Dear Salvation Army, Baptism & The Great Commission?

16″ Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 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)

Salvation Army Doctrine #1:We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

I do not mean to stir the waters, pun intended, but I have often wondered what your Salvationist response would be on this topic.  I must confess that I have often struggled with reconciling our doctrine with the lack of fulfillment of the great commission as described in verse 19; “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”   Yes, I understand that we are non-sacramental in religious practice, but one wonders why even such a discussion often evokes the same response one might expect from a discovery of a sin issue.  Seriously, it’s generally frowned upon, knee-jerk reactions abound every time Communion and Baptism are even mentioned.  It almost seems like we treat such conversations as heresy and equate such talk to sin.  Why is that?
Why such harsh attacks on even the mention of these religious practices?

I bring the topic of Baptism up today in this pondering so that we can dialogue together, so that we might bring a deeper understanding of our theology to the forefront and that we do not linger amongst the shallow answers of “Because that’s how we have always done things“…but why?

water

Historical Context:
We ought to recognize that Industrial England, the birth place of The Salvation Army, certainly had it dichotomy of the upper class and the poor.  Many within the lower East-end would not have been welcome in The Church of that day.  Also, within the lack of practice of Baptism and Communion, we know that our theological tradition precludes the need of such symbolic practices because we are “baptized by the Holy Spirit” and “The Sacrificial life is more important than participation in the Sacraments”.  Understandably so, but I wonder if such staunch views have prohibited some in recent years of full membership?  What I mean is, does our lack of practice or participation in these fundamental “Christian” elements, distract some would-be soldiers in joining our ranks?  There are certainly many views on the subject.  On one extreme – there are those within other denominations who feel since one was never “properly” Baptized they cannot claim to be Christians.  And then on the other side of the spectrum, there are those who view practices of water baptism to be archaic and unnecessary.

 So back to my original question…
If we believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice, Why do we fail to include parts of the “Great Commission”?  Again I don’t mean to stir up controversy, but I would like us to answer this…I want you to help me fill in the content here that I struggle with.  No, I don’t have a baptismal in my corps building, no I don’t baptize my members, but I’m curious how we decide to fulfill some of the “Divine rule of Christian faith and practice” while excluding others?  Why is this topic so taboo?

Another question that comes to my mind then is this:  Are we a fluid moving Army or are there somethings that cannot change within our structure and practice?  I am in no way advocating we change our stance on Baptism or Communion; but is there a point where the reasons we refrained from such practices in another age and era should be reconsidered in another age and era?  Would this be going backwards or progressing forward?  Or perhaps there is too much emphasis on the baptism part and there ought to be more emphasis made on the “make disciples” component to the Great Commission.  Perhaps this is the “happy middle”?

go

Again, I’m curious on your answers here.
As always, I look forward to the responses that sound off with shock and awe that such a question should ever be asked within the Army.  Again, it is surprising to me how we often treat this topic as “hush, hush“, almost as if we’re talking about a sin.  Why is that?  Couldn’t we even deepen our understanding of our own doctrine by talking out-loud about such things and there by adding clarity to the topic for others?  Also, I am not looking for a lecture here either, simply a dialogue and what your response might be on this specific topic.

Something more for the Army to ponder today, hopefully you don’t label me a heretic for even asking the question.  Blessings on you today!


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinions and views of The Salvation Army, but rather the writer’s own thoughts, questions and opinions expressed.  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!

Connecting The Dots At School – (A Pondering on our Youth)

I went to High School today…I mean I visited one, not attending one…I did attend several years ago.
We were handing out backpacks the school social workers and counselors for youth in need.
The “teenage” years are so pivotal and sometimes uncomfortable especially if you are poor and/or your parents live in constant poverty situations.  Times are hard and teens don’t need that added pressure while at school if their families can’t afford the basic needs such as backpacks, pens and pencils and other school supplies.

It was a lot more this:
high school
Than it was this:
HSM

backpacksWe dropped the backpacks off at various schools today, with the knowledge that there are nine additional high schools to connect with before we are done.  I looked down the hallways of those high schools and I saw a ghost of myself;  scrawny, projecting a macho attitude, and yet scared…I was still naive and unsure of the world around me at that age.  I couldn’t imagine having to go without something  (like a backpack and school supplies) while enduring zits, ridicule from peers, mounting pressure to grow up way too fast, and dealing with constant assignment due dates in various classes.

