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.*

4 Reasons The Salvation Army Is Losing Millennials


I’ve been doing some research on Millennials…I happen to have two living in my home.
More and more I see young people reaching a certain age in our corps, perhaps around 16 – 18 and then they simply vanish from our doors.  They might reappear from time to time, but they never stay.  It saddens me to see The Salvation Army (and most North American denominations) experience this.  I felt led to explore this topic, not with any agenda other than trying to understand why we are losing such an important generation…a generation that will one day run our Army.  What I found was alarming, and I simply want to transplant some of these findings on The Salvation Army in the hopes that we can recognize and perhaps help stave the exodus of an entire generation.  I also want to firmly acknowledge that not every Millennial falls into these category, but a majority of those who leave our corps and its ministries perhaps might have the following reasons for doing so, (whether true or assumed truth by the one doing the leaving).  hello

4 Reasons The Salvation Army Is Losing Millennials: 

  1.  “God Can Be Found Elsewhere”
    GodIn a 2015 Barna study, nearly 39% of Millennials believed that God could be found elsewhere and one did not have to attend church in order to find Him.  This is troubling in that our Corps ought to be a place where God is very real and present.  Is He in your corps?  How can we impress upon our young people that God might not be tied specifically to our corps halls but to sacrificial living?  Perhaps it has to begin by living that belief out.  I wish to applaud those in my life who became that example for me.  Many wonderful officers and soldiers displayed their holy living through their kindness, grace and love.  Perhaps we need less rhetoric and cliche mottos and more evidence of belief in those mottos being poured out into our lives and spilling itself out into our communities.  No, God can certainly be found elsewhere, but is He evident in us?
  2. Millennials Can Spot Fakes fake
    We’ve all seen the televangelist on TV with the gleaming porcelin teeth and the empty messages of prosperity and joy without ever mentioning godly principles, character and sin.  There is a deep longing amongst millennials for the return of the sacred to our churches and corps.  The message of wearing a uniform as our only testimony to an inward change is not enough, we must enact that change and live it out.  This is of course true for every generation, and the necessity for Holiness in our movement is vital for all.  Thus, when we talk a big game but nothing ever materializes or happens millennials will spot the phoniness and run for the exits.  We can dress the part, we can say all the “hallelujahs” and “fire a volleys” until we are blue in the face, but if none of it translates into Holy living, you can bet that sort of fakery will be seen and once seen very hard to recover from.

    What Millennials want in its officers and soldiers are people who are real, people who are genuine.  They want to see real people struggling with real stuff and not hiding or pretending everything is fine.  This is extremely vulnerable for both sides:  to admit that though we live out holiness we still encounter hardships, doubt and fear.  Soldiers, be real…don’t put on masks, don’t lie when things are not going well.  Live Holiness out even when the ugliness of life can be seen.

  3. Hypocrites In Uniforms
    hypoCoupled with spotting fakes, Millennials are repulsed by hypocrites who preach one thing but live another way.  The “do as I say, not as I do” motto needs to die not only in the Church but in our Army as well.  If it exists, stamp it out, address it, don’t let it fester and lead to the spiritual death of your corps body.  I have heard of corps (years ago) who had bandsmen who would dress up in their uniforms just to perform in the band and as soon as their part in the service was complete they would rush out the back door and leave – what kind of witness is that to our young people?  Millennials have also seen moral failures in society, and perhaps even in the Salvation Army.  Divorce rates have been on the rise and half of millennials will be coming from either one parent households or having split their time in two homes.  Some have witnessed the effects of moral failure first hand in family members and most deeply desire to change that narrative in their own lives.

    Other instances could involve Officers and soldiers forming intentional or unintentional private/exclusive groups in the corps, and fail to include others seeking fellowship.  Perhaps some have experienced mean people in the pews of our corps and wondered to themselves “is this what The Salvation Army is all about?”

