Talk. (a poem)

There are days that I can’t be lone.
Alone with my own thoughts.
Thoughts that bind.
blind.
rewind my mind
until I find that I am helplessly
reliving regrets from my past.

Like a chain around my throat
the thoughts haunt me.
Thoughts that chill.
See to kill.
Fulfill all my darkest fears
of “i’m not good enough”
and
“I’ll never measure up.”

Talk.


It’s like I’m lost in the darkest cave
no lights to light my way.
I can feel it breathing deep
creeping.
Sleep is a lost cause
until I find rest
But, empty and cold
I am attempting to deafen
its voice.

My choice?
I can’t divorce this
escape this
I confess
I don’t want to be alone
with my thoughts.
So…
Come talk to me.

Flying Like An Eagle…Afraid of Heights?

My Amazing Wife flew like an Eagle…I on the other hand flew like a stone.

I was at a youth conference recently and we had this required evening fellowship to attend. I had been forewarned it involved an element of skydiving and I certainly was not looking forward to it. In my mind why would someone jump out of a perfectly operational airplane in the first place? So we go to this indoor wind-tunnel facility and we have to sign a waiver basically releasing the organization from any deaths that could occur while getting thrown around in a wind tunnel with speeds as high as hurricanes (you can see how much of a fan I was). After the “life-signaway-waiver” we were taken into a training room and instructed on hand symbols and how basically our hands, feet and head are all rudders and that any slight movement on any of our appendages would cause you to spin or dip or ascend. The whole time the instructor is speaking you can hear the wind turbines above us whir and roar as others were getting tossed into the air.

Finally it was our turn to enter the hurricane. If I told you there wasn’t an army of butterflies in the pit of my stomach I would be lying to you – I was as nervous as I could be. I don’t do well with roller coasters, let alone the sensation of plummeting out of an airplane and falling to earth (thanks gravity!). I watch as others in our party fly with the help of the instructor, even my wife seems to fly with ease and she floats and somewhat flies assisted by the fly instructor. Then it is my dreaded turn…and on shaky legs I force myself through the entrance to the wind tunnel with a whispered prayer and a sentence that may have gone like this, “Lord if it’s my time to die, at least don’t let me make a fool out of myself!” Oh, the Lord has a great sense of humor, because make a fool out of myself is exactly what I did.

I followed the instructors directions. I got into “fly” formation with my legs at a near 90 degree angle and my arms slightly outstretched and I thought I was doing well except the instructor was working hard to keep me in the air. I thought I understood the position I needed to be in in order to fly, but try as I might I couldn’t sustain lift off. Eventually I got the dreaded “shut off the turbines” command by the instructor to the operator, and I was “grounded” and told with hand gestures to “relax”. The funny thing was I thought I WAS relaxed. I thought I had maintained the correct posture in order to sustain flight…and yet here I was with the instructor’s arms around me to keep me steady, but I was grounded and not even in the air anymore. Meanwhile, all of the other “flyers” managed to lift off and fly.


After our group completed its time in the wind tunnel, the instructor demonstrated to us what could be accomplished in that the hurricane tube. He soared, he dove, he spiraled and performed many amazing feats that we now knew were extremely difficult to do, but he performed them with the greatest of ease. Meanwhile, we noobies to the wind tunnel flight could barely gain lift off (and myself not even having accomplished lift off at all).
The instructor’s flight looked so graceful and easy, but we knew it was far from easy. We were all sore from the positions and movements, and to witness the instructor’s ease while in the hurricane tube made it all the more impressive.

You see, very similarly, in life the spiritual life can be a lot like that. When we were first starting out in the faith we would look at more mature “veteran” Christians and admire how firm they were in their relationship to Christ. They seemingly soared while we could barely achieve lift off at all. Perhaps some of us became frustrated or considered giving up altogether because the task seemed so daunting and insurmountable. But the interesting thing is the veteran Christian, the one with all the growth, soaring and maturity actually is there to help you take flight.

When I was in that wind tunnel that amazing flier of an instructor had his arms wrapped around me so that I wouldn’t get hurt. If he would have let go I would have been smashed against one of the walls or perhaps tossed into the air to hit the ceiling high above us. The mature, high flying instructor knew the dangers and the adversity of that hurricane tube and was preventing me from getting hurt.

