In Order To Truly Love, We need this….

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:” -Philippians‬ ‭2:5‬ ‭

Do you remember the golden rule?
Perhaps your parents taught you this principle of treating others the way that you want to be treated.

So how’s it going with that?
Especially when someone pushes all your buttons?
When someone cuts you off in traffic.
When someone talks down to you in a condescending way…

Then this golden rule becomes so much harder doesn’t it?
It is much, much easier to treat people nicely when they treat you nicely, but when they don’t all bets are off.

Let’s add other believers to this…
Isn’t it interesting that sometimes the hardest people to love…(now get this) – are other Christians. Why is that? Aren’t we working for the same cause? Aren’t we all loving Jesus? So why is it so hard to love other Christ-followers sometimes? Could it be that we all have some sort of idea how to best serve Jesus and if some other believe has a different view then watch out. You see, we sometimes think that our way of worshipping or serving Jesus is the only way and so we protect that methodology to the point that it (not Christ) becomes sacred. And so we fight tooth and nail for our method of service and worship instead of coming together in unity and working in our diverse worship and adoration of Jesus.

How do we change our mindset?
Could it be that the walls that need to come down in our churches and in our Christian world view has to do more with the battle of our minds and preconceived notions of what honors God in our practices? Could it be any more simple that this: That we simply love…others…with no “ifs” “ands” or “buts” involved? What would the Church look like if Christians lived and loved out Philippians 2:5 in the real world?

What is the mindset of Christ?

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭‬

Jesus’ love and mindset was to disciple those around Him and He was willing, more than willing to lay down His life for those He called friend. And He calls all those who would seek Him – ‘Friend’.

Does our love for others resemble Christ’s love? Christ’s mindset?
Do we take this ‘golden rule’ to the next level in our relationships with those around us?

The Cold Hard Truth:
There will be those Christians we may not agree with.
We might find that our personalities, hobbies, likes and dislikes are vastly different…BUT…can we love them and have the same mindset as that of Christ. Can we love them regardless, or in spite of all of that? What we might find is that in the process of seeking the very mindset of Christ, in our every day life – we are given the very heart and love of Christ to love them more deeply and more genuinely.

May our relationships and the way we love others be the very mindset as that of Christ’s.

Something more to ponder today.
Blessings on you today!

10 Ministry Tools for the Non-Musically Inclined Pastor.

YouNot all of us pastors have the luxury of having a full worship band, pianist and an ear for music. Let’s face it, some of us reading this article right now can’t carry a tune in a bucket…and that’s okay. We don’t all have to have the gift of music. Scripture even points out the various gifts that we are all given and appointed with (Eph 4:11, 1 Peter 4:10-11), and just as the focus on speaking in tongues can become an issue, so too then use of music. Don’t get me wrong, music in worship can be most beneficial to the body of Christ, but it should be viewed as a conduit to deeper worship, not the desired end result.

Today, let us focus on this element of worship with the non-musical pastors in mind. If you fit this mold, then take note. My wife is very, very talented in other areas of ministry, but she will openly admit that music is not one of those talents.

There are many, many pastors in small churches or corps that do not have a musical bone in their bodies, and that’s okay. I want to help you find some tools to use within worship that will assist you and your congregation within and even around the conduit of music on Sunday.

1) YouTube Videos/YouTube Video Downloaders.
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If you are not musical at all, you might utilize a plethora of Christian worship music on YouTube. There are even Youtube downloaders that you can use to have the videos accessible in places of worship where WiFi and the internet are sketchy or nonexistent. Using a video on YouTube could include modern top 40 Christian songs, a movie clip, or numerous other topics other than just music.

Don’t neglect the power of videos and or worship songs in your Sunday services. Feel free to be creative and intentional in the planning of your service theme too. Caution: This will take time, so don’t just throw everything together on Saturday night and expect amazing results…intentional planning takes time and hours. We are all busy people, but not taking the time to find the appropriate videos and/or music, is noticeable in our services (I’ve been guilty of this too).

2) iSing Worship (app)
This is a great app that does cost a little bit, but is a tremendous tool if you have a portable device like an iPad or iPhone. The app is free, but the songs will you about $3 a piece, which is only a dollar more than what you would pay for songs you currently buy on Google Music store or the apple iTunes Store. When you buy these songs, you then have the ability to include all of the elements of the song (i.e lead vocals, guitar, drums etc.). So, for instance, if you wanted to lead the song you could turn the vocals down and sing with the music like it was Christian Karaoke hour. Or iSing worship could become your worship band in a box by simply hitting play. Be sure, however that you plan the songs you are going to sing ahead of time and have the words either printed or displayed on the screen for the congregation to sing along.