Walking those overly waxed hallways made me realize how much we need to pray for our young people.  They need our support in prayer and in encouragement.  Sometimes they may act like complete grumpy bears but deep down they are searching for significance in life and we can help shape them if we just take the time to care and understand them.

Can we help connect the dots?
Can we provide a listening ear?
A Shoulder to cry on?
Can we be a friend?
Can we be role models?

This school season, let’s support our youth as best we can, after all, they are our future leaders!
Something more to ponder today!
-God Bless!

Living within the sacred.

The sacred.
It is not strictly for the holiest of us.
The sacred was kept hidden.
The sacred was closed off to the “public”.
Only those who were cleansed could enter.
Those who did enter the space of the sacred who were not cleansed would die.
space
God’s holy presence makes a space sacred…nothing else will do.
No amount of gold, incense or prayers can make something devoid of God sacred.

But the sacred moved…
On the day of death.
On the day of the cross.
The day when Jesus died for the sins of the world, the sacred moved.
not far away from Golgotha, the temple stood.
The place where the presence of God resided within the sacred holy of holies.
cross3That dark and mighty day the sacred space moved.
The very presence of God relocated.
He wasn’t evicted…perhaps in a way He was.
He wasn’t changing…God is the same today and yesterday.
But circumstances changed.
The plan of salvation, the day of redemption unfolded before humanity who had not it recognized Him.
The curtain to the sacred tore.
Its space now vacant.
No, God had not would not abandon them,
but the space became bigger.
The sacred expanded.
Satan and Death were conquered.
Beyond our human understanding and our existential vision,  something supernaturally remarkable took place.
Messiah had come.
Death was defeated.
New life was possible and available to those came seeking.
The sacred space didn’t move, it became available to everyone.

-Living within the sacred-
path
Truth:
living here within the sacred takes time.
Not because God’s presence isn’t enough but because many times we are still dealing with stuff.
We are still in need of full surrender.
We have not completely relinquished our old patterns of life to fully embrace this new creation Christ has won for us.
Living within the sacred requires our full devotion to the Risen Lord.
Living within the sacred requires us to embrace our own crosses and to lay down our selfishness only to pick up His image of selflessness.

This is the beginning of Holiness.
The Holy Spirit can, and will, take up residence within a new sacred space – our lives.
He will transform us.
He will begin anew within us…
but living within the sacred demands our allegiance and attention.
Living within the sacred requires us to embrace fully the divine plan of redemption.
We can live here.
We can grow here.
We can be holy…here.
The Holy Spirit will transform us…
the only question is are we willing to live here no matter what the cost or earthly sacrifice?

Something more for us to ponder today.

A Pondering On Injustice…

You know what I have trouble with?
injusticeInjustices.

Those moments in life when,
both big and small injustices take place.
It is mind boggling that there are people in our world who
truly do not care about other people at all.
It goes far beyond being inconsiderate.
It’s about self-preservation over anyone else’s needs.
These injustices are fueled by greed.
These injustices are fueled by selfishness, power, anger, covetousness…evilSometimes I get so angry at these injustices…
If I were truly honest
I get more angry at the people who perpetrate these injustices.  revenge
much so that I want to exact my own kind of justice.

So much so that I sometimes imagine watching them regret their decisions
fighting fire with fire
a tooth for a tooth.

Sometimes, in my mind
I take on this role of judge, jury and executioner.
sometimes, I let this fantasy taint how I see other people…
And within that lens
I am better than them.
I am the pious one.
I am the perfect one.
Then I realize that I am a
hypo

I have become a  ——pharisee

So busy looking for
the flaws in others
that I have neglected
to look at my own Heart.

How dare I do such a thing…and yet it’s done every day.
Am I the only one in this —-
boatAm I the only one?
I don’t think so.
Are there injustices in this world?  absolutely_whiteShould we fight against these?
Yes.
but then I am reminded of another verse:
sin

And I am reminded how lost some people are.
I am reminded that despite our hopeless situations
Christ STILL died for us.
Despite our evil ways.
Despite our ignorance and selfishness
He still died for us.

