Psalm 13 Revisited

O Lord, do not continue
this silent treatment for one more moment
for my heart can’t take it any longer.
My soul is a dried up husk of what it
used to be.
I cannot sleep, and when I do
my rest is filled with troubled dreams.

I have been looking,
ever searching for you…
why are you hiding?

I can not take
this hurt of abandonment
any more,
O Lord hear my
gasping,
lung-rattling cries.
I cannot shed anymore
tears, for the well
has dried up.

And my thoughts,
they are running circles
around my broken heart…

I keep second-guessing you,
I keep pleading for this horror to end
How long, O Lord, will you let it fester
and consume me?
I don’t think I can
make it much longer.

But even after all of this…

even if You never answer my cry…

even if I am left alone
on this hill to die on…

I will trust.

I will put all that I have
of my wilting
strength into
your Eternal hands.

But Lord,
wake me up,
Help me see even the
remotest chance
of victory.

Help me see the Light
at the end
of all of this…
even if it comes
in the last moments
in the final dying gasp
of these feeble lungs.

My enemies are already starting to jeer
And they are celebrating my demise
…and yours as well.
They cannot wait for me to fall flat
on my face
in disgrace
and embarrassment.

But even if that happens…
even if I walk this
cold, dark alley alone,
I will trust
in your unfailing,
immeasurable
eternal love…

I know that You will come
You have always
kept your promises
to me.

You have always
been good to me…
even in this dark place…
O Lord, please come.

(As I read this Psalm of David, I could feel the anticipation and fear, perhaps even a little bit of frustration. We have all been to this place, perhaps the circumstances are different than that of David’s, but within these phrases there flows an emotion that we can all relate to. It is within this vein, that I have placed my needle and poked us all…perhaps in the bleeding we might see not only the very real presence of pain and fear, but more importantly – God’s holy and eternal presence…He will never leave us or forsake us.).

-Something more to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, Where Are We Going?

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo

This is more of a collective pondering today. We need your comments, thoughts and opinions in order to carefully and thoughtful answer the above question: Where Are We Going?

What is our vision?

What should our vision be?

How do we make that vision a reality?

What are some of the obstacles in our way of fully realizing that reality?

Who will it take (e.g. soldiers, officers, volunteers, donors)?

How important is accountability in such a large movement/organization?

How can we become more accountable to Christ within this Army? Where does Holiness belong in such a conversation?

I have disclosed numerous questions to ponder today…are you willing to take a chance at answering any or all of these questions? The larger scope question: Where Are We Going? In other words, if you were to envision where the Army SHOULD BE in 20 years, what would it look like? What would you want to see different, the same, the growth?

-If we have no plan or vision, then we will flounder and waver.

We look forward to your responses!

Something more for the Army to ponder today!

Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army and are that of the writer of this blog, reader discretion is advised.*

Dear Salvation Army, Is The General Right?

This quote has bothered me, perhaps more than it should.
Is there more to this conversation that has not been quoted here that would cast a different light on this subject?  I do not presume to know everything, but I would like to attempt at interpreting this soundbite with your help.

Are we splitting hairs here, or is this a general assumption?
Photo Apr 25, 7 05 35 AM
I have seen this quote floating around for a day and a half, and I wonder if, perhaps some context is required before jumping to conclusions.

What does this quote mean?
What did the General mean when he said “Worshiping community”?
Are these two mutually exclusive or interconnected?

If I were to simply interpret this quote/sound bite, I would have to wonder why shouldn’t they be interconnected?  And also, what is so bad about being a worshiping community?
Another thought that comes to mind within this pondering then is this; wouldn’t a worshiping community’s bi-product or outpouring/ evidence of fruit be in the complete submission to God and the service of man – thereby being also a serving community?

If, I have interpreted this correctly, (and if I haven’t please correct me) I would have to disagree with the General.  I do not believe the Army’s paradigm has shifted nor has it’s hand to man.  This army of salvation certainly has an ever evolving identity within this world, but it’s mission, in my opinion, still remains firmly intact.

Is there fear that The Salvation Army is yearning to become a full-fledged Church somewhere?  From my small context of the Army world, I do not see that as an issue.  In fact, just the opposite would be my fear – we become, or have become far too Social Work heavy and lacking the “Heart to God” in our service.  With the ever increasing funding sources coming from governmental entities(at least in the U.S.), sometimes there is the fear that our hands become tied to preach the Gospel in His name while meeting the physical needs.

