Perspectives Day 1 – Featuring Shanais Strissel (Captain) “On the Other Side of the Veil”

“On the Other Side of the Veil”

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Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid that when you woke up it took you a few moments to realize that it actually was a dream and not reality? It takes a moment for the mist to clear, the world to turn right side up and reality to realign itself once more.

I had a dream like that last night, vivid, stingingly emotional, deep and filled with rich, longing emotions.

I had a dream in which my mother showed up, she wasn’t what the dream was about or even a large portion of it, she just showed up for a moment…

I was sitting in a small room, with a small stage and when I glanced up I saw my mother walk out on the stage and begin to speak (which if you knew my mother she would NEVER intentionally get up in front of anyone)

            It wasn’t what she said, it was how she looked that struck me like an arrow through the heart…she was wearing blue jeans, an old t-shirt, her hair kind of wild and a huge cup of coffee in clutched her hands, with a nervous smirk on her face.

             The feelings that overtook me were so intense in my dream that I couldn’t even bare to look upon her face, in my dream I got up and walked out to the hall and cried, I cried a deep longing, emotion filled, slightly angry filled moaning cry.

            Why…because even in my dreams I know that my mother is gone and I can only glimpse her through the veil of death…it was her essence in my dream that connected my heart directly to hers because this WAS who my mother was, her look, her mannerism, her spirit...

            My dream was my subconscious creating an illusionary moment of a reality that I desire- a desire that I cannot fulfill….yet.

 

For now I wait patiently on this side of the veil.

 

Death is not a fixed point and heaven isn’t some misty, foggy place “out” there in the sky somewhere…it is just across the veil and closer than we think, or at least closer than I used to think.

            When death visits close to home and comes to take someone we love, whether violently or silently, it never comes gently- it cannot- it is not its nature, because it almost always leaves behind a gaping hole of loss or uneasy questions.

            But the good news for us is that even though we must, for now, stand on one side of the veil or the other it will not always be so.  Death may separate one life from another for now but someday that veil will be torn and we will not mingle with each other in death but in a real and tangible incorruptible life…

            When Jesus hung on that cross he didn’t just save us from our sin, he saved all humanity from desolate separation…We could not face God in a corruptible state but when Jesus tore the temple veil on his death, WE can now walk through that VEIL of death and arrive before God…and just as the temple veil was torn, so will this veil that separates the corruptible flesh, what we are now, to what we will someday become.

Someday, I will see my mother, my grandmother and those who are now on the other side of the veil and someday I will see that veil fall…

For those we celebrate on this day of honor and sacrifice, for the loss of loved ones, let the pain and sorrow of that loss gently flow into healing and hope…

            Healing because we know life does not end at death

And hope because we, for now, may get glimpses through the veil of death from time to time but someday it will be gone and we will be free to live and love the way we were meant to…without the fear of separation.

So on this day, let us not celebrate loss, but let us celebrate our future hope…

Because someday I will be able to go across the room and embrace my mother because nothing will separate us anymore, and you will be able to do the same…

 

Shanais Strissel’s Blog Site: http://shanaisstrissel.wordpress.com/

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Perspectives – Day 3 Featuring Stephen Court “The Salvo Way: In Defence of The Salvation Army System”

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The Salvo Way: In Defence of The Salvation Army System

by Major Stephen Court

It’s not trendy. And for those who grew up with it or are quite familiar with it, the Army system, with its unique vocabulary and peculiar traditions, might even been regarded as defunct.

Corps Sergeant-Majors? Recruiting Sergeants? Quarter Masters? I mean, come on!

But our discipleship and leader training system, from junior soldiers through corps cadets, into senior soldier training and local officership and corps council, complete with orders and regulations, followed by options in candidateship and officer training, works.

Part of the problem is that we’ve forgotten what we are. As Major Harold Hill explains, in “Four Anchors From The Stern” (http://www.armybarmy.com/JAC/article2-64.html):

The Army’s own history, the history and doctrine of the church, the pattern of sociology, the Word of Scripture, all testify against any great need to be “a church”. Our own history provides us with a clear precedent for retaining our identity without resorting to denominationalism; the history and doctrine of the church provide an ecclesiological and theological base, the sociology of religious movements provides a rationale, and Scripture provides a mandate.

We are not a social agency only. We are not a church. We are not a denomination. We are an order.

And we have orders and regulations, not suggestions and recommendations.