Then another thing strikes me
like being struck across the face.
I.  am. not. the judge.
I am. not. the. one. who. exacts. ultimate. justices.

Can I fight against injustices in this world?
Yes.
But first…I must contend with my own heart.
But first…I must pluck out the board in my own eye.
But first…I must practice sacrificial, Christ-like love for my enemies.

It is here at this cross roads that I continue my journey…journey

How about you?

“NOT WORTHLESS!!” 3 Ways to Discovering Your Self-Worth Pt.2

Yesterday we explored three basic lies that many have convinced themselves are important in order have a sense of self-worth.  (See Pt. 1 Link Here)
(RECAP) These basic lies are –
#1 Self-worth is all about what you do (Employment/Career).
#2 Self-worth is all about how others see you (the People pleaser trap)
#3 Self-worth is all about being “happy” all the time.

Now onto the “good” stuff – Discovering true self-worth.
You can’t buy self-worth…at least not in the long term.
You can’t work capture self-worth by attaining your “dream job” either.
These things are temporary.

vaporOur Lives Are Like Vapor:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

Understand how temporal this all is.
I don’t mean to sound all “doom and gloom”, but this life is brief…we can make a difference in how we live by recognizing this one. small. truth.
We.  Are. Like. Vapor.   So…what are we going to do with this “vapor” of ours?

#1 Our true Self-Worth is found not in who we are but Whose we are!child
“And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” -2 Corinthians 6:18

Beyond anything that we can “do” in this world, the most vital argument for finding our true self-worth is tied up with Whose we really are.  Places of employment and careers are great things but they shouldn’t be the primary definer of who we really are.  From the very onset of creation God longed to fellowship with us.  He has made a way for this to happen even when we distorted our true identities with sin.  In a very real sense realizing Whose we are leads us to find our true self-worth in life.  This doesn’t mean that nothing else matters now in life, it just means that we re-align our perspectives in life allowing for this primal and vital identity to take first priority in our being, thereby releasing false images of self-worth while reclaiming this ancient, yet eternal truth – We are God’s creation, and we are called sons and daughters.

In moments when we feel the sting of rejection by others around us, let us remember that despite all of these things we are His -both first, last and everything in between.

cross#2 Our true Self-Worth is found not in our identity but in Christ’s!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” -Galatians 2:20

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17

I hope you get the sense that all three of these “self-worth declarations”  are interconnected.
Once we can come to terms with the notion that we are children of God, we too must understand that our self-worth isn’t tied up in the old life prior to conversion.  Since Christ has conquered sin and death, we too can share in this eternal redemption story!  If we are Christ-followers, we too recognize that the old lives we used to live prior to our salvation story no longer dictate where our self-worth comes from.  Before this we followed the ingrained patterns, we indulged in selfish gain, we strive to climb the corporate ladder because that’s where true success and self-worth came from…But now, ah now we are no longer blind to these trappings.  It doesn’t mean that we have become better than others, it just means that we have begun to identify with the eternal Christ more than the temporal measures of self-worth.

Becoming crucified with Christ means that we have aligned ourselves with His love, His redemption, His purposes, His grace. We have allowed Christ to replace the lie with His truth within us.  This new creation (because of Christ) provides us with a deeper, more clearer sense of self-worth because it is divine and untarnished by our old sinful selves.

Within this identity shift, recognize too that we must be gentle on ourselves.  What do I mean by this?  Don’t denigrate and berate yourself when you slip and fall back into some of the old patterns.  These old habits are sometimes hard to break.  That doesn’t mean that Christ can’t miraculously redeem you from them, but many times we must strive to overcome them through His power…sometimes inch by inch and yard by yard.  Be gentle on yourself as you realign your self-worth with that of Christ’s.  Sometimes we can become our own worst enemy…If Christ believes in you, you too should find some encouragement and confidence to believe in this new creation that is “You”.

#3 Our true Self-Worth is found not in being served but through service! service
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” 1 Peter 5:6

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” Ephesians 4:2

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Jesus washed His disciple’s feet.
He did this to display how vital humility and servanthood was.
Serving others because of our new identities in Christ is an outpouring of this new self-worth and purpose!
No longer are we tied to what others think of us.
No longer are we tied to a self-indulged lifestyle.
No longer are we tied to a selfish success oriented binge of climbing the corporate ladder.