The Balancing Act…
I understand what the General is saying, if the context is correct, but I would have to counter with the notion that this is certainly a balancing act.  We serve the Almighty and through our discipleship, fellowship and worship we begin to understand how to better serve the world around us.   The pendulum certainly can sway in either direction and we must be mindful of it.  If we are properly aligned as an Army,  our worship and adoration of God will lead to the outpouring of service to man.

So is the General wrong?
Perhaps in places of the world this is true, but in this little corner of the world, I just don’t see it.

What do you think ?
Leave your comments below, share your thoughts on this and tell us what you think this means?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.

*Disclaimer, this blog’s opinions and content does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.*

Pastorspondering Sermon Helps…

I want to try something for my fellow pastors & officers out there.
Today, here is a sermon outline and help for pastors on the topic of Holiness.

sermon
Suggested Video Help:
skit1Skit Guys – God’s Chisel Available for purchase at Skit Guys Website Here 

 

Holy Living – 
Focus Passage – Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Acrostic – H.O.L.Y.

1.  H. The Honing Process – refiners
The Holy Spirit desires to hone and chip off the old ways and life still remaining in us right now.
Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Jeremiah 18:6
He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.

2.  O. Others (Servants) 
Service to others 1st begins to Full Submission to God –
John 12:26 “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

selfOthers – 
1 Peter 4:10
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

Galatians 6:9
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Our service to others must be a reflection of Christ to our world.
It also helps us to live Christ out loud in full submission to Him towards His creation, His people, He died for ALL people.  How will they hear or see Christ if we do not live for Him.

livinf3.  L – Living Sacrifice
“…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…”
What does a living sacrifice look like in our modern culture?
Can we take “me” “selfishness” out of our life’s equation?
Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Luke 9:58

Jesus had no home here, no true possessions or land – sometimes materialism drives selfishness.  A living sacrifice is willing to give up life’s comforts for a great cause than themselves.  What kinds of “Stuff” get in the way of our sacrificial living?
Make a list of our “Stuff”…

gouge wood chisel carpenter tool hammer hand

4.  Y – Yearning For The Chisel…
“…Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Change in our hearts and lives is NOT easy!
The Holy Spirit at the moment confession comes to us and into our lives in order to reveal that which is still present and un-surrendered in our lives.  Remnants can still remain.  Old hurts that have festered into bitterness or anger still remains.  Sins we are not even aware of in our own hearts still linger.

Do we yearn for these changes in our lives?
Is there a hunger to learn more about Christ?
How often do we feast on the teachings of Jesus AND apply them to our lives?

(Other passages to study and look into for application into this topic of Holiness:

2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.)

Response Time: 
Suggested Songs –
“Potter’s Hand”, “Create In Me A Clean Heart”, “All that I am”

Disclaimer: This should be used as a tool and not as a complete manuscript sermon.  Also, I am not or have been a paid spokes person (duh) for any video references I offer here.  Use with permission, ask if you’re not sure.  The primary purpose of this sermon outline to get get your creative juices working, and perhaps you can come up with a better, more tangible sermon specific to your congregation/corps.  Blessings on your ministry!   
 

Dear Salvation Army, Stories About Humanity And How We Make A Difference!

Today I have been challenged…and I hope this challenges you too.

We’ve been challenged to love.
love is pure.
love is true.
The greatest form of love for God comes through how we love and serve humanity.
It is a calling to participate in practical holiness…
It is this kind of love that should be a fragrant offering.
This kind of love is (not always an immediate response, mind you)a response to being unlovable, hopelessly lost in our own sins, and yet receiving this unmerited grace, this undeserved love.  We respond in the practical.  We respond to this love in how we love others.  We attempt to reciprocate this love to God, and we are consumed by this desire to serve a mighty God here where He has placed us.

God has placed a very special man in our corps building recently…
His name is Bill.
He came to us first to volunteer, and we kept him.
He has this sort of passionate fire in his heart to serve people around him.
Strangers will come to our corps for help with food and find a friend where they might least expect it.
They find Bill.
He usually wears a red Salvation Army Emergency Disaster cap on his head and with a big smile he begins to engage the down and out in our foodshelf…but this isn’t the end of the story…

foodRecently, our foodshelf coordinator Linda was contacted by a non-profit organization that helps special needs adults find places to work, contribute and volunteer.   They were looking for locations that they could send about two or three special needs young adults to work.  Linda recognized an opportunity and agreed to be a host site here at The Salvation Army’s foodshelf.  Most of these special needs adults are slightly withdrawn and they can take quite a while to warm up to new environments.   Change is extremely difficult for most of them.   One such young adult was Anthony.  Anthony is naturally shy, and because of his disability, he doesn’t welcome change easily.  He is uncomfortable with meeting new people and his anxiety sometimes is too much to bear.