‘Obedience to properly constituted authority is the foundation of all moral excellence’ (Catherine Booth). That is fine in regard to ethics. But Florence Booth takes it further when she testifies:

Looking back over 44 years of officership, it seems to me impossible to speak too highly of the value and importance of Salvation Army discipline… I realised very clearly that if all leaders had a truer idea, a stricter ideal, of obedience to rules and regulations, a much greater advance would be made throughout the Army world. (cited in A Field For Exploits, 2012)

This isn’t popular today. But the issue is not that obedience to Orders and Regulations has been tried and found wanting but found ‘irrelevant’ and ‘obsolete’ (and maybe a little too ‘hard’?) and not tried.

Our desperation for success has sometimes led us far astray from Salvationism. You can possibly see for yourself corps in your division more or less imitating the Baptists, Pentecostals, and Anglicans and others (including poor substitutions of ‘church’ for ‘corps’, ‘service’ for ‘meeting’, ‘pastor’ for ‘officer’, ‘offering’ for ‘collection’, ‘committee’ for ‘council’, ‘member’ for ‘soldier’, etc.). The problem is that most of these methods and terms don’t work very well when clothed in Salvationism.

We are not free to make things up on the fly. We’re part of an Army. We’re actually obligated to apply the Army system. If you aren’t applying it, you are compromising The Salvation Army and limiting the pace of advance of the salvation war.

Applying non-salvo methods and programmes with non-salvo doctrines and non-salvo theology in attempts to mimic their success while we play the role pastor and church is doomed to failure.

Strategically, it is mistaken. The significant majority of Canadians have voted with their feet that ‘church’ is irrelevant. Why would we pretend to be a church?

Biblically, it is near-sighted. There are all kinds of biblical metaphors for the people of God – body, temple, vineyard, building, flock, etc. But the Army of God is not a metaphor – it is not compared to something it is not. We are engaged in actual spiritual warfare. Biblically we are on solid ground.

So, to present as a ‘church’ is neither accurate nor effective.

What goes for church goes for its leaders. In NIV ‘pastor’ turns up once – Ephesians 4:11, though the Greek word ‘poimen’ appears 18 times in the New Testament, 17 times being translated ‘shepherd’. ‘Pastor’ is a biblically rare synonym for the much more popular ‘shepherd’, which it makes much more strategic and biblical sense to use instead of the term ‘pastor’, packed as it is with negative connotative accretions today.

…Oh wait, except that shepherd relates to flock – a metaphor, in contrast with Army, in a very real spiritual war against the forces of evil.

So, let’s agree that ‘pastor’, being unbiblical and unpopular, is another term we should avoid.

Let’s stop pretending. Let’s embrace The Salvation Army. Let’s embrace Salvationism, its leadership system and structure (for more detail on this, see http://www.armybarmy.com/JAC/article11-75.html).

We’re not embracing these things out of tradition or loyalty or some desperate insane stubbornness (or stubborn insanity). It’s just that our crucified and resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has lavished His love on us, transforming us from dreary, hopeless ne’er-do-wells slouching to heaven into mighty warriors who live to fight and fight with love,and has commissioned us to this wonder-working, world-winning mission through this divine marvel called, “The Salvation Army… the extremity of an extraordinary imagination made history. The wildest dream of the wildest dreamer materialized” (Evangeline Booth, The World’s Greatest Romance).

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Twitter.com/StephenCourt

 

 

“Perspectives” Day 5 Featuring Dennis Strissel (Colonel) “Opinion8ed”

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Opinion–8-ed

By Colonel Dennis Strissel

(A series of eight installments)

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Number one – Jesus should have served fish & chips

That thought went through my mind as I stared down at a generous portion of golden brown, breaded cod and a fist-full of french-fries. This would have tasted a whole lot better than some dried-salted fish accompanied by an equally dried hunk of bread.

Don’t get me wrong; I love fish of any sort, prepared any way but most of all… I love fish & chips. Secretly, I rate the quality of fish & chips I have eaten all over the world. I guess you could call me a fish & chip critic of sorts. I have my favorites…like landing at a pub on a cool day riding in the Yorkshire Dales in northern England. The table, along with our quartet of fish & chip eaters, was seated squarely in front of a warm hearth as they served the tasteful treats. But my best F&C experience has to be from Hout Bay near Cape Town South Africa. It was a family excursion to the beach with lunch thrown in. There was just something special about those greasy, newspaper-bound, lookin-out-on-the-Atlantic Ocean, fish & chips! Perhaps, for me, it’s more about the taste connected to the current terra firma.

