The Dreams of Our Childhood…

What is it that drives you, motivates you, wakes you up in the morning?
Fear?
Coffee?
Money?
Children?
Your Spouse?

What are your passions and goals in life?
To be successful?
To find happiness?
To be content?
To travel the world?
To make the world a better place?

What if within that pursuit you discover that happiness you’ve been searching for has been with you the whole time?

What if you got it all wrong, and had to start over?
Would you?
Could you?
Or would you simply settle?

I fear many people have given up on dreaming.
I fear many have simply settled for what they have, and bought the lie that the dream was too large, or too unrealistic.

What would it take for us to begin dreaming again?
I mean dreaming reality big…like when we were kids.
When there was no such thing as impossible.
When, if we dreamed it, it could truly happen.
No walls of “can’t” exist.
No prison bars of “You just don’t have the time or education” to hold you.

Could we begin to believe again?
Would we even know how?

Yes, Adulting is hard…but as we grow older the imagination of our youth becomes even harder to hold onto.

We need to redefine the impossible.
We must recapture the dream.
We should never just settle…

-Something more to ponder today.

Lenten Perspectives Day 5b – Featuring Cadet Justin Steckbauer

Where did the human race come from?  Did we evolve out of space dust and starlight?  Or were we designed for a specific purpose?  That is the ultimate question.  But even if we were to say evolution is true, which is a stretch, where did the material for the universe come from?  A big bang can’t explode from nothing.  That doesn’t make sense.  So it’s logical to believe then, that the best explanation for our universe, our planet, and ourselves, is that an intelligent creative eternal being made the universe, and made us.

Therefore, God does exist.  But who is God?  I believe God has revealed himself through something we call, “The Bible.” The Bible has been criticized a great deal, many say it’s just a book full of stories, it’s just myths, it has contradictions, all of these attacks are levied, and Christians are criticized, and are said to be bigoted and hypocritical.

But is this really true?  I believe that we can trust the Bible.  In fact the biblical documents we have today have been trusted by billions of people through history that believed God really came to Earth, as the person of Jesus Christ.  Thousands of archaeological discoveries have been made by using the Bible.  And the Bible matches with history, we see countries like Syria, Babylon, and the Roman empire, real civilizations interacting with biblical history.  The truth is we can trust the Bible.

And if we’ve been hurt by Christians who have not lived up to the standard of Christ, we should remember, that we are not called to follow other Christians, we’re called to follow Jesus Christ alone.  I’d encourage you today, as you eat your meal, think about these things.  Think about how everything in the universe fits together so well, that the food on your plates is designed just right to nourish your body.  And remember that the hands that serve this food say without a doubt that they do so because Jesus has saved them, and they feel called to serve others.

Jesus Christ, the God-man come to Earth, came on a rescue mission to save all of us from sin.  Sin are those things in our lives that separate us from God: things that cause us pain, that hurt our relationships, things we’ve done wrong, things like selfishness, self-seeking, and pride.  Jesus came to save us from all of that.

And he saved me from all of that.  At one point in my life I had lost all hope.  I was addicted to drugs for years, and my family had given up on me.  My soul had turned grey, and everything seemed dark, and hopeless in my life.  I had given up on ever having a better life, on ever being ok again.  Can you relate?  But then someone told me about one name, the name, Jesus Christ.  There is power in that name.  And I went on my knees and cried out, “Jesus help me, Jesus save me.”  And He swept into my life, changed me internally into a new person, and put me to work for his kingdom.

Seek Him in your life.  Fall on your knees and cry out to Him.  Now is the time of salvation.  Keep this in your mind: When you are at the bottom, cry out to Jesus: Cry out Jesus save me! Jesus help me!  He will answer.  Trust in Him. Reaffirm your trust in Him.  Make certain He is the center of your life.  He is our real, living Savior.

Justin

 

-Justin Steckbauer is a first year Cadet in the Central Territory USA.

Lenten Perspectives Day 3 – Featuring Bob Hostetler

Where Jesus Died

 READ: I Corinthians 15:1-5

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3b, NIV)

In family devotions with our two young children, my wife and I often repeated the story of Calvary and Jesus’ death on a cross. We were not sure of the story’s impact on our son’s and daughter’s minds until one day when we were driving cross-country on a car trip.