Just some of the songs I have purchased and used in my services.The nice thing about iSing Worship is that once you select the songs you want to present on Sunday, it comes up on the display in front of you with the Lyrics as you lead the song.I highly recommend this app if you are willing to invest a little bit of money for the songs.  It adds an element of intentionality into your worship, even if you’re not musically inclined.
3) Recruit & Delegate
One of the challenges for many pastors, regardless if they are musically inclined or not is the use of other people in worship services.   Do not be afraid to ask other people to help out, or lead elements of the service.   In fact, a shared worship experience with other people leads to a better all around worship service.  If you’re at all like me, perhaps you are a control freak and you want to ensure everything goes according to plan, perhaps we have to come to the conclusion that we must trust the Holy Spirit as well as other people.
When we share the worship experience with other people, we share ownership.  Be picky when you select, recruit and delegate people to these tasks, make sure you are selective and intentional.  Find people who have potential as future leaders or already established leaders.  It’s okay to fail or have rough worship experiences with these individuals, that’s a part of the learning & discipling challenge!
4) Utilize your Youth
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The apostle Paul told Timothy not to allow others to look down on him because he was young (1 Timothy 4:12)…the same can be said about young people in our churches and in the worship setting.  Use your young people, don’t discount their willingness and abilities to lead.  Teach them, disciple them as the future leaders by investing in them now within your worship services.  Have them help by reading a prayer, or scripture verse, a skit, or even by leading a song.  Some of your young people might be more musically gifted than you are – so cultivate that gift and use it in your worship service!Also, don’t let older people in your congregation overly criticize your young people.  We do not want to discourage their growth as future leaders, we want to encourage them.  Unfortunately most churches have the old grouches who grumble at anything new – even young people.  Don’t tolerate that behavior from any member of your congregation.  We need to disciple our youth, and this is a great way to begin to do that!5) Set the Stage (don’t neglect this!)


Regardless if you are musically inclined or not, we can become more creative in our church decor.  Don’t neglect the aesthetics of your worship space!  Take into account the seasons, the topics you are preaching on and use your worship space to reach all of the senses of the worshipper.  Use smells (plug ins, or spices, candles – but don’t let it become over-powering.  Use sites – place artwork up, or banners, build sets out of styrofoam and paint it…there are many links of Pinterest and other websites to explore and tap into our creative sides.
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Use worship songs at the beginning of the service through cd/mp3/computer…set the stage with song (even if you aren’t musical).
When we actually plan the scenes of worship within our worship spaces we introduce our congregations to a living and moving God.  The stages and worship places are concerts or performances, but there is something to be said about being intentional with the sights and sounds (and smells) or our spaces for the purpose of ushering our congregants into the very throne room of God.6) Worship Band in Hand (app) 80F2AEDA-13F8-4F91-9073-5EC1C971B0E4
This app also costs some money in terms of purchasing the songs that you want yo use, but it comes with a lot of features and abilities.  You get one free song included upon installation of the app, it gives you the opportunity to try in it out and see if you like it.7) Auto Pad(app) DB7C4580-E865-4E70-90EB-D6A043897404
This app will cost you $2.99, but there are many features that this ambient sound pad contains that could set your worship onto a new plain.  Perhaps you use this during your sermon and the use of tone and ambient sounds can deepen the worship experience.   Using such a tool might require you to include/recruit others to help you operate the app while you preach or read scripture.  Give this app a try and experiment with its use in your worship service!8) Lead a Messy Church instead!  messy church 2
Do you want to break up the monitany of the worship experience?  Do something different.  Some have begun to do dinner church, while others have started to incorporate Messy church into the worship experience.  Messy church can be a great way to reduce your music phobia by utilizing stations through this very practical, teachable methods.here is a link to a few that we have done over the years – https://pastorsponderings.org/category/messy-church/9) Conduct A Quaker Service7256EF73-FB9D-41F8-A2CB-50ABA8C4E724
A Quaker service generally is not focused on music, but instead the recitation of poetry, prayers, and the element of silence.   This type of service might be a stretch to many of your congregants, even more so than Messy Church because of the use of silence.  Despite the drawbacks, using this type of worship setting, but be just the thing your church or corps needs in order to have everyone dig a little more deeply into their hearts and minds.