I owe a number of fellow Christ-followers, who are more mature than I, a debt of thanks for their leadership in my life. These legends of the faith showed me how to walk (and soar) by faith. They also came along side me when I was still learning how to actually walk with Christ. They understood the trappings and the adversity I would face because they had journeyed the same path only many years prior.

2 Things To Consider:
1) Are we pliable to the instruction of mentors? These mentors and mature Christians know almost every trapping and danger along the way. They have walked this path before us, and they have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to soar. How flexible are we to the guidance of others? Or does pride well up and prevent us from acknowledging our immobility and shortcomings? The instruction and guidance isn’t there to point out all of our fears and failures, it is there to lead us to higher altitudes of faith, growing us closer in relationship to the Father.
2) Are we mentors to others? When we have accomplished flight, how do we convey what we have learned? Are there others who are still grounded and in need of encouragement and guidance? How can we lift them up? How can we offer them love and tangible hope of taking that next leap? We cannon forget how we felt when we were at the beginning of our faith journey. We need to journey beside these young believers and provide to them understanding and the leadership of flight. Never forget where we have come from and how far we have journeyed since then. When we call to mind that path, we are then able to provide that much needed guidance for others.

Are you ready to soar today?
Are there those around you who need help?
God has always journeyed along with us, and He desires a deeper relationship with you and me. Perhaps some of us are afraid of heights, afraid of failing, afraid of looking like a fool with others, afraid of the cost of discipleship and what will need to be sacrificed. God is here reminding us that we were meant to soar and He longs for us to take flight.

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40:28b – 31

Something more to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, Is It Just ‘Busy’ Work?

It is a question I have often asked myself.
Something I’ve pondered.
Waged war with.
Chewed on until my jaws ache.

Have I (personally speaking) focused too much on the ‘busy’ work instead of the priorities of salvation? Am I spending so much time doing the mundane, the time consuming, soul-sucking tasks that offer no vital substance to life?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not viewing certain tasks as beneath me. I am, instead, uncovering something that I feel has been convicting to me…and perhaps it has been revealed to you as well by the Holy Spirit.

We, as an Army, have grown far beyond a movement birthed out of the ashes and smoke the industrial era. This movement has grown arms and legs in order to meet human needs in Jesus’ name. But with that growth, it becomes inevitable that we develop not so good traits as well. Over working ourselves. Demanding more and more income to support bloating projects. Straining for every ounce of local and federal funding sources. Funds are, of course vital to our cause, but there is a danger here: We might become tempted, in our busyness to trust less in the provision of God and trust more in our own efforts, our own donors, our own coffers.

Have we allowed busy work to shape our faith?
Have we entered into simply trusting in the next financial campaign instead of diligently seeking out what God would have us do? I pray this is never the case!

I am certainly not negating hard work, I am simply pondering whether in the midst of our hard work we have stopped looking to the Author of all things in exchange for the things He has created? Instead of commanding time, time is commanding us. In a very real sense have we lost our first love and replaced it with busy work?

I understand that we mustn’t grow tired of doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
But there should be moments of reflect that we do in order to be brought back to our first love and first priority – Loving God. THEN we are able to reach out and offer our soup, soap and salvation.

So how do we avoid making what we do just ‘Busy Work’?

3 Ways to Avoid The Trap of Busy Work:

1) Practicing the Presence of God Daily (Even moment by moment)
Brother Lawrence was right – we need to get into the practice of communing with the presence of God moment by moment. We need to fellowship with our Creator during the most trying of tasks to the most mundane of them. When we open up our lives and everything in them to God, we begin to share our experiences with Him. We are inviting Him to participate in them with us. Just because we have to do required mundane tasks doesn’t mean that it is busy work. ‘Busy work’ is done when we have no purpose, no mission or no aim. Busy work leads no one to Christ, consumes all our time and offers nothing in spiritual nourishment. When we enter into God’s presence throughout our day, we begin to eliminate the busy work. When we ask Him to commune with us, we begin to see what truly matters and life (and tasks) are given purpose once again. Why? We because we are not living for ourselves, our own hard work, our own ambitions, our own understanding…we are now dying to self, dying to corporate ladder climbing, dying to the search for approval and acceptance of others. Instead, we are living a new created life born out of holiness and the desire to be selfless.