Its John’s version of the story that informs us that the two fish and five loaves was really a boy’s lunch (John 6:9) contributed as a result of Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to do something about the personal need of the thousands attending his impromptu hillside meeting. Its importance is measured by its inclusion in each of the Gospel’s, (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6). Since this is opinion base, then let me share one…I think too many speakers spend time expounding on the peripherals, failing to get to the point of the narrative. One could argue that the peripherals actually enhance the point but why waste the precious time you have, fifteen to twenty minutes on a Sunday morning, with waffling about the wilderness and never getting to the promise land? Here are the promise land lessons for me…

 1)    This is about servanthood – Jesus’s challenge was first to his disciples;    “Jesus replied, you give them something to eat.” (Matt 14:16), and this is echoed specifically through Mark and Luke (Mk. 6:37, Lk. 9:13) and in John it is implied in Jn. 6:5-6. Those of you who are spiritual leaders…the Spirit is speaking to you right now; “you give them something to eat.”

 Jesus’ first words about the need of the people were to the heirs of the kingdom, his disciples. Here he is pointing them to the importance of spiritual responsibility, and the challenge of every heir-apparent, to discern and meet the need of the people. In this case it was for food to sustain them while they listened and learned. One of the roles of a leader is to identify the legitimate needs of the people he/she is leading and then to meet that need. Jesus tried to do this with his disciples and in the process gets the normal reaction; “let them go in the villages and fend for themselves” or “it would take eight months of wages to feed all these people.”

  In his book, Jesus on Leadership, C. Gene Wilkes gives us a clue as to what Jesus was attempting with his chosen; “You will never become a servant leader until you first become a servant to the leader.” If the excuses sound familiar to you, it just might be because you have used the same excuses to excuse yourself from personal responsibility just like the disciples did. How are you doing in the area of servanthood? Look for ways you can meet the need of your people.

 2)   This is about satisfaction – “They all ate and were satisfied” Mark 6:42, (Matt. 14:20, Lk. 9:17, Jn. 6:12). For me, this may be the most critical need of every human being…the longing to be satisfied, fulfilled, to have a purpose to live for. Oh I know the context here…it was all about food you say? Nonsense! This is far deeper than a basket of bread…this is ultimately about the bread of life – Jesus and the search of the soul to live in relationship, finding its purpose.

 Richard Parrott shares a portion of a message given by an extraordinary Methodist preacher named Albert Edward Day in his book, My Soul Purpose;

 “But God is present in reality no matter what unreality our practices and our ponderings imply. He is forever trying to establish communication; forever aware of the wrong directions we are taking and wishing to warn us; forever offering solutions for the problems that baffle us; forever standing at the door of our loneliness, eager to bring us such comradeship as the most intelligent living mortal could not supply; forever clinging to our indifference in the hope that someday our needs, or at least our tragedies, will waken us to respond to his advances. The Real Presence is just that, real and life-transforming”

That day on the hill-side as thousands filled their hungry stomachs with bread that does not sustain forever, the Gospel writer John links this experience in the same chapter with the words of Jesus as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in the Message; “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread — living Bread! — who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live — and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.” (John 6:47-51).  This is the bread will satisfy the longing soul for purpose and fulfillment. I hope you are sharing this bread frequently and faithfully with your people.

 

3)   This is about making something out of nothing – Jesus specialized in the impossible. How is it possible that two fish and five barely loaves could feed over five thousand people and still have more than enough left over? I wish I knew. Here’s what I do know; God can make something out of nothing! Now make it personal…that’s right…it’s for you too. He can take your humblest offering, transforming it into a gift fit for a king, making it pleasing in his sight. By the way, your humblest offering is you! That’s right…he wants you first, foremost and entirely. He wants to stretch you. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and may become difficult at times but it is also rewarding and fulfilling. Through this wonderful, life-changing relationship, he will accomplish things never thought possible. Remember, he specializes in making something out of nothing. He can make new, something that was old; clean, something that was dirty; alive, something that was dead. Nothing is impossible with him. That’s not good news…that’s great news!