Here is a link for more information on the Quaker service

10) Prayer Stations/Artistic Approach
20A21EF5-8630-4240-9045-86461F35EDE7Conduct a prayer service with stations.
If you want to get creative, you can go onto Pinterest and explore the many ideas expressed there when it comes to Prayer Stations.  This approach takes the focus off of the use of music and onto a hands-on prayer service.  You could quietly play worship music in the background through your sound system and encourage everyone to spend the next 45 minutes at the many prayer stations that you have intentionally set up in your sanctuary.  Here are some links to help guide you in this:
Prayer Loom
Thy Kingdom Come
Scrabble Pieces
More Pinterest Ideas

These are just 10 suggestions to help the non-musical and musical pastor a like, for the purpose of creating a deeper, more meaningful worship service.  These are not exclusively ‘it’ for worship ideas, but just a primer for more exploration and worship developement in your corps & churches.

Please tell us what you use in your churches that help to make your worship experiences more meaningful and helpful to you and your congregation?  Post your commends below, we want to hear from you.

Something more for all of us to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Silence is a Killer…A Devotional Pondering.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let’s face it, we all encounter difficult days…some more difficult than others.
There are days that we can manage on our own, and then there are days when we are completely floored by the problems that come our way.  The pressures may seem impossible to overcome, and sometimes that may be true…

I know what you’re thinking, “that doesn’t sound very encouraging to me”…let me finish:
The pressures may seem impossible to overcome, and sometimes that may be true…but we were never meant to handle it all on our own.

In the Apostle Paul’s day, the new believers in Thessalonica were encountering all kinds of trouble.  Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia which boasted over 200,000 people.  This city was known for being a military and commercial port city.  So within this large city in Macedonia, these young Christians were encountering all sorts of trouble – even persecution and death because of their new-found declarations of faith.  In the midst of their living testimonies, they longed for the day of Christ’s return.  What does that mean?  They lived in fear every single day, and couldn’t wait for Christ to come back.   And so these young Christians lived expectant lives while encouraging each other onward.

The persecution in Thessalonica must have been fierce for the Apostle Paul to remind them that they needed one another and they ought to continue (“just as you are doing”) to encourage one another.

Let’s put this into perspective:
We might not be facing certain death for our faith, instead we might be struggling to pay rent, finding funds to feed our families, enduring a tough problem at work or at home…all of these situations are arduous and, at times they keep us up at night.
The killer is silence. 
What do I mean?
We think no other Christian is struggling, and if they are it must mean that their faith isn’t strong enough.  This could not be further from the truth.
We have this idea that we shouldn’t let other Christians know how discouraged we really are, because we don’t want them to think less of us.  Because we don’t want others to talk.  Because we fear judgment of others.  Because we believe in the perfect Christian life that really doesn’t exist…because we’ve bought the lie that to be a Christian means we don’t struggle with these things anymore.

And so, silence is a killer.
No one knows.
We don’t share.
And our hurts go unchecked, unnoticed, and unaddressed.

Dear Christian,
How can we encourage one another if we aren’t being honest with each other?
How can we carry each other’s burdens if we allow silence to slowly kill our souls?
We cannot continue to buy the lie that everything is fine when we face times of trial and we keep it private.  (Some will laugh at this and say, but church is full of hypocrites and gossipers…then find REAL believers in whom you can confide!)

Healing can begin with out this kind of encouragement, but long is the process and deep the scars.  When we have others who will journey beside us, and encourage us, we will find added strength, hope, abundance and encouragement.

Don’t let silence kill you.

Easter Memories – Childhood Recollections…

I always have fond memories of the Easter season.
Growing up in the church, I don’t recall a time when I didn’t go to church.  Many times I sat through that dreaded (at least in the eyes of a child) 3 hours of the cross Good Friday service.  I also remember not being all that fond of early Sun-rise services either.  Waking up at the crack of dawn, even before the rooster would even begin to crow…the lights would twinkle in windows down the street as some rustled about in the early dawn.  Then we would hustle to a public outdoor service of some kind where the cold wind would always bite at my nose and send me to shivering later.  But there was always the reward of the warm glow of the Sunrise when it crested the mountain at the Eastern horizon.   Perhaps, in some way, that is why Easter sun-rise service has always been special to me.  I would shiver in the cold morning air UNTIL the Sun began to shine and cast its warming rays upon us once more.  It would remind me of the state I was in before knowing Christ – that cold and lonely place.  It was a place devoid of the Son, filled with selfishness and hurt…but when Christ’s love broke into my life and I accepted His forgiveness and grace – I could feel the warmth of His love.  It almost felt as I was wrapped in His warm embrace, and all was right with the world again.

