Win First Then Fight

Posted on July 7, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters



先胜后战 (Xiān shèng hòu zhàn), “Win first then fight.”
~ 孫子 Sun Tzu

Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’ And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”
~ Caleb, Scout of G_d Most High, in Joshua 14



Christianity is really not as hard as we all make it out to be.

Now, don’t get some idea that this thing is just a stay at a five-star resort. Oh yes, there will be some (even many) incredible highlights, delights, and moments to savor. And, it is quite likely that those moments will be better than any of your best vacations.

It is a tough path, but Christianity – this working out of our relationship with the G_d of the universe – Who made us, died for us, met us, remade us and commissioned us – is not complicated.

Some of you may have heard phrases like this, hammered into your soul during a time of basic training for our US military. (I was not privileged with Boot camp, but went through training as an Army contractor). A leader gave you an order. And you, from the heart, learned to answer:

Hooah Sergeant! Aye Captain! Yes Sir! Clear as a church-bell Lieutenant! Will do!

Ahhhhhh, the memories of our training may not be entirely pleasant, but the transition of a warrior must happen for them to succeed. I wrote the following some years ago when my firstborn son was going through a particularly difficult 18-week, multi-phase training situation.


3rd Platoon (the Hell Hounds), Company B, 2-39th IN, 165th Infantry Brigade is in the midst of another punishing training exercise. It is about six weeks into an eighteen-week marathon of training. In this space, fatigue is a constant companion. Stress is your buddy. Hunger keeps creeping in, and pain has simply become the sensation of weakness leaving the body.

Something breathtaking – but very dangerous – is beginning to happen. The “edge” of the warrior is beginning to be drawn out of a young man. Mantras like “yes Sir!” and “we’ll make that happen Sergeant!” now flow easily, and even sincerely off the lips of the man who is ALMOST not a boy any more. It is a perilous time. Everything is in place for the building-of-a-warrior to continue into full completion. But, so many things can go wrong. The smallest miss threatens to end a soldier’s career before it even begins


And, as each of us who have been in a “discipline-intensive” training scenario, we do indeed find that that training sets us up for success in the real life situations we meet.

By the way, my son recently made it back from well over 100 deliberate combat operations as a loadmaster and rear gunner on CH-47s in a very messed up part of the world. Him and his highly trained team lost a helicopter, but they never lost a warrior. Much of this is due to one thing.

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist said it about 750 years after Caleb made his declaration in the passage from Joshua.


No warrior can win on the field, unless he has been won over to G_d, and found freedom from fear, doubt, worry, BEFORE going into combat. And, by the way, that old Chinese guy understood that in his writings too. It is only in the last 75 years or so that China has pretended to be an atheist country.

My son had won first. He had one of the best military teams I have ever seen (we are a 6-generation military family). They loved each other BEFORE they deployed. They were already dead to their own desires, and those desires had been forged into a cohesive whole that successfully navigated more combat in 8 months, than most soldier see in a career.

Yeah, I am proud of him. More than you know. The picture at the top of the entry is him “at the office” with his team. He is in the middle with the US Flag mask.

Hopefully this is making a little sense here? Your Heavenly Dad has already won you over. He is wholly for you. He has been working in your life and is getting ready to send you into some new challenge that only YOU can accomplish. And HE is so proud of you, that my love for my son looks like tiny little high-school crush in comparison.

But something has to happen first.

If you, or me, or Caleb, or Sun Tzu, or my sergeant son roll out into the battle holding on to our own way of doing things, we are in trouble. We will nearly instantly give into fear and cowardice like ten out of twelve of those spies did in the desert, bringing about the doom of an entire generation over forty years of wandering.

We must win BEFORE the battle. Notice how clearly Caleb put it: yet I wholly followed the LORD my God.


Aye Captain of The Hosts of Heaven! Will do!




Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

Think About This: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton

The Daily Bible Reading: Song of Solomon 5-8 , Isaiah 1| You can download our 2020 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here. 

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in [e]these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. –Romans 14:16-18

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.

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