2) Asking the question “Why”?
When we find ourselves caught in the busyness trap, we need to begin to asked questions. Like, “why am I doing what I am currently doing”. “Is this task or habit really what I should be doing?” “What is this contributing to the Kingdom building process?” Why do I catch myself falling into this ‘busyness’ trap again and again?

Habits are hard to break, and I believe busy work can be one of these bad habits that needs to be broken. We all are given time to do the necessary reports, chores, tasks…yet how often do we catch ourselves staring blankly at a computer screen? How often do we labor away at things that don’t really matter? I’m not saying we don’t do them, I am saying that perhaps we place too much emphasis on them. We give them too much importance and so our time gets eaten up in the non-Kingdom building habits.

There comes a point where we must look up.
Where we see where God desires us to go. Perhaps it is to talk to that person in the Social Services waiting room. Maybe it is to go and visit corps members, sit with a person that needs a friend, or spend a few solitary moments in the chapel praying. Are we looking up? Or do we go about our day with our heads down and buried in our computers, meanwhile making all of our tasks and duties “busy work”?
Why?

3) Connect with others.
I have mentioned this already in the second point…but it begs saying again: we MUST connect with other people (and not just on social media). Look people in the eyes. Really listen to their needs. Hear the hurt. See the longing for fellowship. Be a light to someone in need. Winning the world of Jesus begins with one or two people. If we aren’t reaching people for Christ what is the point of calling our selves an army of salvation?

When we realign ourselves with our first love and, in turn, pour that love out on others, we will have eliminated all ‘busy work’? How?
By turning each moment and each task into an opportunity to serve God. When we change our perspective and our priorities, we reorient our mission and purpose to the place it should have been all along.

Dear Salvation Army…is there ‘busy work’ taking place in your ministry right now?
Do you find yourself missing the mark and feeling unfulfilled in your calling?
Perhaps you must look up.
Perhaps a reprioritizing of life needs to take place.
Perhaps a rededication, a recommitment, a reigniting of the heart is in order.

Busy work happens to all of us…but we mustn’t remain there, we need to get up and move.

Something more for our Army to ponder today.

Dear Body Of Christ, Don’t Be An Appendix!!

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has placed these in the church…”

What does being a part of the body entail?
Do we do our own thing? Sometimes.
Are we a part of the collective body, known as the Church? Yes.
Will we always see eye to eye (body of Christ pun intended)…? No.

But sometimes I think we get the idea of what being a part of the body of Christ wrong.
Especially when it comes to ‘membership’ in that same body.

Thom Rainer, in his book “I am a church member” puts it like this; “It was a big deal for this young boy living in the small Southern town. I didn’t know what a country club was, but I knew one was coming to town…I began to learn a lesson. Membership means perks. Membership means privileges. Membership means others will serve me. Just pay the going rate, and you can have others taking care of you while you enjoy a life of leisure.

And, tragically, this understanding of membership is what many church members hold. “This is my church, so you have to play the music just the way I want it.” “Look pastor, you need to remember who pays your salary.” “If you don’t do this program, I’ll withhold my check to the church.” “I’ve been a member of this church for over thirty years, so I have a right to get what I want.” “I don’t pay good money to this church to listen to sermons that long.”

Okay, get the picture. Those unfortunately typical comments come from members of church who have an unbiblical view of membership. Their view of membership is more aligned with county club membership…“.
I think Thom Rainer is right.
How many times do we pull the “church privilege card”?
How often have we either, subconsciously or consciously, decided that we deserve to be served instead of servants? How often have we lorded our assumed membership privilege over pastors, youth pastors, staff members, worship team etc?

Didn’t Jesus himself say, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…”? So what gives us the right to pay homage to ‘service’ by words but not deeds? Shouldn’t the latter precede the former?

Dear Church member…don’t be an appendix.
What do I mean by that?
A body is made up of
many parts. The legs, the arms, the eyes, the head, the tongue…are all irreplaceable parts, but then there are parts that can be removed and the body can go on without ever missing that former part. The tonsils, the gall bladder, the appendix. Don’t be an appendix in the body of Christ.

These parts can flare up, cause problems, discourage healthy living only to be cut away from the body because the infection has become too dangerous, too toxic to the body as a whole.

Do we risk becoming an appendix by way of our infectious personalities and constant need to be served? Do we risk poisoning the body with our tempers when things don’t go our way, or with the words we choose to lash out with that are not healthy or wholesome to this very same body?