Perhaps, as I reminisce of my many visits to those cold mornings of Easter Sunday, where we would sing “Up from the grave He arose“,  I too find myself being resurrected again.  I too identify with the empty tomb, for God’s glory has warmly shone into my life.  And when the glow of the rising Sun appears again, I see the hope of eternity once more in its rising.  No, not in the Sun itself, but in the Son-rise, a Messiah conquering death, a Savior delivering me once more from my sin-sick heart.

Death cannot keep his prey—
  Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away—
  Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
  Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Something more to Ponder.
What are you Easter memories?  Comment below and let the conversation continue!

Dear Salvation Army, If Baptism isn’t Necessary, are Uniforms?

“So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…” -Acts 10:48a

Recently I was asked a question by one of our volunteers who had been busily answering phones but found a lull in the rush of the day.  The question?  “Why doesn’t The Salvation Army baptize?”  It’s a good question, one that has been asked many times before.  I answered him, in a semi-rehearsed conversation.  I told him about our perspective on holiness and on holy living.  That these outward ceremonies only represent that which the Holy Spirit has already on on the inward parts of our heart and lives.  I went on to explain that baptism isn’t necessary to salvation, but rather a public witness to that life changing event.  He countered that it says one must be baptized even in the Great Commission:  “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

I challenged  him with a notion of my own:  but Peter said, “ and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[a] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”  (1 Peter 3:21)

If water baptism is only a symbol of the salvation that now saves you, doesn’t that mean that it’s all about the Holy Spirit and not the water?  Doesn’t that mean that, as I have already mentioned it’s not the water that makes the difference, but rather the work of Him who now resides within us at the moment of initial sanctification when we said “yes” to Christ’s dominion and Lordship of our lives?  -When the baptism of the Holy Spirit first encompassed our lives?

We continued to converse about this topic of baptism and its necessity, until this very astute volunteer asked a question I had not thought about.  He said; “In order to be a member of some churches, you have to become baptized (at least in his church it was emphasized I later found out).  So how does one become a member in The Salvation Army?”  I told him about our Soldiership classes and then how new soldiers are given uniforms as another sign of their membership into The Salvation Army, which is also an evidence of a life changing event as a soldier pledges to: “HAVING accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, and desiring to fulfil my membership of His Church on earth as a soldier of The Salvation Army, I now by God’s grace enter into a sacred covenant…THEREFORE

I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and obedient to His leading in my life, growing in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible.

I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.

I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life, allowing nothing in thought. word or deed that is unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral.

I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with others: my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow Salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community.

I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life.

I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.

I will abstain from alcoholic drink. tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs. gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.

I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged.

I will be actively involved, as l am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps, giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to support its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army.

I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of Salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.

I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God’s help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.”

I showed him the general idea of a Soldiership enrollment and pledge/covenant.  
He looked at me with a little bit of surprise.
Then his next words really made me think, “But this is similar to what I experienced in my baptism.”
He went online and showed me some of the wording that was used on his day of baptism.  The website blink and whisked us to his church’s website and there on the screen was the basic ceremony of baptism:  

Since you have responded by God’s grace
to the call of the gospel to believe and be baptized,
we ask you, before God and his people,
to profess your faith in Jesus Christ.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ?
Yes!
Do you intend to be Christ’s faithful disciple,
trusting his promises,
obeying his word,
honoring his church,
and showing his love,
as long as you live?
Yes!

(*Note:  Both of these public statements of faith are good and helpful for the body, I am not criticizing their usefulness)  

After showing me this he asked me the all important question, “If The Salvation Army believes that baptism is unnecessary, then isn’t the Uniform that you wear unnecessary too?

You know in some ways he is right.
The Uniform isn’t of course necessary for Salvation just as water baptism doesn’t save people…but could it become that to us in the Army?
Of course we know that the entirety of this transforming grace is done through the Holy Spirit alone.  Each are symbols.   Each are ways in which we commemorate and identify ourselves as members of that particular Ecclesia.   But, perhaps it begs the question of us today, even to quantify and formulate our own response of the necessity of uniform in The Salvation Army.  Do you have an answer or do you merely follow, perhaps even blindly without fully recognizing the symbolism and meaning?

