Dear Salvationist -Watch Your Mouth!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

The Holiness Movement is far from dead.
We, as Salvationists, have within our veins more than the figurative colors of red, yellow, blue…we have the image of Christ within our hearts.  Not to say that other Christ-followers do not, or that we are better than anyone else, but this message, this pondering is primarily for Salvationists in our world today.

We face difficulties in our communities and in our culture which makes it hard to be truly set apart for God.  The lure of many things comes knocking at our doors and begs us to participate, to comprise, to ignore this calling.   Is it possible to look so much like the culture that our effectiveness in mission is compromised?  Is there a line that begs and pleads alluringly to be crossed?  What of our attitudes, our hearts, and our speech?  Do these go hand in hand with our lifestyles, with our mission?

There isn’t a time clock that we punch when we accept this holy mission of Christ’s.  We are either all in or not at all.  We don’t wear the uniform to the corps but once it’s off at home we become someone else, with a different set of life rules.    We are beckoned to “go into all the world…”  We are asked to “take up our crosses” and follow Christ.  If we are to imitate Him in every way (Ephesians 5:1), then this includes what we say.

Confession: blah
I can be cynical at times (That’s not a shock to some of you).
I always joke that I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm, but sometimes that sarcasm takes a very harmful turn.  My speech isn’t always as it should be.  Words can become barbs that are razor sharp that can cut to the heart of people faster than any blade could ever penetrate.  I know this of myself.  I make no excuse of this.  Does that mean I wish to continue to the live my life in a verbal rut?  Of course not!

Dear Salvationist
blood and fireDo you have the deep desire to continue to grow in Christ?
Is there, within your heart, the Spirit’s pleading to become more than you are right now?
Are we settling for the verbal ruts, the bad habits, the inexcusable behavior?  Do we make excuses and/or rationalize these away in order to make them more palatable and accepted? I can tell you truthfully that you will never really know peace within your heart as long as you continue to reside where the Holy Spirit does not want you to reside – in regards to ungodly habits and behaviors that are contrary to your covenant or promise to Him.

Like our tithe, like our commitments to God – if we continue to only give Him a portion, we will never be truly satisfied living within His will.  What is God’s will for us?  Read Micah 6:8 again “He has shown you, oh man what is good and what the Lord requires from you.  To live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”   Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Watch Your Mouth!mouth
Be mindful of your mission field.
Be aware of how ungodly speech corrupts your heart and those around you.
What kind of speech am I talking about?  Not just profanity and course language, but (and more importantly) unkind words towards others, Gossip of any kind, malicious-hate fueled speech.  Words that do not build up but instead destroy.  Soldiers of this Army; more importantly Soldiers of God do not act this way…should not act this way!  Watch your mouth…it can build souls and help them become more Christ-like, or it can burn the heart and fuel it into hatred towards God…that is how helpful or harmful your words can be.

Questions to Ponder Today:
How can I change my patterns of speech?
Do I recognize those moments when my words become barbs and are used as weapons?
What is the Holy Spirit instructing me to do within my actions and my use of speech?
What kinds of changes do I need to make right now?
Have I settled for where I am right now or am I willing to grow through the direction of the Holy Spirit?

Something more for our Army to ponder on today.
To God be the glory!

“Let Go and Let God”

What it means: 
We have concerns and worries in life – this is a constant.
Perhaps there are days when we have trouble sleeping at night because our minds are racing with all of the things that still need to be done at work.  We can often face anxiety attacks and troubles with our health if we allow these stresses and worries to consume us.
Jesus talked about worry –
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

This is how we are to let go and let God – We have to be able to release the stress, the strain, the fear and worry.  It is one thing to say “I’m going to give it to God” and a completely different thing to ACTUALLY give it to Him.  We clutch these fears and worry ever so tightly and we rarely relinquish it because we are afraid to admit we don’t have the strength and we need help.

When we finally admit to ourselves that we have been holding back on giving God all of our cares and burdens (1 Peter 5:7)  we can then allow His Holy Presence into these deep recesses of our pride and heart.  It will hurt.  It will pain us to do so, but within this deep communion with Him we will begin to alleviate our worry and fear.  He is more than willing to take from us these burdens and fears.

What It Doesn’t Mean
Do not use this phrase as a crutch.  response
One could say “well, I’ve given it over to God so I do not have any more responsibilities to take care of”  – Nothing could be further from the truth.  We have this wonderful thing called “free will” which allows us to take control of our lives and make decisions.  We have a responsibility within our faith walk.  We either make good decisions or poor decisions.  Saying “Let Go and Let God” shouldn’t be a catch-all phrase for slacking in our relationship to Him.

