Burn Your Ships And Commit!

cortesThe History Lesson
In 1519 Hernan Cortes, Spanish explorer, landed on Mexican soil.
He and his 600 Spanish troops were commissioned to take Mexico for Spain.
In a swift move to stave off any thoughts of retreat, he commanded that his fleet be burned.

Can you imagine being one of those six hundred men on alien soil standing there watching your only lifeline to the ‘old life’ being burned at sea.  The only recourse was to make progress deeper into this unknown land; to fight, survive and claim it for the crown.  The ships were gone, they had to fully commit or die.

For Us. 
I am not justifying any other actions of Cortes.
Some of his decisions were down right brutal.
That being said, I do believe that there is something here for us today.

Spiritually speaking…
Have we burned our ships in the act of a full commitment to Christ?
Are we still looking back longingly at the places that we used to live before we accepted this new life in the form of Salvation?   Do we (even subconsciously) consider this “commitment” to be temporary while all along we have a fall back plan in case it just doesn’t pan out?

I believe even Jesus had disciples in His day that had one foot in the new life while the other foot was still firmly grounded in the old.

(Luke 9:57-62)

The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The cost of following Christ is high!
The commitment level of such a calling is total or none at all.
We cannot have one foot in the new life while our other foot is firmly planted in the old life.
Either we are all in or we are not in at all.

Perhaps it is time that we burned the ships.
Perhaps it is time to burn that which holds us back from making that full commitment to Christ.
Don’t allow those things to pull you in two different directions any longer.
His path, His calling is the path of true peace, of true redemption, of true love.
When we burn the ships, we can no longer turn back from His will for our lives. ships
He wants a relationship with us that requires a full commitment.
So, how about it, are we willing to burn the ships?

Something more to ponder today!

Officership: A Calling For a Lifetime?


Some officers have struggled with this.  Some officers haven’t.  I have heard some argue about the lifetime calling while others argue the calling ‘for a season’.  I would like to outline both arguments in this article.  My purpose for this? To help clarify, not further muddy the waters.  To shed light on both contentions and for the reader to draw their own conclusion.

So what is the calling of The Salvation Army officer?  Do we deem it sacred?  Is this calling infallible?  Or do people make mistakes from time to time?

First let’s explore the Officer Covenant:

ImageWhat is a Covenant?

In the Bible covenants were made by God to people.  They were also made by people to God.  And lastly covenants could also be made from one person to another.  A covenant is simply a promise or an agreement, something that could be deemed as binding.

So when one enters into a covenant with God this person is making a promise to do or abstain from something.  With the definition of covenant being given, let’s now explore the two main arguments that are prevalent in our Army today.


Argument #1

The Covenant  an Officer makes to God is for life!

I have heard it said that within this calling, a Salvation Army Officer enters this covenant which is sacred.  What makes it sacred?  Certainly not a simple piece of paper with writing printed upon its surface?  Of course not!  There is, at the end of an Officer’s time at training college, a time of commitment made to God before their peers, the training staff and sometimes the territorial commander.  When the soon to be newly commissioned officer sign this covenant page, they are declaring and affirming their calling to serve the Lord in the capacity of Officership.  What is said about this signing by many, if not most, within leadership that it is a solemn declaration that is for a lifetime.

The argument has sometimes been taken to mean that should an Officer resign later on they have broken their covenant with God.  I have heard stories of Officers who have left the work that were told that they had sinned against God for leaving the work and breaking their ‘Officer’s Covenant’.  The Argument seems valid, yet could be construed as far too legalistic in nature.  Who are we as fallible people to claim that another person has turned their backs on God?

There is a need for accountability and a standard to uphold, however this argument presents a challenge in that how do we uphold this perspective as individuals?  In the legal sense should the terms we use be more clear?  legally speaking what does ‘all my days’ mean?  Is it ‘all my days’ that I’m an Officer?  Or are we to take it to mean ‘all my days’ of life that God has allotted me?

I know this sounds superficial but some could interpret this Officers covenant to mean one of two things.  So is this Covenant we sign for a lifetime or for a season?

Which brings me to the second argument:

Argument #2

The Covenant  an Officer makes to God is for a season!

Some would express that within the Officer Covenant there is adequate enough verbiage to  interpret what we sign as a calling ‘for a time.’  This isn’t generally how most view the covenant, however this is a part of argument #2 and its justification.

Do we truly sign our lives away so to speak and in an instant we no longer have independence in terms of where we will stay and where we will go?  Obviously when one becomes an Officer it isn’t because we are hugely overpaid, nor because we feel inclined to become stylishly dressed in uniform.  It is because we wish to serve the Lord and serve others through the means of Officership within the structure of The Army.

But does this necessarily mean that it is for life?  Obviously Officers don’t view it as some sort of prison sentence and we plod on serving 20 to Life.  But what happens should God call one who is an Officer to something else?  Have they broken their Covenant with God or has God simply used the means of man to adjust that covenant into a newer and different territory?

 Furthermore we shouldn’t presume that the workings of man are necessarily the working or the will of God in every instance.  For in our holiness tradition we are taught that through the continued promptings of the Holy Spirit we look less and less like our old sinful self (old has gone, new has come) and more and more the image of Christ.  In so doing we mature in our faith, could it be that in this maturity some have felt compelled to take a greater leap outside of the Army?  I’m not arguing for all who have left, but some appear to have taken this leap.

Lastly on this argument looking back at the context of our Founders, William Booth specifically was quite militant in his view of Officership.  Even his own children who had served within its ranks for a time then leaving were considered ‘deserters’ to the cause.  This paints for many this notion that William Booth propelled and enforced our understanding of this Officers Covenant.


Grace, Prayer & Holiness:

One wonders where grace falls within the Army at times.  When some leaders, a minority mind you, have condemned those who have left the work as traitors and sinners.   Grace rises above such lowly expressions.  We too ought to reflect and pray on how we minister to one another within this army.  How we treat one another, while at the same time reminding each other to live holy lives and continued prayer and devotion.

We are in the business of saving souls, but the saving of souls isn’t done solely by uniforms and ranks and officials…it is done first and foremost by the blood of Christ and secondly the workings of the Holy Spirit.  May we ever be diligent in this fight that we do not ostracize those who have, for whatever reason personal or otherwise, left this calling of Officership.  That we continue to live worthy lives before God first and foremost and that we live within that grace instead of condemnation and militant rules and stiff regulations.

Standards are important, leadership is vital, but grace is often the shepherd loving the sheep and gently and allowing growth to take place out of love instead of might and fist.

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