 Well that’s my take on it anyhow. I am certain you can work out other lessons the Spirit reveals as important to your walk…but I still think fish & chips sound a whole lot better than fish & bread. And well….at least that’s my opinion!

 

Dennis L.R. Strissel

 

 

Reference

 Parrott, R.L. (2009). My soul purpose. Nashville, TN: The Woodland Press.

 Wilkes, C.G. (1998). Jesus on leadership. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

 

 

15,000 views reached! Thank you readers!!

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Hey everyone, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you all for tuning into this little blog site! It’s unreal that in just over six months that this blog has reached 15,000 viewers. I will do my best to keep this going, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in the process! Hallelujah for this wonderful opportunity and for the blessings God has granted me in this area of ministry!

In January I felt the Lord convicting me to share more from my heart in the form of writing, and so I began this venture…I really only got into it in March of this year! So with that said, I wish again to thank you all and keep reading and I will keep writing in His name!

-Blessings on you!

Construction Instructions…

I was holding the instructions in my hands, but I had no intention of using them.  Who needed instructions, after all this was a do it yourself project and what part of “do it yourself” included instructions?  Casting the instructions aside, I began to build the bookshelf on my own.  It felt great!  I had the screw driver in one hand and in the other hand I was clutching one of the corners of the would be shelf, yet I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.   So I did what I thought any great carpenter or construction worker would do…I guessed.  Finally when I had put everything together, when all of the dove tailed ends were roughly fastened together with my best guess of the appropriate screws and fasteners,  I stepped back from my project and looked at it.  As I appraised my handiwork and my supposed craftsman skills I quickly realized in many of the steps of construct, I had made several mistakes.   One of the main corner pieces was backwards and the unfinished side was exposed.  Another corner had been added to a slightly shorter wood panel piece and the entire bookshelf was skewed awkwardly leaning to one side.  What started out as a simple do it yourself project became a humbling lesson and the realization that I was not as skilled as I had first imagined.  I was completely in over my head without the instruction manual.  I thought I knew what I was doing, but when faced with my finished mess of a product, I had to come to terms with the realization that I wasn’t as talented as I thought I was.  And to add insult to injury I had so many leftover bits and pieces unused still in the packaging.  I knew that my “go it alone” plan had failed…it had failed miserably!

That’s what pride and self-confidence does to us in this life…leaves us with shabby, poorly constructed and down right  embarrassing projects.  And when we look over at what is left, bits and pieces, vital to the actual construction, remain untouched.  They say pride comes before the fall and I would like to add that pride also comes before reading the instruction manual!

Am I the only one who has done this?  Come on…be honest.  Sometimes picking up the instruction manual feels tedious, unnecessary and time consuming, not to mention that it can be difficult to find the side that is in our language.  But the truth of the matter is that without the instructions, most, if not all of us will undoubtedly create a piece of furniture that possibly will be unusable, unsuitable for anything and we will be forced to take it apart and start all over.

There is a very real spiritual application to this story.  Dare I say that sometimes each of us has looked at God’s Word, our instruction booklet or guide to godly living, and thought, “I don’t need it, I already know what the instructions will say and I can do this project called life by myself.”  This is a dangerous assertion.  We proclaim that we don’t need any kind of help or guidance, and then we try it on our own and find that we have constructed a mess of things.  I do not think it an accident that the first recorded message of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, begins with “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)  In other words – be humble and you will not only be able to receive God’s instructions, but you will be able to apply it in life and be a part of God’s kingdom. Pride can blind us to this fact.  Self-assurance and self-reliance are okay up to a certain point, but they can only take us to the foot of the cross and cause us to realize that our knowledge, understanding and wisdom are not enough.  This realization isn’t about humiliating us or causing us to feel inferior, but rather puts our lives into perspective of the greater most excellent ways of God.  When we begin to understand God desires full access to our lives and to our hopes and dreams, only then will we begin to see the big picture.  Only then will we begin to live for Him and for others instead of only for ourselves.

When you step back from the project that is your lives what do you see?  Are there still exposed, unfinished pieces that need correcting?  Are there still bits and pieces left over in the packaging, untouched and unused?  He wants to help us, He wants to create a master piece in us, but this transformation cannot begin unless we take a look at His guiding words and apply His love and wisdom to our life’s construction.  Don’t let pride and self-reliance rule you!  Don’t limit life’s construction by limiting the instructions to your own understanding and knowledge.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” –Jesus. Image

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