Fame and fortune (which is temporal) take a back seat to the utter gravity of the Salvation Story.
We find our self-worth in serving others because we long to be like Christ in every way!
When we follow this path of servitude, we further execute our old ideals of self-worth while taking up far more significant and eternally impacting cause!  serve

Sometimes we assume that we have this humility thing all worked out, only to find that we still have miles to go in this journey. Be patient.  This is day by day.  Submitting to Christ completely can be will be difficult…But isn’t identifying with authentic worth…worth it?

So…
How is your own sense of self-worth today?
Has it been tied up with all the wrong things?
Mine has too.
This is a reminder for all of us.
This is a pondering of encouragement also.
Perhaps we can break these old lies of their power over us, and rediscover how God intended us to live all along.

Something more for us all to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

3 Ways To Let Peace Boost Your Thanksgiving

Peace…
peace1
It’s more than some iconic symbol.
It’s more than words or a global award.
It’s more than a time of calm amidst the storms of conflict.

We want the calm.
We crave these times especially when the rush of life casts us about like rag dolls thrown into the midst of a blood thirsty pack of wolves.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Sometimes we wonder how we could possibly be thankful when it seems our day or week has been wrought with problems.  Sometimes life just sucks.  Sometimes the joy seems to just get sucked right out of us by circumstances and even other people.  In THOSE times it seems nearly impossible to find something to be thankful for.

Allow me but a few moments today to share with you 3 ways that you can boost your thanksgiving.

3 Ways To Let Peace Boost Your Thanksgiving:

1) Take Time For YOU!
phil

This may sound like something out of a self-help book or something you might hear Dr. Phil say…but it’s true.  We need time alone, and time for self-soulcare.  We must find healthy ways to unwind and relax now and then.  We cannot go 100 miles an hour at everything and expect to find peace when we haven’t slowed down enough to find ourselves again.  We can sometimes get lost in the pile of stuff on our desks or amidst the bills piling up at home.  If Jesus got away from His disciples in order to commune with The Father, we ought to consider doing this as well.  How else can we recharge our spent souls?  How else will we find peace again?  When someone is thirsty they don’t go looking for more saltine crackers do they?  No!  They look for a nice cold glass of water to quench that thirst.  We too are spiritually thirsty and in order to quench that thirst we have to go back to the Well of our Father again and again.  As we take personal time we will once again gain perspective and find peace once more.  It is often difficult to disconnect from a very connected world…but it is necessary for our own sanity and personal care!

invent2) A Personal Inventory Of Gratefulness
It’s seems a little silly, maybe a bit childish…but can we bring to mind all of our blessings?  Can we do a personal inventory of our lives right now and evaluate the things that we can be grateful for?  I think we might find that we have so much by way of blessings from God.

All too often we can dwell from a place of “have nots” that we run the risk of forgetting all that we “have” already.   We live in a very materialistic world where products and stuff is valued above everything.  There is this notion that if we do not possess the next big thing then we aren’t truly living a good life.  What a lie that is.  We buy this lie over and over again in our over-saturated marketed world.  We spend countless dollars in order to recapture an element of happiness with that next “thing” only to find elements of discontentment and sadness once more.

When we dwell in the place of “have nots”, we will never truly be content.  We will never truly be happy.  If we live there we will not be able to properly conduct an authentic personal inventory of our gratefulness – because true gratefulness doesn’t come from stuff.  We have been blessed by a Creator who so desperately wants to fellowship with us.  When we can evaluate our lives by the blessings of Him, we can finally tap into that pure element of His peace; and in so doing, we will once again place Him in His rightful place above the “stuff” that we have accumulated and allowed to become our god.

others3) Others.
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway.
When we can allow ourselves to become less and Christ to become more, we open ourselves up to finally see the needs of others around us.  We live in a very self-indulged world.  This isn’t news to you I am sure!  Allowing the needs of others to replace our needs isn’t easy, nor is it natural in our present state.  That shouldn’t be taken to mean that we don’t care for ourselves and disregard #1, we need those times as well to refresh and find our source of life again, but after those re-connections with the Father, if we can see the needs of others we can find peace and thanksgiving in our lives!