It also doesn’t mean that life will suddenly become easier and these worries and problems will disappear.  We can relinquished our stranglehold on burdens, but they will still occur.  It seems like a contradiction but in truth we face them with a Higher perspective and within the lenses of His Kingdom.  “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace

Let Go And Let God? 
walkIn the right context – Yes.
But remember He longs to journey beside us.  He longs for our fellowship each day.  Allow Him access to your heart, to your life and His presence will provide the salve that you need in the midst of the storms you are facing right now.

Something more to ponder today!

To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, 5 Difficult Questions That Most Christians Will Avoid

<<<Hello fellow Ponderers and welcome back!
If you happen to like this blog and read it often, would you be so kind as to share it with all of your friends?!  Also please continue to leave your feedback below,  we do relish your suggestions and input! >>>

Today I want to open up a pondering like no other.
It’s a pondering that can often be difficult because no one seems to want to talk about it.
Many Christians will skirt around these topics and tend to avoid it at all cost.
This…is just the tip of the iceberg, and perhaps a book ought to be written about it (hmmm perhaps I will).

I’m tired of ducking this conversation, pretending as if everything is fine and we never struggle at all.
I’m tired of pretending to be something we’re not…humanly perfect in every way, shape and form.
If we, as an Army, want to move on, if we want to progress forward – we have to talk about the topics we often shy away from.
Let’s start today:

5 Difficult Questions That Most Christians Will Avoid:  

  1. doubtDoubt (Is God Even Real?)
    What do we call the Apostle Thomas?  That’s right, “Doubting Thomas“.  Why?  Because he dared to expose the fact that he had doubts and he questioned the testimony of others.  He finally gets his wish, Jesus shows him his nail pierced hands, feet and stab-wounded side and Thomas believes.  Is it a sin to doubt?  No.  Is it a sin to question?  Absolutely not.Let’s dispel that myth today about doubting.  We ought to be asking all sorts of questions about God, about the Bible, about life.  It’s not a sin to be inquisitive and demand more proof.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 even says to “test everything and hold onto what is good.”   So let me relieve some guilt in some of you today, it’s okay to have your doubts from time to time.  Pray about those doubts.  Ask God for some further evidence, and/or for Him to reveal  Himself to you.  I do not believe the time for Godly revelation has passed.  If we doubt, then seek out the answers.  Don’t settle for simple answers of merely “having faith”…push back and test these things for yourself.  Faith isn’t about believing what your parents or grandparents believe…it’s not familial in that way, it ought to also be a personal ideology of belief.  If we do not have a foundation there, then we really don’t have a lasting foundation at all.So News Flash, don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you encounter doubts in your life.  Sometimes within those moments of doubting we begin to seek out the answers on a deeper level, and we begin to get serious about establishing a personalized faith that lacks any of the frilly phrases and meaningless jargon we sometimes find in Church.
  2. yep1Sexuality (Pornography and other addictions)
    Sometimes questions about sexuality and specific sexual addictions are swept under the rug in the church and family.  It’s never talked about, and so it becomes this type of “hush, hush” conversation.We are sexual creatures, God has created us this way.  Sex is good. (yes I said it, SEX IS GOOD!)
    It is for creating offspring but it is also for our enjoyment.  The problem, though is that we never talk about pornography and sexual addictions which isn’t only prolific within culture, but it is prolific even in the church.  This is an often unspoken, private struggle, and rightly so, but we ought to recognize that the Church should be a source of honest, candidness when it comes to struggles and temptations of the sexual nature.I do recognize that addictions of any kind ought to be treated by professionals, but that doesn’t negate the responsibility of the Church (and we as an Army) to have honest conversations about its real existence among our ranks.  It does exist.  It is a real struggle for many, and we cannot simply cover it up and pretend it doesn’t effect us.  I believe that if we are honest, this type of temptation is more prolific that we give it credit for.  It doesn’t even have to be pornographic images from adult websites either, it can be things we have seen on television or read in the pages of books.

    Sex is good, but we need to confront the marring of these important displays of affection by the sin nature and the distortion of sexual reality that pornographic addiction provides to our culture and to church.  We cannot simply pretend it doesn’t exist and close our eyes to its existence.