Please do not get me wrong, I am not advocating that we chuck our uniforms away and lose that part of our identity, but what is the reason that we still wear the uniform?  Do we wear it for public recognition?  Do we wear it to look good?  Do we wear it because it’s what we’ve always done?  Do we wear it to fit in?  -Any of these answers is NOT good enough.  We must formulate a personal response and reason.  Yes, we are a part of this international movement.  Yes, we are identifying ourselves as members of The Salvation Army, but is that a sufficient of an answer?

Let me ask this question and perhaps some will think me a little crazy in asking, has the use if Uniforms and enrollment of soldiers simply taken the place of baptism and even communion as the commonality and qualifications of membership?  Have we just exchanged one ceremony for another?  Could this eventually lose it’s symbolism and meaning to future generations…or has this already happened and we aren’t prepared to admit it?

Two key observations before I close this open ended pondering today (and please comment and share your answers and questions with us):

1) William and Catherine Booth decided to exclude the use of baptism and communion because these had been abused and lost its meaning and had even become means for salvation and even power of the church.  Could this be happening to the Uniforms and the use of such a wardrobe?

2) The Uniform was originally adopted so that poor and rich alike could fit into “church” or the movement of the Army.  But as the price of uniforms become more and more expense even with allowances and percentages offered to members, is it necessary?  It used to solidify and unify the early Army…but was it meant to last forever?  Also has it now become what it should never have become – something that divides new comers and adherents from the “true” soldiers?  Instead, of unifying is it undoing what the Booths originally set out to do with the lower East End of London?

Things To Ponder (Tell us what you think?):
Have we not taught the proper use of uniform?
Have we lost the symbolism?
Has the Uniform become a divider instead of something that unifies?  Are we overthinking this?
Are we in need of changing the uniforms?
What of Baptism?  Is it really similar to the ceremony of soldiership & renewal ceremonies?  And have we just exchanged one ceremony for another?

Note: My purpose for such a pondering today is not to discourage you dear Salvation Army, but rather to better identify and have an answer for such questions as I have had this week…now it’s your turn.  What do you think?  

Something more for the army to ponder today.

*Disclaimer, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are solely the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect that of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.* 

 

Drowning In The Waters?

I have this memory.
Do you know the kind?  It’s the kind that embeds those moments in your life, those moments of great fear or panic, and they etch themselves so deeply into the recesses of your brain that you will never forget?

Do you have memories like this?
I’m sure you do.

My memory?
I am a small boy, in a swimming pool at Gene Epply camp.
I don’t remember hardly anything from that time…but I remember that pool.
I remember how I stepped off of the edge and into reflective waters.  Perhaps it was a hot day, I do not recall, but I do recall my little legs straining to touch the bottom and just finding more water.  Panic set in.  The sounds of the laughing and playing children around me faded in and out as I struggled to stay afloat while my vision and my ears were precariously between the two plains – Water and air.

I can only imagine what my face looked like in those brief but terrifying moments.  Others might have seen a small toe-headed boy with wild panicked eyes flailing around in aqua blue waters.  I knew, without help, I would drown.  I hadn’t learned to swim yet, and I was going under.

All of this probably lasted only mere seconds, but to a drowning boy who was taking water into his lungs like it was air, this moment seemed to take an eternity!  Finally, large hands grabbed me with great strength, and I was hoisted out of the depths of those waters and into safety once again.

It’s funny what you remember when you are young.  Those odd things that stand the test of time and come calling into our recollection from time to time.  Memories are a funny thing.  They flutter about, and come to life when certain scents waft in the air, or through certain songs…or in this instance, when I visit a swimming pool.

That moment still lingers in me even after all of these years.
I believe it was my father that pulled me out of those waters – me, a little terrified boy who had yet to learn to swim.

I think there is a very real spiritual parallel here to grasp.
Many people in our communities are struggling to stay afloat in life.
Some have waded out too far from the safety of the shores.
Some have terrified looks in their eyes as they suddenly realize their predicaments.
Others have simply given up trying to stay afloat and are about to go under for the last time.

My son became a lifeguard last summer.
His time as a lifeguard taught him to remain vigilant during his shift at the waters edge.
Every now and then he and the rest of the lifeguards had to come to someone’s rescue and pull them back to safety.  The job of a lifeguard seems glamorous with awesome opportunities for tanning, but in reality it is a job of ever watchfulness.

In the same way, a follower of Christ ought to be a lifeguard who is deeply committed to watchfulness.  The water’s edge, the place of safety is the Church…where firm ground and restored hope surrounds all that are rescued.  The problem I see in the Church today is that there are far too few lifeguards willing to risk it all and venture into the depths of the waters when they see hapless people drowning in its depths.  There are far too many comfortable lifeguards who are more preoccupied with casting judgments like “it serves them right” or “they are just getting what they deserve!”

