He knew what he signed up for

“He knew what he signed up for,” is allegedly what President Trump said in a condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sargent Le David Johnson, a U.S. Special Forces soldier, who was killed alongside three other Americans, and four Nigerien troops during a surprise attack earlier this month near Niger’s border with Mali.

Regardless of how you may feel about the alleged remarks of the president, Jesus is clear about what we are signing up for when we make the decision to become a disciple.

In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus lays out the cost of discipleship. This includes discarding our possessions, putting aside our relationships with parents, siblings, children, and finally, even putting life itself on the line so that we can carry the cross of Christ.

Just as a builder will figure out the cost before embarking on a project, and a general will figure out the strength of troops before committing to battle, Jesus asks us to way the cost of discipleship.

In figuring the cost, there are some real question to be answered:

Do we trust Christ with our possessions?
Do we trust Christ with our parents, siblings and children?
Do we trust Christ with our lives?

In knowing what we signed up for we can take conform that that scripture states repeatedly that the Lord will provide.

Matthew 21:22 
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

1 John 5:14
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

Romans 10:13 
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

With less than 1% of the U.S. population in the military. Then less than 1% of the U.S. population are involved in the wars that we fight, and the battles that we wage.

We often forget that our fellow citizens are at war.
We often forget that our fellow citizens are fighting.
We often forget that our fellow citizens are dying.
We are doing all of this forgetting while we go about our daily lives with little to no knowledge of their sacrifices.

When we do think of our military, often we make them out as super hero’s to be honored at moments designed to make us, not them feel good. Like the arranged, surprised homecoming captured online designed to goes viral for all of us to see. Or when troops are shown standing tall at the playing of the Star Bangled Banner either at the stadium, or a live feed from some far away outpost. Or when soldiers are used as a convenient backdrop for the remarks of the Commander-in-Chief, who in recent years regardless of political party, has never served in uniform.

Our military the less than one 1% who are in harm’s way are people, with all the goodness and blemishes of life. They have good days and bad, excellent marriages and rocky ones. They love their parents, siblings, spouse, children, and significant others, just as we do. In other words, they are God’s loving creation just like us.

So today, as we go about our daily lives let us remember Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida and the other soldiers that died in that ambush.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio

and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia

As President Trump allegedly said, these men “knew what they signed up for.” And as cruel and as harsh as it may have sounded if the President said it he is right it is true.

The men and women of our armed forces know what they signed up for. What they signed up for was to serve their country, even it meant dying in that service.

Nevertheless, let us never take their service for granted, or make little of their tremendous sacrifice! To do so, demeans them, and shames all of us!

Jesus is asking us to know what we are signing up for in becoming a disciple, and what we are signing up for is to trust and serve the Lord.

So my fellow worshipers — Jesus in asking us today

Do you trust me to provide you with the possessions that you need and want?
Do you trust me to take care of your parents, siblings and children?
Do you trust me with everything — even your own life?

For when we do, Jesus will be with us always, even until the end of the age.

Marben Bland is a veteran and is the Pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel AME Church is Sparta, Georgia. If you like this post you are encouraged to please share it with others as the Lord has given Marben the mandate to take God’s Word to the world. Find more posting at www.marbenbland.com

The Immigrant

In putting “America First,” President Trump has signed executive orders calling for the building of a wall along the United States – Mexican Border. He has also pledged to deny federal funds to so-called “Sanctuary Cities” that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

In putting “God First,” we disciples of Jesus live by Deuteronomy 10:17-19 with tells us:

The LORD your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords.
God does not play favorites or takes bribes.
God enacts justice for orphans and widows.
God loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing.

Finally, Deuteronomy 10:17-19 commands us to “…love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.”

The most recently available Census Bureau Data reports that 13.3 percent of the population of the United States are immigrants. In a country of 318.9 million, that equals 42.4 million people.

The United States is truly a nation of immigrants, and the evidence is clear that most immigrants come to this country in search of a better life, not to commit crime or to take part in terrorism. 


The New York Times reports that an analysis of census data from 1980 through 2010 show that among men ages 18 to 49, immigrants were one-half to one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as those born in the United States.

Across all ages and sexes, about 7 percent of the nation’s population are noncitizens, while figures from the Justice Department show that about 5 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons are noncitizens.

However, additional Justice Department analysis concluded that undocumented immigrants had crime rates somewhat higher than those here legally, but much lower than those of citizens.

So where does that leave us in this “America First” strategy? The tone and tenor of the President’s Executive Order blurs the line between who’s a serious criminal and who is not, and between documented and undocumented immigrants.

However, as disciples of Jesus our putting “God First” strategy is clearly defined for us in Leviticus 19:33-34.

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.  The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.  Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

In 1975 Neil Sedaka, the pop singer, pianist, composer and record producer, recorded a song in protest of the treatment of formal Beetle, John Lennon and others by immigration officials.

The song describes an America where strangers were welcome – a place where there was a sweeter tune, and there was so much room that people could come from everywhere.

When we put “God First,” we will treat the foreigners who reside among us as brothers and sisters, not as potential criminals. For as disciples of Jesus we live in the confidence that the Lord has given us an economy with unlimited opportunities of jobs and upward mobility for everyone along with a society that is safe for all of God’s Children, native born and immigrant. A land as Neil Sedaka describes where strangers are welcomed.

For God commands us to loves immigrants to welcomed them not to exclude them with executive orders. Ironically devised by a president who himself is married to an immigrant.

(Source material from this blog is from The US Department of Justice, The US 
Census Bureau, The New York Times and the Immigrant by Neil Sedaka.)

Marben Bland is the Pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel AME Churches in Sparta, GA