There are so many people in our communities that need a friend.  There are so many people who need an ear to hear their sorrows and burdens.  We shouldn’t go into those times of “listening” expecting we can fix all of life’s problems for them, but we can be a support to souls who have lost their way.

Can you be a friend?
Can you see the needs of others?
What kinds of selfishness (let’s call it for what it is) prevent us from seeing others?
Do we truly crave genuine peace and thanksgiving in our lives and long to share that with others?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

In order for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts we have to take time to commune with Him, we have to see our joys and blessings that He has provided, and we have to share that joy and blessing with others.

Do you want to boost your thanksgiving this season?
I hope it lasts a little longer than just a season…but let’s start there.
If you long to boost your thanksgiving, give these three suggestions a try.
It’s not a “cure all”…but it’s sure a great first step!

Something more to ponder today.
To God Be The Glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Supercharge Your Ministry With Just One Word!

I once had an Officer, whom I greatly admire, tell me the secret to a successful, healthy corps.  Do you wanna know what he said?  Let’s see how long I can prolong the suspense…  okay, suspense over: He told me that there is one crucial ingredient in any ministry that will either make or break you.  That one crucial ingredient is this:  Love.

(Someone cue the Beatles singing “All you need is love”)

Okay, that felt better!

Question:
Do we love those with whom we have been placed to lead?
This is important…pay attention!
(this may be the only question to truly consider today)

The Dilemma:
The Salvation Army ministry as a whole is an often transitory process.  Officers come and go and this isn’t only difficult on the officers who are moved (sometimes faaaaaaaaaaar too quickly), but it is also difficult on the corps leadership as well as the soldiers and adherents.  I might even go out on a limb to say that it has some longer lasting impacts on the corps ministries than it does on the officers who were farewelled and/or recently appointed there.

The dilemma then becomes how can we love something or someone that is transitory?  How can love exist within this plain of ever shifting views, and an ever shifting leadership structure?  Even within divisions and territories when leaderships leave and a new one enters the fray, the vision and plan set forth changes.  So, that being said, how can we love within such an ever changing ministry dynamic?

I will be bold enough right here and now and say that we can’t.
We are not equipped to love so blindly at times, especially when we feel as if the last “move” was not God’s will but rather done politically or out of convenience sake for “the Army”.  Pardon my cynicism here.  Yes, we cannot love enough to replace the hurt and disappointment in our hearts sometimes.

We can’t love…by our own volition.  That being said, we CAN love by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our own love, at times, might take time to become whole again.  Our own love, might come along with us like our transported furniture does sometimes – bruised and broken (thanks movers!).  Our own love will sometimes leave us defeated and lacking enough in the reserves to give anything more to our families, let alone others.

To the counselors out there – don’t tell us to pray more.
don’t tell us that maybe we need to read the Bible
more.
don’t tell us that it’s just a “dry spell” spiritually
don’t tell us that we aren’t doing enough

Supercharge Your Ministry With Just One Word: LOVE…
No one ever said it was going to be easy.
In fact it may be the toughest thing you ever do.
It would be easier to operate from a place of “like” or even just “get the job done”, but it will never be as effective as it would if we fell in love with those we serve and lead.  I mean the kind of love Jesus had for His disciples.  I mean the kind of love the Apostle Paul writes about when he writes to Timothy and other leaders of the faith.

What would it take for us to love those we lead?
What would it take for our hurts to be replaced with healing?
For the broken pieces of our hearts to be put back together?  (The cracks might still be visible for years to come)   What would it take for our wounds to be transformed into healing scars?  You see, these bruises might take time to fade.  What would it take to supercharge our ministry?  Perhaps even that word “supercharge” implies something that we’re not even comfortable with.  Would it take a miracle of the heart?  Would it take a transformational power only the Lord could provide?

Don’t Be Jaded!
It might be easy to become calloused, hardened and cynical.
No one human leadership entity is perfect.  Things will be done to you that were not done with the “Lord’s will” in mind…But at the same time can we still be effective?  Can we still lead with that one word – Love?

Can I be honest?
There are days when I simply don’t know.
There are days when I shake my head at decisions that have been made and can’t help but feel betrayed.  That’s raw, but genuine.