As the miles rolled by under our car, we suddenly spied in the distance a hill with three crosses outlined clearly on the summit. My children watched silently until we began to pass the hilltop arrangement. Finally, in a voice of awe, my four-year-old son whispered, “Daddy, is that where Jesus died?”

I tried tenderly to explain that, no, the place where Jesus died was far from that hillside.

I’ve since come to regard my answer as a little hasty. Of course, Jesus did die at a specific spot on the surface of the earth. But in another sense, maybe He did die on that hillside, if that is where one of His children came to faith in Him. For me, He “died” at a scratched and pitted wooden campground altar. For one of my friends, it was literally a ditch beside a country road. For others, the place was a storefront church or a kitchen table. Perhaps that’s what hymnwriter (and Salvation Army general) Albert Orsborn meant when he wrote, “On every hill our Saviour dies, and not on Calvary’s height alone,” for wherever I accept His love and sacrifice, that place becomes a Calvary.


On every hill our Saviour dies,

And not on Calvary’s height alone;

His sorrows darken all our skies,

His griefs for all our wrongs atone.


Present he is in all our woes,

Upon a world-wide cross is hung;

And with exceeding bitter throes

His world-embracing heart is wrung.

Chorus

Go! Cry the news from every hill;

Go! Ring the earth with sacred flame;

To pardon is the Father’s will,

And Jesus is the Saviour’s name.

PRAYER: Jesus, keep me near the cross where, as a trembling soul, love and mercy found me.

 THOUGHT: The cross of Christ spans the ages and the miles to meet the needy soul. . . anywhere.

Bob Bob Hostetler is an award winning and best-selling author whose work is prolific.  He is also a gifted speaker and pastor.  

http://www.bobhostetler.com

 

Lenten Perspectives Day 2: Featuring Steve Simms

A Personal Admission Statement (for Lent)

by Steve Simms

 Success coaches make a big deal about the importance of having a personal mission statement. It’s a good thing to know (and write down) your purpose and the calling on your life. 

However, there is another statement that is far more important — a statement that clears the air of self-deception and denial — an admission statement. So, what do we need to admit?

The season of Lent focuses on that. It is a time for humility, for self-examination, for acknowledging our sin (and sins), and for genuine repentance. Lent reminds us of an unpopular truth, that we human beings are all sinners before the perfect and holy God. 

The mass of humanity (including Christians) objects to that fact. People say and believe things like: “I’m a good person,” or “I’m not a sinner.” But are those statements accurate about you and me and the rest of humanity? They aren’t according to the Bible.

Jesus said: “There is none good but the Father.” Romans states, “There is none righteous, no not one,” and “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Numerous Bible characters agreed with God’s assessment of their sinful nature and evil thoughts, words, and actions; by making bold admission statements. The prophet Isaiah said this about himself; “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” And Apostle Paul, wrote: “I am the chief of sinners,” and “I know that within me, that is within my flesh, dwells no good thing,” and “O wretched man that I am!”

The tax collector in the temple made a bold admission statement, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Meanwhile, the very religious Pharisee, trying very hard to be a good person, refused to make a sin admission statement. Instead the Pharisee prayed this self-congratulatory prayer; “God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

As long as we, like the Pharisee, believe that we are good people, we’ll never fully know the incredible depths of God’s grace toward us. Jesus put it this way, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” If we think that we only needed a little bit of forgiveness, we will only have a little bit of love. However, when we realize that because of our personal sin, we need infinite forgiveness (that cost God the death of His Son), we’ll follow and obey the living God with glorious gratitude, passionate praise, and lavish love!

So how can we ever know the depths of our sin and the incredible cost to the Father to give us His grace? We can sincerely pray this prayer of King David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me.” As we do we can allow God to show us our sin nature and the sins we have committed.

As we behold our wicked ways and see what an incredible degree of forgiveness that God lavishes on us, we will be undone like Isaiah. We will be overcome with thankfulness for Gods awesome mercy and forgiveness — grace greater than all our sin! Then, like the tax collector, we’ll began to make admission statements: “God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

Lent is a wonderful time to write your own, personal admission statement. 1 John 1:8-10 can help you with that. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

SteveSteve Simms is a Soldier in The Salvation Army in Nashville TN, a Speaker and Author of the Book:

Beyond Church: The Lost Word Of The Bible- Ekklesia

Perspectives: Featuring Lieutenant Blake Fewell

“Officer’s Covenant: ‘Called By God…'”  

The Officer’s Covenant begins with one statement that carries through the rest of the Covenant: “Called by God…”.  This is the foundation from which the rest of the Covenant is built upon.  It is a statement of affirmation that the officer has listened to and discerned that the Lord’s will for his or her life is for full-time service as a minister of the gospel within The Salvation Army.