    I will guarantee that #3 rubs many of us the wrong way – good, because it ought to.  We should never be perceived as hypocrites in uniform.  If we aren’t inclusive of people from all walks of life, then we really have no place being an army of Salvation.  All are welcome into our services in order to experience the love of God.

    Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”  Matthew 6:1-5

  4. Lack of Ownership passing the baton
    Millennials want to belong to something great.
    They believe in charity, giving and helping people in need.  There is a real passion to serve within causes that matter and make a difference.  When we emphasize world services – they want to contribute and help out in tangible ways.  When we do not allow them to participate because they are young, do “don’t know anything” we are essentially closing the doors to their future in the Army.  Millennials want to have an invested interest in the Army – but how can we empower them and raise they up to lead?  There needs to come a point, and perhaps in some places this is already happening , that we not only invest in the younger generations as an Army, but we allow them to take leadership positions in our corps and relinquish our grips on some roles of authority and allow them to help.  When we grant a genuine investment piece for our youth, they will have a sense of belonging and a deeper desire to serve and to be use – because they will be making  difference.

    These are just four reasons the Salvation Army is losing millennials.  I fully acknowledge that churches in other denominations are facing the same crisis.  But for just a moment, let me ask you – What is the Army doing to ensure the next generation doesn’t flee its ranks?  What can be done?   More importantly, what are YOU doing?  Because our Army is only as strong as its members are proactively engaged in its mission.

    We don’t need to spruce up our worship bands, or make sure we have attractive looking corps or programs, what Millennials (and non-millennials) are looking for is a warm, inviting place to belong – is YOUR Corps that place?

    Something more for our Army to ponder today.
    For more reading on this topic check out these links:
    2015 Barna Study:  “What Millennials Want When They Visit Church

    5 Things Millennials Wish Church Would Be


    4 Things Millennials Wish the Church Would Be

    How Does the Church Reach Millennials? Hint: It’s Not Flashing Lights or Rock Band Worship

    *Disclaimer:  The Views and Opinions of the writer of this blog are not necessarily the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.” 

5 Ways To Combat Salvation Army Burnout…

With all of the news of mega church pastors leaving, taking sabbaticals and burning out, I thought it fitting to discuss helpful ways that The Salvationist can combat burnout as well.  Burnout is real, it is not something imagined or evidence of a weaker person simply giving up.  We all face exhaustion from time to time, and we also face critical, stressful situations that leave us looking for the exit sign…trust me, I’ve been there on numerous occasions.

But as an Officer and Salvationist, we have a mission to serve, but what if along the way we face difficulties, discouragements, and suffer depression and loss of passion?  What then?  I can assure you this is nothing new, and many have been to this point…many have also walked away because of it.  fire

I will also boldly say that The Salvation Army must recognize some of the lasting structural inconsistencies.  The quasi military approach that once thrived is not as appealing as it once was to a very individualistic thriving culture.  Sometimes old models of leadership need to be challenged in order for real change to take place and so that we can once again get back to mission instead of policy.  So, right off the bat, understand the Titanic turning of a large, global organization (movement) is daunting and sometimes frustrating to face.

Harvard Business Review had an article that identified six virtues of a dream company, which was compiled by hundreds of business executives.  For our purposes, imagine this “dream company” to be The Salvation Army…see if these virtues match:

1.  You can be yourself
2.  You’re told what’s really going on.
3.  Your strengths are magnified.
4.  The company stands for something meaningful.
5.  Your daily work is rewarding.
6. Stupid rules don’t exist.
(Source: HBR Article Link)

Apart from the organizational issues, what can individual salvationists do to combat burnout while serving within its ranks (soldier, officer, employee ect.)?  Here are just five ways to combat burnout in our Army.  Take them for what they are, a primer that allows us to face real life issues happening all around us.  This is just a “starter list”…there is much more that can be said within this topic.

