Dear Salvation Army, I Wish I Had Known…

Regret. 
Contrition. 
Self-reproach.

Emotions that run deep beneath us.
Some propel us for the good.
Some dispel any and all forward progress we may have made.

news flash

You can’t live within your regrets.
You can’t burrow down beneath them and become spiritually disabled by them.
You can’t beat yourself up all of the time.

I believe that the Apostle Paul faced this type of self-reproach in his life too.
Having to say to yourself “I wish I had known”, might become a mantra of torture and pain.
Having to repeat these mistakes…let’s call them for what they might be – M-I-S-T-A-K-E-S
I’m not trying to get you off the hook here.
I’m not trying to justify our prior actions here.
But what I am saying is this:

Forgive

If you can’t learn to do this,
especially when we have received forgiveness
from God, then you will never be able to move forward
you will never be able to progress in this spiritual walk.
you will always be looking behind yourself
you will always be punishing yourself for
THOSE MISTAKES…

old lifePaul reminds us of this truth.
He reminds us (and perhaps himself)
He warns us of uttering that phrase about our forgiven
past that still screams at us and
tries to convince us that we don’t deserve God’s grace…
that same past that shouts at us and tells us that
we are beyond reach of mercy and that we totally deserve
punishment for these awful mistakes.

Paul says to these “I wish I had knowns
and he says to us:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
catch
Did you catch that?
Do you see the truth?
Can you understand that we’re all in the same boat here?
Our pasts and all of the mistakes we have made: 
-Can propel us forward.
-Can be used for our betterment
Can be Are  wiped clean.
-They don’t matter any more and they don’t live in our present.

Dear Soldier, 
stop fighting a war with shadows of your past! past
Stop waging a battle with ghosts that no longer exist.
Stop looking backward and the “I wish I had knowns”…they have been forgiven…you have been set free from them!

Don’t be defined by your past.
Don’t be defined by your mistakes.
Don’t give it a foothold in your present life…in your new life.

The father of lies would love for you to become crippled in your faith.
The great deceiver would try and convince you that you are of no worth and that your past is still very much present in your new life, and that little has changed.

I beg to differ.
Christ has set YOU FREE! free1
He didn’t do it partially.
He didn’t free you from the bondage of sin improperly.
He didn’t make a mistake with your free gift of Salvation.
You are free indeed!
You are a new creation.
You are forgiven.
You are save to save others through the mighty power of the Holy Spirit!
You are loved.
You are accepted though some will never accept you.
You are fit to be called a child of God!

So how about this, dear Soldier…

stop1
Stop the madness.
Stop the war inside your mind.
Stop hurting yourself spiritually.
Stop dwelling on the “I wish I had knowns
Stop looking back at your old life and living there through regret.
Stop lingering on the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in life and move onto the promises of God here and now in the present.

Live as kingdom people now!
You are fit to serve!
You are fit to wear your uniform!
You are fit to be called sons and daughters of the Most High!

So a last bit of advice to you today:

get on itSomething more for our Army world to ponder today!
glory

#Bringbackourgirls

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Human trafficking is still real.  It is still a blight in our world.  The recent stories of the kidnapped school girls in Nigeria and Chad by terrorist/militant organization Boko Haram has once again brought it to the forefront of the minds of many in our world.  Human slavery and the sex trade market needs to end.  How horrifying to be awakened in the middle of the night by kidnappers in your room.  How terrifying to be taken by men and young kids armed with automatic rifles.  How tragic that young girls aren’t safe within the confines of a school…in any country.  Human trafficking is abhorrent, despicable and disgusting.  

How can we fight Human Trafficking and modern day slavery?  

1. Pray – 
This might sound like a “wish” making task, but prayer works!  Pray to the Lord.  Ask Him to intercede.  Pray about legal actions you can take as a citizen in your country.  Pray for the lives of those who are affected by human trafficking and also pray for the men, women and children who are victims of human trafficking.  God hears our prayers and He does bring justice to those who are powerless and without advocates.  Begin with prayer.

