Lenten Messy Church – Temptation

Key Verses:  Matthew 4:1-11, 26:36-45, 69-75

The Theme is – How to be Strong, Prayer & Lenten/Easter

We all face temptations in life, but how and where do we find the inner strength to say ‘no’ to what is harmful and instead choose what is best?  How do we decide what is dangerous, especially if something looks ‘right’?

Christians believe that God’s words in the Bible can help us know the right path to take and that God promises through Jesus to make us strong enough to choose the way.  Jesus faced temptation about the best way to rescue the world during his 40 days in the desert.  He also prayed in the garden of Gathsemane in a moment of true temptation and sorrow, just before he suffered an illegal trial, beating, humiliation and death on the cross – all for the purpose of our salvation.  Jesus used God’s words from the Bible to help him know the right thing to do.  Peter, at the same time faced the temptation of denying Jesus, just as Jesus had predicted.  How would we fair when the pressure mounted?

Activities:  Each Station should last 10 minutes.
(Items Needed) 
Station 1
Items needed:  Large Jenga Blocks (or small ones if you can’t find the larger versions)
Station 2 Items needed:  Construction paper, sand, glue, cotton balls, markers, sticks
Station 3 Items needed:  Pre-make cupcakes stacked and ready, get some colored frosting or add food dye to vanilla frosting for extra colors.  Add sprinkles and other toppings.
Station 4 Items needed:  Large puzzle (with perhaps large sized pieces)
Station 5 Items needed:  strips of construction paper of the following colors –
Red = Sorry
Yellow = Thanks
Pink = Please
Blue = Other People
Green = Our Community
Purple = Our World
And a strip of paper for each participant with the scripture passage printed on it.
Tape, Markers, pencils, crayons.


IMG_4724 

Station 1 –  Build a Tower (10 Minutes)
Use Giant Jenga Blocks, to construct the tallest tower that they can in 7 minutes or less (give time at the end to discuss the questions below).
Scripture Verse:  “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down…” Matthew 4:5-6

Talk About:  How do you decide what is risky to do and what is safe?
(Say) Jesus was tempted by Satan before His ministry began and one of the temptations, Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem and stood on the highest place (probably the top of a tower) and he told Jesus to throw himself off.  What do you think Jesus did?  Answer:  He resisted the devil and told him “Do not put the Lord your God to the test
It is important to know what is risky and what is safe in life, and it is also very important to resist temptations when they come.  God will give you the strength if you ask Him for His help!


Station 2 – Sand Art:  (10 Minutes)
Create a collage of a desert scene involving sand, glue, small cotton balls for stones and IMG_4729maybe some dead twigs if you can find enough for your groups.
Scripture Verse“The Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry” (Matthew 4:1,2)

Talk About:  What gives you strength to survive hard times?
When is life like a dry desert?  Is it always easy to pray?  When is it hard to pray?
(Say) Even in the desert times of our lives, God promises to never leave us or forsake us.  It might be hard to believe sometimes, but it’s true.  When we call out to God, He hears us and He is very near.  So where are some places that we can pray?  Do we have to be on our knees to pray?


Station 3 – Cup Cake Decoration table: (10 Minutes)
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Decorate cup cakes with various colors of frosting and sprinkles (the more toppings the better)
Leader Ask:  “what temptations do you find hard to resist?”
Say – just like these tasty looking cupcakes that we are lathering on frosting, temptations can often appeal to us.  We might hear one of our parents tell us not to eat that cookie, but we feel the temptation and maybe sometimes we act on that temptation by taking the cookie we were told not to take.

Ask:  Jesus was led into the desert where he was tempted by the devil, do you think Jesus gave into those temptations?  (No).
How can we avoid the traps of temptation?  Who do you think will give us the strength to resist temptation in our Life?  (God)  IMG_4716
Scripture Verse:  “Jesus said to him (the devil), “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Matthew 4:7


 

 

Station 4 – Puzzle Table: (10 Minutes)
IMG_4745 1
Have a large piece puzzle (something that might be accomplished in under 10 minutes) out for the group to put together.  As the puzzle is being put together Ask:  How do you know which puzzle pieces fit in the right place on this puzzle?  What happens when they don’t fit?  How would you go about rescuing the world from the mess it sometimes gets itself into?  Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  He took His disciples with Him.  He was about to put the world back together again.  Because of sin, the world was broken like this puzzle, and no one else could save us except for Jesus.  But he struggled with this life and death decision, because it would mean that He would have to ACTUALLY suffer and die.  So all night long Jesus prayed to the Father to help Him with these important pieces of the puzzle of sin.
Scripture Verse: “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray”…and He began to be sorrowful and troubled.”  Matthew 26:36-37

Ask: Why did you think it was so hard for Jesus?
Do you think any other puzzle piece  (besides Jesus) would have fit into this story of Salvation for the world?
Say:  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the World that He gave His one and only Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (The puzzle is complete!!)