Questions to Ponder:
Have I
misunderstood my role as a member of the body of Christ?
Am I more prepared to be served than to serve?
Do I have an unhealthy view of the ‘pecking order’ of those within the body of Christ? And have I placed myself as more important than those that I have judged and deemed to be lesser than me?
Have I become an appendix rather than a vital part of the body of Christ?
Do I need to repent of the way I have acted or treated others?

Dear Brother and Sister in Christ, don’t be an appendix…Do not live as a master of others, but rather roll up your selves and genuinely serve regardless (or especially) if anyone else is noticing.

Something more for the Body of Christ to Ponder today.

The Problem With Submission…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” -James 4:7-8

I have a tough time with one word in this passage.
It has nothing to do with God, faith or salvation…it has everything to do with how this word is used in the world, sometimes maliciously, in order to put people in their place.

What is the word?

“Submit”.

I don’t do well with submission.
Honestly, it makes me feel like a prisoner having to obey the warden. (Images of Shawshank Redemption come to mind)…

Perhaps it is because I have personally witnessed that word being used and abused.
Perhaps it is because I struggle with my own need for freedom.
Regardless of the why, there is still the issue with the how…how do I submit…and the ‘who’ – who am I to submit to?

For some of us it is the trust involved in such an act.
Questions like, “what if my trust is betrayed”, and “can I really trust them”?
Many time it isn’t even about submitting to God, but rather authority figures in our own lives; Bosses, business advisors, managers, family members…etc. Then, when we have been burned by submitting to a faulty human-led system, we transplant this disappointment and disillusionment upon God…as if He too is imperfect and will let us down.

I too have struggled with this notion, meanwhile transplanting my own mortal experience upon an immortal God. But have I short changed God when I’ve done this? Do I still struggle with these trust issues? Can I fully submit to God in spite of my past hurts and the numerous failed dumpster fires of attempted human submission?

Maybe I’m overthinking this…have you ever done that?
I’ve counted all of the variables, outcomes, pros and cons way before ever taking a step. My 1st Grade Teacher’s voice keeps ringing in my ear as she said, “look before you leap.” But maybe in this case, it’s the other way round?! Perhaps I just have to go for it and place my all before God when I do.

In James 4:7-8, perhaps it’s more about coming near to God than it is about submitting to Him…because wouldn’t we naturally do that anyway when we really, really know someone? After all, didn’t God come close to us first when He sent Jesus into this messed up world? He met us more than halfway as He hung on a cross for our sins.

You see, I know all of the theological implications of such an act. I know Jesus intellectually, but are there still times when my heart does not know Him…when I’m not near to God, in fact, I couldn’t be further from Him? Have you ever felt like that? We have all of the head knowledge, but when it really comes down to it, there’s a heart issue that still needs working out.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re still trying to reconcile what submission looks like with God. I’ve been on this journey for quite some time, and I feel that the Holy Spirit has led me this far, I’m going to have trust Him in the things I have yet to figure out. He hasn’t given up on me, and I’m positive He certainly hasn’t given up on you either. Perhaps it’s not so much submission that He’s after, but rather a closer relationship with us. After all, doesn’t submission come from a place of trust? I cannot submit to something I don’t trust, and I cannot trust if I don’t come close enough to God.

The trouble with submission is we aren’t close enough to a God who desires a relationship with us…and I’m still working through this. I don’t have a Mary Poppins answer for you, just a notion and a nudge to deepen your relationship with the Almighty…we just might discover that is what was needed all along.

-Something more to ponder today.

What Happens When You Lose Your Faith?

Recently in the news there was the story about author of “I kissed Dating Goodbye” Joshua Harris, and how he has lost his faith. Apparently he is no longer a believer in Jesus. Many have read this news story and are scratching their heads. Let me be candid with you for a second: It happens. This is nothing new. That might seem harsh, but perhaps we need to have a harsh conversation from time to time about our faith, because faith isn’t always puppy dogs and cotton candy…it takes real work to maintain.

News Flash:
We are ALL susceptible to losing our faith if we are not careful.
I don’t wish to alarm you, but if we do not guard our hearts we can allow other elements of our old selves to take root in it.

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

Life can be extremely difficult sometimes, and it might make us want to throw up our hands and want to walk away from the faith. Other times we might permit sin to creep in by rationalizing things away by saying to ourselves, “a little bit won’t hurt me.” (Sounds like an anti-drug slogan – sorry). Eventually we become desensitized to it, and we begin to deafen towards the sound of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. When this happens we have lost our way.