2. Get involved – 
There are countless website of organizations that offer tangible, real advice and ways in which we can get involved in fighting human trafficking.  Here are a few websites to check out and decide which might best aid you in your involvement:
           The Salvation Army:
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/combating-human-trafficking 

http://www.humantrafficking.org/organizations/362
http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking
http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2013/august/how-you-can-combat-sex-trafficking.html

3. Write or call elected officials and/your state representatives –
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml (If you are from another country look up the phone numbers and addresses to your elected officials and contact them!) 

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Call or write those who have the power to write laws and spend tax payer monies to combat human trafficking. Be aware and knowledgeable of the organization (listed above) that assist in fighting these causes and research the areas of our world affected by human trafficking.  The truth is every country has trouble with this horrifying social disease.  Calling elected officials or writing to them can add pressure for your country to take action and crack down on proprietors of human slavery.  

4.  Start a social media campaign – 

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Hashtags and posting news stories of these horrific events can continue to draw people’s attention to this serious issue.  Don’t be afraid to take a stand and to start something around your community and/or on your social media sites to generate action and support.  

We must fight this!  We can change lives and bring victims of human trafficking home and/or to shelters of safety.  
We can do this together!  We can save those without a voice.  Take a stand today and do something!!

 

An Army Engaged in Battle!

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I was having a conversation with a person the other day about what I do (I’m a pastor/officer with The Salvation Army).  In the midst of our conversation she told me that recently The Salvation Army was featured on a trivia show.  They were the answer to this question:  What is the only Army in the world that has never fought a battle.  This revelation kind of caught me off guard.  Of course I understood the connotation – a physical battle, but I thought to myself in a very real, practical/spiritual sense how wrong they truly were.  The Salvation Army was formed for just the purpose of engaging an enemy that has ravaged this wretched world since the fall of Adam and Eve.  We are at War!!  The public may not know this, but we are engaged in the front lines of spiritual warfare every day.  Sometimes I fear perhaps even some of our Soldiers and (dare I say) Officers don’t know this.   

We must continue to be an Army that is engaged in this battle daily!  Do falter or to fall is not an option!  Ephesians 6:12 says this:  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

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There is a very real spiritual adversary that holds many sinners captive still today.  Many people are bound by all kinds of addictions, perversions and entanglements that they cannot break.  Who can save them?  We alone certainly do not possess the strength, nor the power to free them, but girded with the full armor of God, this Army of Salvation can still be vital and effective!   We never stand alone in the midst of the fray, we carry the banner of Christ with us and the Holy Spirit is our ammunition and power!  

So how must we begin?  We begin on our knees in penitence before the Almighty!  We seek His power, His guidance, and His direction.  Only when we have been thoroughly equipped through our conversations with the Father can we then get up and fight on.  Without these necessary daily, even moment by moment conversations with the Father we will not continue to stand against the father of lies.  

Dear fellow Christ-followers and Soldiers of the Army, we cannot simply wear the uniform and pretend to be engaged, we must actively fight for the salvation of other lost souls in our communities and even in our own homes!  Without active soldiers and officers who are willing to fight and willing to boldly stand up, this cause will surely falter and fail.  We don’t need casual partakers or bench warmers, but we need active participants who will stand in the gap for the hurting, the tired, the poor, the wretched and the lost!  This battle for the lost is not over!  It certainly did not end when our Founders were promoted to glory, nor will it end when we grow old and one day meet Jesus face to face!  But in the here and now, in our small corners of the world, there is still a battle cry to be heard!  There is still a fight to be waged!  There is still lost souls to be saved!  Who will go?  Who will serve?  Who will fight on and answer the cries of the broken and the shattered?  May we all hear the cries, but more importantly, may we all hear God’s calling for us to take our stands and to reach out a helping hand to poor souls still drowning in the depths of sin.  

I’m reminded of this Battle Song: 

#718 in the Red Song Book –

Fight the good fight with all thy might,

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace

 

2.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;

Life with its way before us lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Cast care aside, lean on thy guide

 

3.