MY CALLING

covenant

The way in which God calls people to service can vary from person to person.  I will tell you of my experience, but I do not claim this to be the only way that God may call someone.

I knew from the time of my salvation that God had a purpose for my life – there was a reason why he saved me from certain death at my birth.  When I was somewhere around the age of 12, I began thinking that maybe God wanted me to be a Salvation Army officer.  I am sure I had thought about it prior to that age, but I cannot nail down a specific date in which I was “called”.  I also never had an “aha” experience – I never heard God’s voice audibly speaking or had some magical vision or anything like that.  I had grown up in The Salvation Army and was always open to the idea of officership.  So around the age of 12, I set my sights on becoming a Salvation Army officer.  Again, there was no specific time when this happened, it just happened.

One thing that played a huge role in discerning my calling was watching the examples of various officers, active and retired, within my corps.  I loved listening to their stories about the joys and challenges of officer ministry.  Through those examples, I was encouraged in my pursuit of officership.

Since I never had any sort of divine revelation regarding my calling, I ultimately stepped out in trust.  I knew that if it was truly God’s will that I would be a Salvation Army officer, then he would provide whatever was necessary for that to happen.  I knew he would open doors where I needed them in order to guide the way.  He certainly did!  He provided countless opportunities and opened numerous doors that solidified his calling on my life.  Looking back on those times, I can see God’s work through my life in making my calling sure.

Did I ever doubt my calling?  Of course!  I would even dare say that it can be healthy to have times of doubt because when God provides the answer to that doubt, it strengthens our sense of calling.  In the times that I doubted my calling, God provided people and environments in which I was encouraged.  Again, when I think back to those times of doubt, I see God orchestrating ways in which my calling would be strengthened.


I would like to share a few insights about calling in general and specifically for officership.  Some may agree and some may disagree with these statements, but I hope these can stimulate our thinking and understanding of calling.

CALLING IS BOTH INDIVIDUAL AND CORPORATE

When we talk about calling, we seem to always discuss the individual side of calling.  “Tell me about your calling.”  “When God called me…”  I think we, for the most part, understand that God calls people individually for certain things.  He may call one person to do one thing and another person to do another thing.  Our responsibility is to be responsive and obedient to our individual calling.

There is also a corporate aspect to calling, specifically for calling to ministry.  In the first three verses of Acts 13, we see this corporate element at work.  God had called Barnabas and Saul to go and proclaim the gospel.  The church at Antioch responded by praying for them, fasting, and sending them off.  This is the corporate response to calling to ministry.  The church body is responsible for recognizing God’s call on a person’s life, affirming that call as evidenced by the person’s fruit, and sending that person off with their prayers.

It is important that we do not neglect the corporate aspect of calling.  I know that God has called me to officership, but I need to know that others see evidence of that calling in my life.  This keeps our individual callings in check and accountable to the Church.

CALLING DOES NOT REQUIRE DIRECT REVELATION

I think I have indicated this already through my calling experience.  Calling does not mean that a person has to audibly hear God speak to them or have some other sort of divine revelation from God.  This is why the term “calling” can be confusing to some.  We need to make sure that when we describe calling, we do not restrict it to a specific time or a specific experience.

As I said with my calling, I never had that one moment where I said, “Yes, I’ll be an officer.”  I also never had a defining point in which God spoke to me or revealed it to me.  It was a process of observation, reflection, and acceptance in my life which was not grounded in one moment.  I think it is dangerous for us to insist that God’s calling must take place in a “crisis” manner.

I don’t mean to say that God does not call people at a specific time such as at Youth Councils or during a Candidates’ Sunday.  I don’t mean to say that God does not work in a “crisis” manner to call people, but it is not something that happens to all.  We do not want to exclude or alienate those who have had aspirations toward officership but may not have had such a “crisis” moment.

CALLING MAY OR MAY NOT BE SPECIFIC

God’s calling comes in a variety of forms.  Calling is not restricted to officership – people are called by God to all sorts of professions, careers, and ministries.  With that said, God’s calling may not always be specific.

