Dear Salvation Army, Don’t Hate Christmas…but Don’t Worship it either

georgeIn my head I have this idealistic concept of what Christmas should look feel like.
I picture myself standing next to George Bailey as the whole town comes to rally around him.  I picture all of us gathered around the Christmas tree all bright and sparkly, glittering and shiny, and we’re singing ‘Auld Lang Syne‘.  We are all breathing in the regalia, drinking up our tasty glasses of egg nog and we’re all wearing those cheesy sweaters you only see at Christmas time.  It’s a fantasy.  It’s a dream.  It’s certainly not reality.  (just let me dream for a moment please)

Sometimes it’s Christmas worship…for all the wrong reasons.

There’s another side of me though.  grinch
It’s the side that comes out more often than not.
It’s a side that I seldom acknowledge.
With everything that we do this time of year…raising much needed funds, running ourselves sick so that by Christmas day, almost every year, we are literally sick…counting toys, sorting toys, dreaming about toys and the sounds of ringing bells (it really is a reoccurring nightmare)…that side of me wishes I never experience another Christmas again. This side of me HATES Christmas.


I don’t say that lightly.
Sometimes I wish someone else would just take over and let me go put on my cheesy sweater so that I can stand by George Bailey again.  Sometimes I honestly dread getting to this time of year.  Now, I know what we do and why we do these things matters, it’s just that I can’t help but feel overworked, under-appreciated, and Christmas has become something that I hate instead of love.   Did I do something wrong?  Did I cancel Christmas because of my calloused heart?  Am I the cause of this emotion?  Sometimes that side of me rises up, rages, and won’t go back into its cage.  It snarls at the “job”.  It wails at the hours.  It flails like a two year old in the middle of a grocery store when they don’t get what they want.  The Grinch scream at the top of its lungs with veins popping out of its neck, the words are garbled yet still recognizable; “I HATE CHRISTMAAAAAS!

worship1Then I get to Sunday morning.
Then I get to refocus my heart.
Then the raging animal gets locked up again in its dented cage.
Then I get to retrain these emotions.
Then I swallow them down.
Then I push back at these raw, sour feelings.
Then I get to realign my intentions and my attitude.
Then I realize that once again I’ve lost my way.
It’s Sunday.
It’s Advent.
Where is this holiness, this sanctified spirit within me?
Did I misplace it?
Did I leave in the pew next to the pew bible and discarded bulletin?
Is it sitting next to the advent candles ironically located above the crimson holiness table with the words of irony “Holiness unto the Lord”?  Is it left in the chapel on Sunday?

Yes, we have made Christmas something to despise…sometimes.
Yes, we have worked ourselves to death…sometimes.
Yes, we make an impact on people’s lives…but are we really?
Yes, this system works…but is this the best we can do with the limited resources that we have?

All of these questions…
Not very many answers.

I really don’t hate Christmas.
I’m not green and please don’t call me the Grinch.
The two year old was left on the floor to finish that childish tantrum alone and embarrassed.

In my dream of the perfect Christmas I know that me and George Bailey are hanging out…but It’s just a dream.
I can’t worship this false ideal of what Christmas should look like either.  The real world come crashing in.
For now I’ll forget about buying that cheesy Christmas sweater and lounging in a comfy couch next to that fantastically decorated Christmas tree sipping egg nog while singing Old Lang Syne.

But is there a middle ground here?
I don’t want the proverbial cake and eat it too.
I’m not complaining.
I am a servant and an Officer.
Though I think we might get our priorities backwards at times.
Servants of what exactly?  Whose servants are we?

To help refocus and realign us  today amidst the hustle and bustle of our crazy, busy day:

Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God Be The Glory.

Dear Salvation Army, Officer’s Kids…

I am an Officer’s kid.  For those who have no idea what I am talking about, let me explain.
No, my parents weren’t in the military.  My parents were/are Salvation Army Officers.
Being an Officer’s kid is a lot like being a Pastor’s kid.
Being an Officer’s kid is also nothing like being a Pastor’s kid.
Is that as clear as mud?  Good.

Backing up,
I am an Officer’s kid…
So was my father and mother.
So were my Grandparents.
My Great-grand parents were the first in our family to join the ranks of this fledgling army here in the United States.

Being an Officer’s kid is a unique thing.
People expect more from you.
People expect you to act a certain way.
People expect you to be more mature than the rest of the kids your age.
In short, the expectations for Officer’s kids are unfair and perhaps the bar is set too high.

There is also the running joke that if one marries into the army and also has family in the army that a blood test is required to ensure your soon to be bride is not related.  Seriously, sometimes the life of an Officer’s kid can become solely an “army” bubble…and that, in my opinion, is not always healthy.
blank sign
Back to Officer’s kids and expectations…
I recall meeting many officers kids while living with my parents growing up.  We moved to various locations including South Africa, St. Helena and places in the central states of the U.S.  I have met some very straight-laced Officer kids, who in turn grew up to also become Officers themselves, and I have met some rebel Officer kids who pushed back at every turn.