I am glad Jesus didn’t say that about us!
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…it doesn’t say all (except for ________(insert our names here), no ALL…everyone of us have fallen short.  (Romans 3:23)  Instead it says, “for while we were sinners (while we were drowning in the depths…while we were going under for the last time) Jesus died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

I still have that memory forever etched in my mind.
The day I almost drowned, was also the day I was rescued.

Perhaps, dear Church, we should get back to lifeguarding, because there are still so many falling below those dangerous waters…and who will help them?  Who will come to their rescue?  We are called out

Dear Salvationist – 5 Ways To Kill A Corps

I am certainly not advocating trying these out today in your corps, actually I’m pleading for all of us to do the opposite.  Our various ministries can, and should be paramount to our faith and to those we serve.   How we lead others, how we conduct ourselves in our corps makes a difference!

With that being said, dear Soldier, here are 5 ways to kill a Corps!

5.  Gossip lie
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
The Fastest way to burn your corps down to the ground is to strike the match of the malicious tongue that wags and pierces hearts.  Be aware of what you say and how you say things.  No one likes  to be around people who are asinine in their speech and malicious in their actions and opinions of others.  Gossip has no place in the corps, unless you long for it to die a slow and agonizing death.

We know that gossip shouldn’t be, but why do we tolerate it and even entertain it in our halls?  Dear Salvationist, have nothing to do with idle chatter and people who only want to slander and smear the truth.  (2 Timothy 2:23).

4.  Favoritism 
favorMy brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” (James 2:1-6 NASB)

It even happens in Corps buildings.
It might not necessarily be about rich and poor, but perhaps personalities and someone’s available gifts.  An Officer can favor only a specific few corps members and by doing so, unknowingly cause dissension, envy and strife.  The same can be said for local officers who choose corps members to help them in their daily duties.  Be fair to all who come into your halls!  Show love and compassion and be aware that favoritism can happen even if we’re not cognizant of it.  Favoritism is a true, perhaps unseen danger in our corps, and if left unchecked will cause jealousy, anger and disharmony to occur which can lead to a terminal corps.

3.  Lording Power power
“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder andwitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will ofGod; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)

This Salvation Army was founded upon a militant structure and sometimes we can get carried away with ourselves in places of leadership and authority.  Many of us have heard story after story where, one who was entrusted with power and authority, has used it in very unbiblical ways to hurt others.  I would hope that this is not the norm, but rather isolated incidents of worldly ambitions becoming visible to all.

power1Dear Soldier, be keenly aware of the pending dangers of authority and power.  If you are or ever become entrusted with any kind of power – use it wisely and with every amount of Holiness that you can muster!  What you say, how you lead, what you do – makes the world a difference!  Although we have a militant structure, keep in mind who is the head of our army – it certainly isn’t me or you, or even the General – It is the King of kings and Lord of lords!!  Be good leaders!  Be kind leaders.  Be wise leaders.  Set a godly standard by exercising grace, love and hope.

2.  Find Fault In Everything and Everyone!
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” (Romans 14:1-2)
fault-findingI have met some deeply cynical people in my day.  Many were housed within the corps…these individuals could never be pleased no matter how hard one might try.  No matter what took place, these individuals always saw the negative and very rarely the positive.  After time, no one wanted anything to do with them, because bitterness tends to bleed into the very fabric of our corps buildings if we let it.  thumbs

This blazing fire that could consume your corps, is like that of gossip.  It can invade and taint everything it touches.  People become disillusioned by it because no matter how hard you try fault and imperfections are always seem instead.

Examples (just to name a few):
“Well Captain, the service is just too dry for my tastes…”
“That worship band plays too loudly and I hate that sort of music…”
“We’ve never done it that way before, and we’re not about to try!”
“That man in the back has been coming to our corps for three weeks and he smells…”
“I might stop coming to the corps because _______(name here)___ is still there and they are horrible people!”

Sometimes, these nay-sayers use the old phrase “This and better will do” to justify their salty – never satisfied – fault finding attitudes that they have.  The problem isn’t everyone else, the problem stems from these individuals who can find nothing good to say…ever!  Don’t the the corps burn to ground because of fault-finders and judgmental people!