  3. If I work harder, will I become perfect? (Works+Success=Spiritual Crowns) crown
    The Desire To Be Perfect By Outcome based performances
    If I just sing “O Boundless Salvation” well enough…
    If I just wear my uniform better…
    If I do more around the corps and show others how good I can be…
    If I play in the band every Sunday…
    If I
    If I
    If I….
    Don’t get me wrong, these are great things to do within our corps and our ministries, but if we believe that doing all of these things in the right order will win us crowns, and that’s all we’re doing it for, then we’re sorely mistaken.Sometimes I fear that we have this notion that doing STUFF will make us successful in the Kingdom of God. We tend to believe:  All that this Army is really about is adding more to the ranks. -False.
    All that we do is good works so others will pat us on the backs.  -False again.
    We cannot become humanly perfect…that isn’t our goal.
    The Pharisees even wished to impose this on the Jews in their day, and they themselves were merely law enforcers but not law abiders.  Holiness is not the same thing as human perfection.  When God says to us “Be holy as I am holy” what did He mean?  Is holiness about doing STUFF?  No!  We have to first believe and have faith before the outpouring of evidence (Works/Stuff) can be seen.So stop stressing over wearing your uniform better, or performing at a better level…these things might be important at some point, but God first looks at your heart…so how is your heart?
  4. real1Is This Authentic, am I  Realistic?
    (putting on the “Christian coat”)
    Layered on top of all of this is the “Christian Coat”.
    It’s what we do to pretend everything is okay.
    It’s for appearances.  It’s for other people to see.  It’s a facade.  It’s not real.  We sometimes think to ourselves, if my Corps Officer or Divisional Officer or Pastor could see how it really is at home, they would be horrified.
    We have this concept in our minds that we must act a certain way in church in order to “look the part”.  The sad thing is – it’s all fake, and what we’re really doing is holding true fellowship and authenticity at arms length.  We aren’t really allowing others to see how it really is with us.  We wear masks, we pretend everything is normal and holy at home, when it’s anything but normal and holy.Are we embarrassed?
    Are we afraid our fellow Christian brothers and sisters will judge us? -Yes.  I’m no fool in this either, I know how cruel other Christians can be…and it really ought not be that way.  We put up these barriers and wear masks because we’re afraid how we will really be treated if others knew how it really was with us.  So we wear the tunic…we put on the Christian coat…but it’s all surfaced, it’s all phony.Listen, forget what those judgey Christians are going to think.
    Who are you going to honor in your authentic faith – Man or God?
    In the long run who matters most?  It’s a crying shame that we have to protect ourselves from other “Christians”, but maybe if we started to take off these masks and these “Christian coats” true revival and true fellowship will once again take place.  Sometimes the best way to get rid of fake, judgmental “Christians” is to be real and honest and genuine.  So, take off that coat.
  5. What Do I Do When My Family Implodes? fight
    Lastly today, what do I do when my family implodes…believe it or not Christian families struggle just as much with rebellion and issues as non-Christians families.  We sometimes have this false notion that just because our families go to church we will be insulated from some of these issues.  Guess what?  They still exist.  They still can effect our families.  We get so embarrassed about how other Salvationists, how other Christians will react if they only knew we’re barely surviving at home…Can I be honest with you?  Families do implode from time to time.  Families will not always agree from time to time.  It might be a full out battle once in a while (and some of you are saying “once in a while, try all the time!)…I think if we go back to being authentic and real, and vulnerable with one another, we would find that there would be more common ground that we ever realized.  Sure, there will be the occasional sour, judgmental church goer who is more pharisee than Christian, but we would also find other authentic believers who just want someone to listen to their heartaches and the pain they are going through with their kids and/or families.I dare you to take a risk and to share your burdens with other believers…but choose wisely, find believers who will listen, who will love, and who will challenge you for the good.

    These are just five difficult questions to ponder today…many  times we’d like to shy away from such discourse, but I believe it’s vital to ask the question and to find the answers when they can be found.
    Do you have feedback or questions of your own?  We welcome your comments and questions.  Let’s dialogue together a little longer on this subject.

    Something more to ponder today!
    To God be the glory!

    Special thanks to my wife, Shanais Strissel who helps me clarify and inspires me in these ponderings!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

I was watching my son play a football match the other day.
In the U.S. we call it soccer, for the rest of the world it’s called Football.
Just to give you a little history about who I am; I have played soccer since I was a young boy.  It began in the playground as a little boy on the Island of St. Helena.  My parents were missionaries there many years ago.   I played soccer in South Africa as a boy – my parents were missionaries there too.  I played soccer in the United States – my parents were missionaries there too.