 



Station 5 – “Prayer Chains”:  (10 Minutes)  IMG_4743
Create prayer chains with multi-colored strips of paper.
Red = Sorry
Yellow = Thanks
Pink = Please
Blue = Other People
Green = Our Community
Purple = Our World

Write or draw your prayers on the corresponding colored paper strips, then add them together using tape to make a prayer chain that each person will take home with them.

Leader:  While the prayer chains are being created, ask – “Who do you want to ask God to give strength to at the moment?  Are there times when you need that strength in your own life?

Say:  Peter was very afraid when Jesus was arrested.  People came up to him on that night and kept asking him if he was one of the disciples of Jesus…and because Peter was really afraid and lacked the courage, he denied even knowing Jesus.

Ask:  Are there times when we are afraid to admit that we are followers of Jesus too?  How does God giving strength help us through difficult moments in life?  Do you believe that God hears our prayers?  Are there special words that we are required to use in order to get God’s attention?  (No!)

Say:  God knows what we need before we ask Him, but He wants us to talk to Him.  We can talk to Him about our troubles and fears as well as asking Him to help with the troubles and fears of other people we know, like our parents, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, school friends, teachers and so on.  God hears us when we pray to Him!

Scripture Verse:  “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7 (Message Version)

(Include this passage on a piece of paper for every person to attach to their prayer chain).
IMG_4713

 

 

 

 


Devotions:   (5-10 minutes) 
Recap the Scripture passages and the theme of temptation and God’s strength helping us overcome the lures of temptation.  Close with a chorus (we did “The Joy of the Lord is my strength”)

5 Things About Faith No One Talks About

Today, I want to talk about something that doesn’t get talked about enough…our faith and the things we don’t talk about.  That sentence sounds funny, but there’s nothing funny about the silence of Christ-followers in areas of faith that need explaining and deep conversations in.  Here are just 5 of these…I know that there are many more.

doubt

  1.  Doubting is Normal 
    I used to think that there was something wrong with me because I struggled with doubts within my faith.  I thought I was the only one who struggled this way, until I met other Christians who were honest and allowed themselves to be vulnerable.  Only then did I realize that our faith journey frequently possess places in which we experience doubts.  Talking about it helped, and I began to realize I wasn’t the only one struggling through these areas of doubts.
  2. Prayer isn’t always answered…in the way that you think it should be.talk
    This might seem obvious, but I don’t think we talk about prayer, REAL prayer enough.  Prayer isn’t about communicating with some magical genie, or shaking a magic 8 ball to get the desired answer that you’re looking for.  Sometimes prayer doesn’t turn out the way that we expect it to.  That doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening or that He doesn’t care, it just means that the answer could be “no” or it could be answered at a much later date.   It might seem cliche’ but God’s time isn’t always how we view time or how things should happen, but He’s still there for us.  God still cares, and if truth be told, that is very tough to hear when loved ones are taken from us when we prayed and prayed and prayed for them to be healed and they weren’t.  So does prayer shape our faith or doesn’t work in tandem to it?  Just remember, that just because our prayers weren’t answered, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t accessible or listening.
  3. Not all “Christians” can be trusted
    trust issuesMany of us learn this the hard way from time to time, but not all Christians ACTUALLY care about you or will invest their time in your life.   Be mindful of this.  I am certainly not advocating that we do not trust other Christians, but be aware of who you confide in and use your common sense.  Yes, we ought to be vulnerable before other Christians, but if the “Christians” that you are around don’t encourage, or share their lives with you, then perhaps you should be careful not to overshare.  There might even be times where you should seek out other groups of Christians who might be more compassionate and attentive.  Find Christ-followers who will build you up, challenge you and edify your walk with Christ.  Proverbs 4:23 applies to your mentors and peers as well, so guard your heart!
  4. Real Struggles aren’t shared in church…most of the time.  struggle
    This goes hand in hand with the trust issues of Church as well as doubting – no one wants to be seen as vulnerable or struggling in their faith, when in reality we all struggle from time to time.  Why can’t we talk about real issues in church?  I think we need to break the notion that we have to show up on Sunday (or any other day you go to Church) and have everything together in your life, in in reality LIFE is messy!  Why can’t we be honest about this?  Until we stop putting up fake facades and wear masks in church, we will never see growth!