1. Abdicate All Leadership and Responsibilities  
batton

Let someone else do it!
I don’t have the time to come to corps programs and activities…”
Corps Officer – “So, who will lead adult Sunday School for the next three months?” (silence fills the space…no one volunteers even though there are many capable individuals in the room)
This Army isn’t fully functional until ALL capable members of our corps are engaged and serving!  Officers – you cannot abdicate your calling and role in the corps!  Soldiers, you cannot let or conceive that all things done in the corps is the sole responsibility of the officer!

If we want our corps to die – then never step up.
If we want to preach to empty pews during holiness meetings – then never lead.
We can die by not taking responsibility.  We can allow stagnation to set in and wilt away as one generation dies and there is no one left to take their place.

If you suffer from self-esteem issues or you question if you’re good enough to lead – you can do it!  You just need one person to believe in you.  We all make mistakes, it comes with the territory of leadership.  Being responsible means we own up to our victories and our failures…and then we keep going and we don’t quit simply because the going got tough.  We need more soldiers and officers with backbones – there I’ve said it.  It’s not a slam again those who are faithfully serving (Thank you for what you do both behind the scene and in front of everyone!)…we cannot afford to abdicate our authority and leadership IF this is where God has called us to!  Be faithful in the good times AND in the not so good times!   This Army needs you!  It needs good leaders!  It needs consistent, prayer driven leaders.

Wrapping it up.
So this is my top 5, it’s a primer…what’s yours?
Share with us your top 5 things that will kill any corps from your experiences!
Together, we can avoid these pitfalls!

Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Photo Mar 11, 9 09 43 AM
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent The Salvation Army’s thoughts and opinions, reader discretion is advised*

Are We”Doing Church”All Wrong?

A lot has been said about what “Church” should look like.
Thousands of books have been written about it.
There are many, many workshops and educated teachers whose primary purpose is to instruct the Church how to be…how to exist.

But…

What if we are doing Church all wrong?
church2
Many denominations have glommed onto specific acts of worship – Baptism, Communion, Flag waving, Altar calls, Speaking in tongues, Music Styles, Multi-media blitzes…etc.  -And these are all good things -sometimes important elements of worship, BUT what happens when these “good things” become the main focal point?  Could they become over emphasized?  Could these mere elements of worship become worship itself – completely devoid of its original purpose?

In the process of becoming “Church”…are there times when we lose sight of why we’re a Church in the first place?   I don’t mean to deconstruct the Body of Christ today, but I feel very strongly about this subject.  I believe our belonging to Christ is enough…we do not need rituals to maintain or get closer to God.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that these elements of worship are all rituals, but when we do them week after week, month after month, year after year – and we just go through the motions of them…are we in danger of making these outward expressions of the inward change a ritual?

I am not saying that we throw the baby out with the bath water here, but perhaps we need to be more conscious of what we do in worship.

churchAnother question that I often ponder is this –
Is the Body of Christ really supposed to look like the Churches that we see in our communities today?  Are we really supposed to be separated and divided?  
Again, this is not a bash upon any church or denomination, but rather an intern perspective here.  I believe that man made edifices have, at times, taken the holiness out of our holy of holies.

When we try to organize everything, and building our kingdoms, when we try and grow our congregations and sometimes compete against the church down the street…have we lost sight of why we’re a church in the first place?

go
ACTS 2 Church 
The Acts 2 church looks vastly different that any church that I know of today.
These men and women lived in community together…kind of like a commune, but more like a family…not a cult, but a body of Christ built together out of love.  They shared EVERY Resource that they had.  They ate together, they prayed together, they added to their numbers daily.  People saw their love of Christ and it was infectious!

We live in a very individualistic society today…we don’t really understand the Hebrew culture of the Acts 2 church.  We don’t get to be that close any more in our churches.  Sure, we invite one another out to eat after church, or we go to one another’s homes…but our worship services today are so structured and methodical…there’s an order to it.  I am not saying that this is wrong, but sometimes “Community” only becomes achieved on Sundays for an hour or two, and maybe a during another hour at midweek.  We don’t look like that early church anymore.

I wish I had an answer in how we can recapture some of that fellowship…wait there is – Discipleship.  Fellowship.  Family.

We must be more intentional in our church families to be disciples as well as disciplers.
We don’t always operated as individuals  in the Body of Christ – we are joined together, and we need that fellowship – just as God desires that kind of fellowship with us!
What if true Church was more about that fellowship than the number of scripturally accurate hymns or contemporary songs we sing on Sundays?  What if God desires more than just a water baptism or a morsel of bread and wine on our lips?  What if it’s not about flag waving but heart changing?  What if Church is more about what we do outside of the walls of a million dollar structure than what we do on the inside?