I was speaking with a young lady in one of my classes at Olivet this spring.  She was studying children’s ministry and knew she wanted to be actively working in ministry with young people, but she did not know where.  She was aware of God’s calling on her to minister to children – that was specific – but she did not know in what manner, degree, or location God wanted her to serve.  I also know a number of people from my time at Moody who may have been studying pastoral ministry or theology or biblical studies and have been specifically called to full-time ministry, but the details of how that would happen had not been made clear to them.

I know that God has called me to specifically be an officer within The Salvation Army, but that much detail is not always the case for all.  God calls people, but the specifics of that calling may not always be evident.

I want to write for a moment about our recruitment of Salvation Army officers as it relates to this.  I appreciate what our divisional and territorial leaders do for recruiting and equipping candidates for Salvation Army ministry.  The process, though challenging, is much needed so that we invest in the right candidates and cadets for officership.  I do believe, however, that we have an untapped resource for officers.  As I said, there are a number of young people who know that they are called to full-time ministry but do not know where to turn.  The unfortunate result is that many do not end up in full-time ministry positions.  Could these be our future Salvation Army officers?

I think we can focus a lot of our attention on internal recruitment, and that is not wrong in any way, but there may be future officers out there who simply need to be introduced to The Salvation Army and to officership.  From my experience at Bible college, there are thousands of students in this nation who are zealous for ministry and the gospel who are searching for their ministry outlet.  These could be our next officers.


blakeThere is so much more that could be said about the topic of calling and I hope to write more on this subject.  Turning back to the Officer’s Covenant, it is important for every officer to understand that officership is not of our own self-will or desire, but because of a God-instilled, Holy Spirit-directed calling on our life.  The manner in which we are called may vary, but the God who calls remains the same.  He is still calling men and women to officership – we must continue to be responsive.  With the prophet Isaiah, we resound, “Here I am! Send me.”

**Check out further writings by Lieutenant Fewell via his blog site at: Blake Fewell**

Perspectives Day #4 “Commissioner Corner” Featuring Commissioner Paul Du Plessis & Comissioner Harry Read

There are men and women in our Army who have made a lasting impact on the world around them.
Two such people are featured here today.  Both Commissioner Du Plessis and Commissioner Harry Read have touch lives for Christ all over the world, and they continue to do so even in retirement.  I have a profound respect for both of these Commissioners, and I know many in our Army world feel the same.  Here are two poems that these humble  soldiers of God have written.  Both Commissioners are excellent writers and poets in their respected careers while in ministry.    So on behalf of all of us, thank you Commissioners for your continued ministry to us!
———————————————————————————————————————————
Commissioner Paul Du Plessis paul

“Paradise Regained” 
Escape from the mixture of odours

Boiled up by the central heating,
The lunch trolley aromas stagnant
In a bathroom fragranced with aerosols,
So cross the threshold into the garden
To be braced by fresh air
That ripples over goose pimples
Lifting hairs on the back of the neck,
So that remembered images become real
With bumble bees frolicking in the lavender,
The fuchsias dangling their bells,
Alchemilla sparkling with raindrops.

The scent of the earth, a glance at the sun;
Inside and out, the soul is reborn.
lady's mantle
Willett House

——————————————————————————————————————————–
Commissioner Harry Read      Read

Heart Talk

Prayer is a great adventure
In realms of mystery
Which blaze with heavenly splendour,
With awe and majesty.
There love gives all things meaning,
Of Heaven, of earth, of space;
Love constantly redeeming,
The work of sovereign grace.

By prayer we find resources,
Beyond our power to dream,
As God himself endorses
The hopes that through us stream.
Not only for our pleasure,
But his plans to fulfil,
God gives strength without measure,
Such is his blessed will.

It is by prayer we enter
This realm of sheer delight,
By prayer we reach the centre
Where love and power shine bright.
And, God, our faith beholding
Asks us more closely move,
And with his love enfolding,
Bids us prayer’s power to prove.

Matthew 6: 6
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray
to your Father who is unseen”.

With every blessing,

Harry
04.10.15

Perspectives Day #2 Featuring Captain Pete Brookshaw – “What is a Salvationist? You’ll be surprised by the answer…”

If you’re part of The Salvation Army, you’re part of a dynamic, exciting movement with a desire to change the world. There I’ve said it. Though one may ask, what actually is Salvationism? What is a Salvationist?