5 Ways To Prevent Salvation Army Burnout: 

flame1. Have an Identity apart from the Army
Sometimes this goes against conformity doesn’t it?  We are told to dress alike, be of one army, one mind, yet we are also people who need to know who we are as God’s children who are called by Him.  We must find out who we are apart from the uniform, apart from the mission.  Sometimes this requires us to take a step back and reevaluate who we are and why we do the things we do.  Self identity is vital to combating burnout because without knowing who we are we can become washed away by the powerful tides of stress that are rampant in any organization.  When you go home, when you spend recreational time away – be yourself!

2. Find Hobbies To Enjoy smoke
Not everything is about mission sometimes (gasp!), in order to combat burnout is a fast paced thriving movement such as the Army, we must be able to relax from time to time.  Some are excellent wood workers and carpenters and they relax by doing what they love.  If you paint – then paint.  If you enjoy geocaching, then get out and do that!  Find things to enjoy, to look forward to on your next unscheduled day.  Plan for these hobbies.  Be intentional in taking the time to enjoy them.  This will enable you to disconnect from the everyday stress of “work”.

3. Leave Your Work At The Office!! work
Seriously, we have a lot of work-a-holics in our Army.  That’s not all bad.  Hard work is wonderful!  But when it jeopardizes your families, when they don’t know who you are anymore because you constantly work, there is something wrong with that!  I would even go out on a limb and tell you overworking yourself is a sin.  STOP IT!  When you can, leave the work at the office.  This will not always happen, I know that, but when you can leave it! Combating burnout requires us to take drastic steps, and for some of us, leaving unfinished work at the office is very, very drastic!

4. Switch Things Up!  change
We all get stuck in ruts sometimes.  So change up your schedule.  Go for a walk, spend more time talking to people instead of staring at your computer screen.  Flip your schedule so that some of your work gets done at the end of the day.  Do something different so that the ruts are broken, and in so doing, you might experience a little bit of perspective within your day.  When you do this, take time to breathe.  I own an apple watch and I laughed at first at the new update on it.  It’s a new app called “Breathe”…what it does is remind me to take a full minute and focus on my breathing.  It was dumb at first, but then I started doing it, I switched up my schedule in the process…but now I look forward to that moment where I just breathe and relax.  Combating burnout in your life takes an effort to switch some things up.  So don’t just talk about it…do it!!

5.  Take Your Sabbath Seriously!
restThis, I consider to be one of the biggest sins in our Army.
Far too few of us really take a Sabbath.  Yes, it’s our day off, but we’re still “catching up” on work.  If God rested on the seventh day, don’t you think we should too?  Or are we essentially saying, “I’m better than God” in our actions?  When you plan your Sabbath days – TAKE THEM!  Don’t bring work or ministry into your Sabbath!  This is the time that you need personally to recharge your “batteries”.  You need to plug yourself back into the Power source which is God Himself!  Whatever that reconnection looks like to you, don’t take it for granted!  Get alone with God, find the time, stop sinning in overwork and do it!  If we really want to combat burnout, we must begin to realize just how important that Sabbath is for us.  It’s not just another day off, it is a day (or a matter of hours) to recharge and rest.

I know that there are other ways that will help combat burnout, what are some tools that you have used in your ministry?  What has helped you?  Why not share them here and help all of us as we ponder this together!  As always, thanks for reading!  Something more for our Army to ponder today!

God Bless you!

Dear Salvation Army, 10 Things To Revive A Dying Corps

Recently I wrote on the topic of “10 Things That Will Kill Your Corps“, and it went viral and was shared over 500 times on various social media sites.  I think there might be something here to explore further.  Perhaps one might ask, “Then how can we revive a dying corps?”  Of course the answer to reviving a dying corps is not always so cut and dry.  Reviving a dying corps can be a very complicated thing indeed, and each location has its own specific difficulties.  I will not make the claim that I know the ins and outs of corps growth and its furtherance in mission, but I have witnessed what works from time to time.  I also know that much of this depends upon hard work, prayer and cultivating a strong core group of leaders within your team.  There are no “easy fixes”, so if you have come today to read this and find the fast method of fixing your corps, I am sorry to disappoint.