BUT…

There is always hope.
There is always a returning.
There is an Eternal Love that stands waiting for us…willing to run to us when He sees us from a distance.

What happens when we lose our faith?
We have a God in heaven who leaves the other 99 to search for you and for me. (Matt 18:12)
We might have given up on God, but He hasn’t given up on us.

3 Things To Help Prevent Us From Losing Our Faith:
1) Make Faith In Christ Yours (Make It Personal)
We cannot survive on the faith of others to get us through this life. We need to personalize it, make it ours. It isn’t our parent’s faith. It isn’t our grandparent’s faith. It isn’t our friend’s, girl/boyfriend’s, mentor’s, denomination’s, or other’s faith…it’s yours – so own it. Yes, God is after the collective body of believers, but most importantly He needs to be your firm foundation first. If you haven’t made this faith yours, then you have only shallow roots and you will be susceptible to the changing of the mind through various seasons in life.

2) Ask The Tough Questions
True faith is not only believed, but is investigated and explored. This means asking the hard questions, tackling the places of doubt and finding others, who are deeper in the faith, to help you. Study, read, listen to podcasts, watch some videos, get into a church with sound doctrines and really explore your faith. If you don’t ask the questions, you could possibly be leaving that door doubt open in your heart which become an escape clause when things aren’t going so well in life.

3) Find People Of Like Minds To Challenge You.
Look for Christ-following mentors to guide you. Find people who will not only be your friend but challenge you to be better (in love). Study the Bible with other people who might have a different take or perspective on things. Accept the fact that you don’t know it all yet and be a student of the Most High.

I don’t know what is going on in Joshua Harris’ life right now, I do know what I’ve read and I am sorry for the difficult road he is on. I sincerely pray for him. Unfortunately what can also be said of this faith journey is this: the more influence you have in the world, the greater the temptations and pressures there will be as well. Unfortunately Mr Harris’ story isn’t an abnormal one. Many have traveled this path of losing one’s faith…it’s where you end up on the other side is what’s most important. I do hope that while on this path of self-discovery Josh Harris, and others like him (for there are many) will too rediscover their faith in Christ with a whole new perspective and hope.

If you find yourself at the end of your faith rope, know this: you aren’t alone. Many have been disillusioned by church, by other Christians and by life itself. Have a real heart talk with yourself, don’t lose the aspect of genuine prayer to God himself, and ask for direction. It won’t be easy…it never is, but I pray you find your path again with a firmer footing than before and with a deeper, richer, firm foundation of Christ alone.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Something more to Ponder today.
L: Have you lost your faith? Will you share in the comments below your current journey and where you’ve been? We want to hear from you…because it truly helps! Please know there isn’t any judgement here, just a healthy dialogue from real people sharing their faith (or lack there of) story with one another. We look forward to hearing from you!

How This Blog Came To Be…

An Origin Story of sorts…

Greetings, dear readers.
It has been a while since last I posted anything, my apologies. I have been absent on online, however I have been far from such IRL. Life has been very busy and many days it has felt like I was on a perpetual roller coaster. Amazing scenery has been viewed on this upward, chug-chug-chug of the coaster’s ascent, only to swiftly plunge (stomach in throat) down-down-down into stress-fueled, drama-laden, down right scary situations. All of it, in retrospect, I am sure I will depart this ride and exhale, declaring it an adventure that I will undoubtedly ride again…just give me some time to catch my breath.

I began this blogging journey as therapy…of sorts.
Through it all, this has been a means to share my hurts, my heart and my hopes. It is still that place. Along the way within this pastorsponderings I was startled, and relieved to discover, that others read this blog and have journeyed along beside me, often commenting on how their experiences have mirrored mine. We have traveled this path together for some time. Some who began with me have gone on to other things, including some who have received their ultimate reward in Eternity. This has never been about complaining, or malice or creating disharmony…but rather a place to consider, ponder, and sometimes tackle the tough concepts of life. My literary “happy place” as well as my fortress of solitude.

I never set out to earn a living with this (and I still don’t); nor did I anticipate that Pastorsponderings.org would receive such a following as it does now. I am still amazed at how God has used this little site. Please note that I am not being boastful here, I am genuinely and completely thankful for those who read and respond.