food1Anthony’s first day at The Salvation Army just so happened to be Bill’s regular volunteer day in the foodshelf.  Imagine this shy, quiet adult meeting this big gregarious red capped man…you’d think Anthony would have run away…but he didn’t.   Within that first day of volunteering in our foodshelf, Anthony became Bill’s good friend.  Bill took him under his wing, showed him how to pack food boxes, how to clean the floors, how to meet and greet clients coming to us for help.  Bill became Anthony’s mentor as they worked side by side each week filling boxes with food, sharing much needed breaks, taking out the trash, laughing together in the hallways, and engaging families and individuals in need who came to the door for food.

Bill is a servant of Christ, and to see him and Anthony together meeting human need in a very practical way here in the foodshelf is heart warming!
When Anthony comes in now to volunteer, he always looks for Bill.
He wants to work right there beside Bill, to emulate him.
Anthony feels comfortable there.  He feels safe.  He feels accepted.

Perhaps we need more Bills in our corps.
People who aren’t afraid to engage. food3
People who have this passion to serve Christ in any aspect both big and small.
People who make a difference in lives without even having to preach a sermon because their lives are that sermon.

We do make a difference in people’s lives, dear Salvation Army.
I hope that we never ever forget this.
We sing these wonderful battle songs of “fill the world with glory”, and these are great, but sometimes I think we lose the tree for the forest around us.  We lose the little things that make differences in people right in front of us.  We are so busy looking “out there” when all along we can make a difference, we can make an impact right here.  It is a practical holiness that transforms lives.  It is a practical holiness that preaches sermons that touches lives without even having to stand in a pulpit.  We need more practical holiness in our corps.  We need more people willing to do both the big tasks as well as the small mundane duties…both matter!

To Anthony, Bill became the representation of Christ in his life.
Bill became the very reflection of Christ that Anthony needed.
There are many more stories just like this waiting to be told in your corps.
There are many more lives that can be impacted for the better because of what you do next.
We do make a difference…and it starts with the execution of practical holiness in our lives.

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

Could Communion Be Overshadowing Something More Important?

Sometimes, perhaps, Christians become so focused upon one aspect of the Jesus’ teachings that it nearly overshadows another important teaching – humility and service.
What I mean is that Jesus breaking the bread and pouring the wine was not the only aspect of becoming like Christ for His disciples.  The act in and of itself was not mysterious, but it was significant.  Jesus spoke to His disciples and the crowds using Rabbinical parables to illustrate and to teach.  Is it really much of a stretch then to consider He was using the Passover bread and wine to do the same here?  Of course not!

The Path To Sacrificial Love:
In order to become like Christ in every way, Jesus does something more significant for His disciples at Passover – He washes their feet.  Towards the end of the meal, as recorded in John 13:13-15, Jesus gets up takes off his outer garments and puts a towel around His waist.  He then pours water into a basin and does the unthinkable.  He stoops down low, kneels before His students, in essence becoming a servant or slave to them and washes their feet.  Talk about significant!  Jesus illustrates for His disciples how to serve others.  Isn’t that the path to sacrificial love?  Shouldn’t this become our focal point more often in our living rather than a monthly or weekly ceremonial breaking of the bread?

But Get This…
What if one of these things lead to the other?
What I mean by that is this: What if by serving your fellow parishioners, neighbors, even enemies led to holy communion with one another?  I don’t mean simply going to the nearest church and participating in a communion service, I mean literal fellowship…holy fellowship with one another because we are willing to place each other before ourselves…what if?
What would happen then?  Do you see what I’m saying?  It is so much harder to do than a ceremony.  It is so much more strenuous to “get along” with others let alone serve one another…but isn’t that the path to sacrificial love?

The Cart Before The Horse…
Sure, it’s most likely assumed that these two elements of Christ’s teachings go together, but do they really in today’s “Christian” world?  I mean it’s simple to follow through the motions on a simple ritual week after week in church, but is it really that simple to become like Christ by becoming the servant and serving those around us?   I would contend that it is not.  It is much easier to say the words than to live out the context of those words.  Could it be that before holy fellowship (as I described it above) can be performed one must take off their outer garments, place a towel around the waist and serve?
Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21)…what would happen if our treasure was two-fold (1) Christ and then (2) others?  Would we have to look very far to see either?  NO!

John 13:12-17 – “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

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

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