    **I would like to call out the picture perfect Christian who never struggles with anything and looks down their nose at anyone who does struggle – STOP IT!  You aren’t helping anyone, in fact you are preventing growth from happening.  Also, I would call out your lie – if you’re alive you face struggles in life…so get over your prim and proper pious self and help others in their faith and stop pretending that you’ve got it all worked out!**

  5. Sin and Consequences of Sin is REAL.
    sinLastly, I wish to tread carefully here.
    Why don’t we tackle the topic of sin in Church?  Why don’t we talk about it?  Maybe it’s because we don’t want to guilt people into making changes?  Perhaps we also don’t talk about sin because it shouldn’t always be our focal point, but to not talk about it at all is to all of our detriment.  We cannot NOT talk about sin.  Secondly, there are consequences to sin even after confession, redemption and reconciliation.  Similarly to the long term effects on the body when someone smokes or drinks in excess for long periods of their lives – it eventually catches up to them.  Sin does the same thing.  We cannot stay silent on sin…because if we love our Church and the people in it, we must lovingly (emphasis on LOVINGLY) talk about the effects of sin, because assuredly it is very real as are the effects.

    These are just 5 things about faith no one talks about…I know that there are more, but this is just a primer to that conversation.  What should we also talk more about?  Like and comment below to join the conversation!  Tell us what YOU think!  Together we can ponder these things and hopefully better our lives!

Sunday Help: Video Illustrations

You know that last minute rush to find just the right video to drive home your point, and no matter what you do it seems that video is illusive and hard to find?  Today, let me help you with some videos I have found and have used in my sermons.  Please note that the use of videos should be a tool and not main focus of your sermon preparation.  Video illustrations can help bring the visual learner along with you and keep your audience attentive.

Sermon Nuggets (Video Illustrations):

1>  Cristiano Ronaldo In Disguise: 

Scripture:  1 Samuel 3:1-10, John 10:27
Main Idea:  Ronaldo is one of the best soccer (football) players in the world.  He went undercover in the streets of Spain and no one recognized him wearing the beard and sunglasses.  Similarly, in the midst of the noise of the world around us and all of life’s distractions, I wonder if we would recognize God?  Would we recognize His voice in the middle of our noisy day?  What distractions get in the way that prevent us from hearing or seeing evidence of God in our lives and in the world around us?

2> Hearing for the first time:  

Scripture:  John 10:27, Romans 10:17, John 8:47, Luke 11:28
Main Idea:  Some in our world have never heard about or from God.  As ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20) we are called to proclaim His name.  Sometimes the truth of the gospel is like this little boy who finally hears his mother’s voice for the first time.  God can do miracles in the lives of people and when His voice is heard, lives are changed!

3> Seeing God’s Glory and our response:

Scripture:  Isaiah 6:1:8
Main Idea:  These special glasses allow colorblind people to see in the full spectrum of color.  Can you imagine the Theophany that Isaiah experienced in heaven?  How his eyes must have been opened and it was like seeing everything for the first time.  God wants to do that with all of us.  He is calling us to go into various places of the world, but first we need to truly see for the first time!

4> Sin & Redemption: 

Scripture:  John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20
Main Idea:  Nothing we do in and of ourselves will save us from sin.  It is within us, God’s saving love can and will rescue us if we accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His blood covers our sin and restores us.

5> Prayer & Praying

Scripture:  Philippians 4:6-7, Mark 11:24, Matthew 6:6, Matthew 6:9-13
Main Idea:  We have these ideas about God and how he answers prayers or how WE think He should answer prayer, but does He really work like that?  Prayer doesn’t always produce the answers we are looking and how we come before Him in prayer matters.

These are just 5 Sermon nugget illustrations.
I know that there are much more, and I will post more later…how about you?  What are some video illustrations that you have used that you seem to resonate with your audience?  Please share them with us in the comment section below.

More to ponder….