Cast care aside, lean on thy guide,

His boundless mercy will provide;

Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove

Christ is thy life, and Christ thy love.

Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near

 

4.

Faint not, nor fear, his arms are near,

He changeth not, and thou art dear;

Only believe, and thou shalt see

That Christ is all in all to thee.

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-75)

 

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The Original ‘300’

300 movie

The movie 300 is about to get a sequel.  According to IMDb 300 ‘Rise Of An Empire’ will hit theaters in 2014.  Like its predecessor this new installment will undoubtedly be a total macho movie with frequent action sequences and lots of blood and gore.  But before anyone ever yelled out “For Sparta” another army of just 300 soldiers fought insurmountable odds and completely decimated their enemy.  Although the Bible doesn’t specifically say how many Midianites Gideon and his band of 300 hundred defeated, they had to have numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

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Gideon’s name means ‘Destroyer’ or ‘Mighty Warrior’, and yet the first time we encounter Gideon in the Bible he is threshing wheat in hiding so that the Midianites don’t find him.  Our first impression of this ‘Mighty Warrior’ isn’t exactly encouraging.  Yet an Angel of the Lord comes and pays Gideon a visit, and uses his name’s meaning by saying, ‘Mighty Warrior’ the Lord God is with you!  Gideon isn’t exactly full of confidence and even challenges the Angel’s announcement by essentially saying, ‘how can God be with us when we are being oppressed?’  Still the Angel is unfazed by Gideon’s doubt and commands him to go with the strength that he has and save Israel from the clutches of the Midianites.

If doubt and shock wasn’t enough, Gideon’s next statement puts things into perspective, he says; “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest…and I’m the least in my family?” Has Gideon lived up to his name ‘Might Warrior’ yet?  No, he hasn’t, in fact far from it.  But can you blame the guy?  He has seen the devastation caused by Israel’s enemy and he also recognizes that his family is the smallest and weakest in all of Israel.  Why would God possibly choose him?  Fast forward nearly a hundred and fifty years later and God appoints another ‘least of these’ to be King of Israel, a guy by the name of David.

I think God’s plan for Gideon and even David had less to do with human might and more to do with His awesome power!

Gideon had a tough time believing that he was indeed called by God.  He even tested God numerous times just to be sure, and finally after Gideon had his requests met by God, He puts together an army that’s boasted 22,000 soldiers.  Wow, what a force of might by Israel!  But that wasn’t how the Lord planned to defeat their enemies.  Gideon’s forces are dwindled down to 10,000…but that was still too many soldiers for what God had in mind.  Finally after one more soldier ‘thinning’ episode at the banks of a body of water only 300 soldiers remained.   This battle wasn’t ‘for Sparta’ either, this was for the Lord!

gideon

I don’t know about you but that math just doesn’t seem to add up.  How could an army of only three hundred ever defeat the vast and ferocious forces of the Midianites?   Enter God’s power, might and perfect battle plan.  He gives Gideon the battle plan and it’s unorthodox yet totally effective.  Isn’t that how God seems to work?  He uses the least of these for His purposes and when the battle is won there could be no doubt who it was that provided the victory!   So it was with Gideon and his army of 300.  Against all odds and an unorthodox battle plan, God brought a mighty army to its knees in defeat!

Still to this day, God can use us, the ‘least of these’ to win mighty victories in this world!  Our God can lead us against all odds and bring mighty foes to their knees.  Sometimes we may have doubts like Gideon did and faith just doesn’t come easy, but we serve a God who always keeps His promises and He will be there for us in the midst of our toughest battles.  Trust Him, He won’t let us down, and He calls us ‘Mighty Warrior’ even when we feel much less than mighty.

The Fight (Poem)

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When my strength has tapped out

When all I am is drained away

When all I have is spent and gone

Lord, your strength I need today.

When I am down and for the count

and no one cheers me on

when failure looms in front of me

Your hope is never gone!

Give me a heart of strength

O Lord, I need Your light.

Stand before, beside and behind

So may I boldly carry on

and never quit this fight!

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