Happy New Year and thanks for joining me for the first Crosspoint podcast of 2020. Today, we’re focusing on the topic of personal transformation with my guest, Col Darren Duke, United States Marine Corps. Col Duke is the Deputy Director of Operations at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps in Washington, DC. He is a career intelligence and special operations officer and has commanded Marine and Joint special operations in garrison and abroad.
Col Duke he will be speaking on the topic of personal transformation at the upcoming Northeast Academy & ROTC Retreat, on 7-9 February at the Toah Nipi Retreat Center in New Hampshire. And for those of you in ROTC, there are upwards of 9 different events you can take part in between now and April. Click here for details.
Let’s jump into my conversation with Col Darren Duke as we talk about personal transformation and what a life transformed by God might look like for believers serving in the military.
// What we talked about
Col Duke expresses about his gratitude for the heritage of faith from his family, making that faith his own through USNA OCF, led by Cal & Linda Dunlap, and the influences from his roommate and many others helping him see “the prevailing unbelief in my life.”
"Through the pages of the Bible I met a God who was utterly holy, completely powerful and sovereign, yet who extended mercy to sinners like me."
Q: Tell me about the OCF conference you're speaking at and the topic for the conference.
Col Duke talks about really enjoying the ROTC conference he spoke at last year at WSS, and how important weekend conferences were to him as an USNA midshipman both in his walk with Christ and to be with other believers to study God’s Word. To him, there’s not a better topic than personal transformation “because the gospel of Jesus Christ is at its core about transformation.”
"Come be transformed from a rebel against the sovereign King of the cosmos to a son of the Living God. Come, and look at Jesus Christ, and you will be changed. Life from death is the height of transformation."
Col Duke discusses the importance of personal transformation, particularly to the audience he’s speaking to. Col Duke talks about trusting God in His promises and obeying His commands, faith and repentance, and the necessity for new Christians growing in their faith to live it out.
"Faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin, distinct, but inseparable attributes of living faith in Jesus. You can’t have one without the other."
"Young Christians who are growing in their faith need to understand what it is to walk in Christ in the way they live, not just in what they believe in inside their minds and hearts."
Col Duke talks about the influences of the American culture that offers transforming philosophies or transforming programs to try teach others how to transform themselves, and he also discusses “heady” theological words that can be difficult concepts to grasp and that transformative changes comes from “faith in Jesus, where He changes us from the inside out.”
"A life changed by God is one where a believer acts on new affections, that is, the inclination of the will of the heart. One law of human worship is that you become like what you worship (Psalm 115). Thankfully, the opposite is also true: the more we behold the perfections of Christ and rejoice in them, the more we will become like Him (1 Corinthians 3:18)."
Col Duke talks further about the concepts of justification and sanctification, the danger of “pseudo-holiness” because of our sin nature, false alternatives for true transformation, and the false sense of personal transformation in thinking God loves us less or more depending on our performance.
Q: What should be our standard of measure when it comes to personal transformation? Seems like it could be pretty easy to compare ourselves to others and either come away with a bad case of imposter syndrome or walk away thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.
Col Duke says the standard for measuring personal transformation rests in the vital necessity of using God’s Word “to see what God says about both our heart and actions.”
"Comparison with others is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. It’s difficult to love someone if you’re comparing yourself with them. You’ll either idolize those you uphold as the standard or look down at those you deem as inferior."
Col Duke talks about the specific applications and implications of personal transformation for Christians serving in the military. Col Duke’s conversation touches upon the “affections” based on Christ’s promises and how they show themselves in our responses to our fears, family life, and careers. He also talks about how military Christians will appear differently, because of the way their hearts are oriented toward God.
"In combat, Christians will remember that even our enemies are created in God’s image, which is the basis for humane treatment of prisoners of war. We will pray for our enemies even as we do our combat duties, to include use of lethal force for righteous ends."
Col Duke discusses the “very serious business” that the profession of arms is when asked about the most important thing for newly commissioned officers to keep in mind as they transition into their careers. He also talks about the challenges nonbelievers face in combat in trying to “measure the violence they’re seeing around them,” and the ways they try to put value on what they’ve seen and experienced “that persists beyond the memorial service after the deployment is over.”
"Norse paganism has become the symbols of what many young soldiers or Marines use because the culture is questioning the value of war itself right now, and yet they need some framework to place the loss of their friends, and all the death and destruction they’ve seen around them. In Norse mythology…you can have merit, and the sacrifice in combat, and hope beyond that death—even for the person you killed in combat."
Col Duke and Josh discuss young Christian officers’ opportunities to demonstrate the hope they have in Christ, the portrayal of war in today’s video games or movies, Global War on Terror “brov-ets,” and books Col Duke recommends on personal transformation.
God is the Gospel by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/books/god-is-the-gospel
Future Grace by John Piper https://www.desiringgod.org/books/future-grace
Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray https://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Accomplished-Applied-John-Murray/dp/080287309X
The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie https://www.amazon.com/Christians-Great-Interest-Puritan-Paperbacks/dp/0851513549
// Final Point
Col Duke’s one key takeaway for listeners today
"The Bible is clear that we are transformed, our lives are changed not by self-help books and gurus—even by Christian ones—but by seeing Jesus Christ as He is presented in the Scriptures, resting in His promises to be the righteousness and peace with God that we need. He will do what He has promised. He will bring us to God, and we will marvel and delight forever."
// Special Announcement
We just launched a separate podcast called “Leader, Draw Near.” It’s a weekly podcast devotional, and if the title of that podcast sounds familiar to you, it’s because the podcast is based on the book by the same name, written by COL Larry and Bobbie Simpson, United States Air Force, retired.
The Simpsons published the book a few years ago, and since then, we’ve recorded each weekly devotional using several different narrators from all branches of service, and now we’re distributing the audio content as a weekly podcast.
Each podcast episode averages around 4 minutes, so it’s a quick and simple way to get your day started with a great leadership devotional centered on God’s Word.
Just go into your favorite podcast app and search for “Leader, Draw Near" or click here.