I think we get so blindsided by our elements of worship that we forget to look outside.
Sure, we need to be fed, but if all we do is gorge ourselves in our buildings while the world around us is starving, are we “Doing Church” right?

holyI think that before we can “Do Church” we have to “BE Imitators of Christ“…We have to experience the inward change of our hearts before any of these outward things can be evident and real.  After all, wasn’t it God’s instruction to “Be Holy”…not “Do Holy” (Lev 20:26)  We get these backwards many, many times.

I pray that within our walls of “Church” we first focus on being reflections of Him, then we take that reflection into the world so that others might see Him and believe as well!

Something more to ponder today!
You might disagree with me…so be it.

To God be the glory!

A Paris Terror Attack Pondering – How We Should Respond

When someone intentionally kills another person we call it “murder”.
When someone intentionally kills multiple people we call it “mass-murder”
When a group claims responsibility for killing over 100 people we call it what it is – “Terrorism”.

attackI mourn, as many do, for the senseless killings that took place in Paris on Friday.
Innocent people were gunned down while they socialized at the end of the work week.
For 30 minutes in the streets of Paris, order was turned into anarchy by a handful of radical terrorists with high powered weapons and explosives.

I have read numerous posts and blogs that have somewhat reflected my anger and outrage, and the truth is MOST people are outraged when senseless violence takes place upon the innocent.  I have also read numerous profanity laced comments and hate filled posts – this behavior is somewhat understandable in fits of rage, but it never helps.
attack2
What is the Christian Thing To Do?  
As Christians, we are called to a higher standard…and it IS a very difficult place for many of us to remain in the midst of injustice, violence and hatred.  As a Salvationist (A member of The Salvation Army) I read the response of General Andre’ Cox today.  In his response he correctly stated this, which I wholeheartedly agree  with:

coxI want to say that my purpose here is not to make political statements. Others are better placed and carry a particular responsibility to do just that…please pray for political and national leaders. All of them, not just President Hollande and his team in France, but leaders in your country and mine.

National leadership is never easy. History shows that. These men and women need the faithful and continual prayers of the Church, regardless of our personal political persuasions. Whenever I meet with political leaders in any country I assure them of my personal prayers, and those of Salvationists in that country. It is important that they know of this.

…I exhort you today to pray, deeply, for the grace of God and the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit, to be felt and experienced, in some manner, by the hundreds of family members personally devastated by the senseless loss of life in these hours. Death comes to all, but how it comes and in what circumstances, can add layers of added grief and pain……I urge you to pray for the Church, the Body of Christ, of which our Salvation Army is a vital partThere will possibly be strong voices within the public sphere calling for vengeful retribution against those who had nothing to do with these atrocities. In some small way the voice of the Church, of you and I, can call for added grace and care in these days. We can bring light into the gloom.”


The Christian response isn’t to call for revenge or violence.  My old self would greatly desire to see revenge take place, but this new creation that all of us share requires more grace, more forgiveness and especially more prayer.  I also recognize that God will be the final judge, not us.  All of creation is His and His alone and from this perspective we are to understand justice and redemption.

Be vigilant in prayer.  prayer
Be aware of hatred and sin in our world, but do not participate in its evil.
We are set apart, and in so doing, we must shine the light of Christ during such dark places and moments such as these!  Cast aside, at all costs, these worthless prejudices which blind us to redemption of all people from all walks of life.

Rest assured that sin cannot remain in the presence of God no matter what  those sins are.
Pray for our world, pray for its leaders, and for the areas of evil and terror that are present within it.
Pray that God will change the hearts of men.
Pray that we seek Him out and live for Him, so that our response to all of humanity is holy and Godly.

Please Pray With Me:
I mourn for the victims in Paris.
I pray for those who have to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
I pray for President Hollande of France, for President Obama of the United States, for other leaders in our world who will undoubtedly take action in rooting out wicked people bent on destruction and hiding behind the guise of religion.
I pray against the persecution of all kinds.
I pray for the Body of Christ to be evident through love, grace and hope in a world sometimes devoid of these life-giving qualities.
Please uphold our countries in your prayers.
Please pray for justice and for healing.
Pray that through such dark times – God’s glory will be evident.

This world is greatly complicated with politics, greed, ulterior motives and hatred, I pray that the Church seeks to reduce this instead of adding to it.  May we be His ambassadors, full of His holiness and love.

Something more of the Church to ponder today.
To God be the glory, honor and power, forever and ever – Amen.

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