I love the game.
As I have grown up, so has my knowledge of the game of football.
I finally see the strategy that my father once called “Chess-like”.  -A player makes one move and then a counter move…and so on.  The game is built upon team work, strategy, and determination.  I admire the structure of this sport that I played so long ago.  I equally enjoy watching my son compete in it as well.

This brings me to my point today, Dear Salvation Army.
Here’s my metaphor for the day – There are lessons we can acquire from the game of football.  These lessons can have a deep impact on our ministries.  These lessons can either shape us if applied, or break us if not applied.  Allow me to share these 3 spiritual lessons with you today.

3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

soccer1.  Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion:
I have watched professional games where you can almost tell which team will win just by how they compete.  The players who stay focused and on their toes (literally) will be better equipped to create attacking plays and score goals.

When you play the game of football, you must constantly operate on the balls of your feet.  Being “on your toes” helps you anticipate passes, gives you an edged, and allows you to move faster.   If players play flat-footed, they lose a step.  That player will not be quick to the ball, and they will become reactive instead of proactive.

Are we Flat-footed or are we on our toes?
Spiritually speaking, we cannot operated our ministries in a reactionary capacity.  We must anticipate and move when the Holy Spirit prompts us to move.  Sitting back on our heels doesn’t prepare us for active ministry, it opens us up for failure in ministry.  We weren’t called to preserve we were called to persevere!

When we go out and engage our communities…
When we get up out of the pews and help others in our communities…
When we seek to be a resource of solutions to problems and situations in society…
When we practice what we preach on Monday – Saturday…
We will cease to be flat-footed and on our toes in ministry.

ronaldo2.  We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi!
No offense to these phenomenally talented footballers, but the game is usually never won because of one player among 12.  The whole team has to contribute.  The Goalie has to know his/her role.  The full backs need to know their role.  The midfielders and the forwards – theirs as well.  It’s a team sport.    messi

I love to watch teams like the Netherlands national team play.  They pass with precision.  The operate as a group.  Sure, there are some stand-out talent on the team, but without players who can move the ball, pass and defend – that talent is useless.

We are members of one body (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12).
Each part of the body has to work with the other.  This doesn’t mean that we lord over other parts and brag about our accomplishments, rather, it means we help each other along- we work together for the same purposes.  Do we not have the same mission, Dear Army?  Are we all equally important?  Sometimes I think (and it happens in almost all Churches) we have “Stars” who tend to get all of the notoriety and credit…just like Ronaldo and Messi.  Most of these “Stars” are actually very humble about their role within the Army.  We must never lose focus on what is MOST important.

It’s not about who gets the credit (God should actually get this praise…right?!).
It’s not about who looks better in the uniform.
It’s not about ranks and roles and positions…although some would disagree with me.
-We need more team work and less ball hogs.
-We need more sharing of vital tools for ministry and less hoarding of these resources.
-We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead compare our lives with Christ – who ought to be the one we long to emulate and imitate.

conditioning3.  Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness) 
Okay, let’s get the cynics out of the way first – yes, of course some of the major football clubs also have MILLIONS of pounds, dollars, euros (and everything in between) to work with.

Without physical conditioning a team will fall flat on its face.
Without being disciplined in the sport, a team will fall apart when pressure mounts.    endurance
Physical strength requires sweat, toil, tears, and even pain.  One cannot expect to compete at a professional level without first sacrificing time, laziness, and other luxuries.  Practice is required, not optional.  Determination to practice and perform at the peak of excellence is desired for all players on the pitch.  If a player begins to decline or under-performs, that player may be sent down to a subordinate minor league team, or kicked off the team all together.

Dear Salvation Army, we cannot afford to have spiritually flabby soldiers.
I mean this with the sincerest amount of grace.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to press for spiritual discipline and spiritual conditioning.  We cannot settle for mediocrity IF there is even a hint that we can be more and do more.  God doesn’t want our leftovers on the mission fields we are called to, He wants our best efforts, or complete faithfulness, and our whole hearts.  If we are to be a better Army, we have to strive for spiritual excellence and holiness.  We cannot remain static if the Holy Spirit is calling us to move forward.

I love football, and I apologize to some of you that really don’t care for sports at all.
It’s an analogy that works for me.
Perhaps it will click for some of you as well.

-Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion
-We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi in Uniform – Be Who God Called You To Be!
-Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness)

There is so much more I could write on this topic, and perhaps I will in the future…but for now, this is enough fodder for one day.

Something more to Ponder today…(oh and by the way Go Manchester United!)
To God be the glory!

Blog at

Up ↑