But here’s what I know…

10 Things To Revive A Dying Corps 

  1.  Organic Fellowship fellow
    There is something deeply meaningful to corps members who linger after the Holiness Meeting.  This is organic fellowship, it is not just friendship but more like connecting with family.  Are there members within your corps that connects at other times throughout the week away from the corps building?  This is organic fellowship too.  These are the ties that bind us together in unity and love.  When organic fellowship takes place, corps members are more apt to fight for one another, to encourage one another and to live life with one another…it doesn’t just end at the benediction and the exit signs.
  2. goOutward Mission 
    The corps is a part of a much larger movement, and we are not simply a building in which our programs take place.  We ought to have a collective mission in our communities.  We should never be satisfied with simply meeting the needs of our attendees, but constantly engage our community for Christ!  How this outward mission looks from corps to corps will be vastly different because our communities all have differing issues and opportunities.  Ensure your corps and its soldiers/adherents are committed to the same mission in your community.  This evangelistic outreach is better fought with the collective body rather than solo missions by the Officer or Local Officer.
  3. Inward Discipleship dis
    Within the corps body the opportunities for mentoring and discipling is/should be a very tangible thing.  This isn’t some book course everyone takes, no this is much more than that!  This is mature Christians shepherding and mentoring younger Christians.  This is time and dedication to the purpose of developing deeper relationships rooted in Christ and emphasized in holy living.  The best education for discipleship takes place when we journey side by side, holding one another accountable and deepening our faith and resistance to sin.  We revive our dying corps through the deepening of our roots as soldiers.  We revive and revitalize because we have something so tangible and practical that we would never surrender and walk away from it.  Inward discipleship takes hard work and dedication, but if done right, a corps will be so much stronger because of it.
  4. leadLead With, Not Over
    Officers and/or Local Officers cannot micromanage and operate from a place of absolute power.  If there are power hungry officers and soldiers, then perhaps it is time to step aside and let someone else lead for a while.  Yes, there are times when our corps need strong leaders to paint the vision and guide the conversation into healthy models of Christian fellowship.  When we share the roles of leadership (which a corps council should be doing), not only is the burden lightened and shared, but more innovation and vision can be collectively sought after.  When we limit the “Lead” to just the officer (albeit sometimes that’s all you have to work with) we limit the growth your corps can experience through trial and error and through learning how to lead.  Trust others.  Invest in others.  Don’t be afraid to fail a time or two.
  5. Flexibility To Change flex
    The availability to take calculated risks in your corps is vital to successful ventures.  So what happens when that risked attempt fails?  Don’t give up, don’t stop trying…adjust, renegotiate, change.  Our ministries will look differently from region to region, but we must have the flexibility to change.  Sometimes this flexibility must happen at our divisional or territorial headquarters, and sometimes this flexibility is needed amongst our corps and its membership.  I believe we can become so rigid and afraid to change.  You know the definition of insanity right?  It is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.   Be flexible in your goals and plans.  Adjust when adjustment is needed.  Take care to ask the hard questions and explore every possibility.  Sometimes even programs that were once vital have become obsolete and need to be sacrificed for the sake of your corps’ future.
  6. Longer Officer Appointments
    Church growth (I know we aren’t a church, but bear with me) takes 7 years.  The same can be said for our movement, its corps and its many ministries.  How can soldiers and adherents invest in the vision that various leaderships roll out if corps officers will be gone in three+ years?  When they leave, another officer(s) moves in and the vision is likely to become different.  Investing in the long-term can provide a longsustainable path for your corps.  Riving that which is on the fringes of death is not easy.  This component relies on leadership both from the divisional level as well as the territorial level to see the benefits of longer appointments.  Of course there are multiple variables within officers length of appointments.  Questions like- are they are good fit?  Will this corps be able to afford their family?  Do we need their skills elsewhere?  The wonderful thing is, many divisions and territories now see the benefit of investing in longer appointment terms.  The CO must also see this benefit.  It should be a cautionary tale to mentioned that COs need to remain focused on the present appointment and not peering over the fence at potential future appointments.