Dear Salvation Army – Letters From Prison

Life in The Salvation Army is always unique and eventful.  There is something new each day, and these “somethings” can be good, and they can also be not so good.  This ministry and mission that we engage in here in our Army is truly frontlines and gap ministries.  It is with this “gap” ministry in mind that I tell you this story:

I had been feeling very discouraged in serving in The Salvation Army recently.
The busyness of this appointment had begun to frustrate me – far too many reports to complete, too much desk work and not enough human contact in mission.  I had been fighting with policy, rules, regulations…all of the tedious hoops we all have to jump through as Officers in a very far-reaching Army.  Have you ever been there?  Feeling bogged down by stuff and instead of pursuing mission you find yourself pushing paperwork?  That’s where I was when something connected and resonated in me through our soup kitchen and social services…

Our soup kitchen is a thoroughfare to many who are in need, some by choice, others by crisis – all are looking to fill their bellies while sipping on cups of hot coffee and sharing in conversation.  This is a safe haven to a large number who are either living on the street, crisis poverty or habitual poverty.  All are welcomed here, and in a very practical sense, the gap is tended by stalwart soldiers and friends of this army.

I recently received a letter in the mail that was not an ordinary letter.  On the front of the envelop, in bright crimson stamped lettering it read: “Inmate Mail”.  I was intrigued, what could it be about?  So I carefully tore the envelop open and inside I found a hand-written note on a blue lined page.  This individual, now inmate, wrote her letter addressed to: prisonDear Salvation Army” (How fitting I thought).   First she expressed deep gratitude for us being there for her even when she was hurting herself with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.  She was a meth addict and because of her addiction she committed some crimes and ended up being incarcerated.  She continued to describe her dire situation of homelessness and utter hopelessness.  She was more imprisoned outside on her own then she is now.  Her letter ended with these words:  “Because of your soup kitchen, food pantry and your clothing donations, I was able to survive.  Your church gave me life everyday – Thank you for showing me, loving me, and sharing with me the love of Jesus Christ.
hope2
My Dear Salvation Army, this is what our existence is about!  This is who we are!  We must mind the gap!  We must tend the very gates of Hell in order to pull hopeless people like this one from total self-destruction.  We cannot sit by and watch when no one else will help.  Action must be taken daily!  Sometimes we might even feel as if what we do has no effect in our community, and then letters like this appear at our doorsteps.  If I can be honest with you, I have felt defeated many times in my attempts to reach people for Christ.  I have felt the sting of rejection as the gospel has been presented.  I have heard the laughs and the words of mockery.  Perhaps, like me, you needed some reassurances that what we do still matters…IT DOES!
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ONWARD:
Let me, for what it’s worth, offer these words of encouragement and direction:
-Keep Fighting the good fight!
-Do not give up on doing these good works for those you serve!
-This movement and mission IS making a difference!
-Even though you may not always see it, God sees your faithfulness and you must find your reward first in HIM.
-Do everything without grumbling and complaining (Philippians 2:14a) – (I am preaching to myself first and foremost)
-Every effort for service should be done with love, kindness and grace – you never know whose life you will reach, so be consistent and faithful to God in your service!
hope3
The Salvation Army doesn’t exist for the purpose of maintain status quo and pushing paperwork – it exists so that people like this inmate who wrote this letter might find Christ.  This Salvation Army exists to be a lighthouse to a turbulent sea full of lost people struggling to get to shore.  This Army exists so that homeless people and pariahs in society might also have a chance to meet their Savior.  The words of General John Gowens still ring in my head when he said,  “Mind the Gap!”   We must still call others to mind this gap…and we must be vigilant in our mission as the Lighthouse shining out into the waters of desperation, depression, addictions, abject poverty and all the other ‘gaps’ that exist that would claim all who fall into them.

Something more for our Army to Ponder today!
To God be the glory!

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

Dear Salvationist, On Removing All Doubt!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.“-1 John 1:7

The Biggest Pondering to consider for Salvationists – “Do you believe God can cleanse you from ALL your sins?”  

This was a revelation and turning point of Samuel Logan Brengle, and perhaps it should also be a turning point for all of us!  We are very good at saying that God can cleanse us completely, but believing in our own hearts and minds can prove to be at times elusive. We live with regrets, and often times, dredge up the past and those sins we would be embarrassed of if anyone ever found out.

sin
Sin & Guilt

Those deepest darkest regions of our hearts, those hidden sins – are often the only things preventing us from a spiritual explosion of growth in our lives.