The Truth Is: 
I will never let the Army define who I am.
I serve the Lord first.
I know in whom I have believed!
The things of this world, even the systems in which we serve in are imperfect and sometimes people make mistakes.  But you know what?  I won’t let those mistakes, those “political” decisions, those wrongs that were never reconciled define who I am as a child of the King.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some very wonderful blessings along the way as well that we cannot over look either!  Sometimes there are blessings in disguise and in order to discover them we have to place our all on the altar again and live by faith.  (I know that this is very hard to do)

Can I supercharge my ministry with this one word – Love?
Not by own volition.
But I will through the power that strengthens me, which is the Holy Spirit.

Words of Wisdom Passed Down To Me: 
*  Don’t let anyone, other than the Lord, define who you are or give you a sense of self-worth.
*  Be strong in your convictions and yet, don’t be so convinced of your own self-righteous need to be right all the time.
*  Take time to listen and not just talk.
*  Love those that God has given to you to lead…and when your love isn’t enough, ask for more love that can only be provided through His supernatural power!
*  There is love in healing.
*  Relationships are important crucial to cultivate in a lifetime of ministry.

Something more for this army to ponder today…To God Be The Glory!

Devotional Pondering – “This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you!”

In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children.” 
Hebrews: 12:4-10 (The Message) 

No likes to be disciplined.
I remember as a kid getting in trouble with my mother and she sent me to my room.  Then she said that horrifying phrase: “Wait until in your room until your father gets home!”  I remember sitting there on my bed, empty pit of a stomach just dreading the punishment that I knew I had coming to me.  I contemplated many things while waiting.  I thought of the various phrases I would say like, “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t mean it“, or “I’ll never do that again!“…they all sounded hollow and empty.  Humorously (not then though) I also contemplated things about my punishment, like “how many books can I put in my underwear without my father noticing so that my spanking won’t hurt?”  I was very dramatic then.  

No one likes to be disciplined.  I didn’t then and I still don’t enjoy the moments when it happens today.  

Wait until your Heavenly Father gets home!
God has a way of shifting us from our own private spaces of ignorance and sin into correction and discipline.  It hurts.  It’s not fun.  It is most certainly not enjoyable and yet it needs to take place.  

Just as a parent disciplines and shapes a child so that when they grow up they have learned their lessons and are good people, so too God disciplines us (His Holy Children).  Did you know that you’re a child of God?  He loves us so deeply and He longs for us to grow up as health and strong righteous men and women who are worthy of being called HIS!

Sometimes He disciplines through the words of a friend or an elder.  These truthful words can be painful to hear and they strike directly at the heart.  But these moments are never to wound us or harm us, they are for our correction and growth.  

There’s something about  a Rose Bush:

Image

In order for a rose bush to grow the next season following autumn and winter is for the gardener to prune and cut it back.  So the gardener cuts the branches and the excess away despite the sharp thrones this plant is beautiful and magnificent when it blooms.  The gardener knows this and so takes great care to cut just enough away in order to make room for the rose bush to grow again.  When the next season comes around the rose bush thrives in the sunshine and the rich soil that the gardener has placed it in, and because of the pruning process it flourishes and grows even more beautiful.  Soon roses bloom in full and the scent of its aroma fills the air and many people come and admire the beauty of this rose bush.

Stand firm in your pruning!  

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 I believe that God is not done with us yet!  There is still more to prune from us.  Sometimes the pruning process is painful.  Sometimes there will be tears as He corrects us, but He does this so that we will bloom and grow until we are Holy just as Christ is Holy.  When we allow stand firm and allow Him to prune us through His discipline we are able to flourish and produce the kind of love that has a sweet aroma of God.  Without the pruning process in our lives, we cannot grow, we will be stunted and limited in this life.  

Discipline hurts for but a moment and then when we allow it, God brings to us peace of His presence and the assurance that we can bloom and grow in His holiness.  

 

 

Questions to consider:

 

What pruning has God done in your life so far?
What is He teaching you through this discipline?
What still needs to be pruned?
Are you willing to stand firm amidst His loving correction? 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for loving me so much that you seek to discipline and correct me.  Forgive me when I have been stubborn and refused your correction on my life.  Show me what your holiness looks like in me and how I must change and surrender that which stunts my growth in you.  -Amen.  

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