Let me start with this: I’ve heard plenty of definitions of the mission of The Salvation Army. Maybe you have too. Some inspire you to make a difference and others feel like dry words merely articulated on a page. It goes without saying, when the mission is clear, The Salvation Army has clarity and focus. And clarity and focus is what we need.

So what then is the mission of The Salvation Army? And further more, what is Salvationism?  


In the Australia Southern Territory of The Salvation Army, we say that God raised up the Army for the purpose of:

  • Transforming Lives
  • Caring for People
  • Making Disciples
  • Reforming Society

In other parts of the Army, the words spoken by General John Gowans are used: The Mission of The Salvation Army is to Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity.


If you haven’t heard, the International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army is:


The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission
is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.


Some narrow down the mission of The Salvation Army to one sentence: Win the world for Jesus.


It’s bold, gutsy, arduous and worth embracing. The Salvation Army does not sit around waiting for bums on seats. We won’t sit and wait for the world to embrace God, like all of a sudden people will start flocking to our communities of faith, believing we have some answers to their brokenness. The Salvation Army is a pragmatic movement seeking to change the world, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Salvationist is one working to that end. 


I mean, a Salvationist is clumsily defined in most dictionaries as, ‘A member of The Salvation Army.’ Though, that’s like defining a great hamburger as ‘A bun with a meat pattie and some ingredients inside.’ It fails to encapsulate the essence of Salvationism.

A Salvationist has agreed to live a certain way (holiness) and has agreed to live out and actively pursue the fulfilment of the mission of The Salvation Army. Soldier’s sign a Soldier’s Covenant, because they understand the significance of what Salvationism means and the power of aligning oneself to such a covenant.

I think the signing of that Soldier’s Covenant and subsequently living out that covenant is relevant and spiritually powerful.


The Salvation Army should be unapologetic in calling people to Salvationism. In an age where we are post-denominational and we are a ‘go with the flow’ kind of people, it is still of value to stand by principles that create clarity and purpose for one’s life and to then commit to it.

We are a salvation people.

I am reminded by a lady in our Corps named Di. She is being enrolled as a soldier very shortly. Though the story goes back to coming for welfare support at the corps. Then she joined our community lunch and starting helping. Then she immersed herself into our Thrift Shop ministry. At some point she chose to forgive her mother. Then she starting dancing and laughing up the front of the church on a Sunday morning. Then we did Soldiership classes. She wants to change the world. She wants to express that desire through Salvation Army Soldiership.

Pause for moment. 

Let me make some quick comments on what it means to be a Salvationist. A Salvationist is a:

  • Passionate prayer warrior
  • Committed social justice advocate
  • Zealous evangelist
  • Generous giver
  • Faith-filled risk-taker
  • Holy-inspired follower of Jesus
  • Covenanted child of the King
  • Unapologetically driven to support the work of the Kingdom of God through The Salvation Army
  • Loyal and active participator in a local Corps

You may add your own thoughts on what it means to be a Salvationist.

Let me finish with this definition of Salvationism.

William Booth sums up Salvationism in one sentence:

‘Salvationism means simply the overcoming and banishing from the earth of wickedness.’  

To read more, go to www.petebrookshaw.com

Perspectives Day #1 – Featuring Colonel Dennis Strissel “Opinion8ed”

“Opinion–8-ed”

(A series of eight installments)

Number Seven – Mulligans for Ministry continued

Photo Jan 05, 4 13 24 PM

In his excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas includes this important event as foundational to Bonhoeffer’s faith.

 “In November 1921, at the age of fifteen, Bonhoeffer went to the first evangelistic meeting of his life. General Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army had conducted ministry in Germany before the war, and in 1919, greatly moved by reports of suffering there, especially the hunger among children, he found a way around the official channels and was able to have milk distributed. He also gave five thousand pounds to relief efforts.

Two years later Booth came to Berlin to lead a series of evangelistic meetings. Thousands showed up, including many soldiers broken by the war. Sabine recalled that ‘Dietrich was eager to take part in it. He was the youngest person there, but he was very interested. He was impressed by the joy he had seen on Booth’s face, and he told us of the people carried away by Booth, and of the conversions.’ A part of him was powerfully attracted to this sort of thing, but he wouldn’t see anything like it again for ten years, when he attended the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.”