Do we (I)  truly believe that God can cleanse us (me) from ALL your (my) sins?   
If so, why do we hold back?
Why do we doubt?
walkEven in my own life, I catch momentary glimpses of Peter walking on the water towards Jesus.  And as he begins to walk he is ACTUALLY doing it – he’s walking on the water, an impossible feat, yet it’s happening.  Then something happens.  Something catches Peter off guard.  He looks around him, perhaps reality (his reality – men don’t walk on water) sets in.  He sees the tempest of the waves, the power of the surging waters.  He feels the billowing gusts of the winds.  What had been an absolute conviction of faith, has now become a glimpse of mortality and human frailty.  walk tooLike the deep rumbling of storm clouds, doubt settles onto Peter’s certainties.  His absolutes turn into “maybes” and then into “no ways”…His eyes shift from Divinity and Eternity towards uncertainty and self-doubt.  Excuses then enter – “I can’t do this,”  “Who do I think I am?”  “This is impossible”  -Peter begins to sink.  As he is facing the tempest and the horrific certainty of death by drowning, he calls out to Jesus, “Lord save me!”

According to Matthew 14:31, Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached down and pull Peter up…Jesus immediately saves him.  Notice that the text doesn’t say that Jesus sinks in as well.  He doesn’t stop walking on top of the waters.  No, he pulls Peter back up above the surface of the dark watery depths.  What might have been the certainty of the grave by drowning, turned into a salvation story.   Then Jesus says to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  (Matthew 14:31)
doubt
To me, this portrait is how I see this cleansing grace of God.
It is but a window into the portrait of our immediate cleansing.
God can and will cleanse all of our sins…IF we let Him.
It has never been about if God is able to cleanse us…
It has never been about God having enough power to cleanse us through and through…
It has always been about our doubts, our uncertainties, our inadequacies, our convictions of guilt and shame.
It has always been about our penitent hearts unwilling to see that He will cleanse the worst of sinners – including you and me.

Jesus died for ALL – His blood cleanses ALL.
Knowing and believing this truth makes all the difference!
We can have all of the wisdom of scriptures at our disposal, but if they are not employed and believed in our lives – they mean nothing, and God’s cleansing will not touch our deepest darkest sins.

You of little faith, why did you doubt?
Still applies to you and me today.
Can we consecrate our lives again to Him?
Can we recognize that God can and will purify us from ALL sin?
Perhaps this is what has been holding you back all of these years.
Perhaps you have felt unworthy of this cleansing.
Maybe you don’t feel as if you deserve it, or you doubt that you could ever live up to God’s complete and utter cleansing.

**Warning: words that are harder to live by are contained within the next statement!!**
He has made you whole, now live out that wholeness for Him!
Accept this complete cleansing.
Lay all of your sins, all of your guilt, all of your shame before Him.
He will immediately lift you out of the depths!!   holiness

By the love that never ceased to hold me
In a bond nor life nor death shall break,
As thy presence and thy power enfold me,
I would plead fresh covenant to make.
From before thy face, each vow renewing,
Strong in heart, with purpose pure and deep,
I will go henceforth thy will pursuing,
With my Lord unbroken faith to keep.

By the love that never ceased to hold me,
By the blood which thou didst shed for me,
While thy presence and thy power enfold me,
I renew my covenant with thee.

-Will J. Brand/Bramwell Coles

The Lord desires an Army of Salvationists consecrated and given to His mission completely.  The Lord desires all lives fully surrendered to Him…then and only then can He cleanse us through and through!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!

Dear Salvationist, Let’s Talk About Sin…

It’s something that is often easier to discuss when it’s about other people, BUT if it’s about us, we can and probably will become uncomfortable and even indignant.  “How dare you talk about sins especially while looking at me”, one might mutter.

It is easy to become offended when sin is mentioned in conjunction to us.
That’s for “those” people over there.  (and we point our fingers in the hopes that we will be forgotten.)

Dare I say that just because we are Soldiers of the Salvation Army it doesn’t make us impervious to the lures and trappings of sin.  In a very real sense, we become more susceptible to it.  Do not, for a minute, assume that we will not face temptation as Salvationists (some of you are saying, “well duh”!) these temptations can lead to sin if we allow them even a small space to reside.

When it comes to temptation, we must be vigilant and aware of it at all times.
General William Booth once put it this way: “We are a salvation people – this is our speciality – getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved, and then getting saved ourselves more and more until full salvation on earth makes the heaven within, which is finally perfected by the full salvation without, on the other side of the river.”

Are “keeping saved”?  To end do we protect ourselves from temptation?
I should clarify that temptation is not sin, these two things are connected, but one spurs the other on.  It is not a sin to experience temptation…it only becomes sin when we give into temptation.