  7. Shared Vision & Mission
    I cannot emphasize how much growth is dependent upon investment in the corps visionsoldiers and adherents.  Without this shared vision, as mentioned before, when the current CO leaves, the vision either dies or is shifted.  A strong core group within the mainframe of the corps can provide stability and structure even if the corps officer leaves or is gone.  With a shared vision and mission, which is agreed upon by local officers and constituents, EVERYONE knows that needs to be done.  Talk about your vision.  Keep it at the forefront of everything you do.  Emphasize it, and keep talking about it from the pulpit to the visitation of soldiers and friends.
  8. Dependence on God, Not $ Signs
    dollarThis might sound offensive to some of you.  Some might say, “that’s not fair, we are dependent on God.”  I am too.  But there is a temptation to worry more about finances and where the next funding source will come from to pay for the bills of the corps, than how God is going to provide.  Yes, we work hard to secure funding, but be careful that the funding doesn’t become your measure of success in the corps.  Financially secure corps can become spiritual graveyards too.  There are different types of corps death, and a corps worshiping their wealth can be one of them.  It sounds ridiculous, but it can happen.  Don’t allow your focus to become solely on what you have or need.  Remember the One who sustains us and will provide what we need when we need it.  Yes, pray about tithing.  Yes, pray about grants and funding sources, but don’t let them hamstring what you can and can’t do for the Lord in your community.  Even those with limited financial resources can do wonders for the Kingdom!
  9. Learn and Understand Your Community
    “Oh, I never knew The Salvation Army had worship services!”  How many times have you heard that?  Could it be that we just don’t get out of our buildings enough?  Could it be that we have become so insulated within what we do that we don’t see our community with the right lenses anymore?  If we are to meet human needs in His name, we have to understand what those needs are in our communities.  comStudy your neighborhoods.  Find out what the issues are.  Ask important questions to those you serve.  Get out of your buildings and talk to people.  It’s really not about being seen, but as we do these things we will be seen.  In order to revive our dying corps, we have to continually explore the shifting needs and wounds of our community!  Each community is different, as are their needs.  What may have worked in a previous appointment might not be what this present appointment needs.  So Corps Officers, even though you may have an awesome blueprint for things that were successful in your last corps, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be automatically successful here.  As a team – local officers, soldiers, adherents, friends – study, ask, explore and then meet the needs currently not being met in your community.
  10. Passionate Teachings & Holiness (Grow Then Go!)
    We might not be the most elegant of preachers.
    We might also worry about this.  We do not have to be the best preachers, but being willing to preach on the difficult topics, by understanding your corps family, we can holythen be passionate about growing our spiritual levels.  What do I mean?  I fear that sometimes our corps are still in the kiddie pool of spiritual growth and without challenge they will never wade deeper into this faith.  We have to continually challenge, speak, live and teach holiness.  This is spiritual development and growth.  This is vital to sustaining our corps members from the inside out.  Without holiness, we run the risk of becoming another social service club that hangs out on Sunday mornings and just does good works for people.  It has to go deeper than that.  We have to keep each other accountable and emphasize the desire to encounter a continuance of salvation.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t want us to remain static, and when we are, I fear corps death will surely follow.  He will raise up others if the we remain in the kiddie pool.  Wade out there, don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions, seek Christ’s image in all aspect of your living.  Then…go!

    These are just 10 things that can revitalize dying corps or corps who have lost their traction.  I know there are other ways to revitalize…what do you think?  What are those other ways?  Let’s continue this conversation together!

