The J-Team (On Spiritual Special Ops)

Phyllis Nissila


I listened to a fascinating presentation by a special operations trainer. He’s one of the developers of neuroscience based methods employed to build the body, brain, and psyche of qualifying applicants to high levels of resistance to outside and inside stressors to achieve a state called “ferocious resolve” [1].

Graduates of the program include members of many national and international elite response teams in law enforcement, military, and security.

Besides personal skill and resolve, integral to success is the ability of the candidates to meld with fellow members of the “A-team,” as it were, to enter into a new level of esprit de corps for some of the most dangerous protection and recon situations known in the business.

These are the people, most often unsung, and some, by necessity, incognito, who quietly get the job done. They are the best the world offers to combat the worst the world spews.


I have also heard a tale or two from another kind of special operations soldier who, during the war of his era, was trained to engage in another level of “resolve” altogether.

He and a few other specially selected soldiers were told—and carefully trained—to forget everything they learned previously about esprit de corps. They were carefully trained to look out only for “number one.” Mission comrades were to be acknowledged but not trusted as they could be double agents.

This was spy and intelligence gathering training but with completely different kinds of mental and psychological ordnance, one-man weaponized units, as it were, trusting nothing but training and conditioning to respond at a moment’s notice to rescue—or to kill. The one serving next to them might have their back or might stab them in the back.

Another level of operations altogether.

Although he and the others in the shadow operations of their day were “successful” as it was defined then, he still quietly mourns the “collateral damage” of the loss, in some cases, of innocent life on the way to getting top-secret jobs done.

He also still bears the physical and mental scars—and ongoing medical treatment—for wounds caused by not just the enemy “without” but also the “enemies within” that he was trained to identify and resist but whom he was not always able to out-maneuver.

He bears no grudges, he says. In that line of work, he was carefully trained to understand that he might also be “collateral damage”.


This brings my thoughts to another kind of “Special Operations Team,” specialists in the spiritual realm, which I call the “J-Team,” the “Jesus Team”: warriors in Christ, resisters and overcomers of another kind of evil spewed out by the “principalities and powers” [2] of another kind of assault force, this one, eternally deadly. And the interview prompted thoughts on the rich and inexhaustible source of spiritual “ordnance” we have to successfully fulfill missions on this battleground.

In his presentation, the trainer alluded to the power of spirituality in a general sense as important to the success of a mission, but Christians know or can know the power of the Spirit of God in a very specific sense.

Based on job descriptions and instructions in the “J-Team Field Manual” the Bible, here are the particulars:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people (Ephesians 6:10-18, NIV).

And success in this operation is not limited to age, gender, physical stamina, intelligence, or psychological predisposition [3].


But how do we proceed in the practical sense, on the “flesh and blood” plain, as it were, where our spiritual adversary “behind the scenes” is manifest in tangible adversaries at home, at work, and everywhere else? Here are some suggestions and some encouragement:

Armor Up.

First and foremost, as noted in the above Scripture passage, we “armor up” for every occasion, even if, at the outset, it appears harmless. The “commander of the opposition” and his minions, warring against us for millennia, are far more skilled in their scorched-earth (spiritual) plan than we might think. So we need to don what protection we can. As Benjamin Franklin noted, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This holds true spiritually as well.

However, good news, the Devil’s Creator (God) is infinity more skilled than the Destroyer, and He (God) shares maneuvers via His Holy Spirit (courtesy of His Son) to help us overcome and conquer amid the ruins of sin and destruction (ours and others’).


Sometimes, the “voice” of our Commander-in-Chief (the Holy Spirit) is as a “still, small voice”. Sometimes, it is loud as a trumpet. Other times, it might not “sound” immediately. We, like special ops soldiers, need to wait.

How do we know it’s His “voice”? His instructions?” As in any other relationship, through knowledge, training, and obedience. Sometimes it’s a whisper, sometimes a majestic sound, sometimes a “knowing” deep inside the spirit fed by His Word. It can “sound” like the wisdom of a remembered Scripture, a teaching, a sermon. It can be the advice of godly counselors, family members, or friends. Sometimes God’s “voice” is the “sound” of a circumstance or event [4].

But even for the fresh recruit, the un-tested warrior, the faint-of-heart, there is hope and immediate help.

Remember that little story about the lake, the storm, the fearful in the boat, the sight of Jesus walking on the water and St. Peter’s call for help when he attempted to follow Him and started sinking? Didn’t take much of a request: “Lord, save me!” for an immediate response. As St. Paul noted, later on, “Everyone who calls (epikaleo: calls, addresses, appeals to) on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).


…and be ready for tactics that might defy the odds, the circumstances, and even the advice of “godly people (in their own minds)”.

God’s Word to you might be “stay,” it might be “flee.” It might be “wait awhile longer,” or “consider another route”. But His victory plan for you is always grounded in His promises. Here are just a few for such a time as you might be experiencing. In even the thickest of the fray, Our Spiritual Commander-in-Chief promises:

He will supply our every need (chreia: such things as are needed for sustenance and the journey; as necessary for life) (Philippians 4:19),

His grace (charis: favor, God’s freely extending Himself toward us because He is disposed to bless) is sufficient (arkeo: to be enough, to suffice as against any danger, hence, to defend, ward off) (2 Corinthians 12:9),

He will provide a way of escape (ekbasis: an egress, way out) from temptation (peirasmos: trial, test, temptation) (1 Corinthians 10:13),

All things work together for good for those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28),

All those who believe in Jesus and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins will be saved (Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38), and God promises that despite what darkness may obfuscate, what despair may obscure, the outcome is

Eternal life (John 3:16).

Someone has counted 3,573 promises in the Bible. If what is above do not suffice, comfort, encourage, and advise, there are plenty more. See what you can find.

In the meantime, onward, special ops. There is light and clarity ahead.

God has your back—your front, and your future—through His Son, Jesus Christ, the leader of the “J-Team,” Who took the collateral damage back then on the cross, for your “campaign” now. The Same Who, unlike comrades in the flesh who may and often disappoint, will never forsake you nor turn on you.

Ask Him for the plan.


[1] “The selection course, which involves training in basic skills, physical conditioning and the ability to perform under stress, culminates in a series of orchestrated exercises, which strips away all the physical and mental facades the trooper candidates use to socialize themselves. ‘Selection strips them down to the core, see? They don’t have the energy to put up a front anymore, and we see them as they are. They dig down inside themselves and find that place […] where they can keep on going and do what must be done.’”

[2]” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV).

[3] For a good exposition on this passage, you might start with:

[4] For a good treatise on how to hear the voice of God and why we may or may not be able to “hear” it, here’s a starter:

This entry was posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, survival tools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The J-Team (On Spiritual Special Ops)

  1. Carl Gordon says:

    Wowowee! I especially enjoyed the the simple clarity of the section on hearing and recognizing the voice of God.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.