Sins Unrecognized…sin
A friend of ours recently mentioned  a statement someone had posed to them in regards to sin and the Church (our Corps included).  Their statement was this: “it’s the hidden sins of the people that cause this (turmoil) in the Church.”  A further pondering from this friend issued a followup question and statement – “perhaps what makes this statement true are the sins we don’t even consider or recognize as sins in our lives.”

Could this be true?  Do we have unrecognizable sins in our lives right now?
Within our hearts, are there sin still left to be dealt with?
Are we flat-out ignoring our sins instead of dealing with them?
Is it just easier to ignore them instead of dealing with them because that would take a tremendous amount of courage, effort and strength?

Furthermore, what do we consider to be “sin”?
and a follow up to that question is – “have we rationalized some things in our lives that are sins so that they no longer guilt us or cause us to fret over our souls?”
Photo Jan 14, 11 56 29 AM
We Are Good Liars!
I would venture a guess that we are amazing liars sometimes.
No, I’m not calling you a liar to others, but we can be very, very good at lying to ourselves about sin.  We might gossip about someone, and yet we chalk it up to casual “fellowship” or mere “conversations”.   We might use our words to speak harshly towards others while failing to see how harmful those words have become.  Some might even look over the fence at others “committing sin” while they themselves are living with someone they aren’t married to.

I don’t want to make some sort of arbitrary list  here today on this pondering, but I would say that we must be very, very careful when pointing out the sins of others when we have sins roosting in our own lives.  Jesus called those people hypocrites and actors…I don’t want to be labeled an actor or hypocrite…do you?

Sometimes I wonder how much damage we as Christians do to would be followers of Christ when we are so quick to point out sins in others…use your words with compassion and hope instead of judge and jury!

Perhaps I am again stepping on toes today…let me assure you none more than mine!
We are still in need of salvation daily!!
We are still under construction daily!!
We are still sinners who have been saved by grace…daily!!

Prayer: 
Dear Lord, help me to recognize the hidden or forgotten sins in my life today.
But more than that, hePhoto Jan 21, 2 05 54 PM.jpglp me to confess them to you.  Help me to work them out of my life, to embrace forgiveness and deliverance from even my worst of sins.  You know my heart and my life – reveal to me that which still has yet to be confessed.  Grant me your strength to make the necessary changes in my life, and in so doing, guide my life to be the very hands and feet of you in all that I say and do!  In your name I pray.
-Amen.

I would like to know what you think about this topic.
Your thoughts, comments and questions are solicited and appreciated!

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


Disclaimer: The writings and thoughts expressed by the writer are not necessarily the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army.  

Dear Salvation Army, Beware of Mines!

soldier

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Danger minesThis is a difficult pondering today.
Dear Soldier, have we purified our hearts AND our lives?
Are we living as we should?
OR
Are there still “stones” left to be overturned?
Are there still those “private” sins that we still indulge in?
I don’t mean to meddle today, but I feel compelled to write on this sensitive topic.
Sexual images are literally EVERYWHERE!
Temptation abounds in many places, not only on the internet but in our every day lives.
Our body, in our out of uniform, is the very temple of God.
How is your temple?
How are you doing with the every day temptations of life?

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we are no longer susceptible from the lures of temptation.
Don’t be foolish!!
When we make that conscious decision to act on temptation, let us call it for what it is – SIN.
Be careful, dear Soldier.
Beware of the mines!
Be alert and awake!
You are called by God.
When you became a Soldier of this Salvation Army, you signed the articles of war…and if you became an Officer you signed a covenant with God.  We are to be set apart for Him…in every way!  How is your testimony today?

This is NOT easy!
Soldiership and Officership is NOT easy.
Living for Christ is NOT easy.

Questions: 
Do you sometimes stumble?
Do you sometimes give into temptation (no matter what “it” is)?
Have you asked for forgiveness?
Have you prayed about specific situations and areas of temptation in your life?
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You are never alone!
God is with you!
He will sustain you.
He is willing to come to our aid!

If we are to be a stronger Army…
If we are to be an Army on fire for God…
If we truly desire to change the world around us for Him…
Then 
-we ought to desire His holiness in our lives!
-we ought to long to take hold of this new life for all it’s worth!
-we ought to desire to be like Christ in every way!

Dear Salvation Army, beware of the mines!
Dear Soldier of this Army, beware of the mines!
For they will devastate us if we entertain its lures.
They will ravage us and leave us broken and defeated.
Beware and tread carefully…steer clear of those places and areas of greatest vulnerability.
Allow His Holy Spirit to guide you! mines1

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

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

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