I Didn’t Quit …But…
I was close, numerous times.
Questions like: Is this really helping? Should I be writing this? Is anyone really reading this? Does it even matter?
The voices in my head, the voices of self-criticism, doubt, insecurity, hopelessness and even vanity all made their opinions heard…over and over again.

And yet, there was that still small voice that constantly breathed into me the encouragement, the confidence and the right words to say. I’m not saying that I’ve always accurately conveyed those words, but I have tried…and I wish to assure you that I will always strive to do just that.

(Thank you!)
To the many readers and subscribers of Pastorsponderings.org I wish to thank you for your patience with me. I have been absent, but I am still here. This path is set out before us, and there are many, many miles yet to go…come along with me, and let’s continue.

Thank you!

Why we need Silent Witnesses…

This past week we attended Commissioning for the Central Territory USA. I have attended for years…and it’s true, you can tell that you’re getting old(er) when you compare every Commissioning to the Star Plaza. But we were in Milwaukee, and I have to be honest with you, I used to dread the Sunday morning service, because to me it was SO boring!! When I was younger, I viewed this meeting as overly somber and definitely snooze worthy.

I entered the service with that predetermined mindset but something ineffable happened – the Holy Spirit had to deal with my heart. That still small voice whispered into my heart and mind – “listen and pay attention”…and so I did. The ordination of Salvation Army Officers is, in my opinion quite traditional and has at times been more pomp than circumstance…but this time it was different. I listened. Isn’t it funny what happens when you obey the Spirit of God?

As each individual officer received their ordination, silent witnesses were asked to stand and, as the name suggests, they were called to bear witness to those receiving their Pastorship. Many stood to bear witness as each new officer’s name was called. Around the auditorium, like hope springing up from the heart, individuals who had prayed for, supported financially, consoled with words of encouragement during difficult days, all stood in recognition of their friend, companion, mentee, fellow soldier of Christ. They stood to boldly declare that the person receiving their ordination was not alone on the battlefield, nor would they ever be alone.

Something struck me in that moment.
We all need Silent Witnesses to bear witness of our faith journey. More than bear witness, we need people who have our backs – peers who bath us in prayer, give us a word or scripture of encouragement, prophesy to our hearts during the dark times, and lift our heads to see the resurrected Christ when sometimes we can only see the death on the cross and the effects of sin in our world. Silent (and sometimes not so silent) witnesses are vital to our continuance of this faith journey. We travel along, sometimes side by side, sometimes single-file, other times from a distance as our calling takes us to the four corners of the world.

So let me ask you: Who are your Silent Witnesses?
Who can you call up and ask for prayer, or encouragement, or even financial help? When we have had silent witnesses, we too are compelled to share that experience with others who are just beginning and there by we become the Silent witness to someone else.
Something more to Ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Ways To Tell We’ve Lost Our Heart For ‘Others’…

Revelation 2:4 ” Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

First of all, I fully acknowledge that there will be other indicators of the loss of heart our Great Commission. This is a vital sign, a test to see if our corps and our ministries are still aligned with our first love, and from this foundation – ‘Others’.

The Church of Ephesus had drifted from its mission. They had lost that lovin’ feeling…and now it’s gone, gone, gon (ahem, never mind)…I digress.

So what indicators are there of this love loss?
How do we recover that love, and what are the remedies while recovering this love? Before we can get to the remedies, let’s explore 3 ways to tell we’ve lost our heart for ‘Others‘:

  1. Isolated and insulated programming:
    I have to confess that I don’t like the work “programming”, but a lot of what we do within the context of ministry can be considered “program”, but it should be much much more than just a title.
    Corps Ministries are essential to the vitality of our growth, but what happens when our ministries (or programs) stop including (either intentionally or unintentionally) the outside community?

    The fact that I said “outside community” could also be a ‘tell’…because we should be viewing what we do holistically and there should never be an ‘us and them’ mentality, with the exception of being ‘set-apart’ in the context of holiness…but that’s a different conversation for another time.