Forgive me for having some measure of pride in the fact that the joy observed and experienced through the moving of the Holy Spirit by Salvationists past, impressed and blessed an adolescent Bonhoeffer. Perhaps the memory of such joy accompanied him through his darkest hours. One of Bonhoeffer’s final writing describes life’s finality in this way, “Death is the supreme festival on the road to freedom.” That is only possible through divine joy.

Since this article is meant to be reflective, considering what I would have done better during my years of active service, it goes without saying that living a joyful life would be paramount. Life in Christ is always about joyfulness. It is distinct from simply being happy. We can all attest to days that are not happy ones but in spite of the seriousness that life brings, joy can always be found in every event or experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone express the beginning of the faith walk as a result of seeing your joy, even during some of the most stressful times of life? Perhaps you will join me in praying part of David’s prayer of contrition today…

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

Ps 51:7-13 NIV

Amen

Perspectives Day # 4 Featuring Captain Marianneke (Anney) Summerifeld “Family”

familyFamily.  This one word evokes a particular meaning to the reader, doesn’t it?  Something specific.  Something defined. Something wholesome, perhaps?  A television show is “family oriented” or an activity is “family friendly.”  What does it mean to you?  The lines surrounding the definition are not rigid, and they are becoming increasingly fluid.  A traditional, nuclear, family is not what we once pictured it as.  Roles are changing rapidly around us, and if we, as ministers of the Gospel, are to preach the love of Jesus without discrimination, what does that mean and how does that look?

Sure, we are all know that “society is different” and “times they are a-changin’!” – but when things affect you personally, you become all-too aware of where there are lags in our ministry and motivation.

I love my family.  I am daddy’s girl, I look up to my mom, and my siblings have morphed into dear friends.  Growing up, we were the picture of ‘traditional.’ Everything normal, everything happy. In recent years and months, and even as I type, I am suddenly confronted with the idea that normal is changing, and happiness isn’t the be all and end all.  What is? Love.  Love for God and love for others.  Love for our family, however that might look.

Ten years  ago (even five, really), I wouldn’t have been able to define “polyamorous triad,” and if I did know what it meant, I would have never expected it to be a part of my lexicon, not to mention my family story. Never would mentions of divorce and infidelity ever come into mind as being in the realm of possibility.  But you know what?  Life happens.  People change, people grow; and as they grow and change so does our understanding.  I cannot stop loving my loved ones.  I continue to strive to love as Jesus loves, despite bumps along the way.  How can I not?  As an officer, an ordained minister, it’s my calling to share in Jesus’ love.  I have no room to judge or condemn.  Until you experience something yourself, you never know how you will react.

All of that isn’t to say, “hey look at my family, aren’t we a bunch of kooks!,” rather, it is to show that even circumstances thought to be so static and just right “as is” do change and while they change I cannot sit by on the sidelines wondering what to do and letting life pass by.  Should I change with it?

Yes.  And no.

As I write this, I am supposed to be writing my sermon for Mother’s Day.  I was finding verses on being Children of God and what it means to be in His family.  1 John 3:1 reads, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  Later in 1 John, we read, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands” (1 John 5:2).  And what are God’s commands? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I’m pretty sure changing the Greatest Commandment isn’t a good idea.  Likewise, I shouldn’t seek to change the Gospel just because it might not gel with someone else’s belief system.  But I CAN change my approach. I can change the borders of my understanding as the borders of  family continue to change.  This won’t be easy.  Some might see loving others as endorsement or acceptance of lifestyles contrary to what we see as the Biblical standard. No one is saying we need to water down the message, and loving others doesn’t compromise our own beliefs and doctrine.  We need to look head on at the world around us, literally right beside us.  The growing definition of what family means WILL affect you and your ministry if it hasn’t already.  So the question is: what are we going to do about?

Tell you what, let’s start with love.  I can’t tell you HOW to love and how your ministry to your immediate family, your family of origin, your adopted family, your corps family…(you get the idea) is going to look and how it will work.  Most likely, steps made today will have to change sometime in the future. This is fluid.  Don’t be scared, rather, see this as a challenge – the good kind.  A challenge of loving God and carrying out His commands as best we can.  We will make mistakes, I know I have.  Ah, but remember, if we are jumping headfirst into love and loving others, this also means we are jumping headfirst into forgiveness and grace.  Take my hand; let’s dive together!

(Captain Marianneke (Anney) Summerifeld is the Corps Officer of the Burbank Corps in California.)

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