    Something more for our Army world to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness

It can be quite easy to simply nod our heads when a topic such as holiness comes around.  We might nod our heads and deep down we really don’t understand much of it at all, we just don’t want anyone else to know.
I understand that, and I’ve been there.  Today on Pastorsponderings I want to delve into the topic Holiness AND be as simplistic as possible.

These are 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness:
1.  What is Holiness? 
Wesley taught that genuine faith produces inward and outward holiness. The regenerative process inwardly cannot help but find expression in an improved moral character outwardly. The doctrine of holiness is grounded in the command to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2 and other Old Testament loci). Jesus commanded, “Be perfect therefore as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also taught that true Christian discipleship requires loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving neighbor as self (Mt. 22:34-40).” (Asbury University/Wesleyan-Holiness Theology – source: Wesleyan Holiness Theology)

We become saved, we perhaps kneel at the mercy seat and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.   What then takes place is the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence within your life.  We receive this “second blessing” – as He indwells among us.  With the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we are then forced to confront the “old self” still remaining within our lives.   I know of individuals who, at the moment of salvation, seemed to be completely changed.  I also know other individuals (myself included) who, at the moment of salvation, still struggled with the old life and with temptation.

Just because we have this passion and desire to become like the Christ doesn’t always mean it will happen over night, in fact, in my experience it is both a crisis and a process.  Holiness begins on our knees accepting Christ into our lives, and it progresses so that we become less and He becomes more day by day, minute by minute.

purify2.  What is Entire Sanctification?  
The Bible often speaks of sanctification, which basically means the total, lifelong process of becoming holy.  Because the process begins with the new birth (salvation), we call the spiritual growth immediately following regeneration “initial sanctification.”  That is, we begin walking God’s way.  The fruit of the Spirit in our lives becomes evidence that a change has taken place…Entire Sanctification is God’s gift.  We do not earn or deserve it any more than we earned or deserved regeneration.  We consecrate; God sanctifies.”  (Frank Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 68)

Is entire sanctification possible?  You bet it is!
Many will struggle with this concept because we can become so tied up in the notion of perfection.  Entire Sanctification doesn’t mean “Human Perfection”, it means that we have surrendered fully and we have died completely to the old self and have begun to completely live for Christ in every facet and in every way.  John Wesley even addressed the debate about whether or not”ES” was a process or an instantaneous second work of grace.  His answer?  “Yes“.   It is both a crisis and a process.  From my experience the Holy Spirit still have much to teach me in regards to this faith.  I am not completely like Christ yet…but I desire to be.  This crisis and process has to first be an individual holiness before it can be a corporate holiness.

The difference between our spiritual progress before and after Entire Sanctification centers on the removal of the hindrance of self-sovereignty” (Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 69)

bible3.  Renew, Refresh, Restart!
How do we renew?  How do we maintain this “Holiness” in our lives when there are so many distractions all around?

Samuel Logan Brengle describes the need to study and diligence –
If you want to hold the truth fast and not let it slip, you must read and read and re-read the Bible.  You must constantly refresh your mind with its truths, just as the diligent student constantly refreshes his mind by reviewing his textbooks, just as the lawyer who wishes to succeed constantly studies his law books, or the doctor his medical works.  John Wesley, in his old age, after having read and re-read the Bible all his life, said of himself; ‘I am homo unius libri’ – a man of one book.  The truth will surely slip, if you do not refresh your mind by constantly reading and meditating in the Bible.” (Brengle, Helps to Holiness p. 74)

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always understand these theological terms.
Be a faithful soldier of Christ.  Read the Bible.  Study.  Be mindful that life was never guaranteed to be easy post salvation and the second blessing.  Remember that there is more for us to learn, more room for us to grow.  Renew daily in Him.  Find a prayer closet, make it a discipline in your life.  Be aware of the distractions of life and perhaps fast from those distractions from time to time.  If He is to become more and you are to become less, then you must become disciplined in this path.

Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” -Brother Lawrence, The practice of the presence of God

Wrapping It Up: 

In concert with Phil Laeger

Where are you in your faith journey?
Is Holiness important to you?
How determined are we to sacrifice self-sovereignty and take on the mantle of selflessness?
Are we committed to Entire Sanctification?
Is Christ-likeness truly our goal and passion in our lives?

Dear Soldier,
We are a Holiness Movement, we don’t wear this simply as a badge of honor, it should propel in all we are and all we do.  How is your faith journey today?

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

Re-read this week’s conversation on Holiness here by clicking on the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace
Unpopular Holiness

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

“Left Behind” Great Fiction But Horrible Theology…*Sigh

The reboot of “Left Behind” is set to hit theaters today (October 3rd, 2014) starring Nicolas Cage.  I won’t be seeing this film in the theaters…if ever.  It’s not that I don’t like Nic Cage, in fact I’ve always been a fan.  It’s that I just can’t support a movie that wields such a horrendous, unbiblical view about eschatology.

sharkHow I Could Watch “Left Behind”:  
Have you ever played the “what if” game?  It’s a kind of game that allows you consider the “what if’s” in life.  For instance, what if I watched this movie?  Well, if I were to watch this movie (which I probably wont, I’ll just wait for the next National Treasure movie to get my Nic Cage fix) I would wait for the dvd release, curl up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch this movie in conjunction with any other sci-fi genre movies that I enjoy watching.  I might even possibly watch this movie on “cheesy movie night” a designated family movie night where we gather around the living room and watch movies that have absolutely no bearing on reality.  This one, (Left Behind) quite possibly would be right after Sharknado and that other academy award winning (sarcastic cough),  awesomely bad/awesomely cheesy second installment Sharknado 2.  What an awesome cheesy movie night that would be!

The Real Problem With Left Behind:
Some are using this apocalyptic movie as some sort of credible means to evangelistically scare the literal hell out of people, cue up the childhood memories of watching A Thief In The Night. a thief I am all for loving people into the kingdom and for everyone to be introduced to Christ…but this, in my opinion, is NOT the way to go about it.  People shouldn’t be coerced into finding Christ through fictional-theatrical ploys such as this.  Real relationships with real people = real evangelistic opportunities to know Him.  Not some marketing campaign in which the writer of this fictional story makes a killing even in a mediocre movie release.

I love movies.  I am a sci-fi geek, I openly admit this.  I also love reading and understanding God’s Word and digging deeper to better understand what it says; but I just can’t mash these two things together in THIS movie and come away feeling the truth and even “End Times” truths have been accurately represented in this work of fiction.   This is horrible theology.

popcornIF you go to see this film in the theaters (and I hope you don’t)…
Don’t go to see this film if you want to know more about God.
Don’t go spend your $10 plus dollars on a movie ticket and then a $100 dollars on movie priced snacks (seriously who pays $30 for a bag of soggy popcorn and a soda?) and enter the theater thinking you’re going to uncover the truths of Revelation and how it’ll all “go down”.   Please show me anywhere in scripture where the depictions of Left Behind are in anyway accurate!?
Don’t drink the Left Behind cool-aide and then begin chanting in “Kirk Cameron we trust“, oh wait he isn’t in this one.  I’m sorry if this come off as cynical.  I’m just sort of sensitive when scripture gets misrepresented and then attempts to become a big money maker…it sort of grinds on me that way.  It’s fiction, take it for what it is.  Don’t use it as some sort of evangelistic campaign.  It just comes off as disingenuous.

Who knows, maybe six months from now I might be curled up on the couch eating my popcorn as the credits roll on Sharknado 2 and think “what the heck, let’s watch another cheesy sci-fi movie” and then Left Behind starring Nic Cage might come to mind.  Who knows, maybe then I’ll watch it and roll my eyes…it could happen.

-Just a thought, and a rather opinionated (more than usual) blog post.

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