    How we ‘do community’ matters! How we bring people in to commune at our tables matters…and if our ministry programs only serve to meet the needs of only the ‘corps people’ then may have lost our heart for ‘others’. Dare I say that if our army structured programs are no longer meeting the needs in our greater community, then perhaps it’s time to chuck those old, ineffective programs, or reinvent those programs, or invent new methods (with the firm foundation of evangelism and the Christocentric cornerstone). Soldiers and Officers…if the four walls we operate in are seen as solely isolating and insulating comforts to us and our people, then we could be losing our heart for ‘others’.
  2. Everyone Outside are Sinners and We Are Not!
Image result for looking out of a window
  1. The above title might never be quite expressed like this, but it can certainly be felt and assumed by certain soldiers from time to time. It is an erroneous, and similar to the first indicator, can led us to build walls instead of tearing them down. We might build this false sense of who we are in the Kingdom of God, and how others are to be judged instead of living a sacrificial life full of humility and love. When we stereotype everyone outside of our corps, we enter the dangerous territory of becoming just like the Pharisees of old who acted as governors of the law instead of genuine mouthpieces for God.

    Place such judgements upon “those” people, we have purposefully set ourselves apart and could see ourselves as better than “them”. We could look down our noses at the “outsider” and in so doing look at evangelism and even the Great Commission as a chore and the outsider we reach as projects instead of people.


    3. We Are Not Earnestly and Diligently Praying For Our Communities.

    How we treat the discipline of prayer and the time we dedicate to it truly does matter! In our very distracted culture today, getting people to focus on anything for a prolonged period of time can be problematic and more effort needs to be placed into this element of corporate and individual worship. Remember, that when we pray, we go before the Lord in this manner not out of obligation or ritual, but because we are placing our hearts, souls, minds, bodies before the Lord so that we might hear from Him and be in tune to the leading of His Holy Spirit. If we don’t have a heart for people within our corporate and individual prayer, chances are we will not possess the love that we need to reach them. The love that is needed to reach others for Christ only starts with our limited capacity to love but when we bow our hearts (and knees) we allow the Divine to imbue us with His mighty, all-consuming love – this full embodiment of that Divine love within us allows true evangelism to take place. It is only when we tap into the power of prayer for the greater community that we will find that earnestness and a heart for others.

These are just three indicators of a lost heart of others. I know that there are other indicators, please tell us what you think those other indicators might be in the comments below…let’s keep this important conversation going!

Something more for our Army to ponder.


**Disclaimer: the thoughts and comments in this blog are strictly the comments and opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Salvation Army as a whole. Reader discretion is advised.**

It feels like a sucker-punch…

a few weeks ago, out of the blue, I looked up Rachel Held Evans because I hadn’t heard from her in a while. I have enjoyed her blog, and though at times I have been at odds with her view point, I have always been challenged by what she had to say.

So I looked her up, and discovered she was ill and in a medically induced coma. I couldn’t believe it. What? Naturally, I figured the doctors knew what they were doing and she would be fine. Then I saw the news today, it was sobering, it caught me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. I involuntarily exhaled all of the wind from my lungs. She was gone.

I cannot even imagine what her husband Dan must be going through right now. She was only 37 years old, and I feel as if the world has been sucker-punched right in the gut. How could something like this even happen…and yet it does. How could something so random and seemingly innocuous even take place in our modern-medicine-filled-world? It feels as if a large boulder has been placed on our collective chests and we are immobilized by the sheer weight of it.

The “pat”, Christianese answers like “well, it must have been God’s timing” and “everything happens for a reason” just feel like bold-faced lies, and I don’t want to hear them said. There is a certain bitter taste that wells up in my mouth and I feel that when someone so young (with a young family) and so much potential in the world dies it just seems so unfair. I have felt this way numerous times, and I wish that there was some way to quantify the sudden passing of people like this…but there’s not. We live in a very fragile world and every one of us is very much mortal. Life and Death balance precariously in our world and (as morbid as it sounds -sorry) any moment could possibly be our last.

I won’t cheapen Rachel Held Evans’ death by trying to summarize and “mortalize” a neatly packaged missive, stating that we never really know when the Lord will take us…but I will say that this all just feels heavy and unfair. I know we have never, ever been given a life that was guaranteed to be fair, but when a loved one or someone we respect dies so suddenly we feel it in the core of our souls…and it feels so very unfair. Please keep Dan Evans, Rachel’s husband in your prayers, as well as their small children and the extended family.

Perhaps we will all catch our breath again, but for right now, it just feels like a massive sucker-punch…and it’s okay to mourn…but it just feels so unfair.

-Just a thought.

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