Are the expectations of Officer kids fair?  In short, I believe that the answer is a resounding “No“!
Do these expectations of Officer’s kids sometimes lead to them wanting nothing to do with the Army when they grow up?  In short, I believe that the answer is a resounding “Yes“!
Other times, and I have witnessed this, Officer’s kids have seen how the Army and its leadership has treated their parents and because of those seemingly unholy moments, they have walked away from this movement.
Could we use a little more compassion in our Army?  Yes.
More understanding?  Yes.
The ability to understand the hectic lives of Officers who have young children in their homes?  Yes, yes, yes!

One might contend that Officers know what they are getting into when they sign their covenant…but did their children sign it too?  Do they tag along during the kettle season?  Do they help out, sometimes as the best and only volunteer on Sunday mornings?  Do they go where their parents tell them to go?  Many these Officer kids have unknowingly signed the covenant of officership too.

It is the nature of this organization.
There will be cause and effect.
A ripple here might become a wave on the other side…

How might we improve the lives of Officer’s Kids?
Does this responsibility fall squarely on the parents?
Does the corps, does DHQ, THQ, IHQ have a role in this as well?
What of the many who have left the army following reaching adulthood?  Is there something to learn from those experiences?

This isn’t some sort of “Woe is me” edition of Pastorsponderings, this is just me hoping to teach my kids the importance of being their own individual and walk their own spiritual path.  I’m not saying I didn’t or am not right now…because I have.  How can we improve this ever changing facet of Officer families for the better?  Are we making strides today?  Yes I believe we are.  Is there more work to be done in this sometimes forgotten aspect of “Army life”?  Yes I believe there is.

Honestly, I haven’t arrived at a conclusion on this today.
I am simply pondering the nature and nurture of Officer Kids.
I understand them.
I was one.
I sympathize.
I know that there are also perks, privileges and opportunities.

Honestly, I would like to hear from you.  What do you make of Officer Kids?
Were/Are you one?  Are you a Pastor’s kid…you can somewhat relate too.
How about a missionary kid?  You fit this mold to some extend too.
From the outside looking in – Soldiers and friends, how do you see Officer’s kids?

Something more to ponder in our Army world today.

“Sermon on the Mount” Part 1 (Listening to the Teacher)


Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


  1.  When Jesus sees us, he makes time for us.

An item in “The Report Card” told of a study done in Colorado in which 3000 high school seniors were asked about their best teachers. From their responses this composite was drawn. The ideal teacher (1) is genuinely concerned and interested in students as individuals; (2) requires students to work; (3) is impartial in dealing with students; and (4) is obviously enthusiastic about teaching. 

Today In The Word, Oct, 1989, p. 25.


  1. What do you want Him to teach you?
  2. Are you ready to be taught?
  3. What kinds of barriers prevent you from hearing His teachings?
  4. Are you ready to do what he says?
  1. When Jesus teaches us – we need to come to Him. 
    1. What does coming to him require from us?
    2. Our time?
    3. Our obedience?

How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did. Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn’t move. He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word. With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Our Daily Bread.

  2. Our Attention?


  1. Our faithfulness?
  1. Are we ready to hear Him today?
    1. Or are there distractions along the way?
    2. What is He teaching you?
    3. We are all guilty of ignoring Him.
    4. Holiness begins with our commitment to follow Him. 
    5. Will you sit at His feet and listen?
    6. Do you have a daily devotion time carved out?
    7. Are you giving Him your best not the rest?
    8. These teachings are so important in this life…may we commit to Him this week..and study what He is telling us! 



“Flip That House!” – Sermon Podcast Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army


Sermon Podcast check it out (2 Parts links below) Also podcasts are available for download via iTunes/Podcast/Brainerdcorps



Psalm 15:1-5 (NIV)
1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

• Where do you M______a H__________ for yourself?

• Where is Your H___________?


• What does a B____________ walk look like? (v.2a)

• How do we D____ R________________? (v.2b)


• Inward F________ has a way of impacting our

O__________ A___________s! (vs. 3-5a)

Flip the House:

It means we MUST A__________ Faith and live F__________!

Vs 5b – “He who does these things will never be shaken!”



Palm Sunday Sermon Podcast – Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army


“Complete Submission”

Here’s the sermon podcast link, also it is available to download from iTunes/Podcast/brainerdcorps

“Complete Submission”
(Mark 11:1-11)
1) When Jesus S________us He has a P______.

• He knows the o_________before we

g___ there!
• Do we s_________in the way?
• Or do we f__________ go even if we don’t have all of the information?

2) He will give us the w_______s to

s________. He G___________us!

3) When we S________ to Christ’s W______

for our lives, He can take His R___________

place as K__________of K_____________!


Father’s Day Sermon Podcast: “Marks Of A Godly Man”


Sermon: “Marks of a Godly Man”

Psalm 112:1-10 (NIV)
1 Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. 2 His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.  5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. 7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. 9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. 10 The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

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