssey to the latest Hollywood hero who single-handedly saves the world, men seem naturally to imagine being “that kind” of man.
But there is a greater story. There is a grander adventure. It is a divine chronicle of eternal magnitude in which you, in one way or another, will play your own unique part. Our Father in heaven yearns to awaken the awareness within each human being that there is no epic more awesome than that of Immanuel, God with us. He is the Son of the Source. He has provided the perfect pattern for true manhood. He has furnished the means of shaping, not just our imaginations, but our very lives into harmony with the glory of our Creator. And he invites you to join his ranks.
That’s what this book, and the entire I.M.A.G.E. Project, is all about.
You hold in your hands the first of five volumes in the I.M.A.G.E. series of books for men. A journey of sorts begins on the pages that follow wherein we are each encouraged to imagine living as our Father has always intended. We begin with the letter I, which will stand throughout the series for the foundational principle of integrity. Remove integrity from mankind’s relationship with God and all that is left is an empty shell of selfishness and despair. That said, I hope it is abundantly clear that our ultimate goal is to mature beyond simply imagining what our Creator has envisioned to enlisting and thriving as loyal soldiers of the cross.
A vivid template of spiritual warfare permeates the New Testament Scriptures, and such is our framework in this series. This first volume is set in the context of a spiritual “Boot Camp” experience. Just as the soldier who lives to fight another day learns the basics in Boot Camp, so the soldier of the cross must begin with the cornerstone of integrity.
Lastly, it must be noted that I am no expert. I’m an ordinary guy whose only qualifications for writing this series are a passion for the Savior and an earnest desire to encourage my fellow soldiers on the battlefield. The challenge of writing this series pales in comparison with the task of practicing what I’ve preached. I continue to foolishly stumble at times, disappointing my Master and the people around me. But I have also tasted and trust in “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph 1.19). My prayer is that this work will be one more signpost pointing in the right direction on our long journey home.
May the everlasting God be gracious to us and daring in his use of us as we grow in our efforts “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8.29).
To him be the glory.