“Legacy – Owning Your Influence” – Precious Diamonds!

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’
–Martin Luther King Jr.

matterYesterday at church I spoke on the topic of “Legacy”.
It’s an important message for all of us to hear, not because I spoke it, but because we are all called to this holy purpose.  If we claim to be a Christ-follower, we are set apart for something much more precious than common existence.

diamondImagine if someone were to give you a magnificent diamond to take care of.   (I know, but imagine with me for just a second)  The gem is extremely valuable, the clarity is remarkable and it truly is a precious stone to admire and protect.  There is nothing common about this diamond, it is one of a kind and cannot be replaced.   So, what do you do?  You protect it.  You store it in a safe place.  You don’t just leave it laying around like a common rock gathered from a field.

Similarly – You are precious to God.
You are HIS prized possession.  You matter to Him.  There is nothing common about you in His eyes.  He has saved you for a Holy purpose, and at a mighty price:  His Son’s death on a cross.  Because of the resurrection, because of grace, because of forgiveness and atonement, we have become His, and His alone!

childNow that we know WHOSE we are, WHAT we DO matters!
A legacy isn’t so much about what we want people to remember us by, but about being found faithful in WHOSE we are.  Everything that we say and everything that we do MATTERS!  Everything we are inside a church building and ESPECIALLY outside a church building matters!  There is nothing more off-putting to people in our communities than individuals who claim to be “Christians” but their lives consistently contradict the claim.  Why would anyone want to be a Christian if they don’t practice what they preach?

What kinds of fields are we sowing in our communities?
What kinds of legacies and examples are we living out loud for our children?

How is the world better off because we have lived and are faithfully serving in it?

Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our lives today.
Perhaps we need to re-commit our lives to Christ.
Perhaps there is a deep need for a reconciliation of our hearts and intentions to the will of God once more.

What we do – matters.
How we live – makes a difference.

matter1WHOSE we are – defines the impact we can make in our small corners of the world.

How is your Legacy going today?
Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

“The Feast of Bitter Berries…”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Pondering:
Sometimes it is so much easier to fall into the negative elements of life.
Sometimes it is much, much harder to focus on the joys of life instead.

Have you been there?
I’m sure we all have been there.

bitterThe Addiction of Bitterness:
Sometimes we settle for the bitter berries of life that only serve to poison our souls and litter our hearts with wounds of disappointment.  This can be an addiction.  We can focus so much on the negative things and the hurts that it becomes like a shark frenzy at the scent of blood in the water.  We need to break our addiction of bitterness.  It poisons us and leaves us shriveled, broken and unlikeable to others around us.

Do you focus on the bitter berries of life?
Have you engaged or entertained others who always seem to be negative in their attitudes and their perspectives of life?

ReFuel: refuel
The Apostle Paul empowers the readers of the letter of Romans  by telling them to trust in the Lord and the outcome of this would be hope, joy and peace!  If we feast on the right kinds of things, and trust in the right sources (or Source), we will find that we will be refueled, revived and full of a positive perspective once again!

We should take this verse in Romans to heart as well!
Read it again – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

3d white people lying on a question markQuestions to Ponder: 
What sort of struggles are you facing in life right now?
What are your frustrations?
What are your discouragements?
How easy is it for YOU to wallow in these frustrations and let them affect all other aspects of your life?
How do we break free from the negativity even in the midst of our frustrations and days of difficulty?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says; “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

May we recognize the times when we’re still feasting on the berries of bitterness instead of the righteousness and peace of the Lord.  May we change directions and habits in this regard so that we can truly live the life that is worthy of our calling.  The God of peace will sustain us even when the future doesn’t look so bright…He is with us!

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness

It can be quite easy to simply nod our heads when a topic such as holiness comes around.  We might nod our heads and deep down we really don’t understand much of it at all, we just don’t want anyone else to know.
I understand that, and I’ve been there.  Today on Pastorsponderings I want to delve into the topic Holiness AND be as simplistic as possible.

These are 3 Things Every Soldier Should Know About Holiness:
holiness2
1.  What is Holiness? 
Wesley taught that genuine faith produces inward and outward holiness. The regenerative process inwardly cannot help but find expression in an improved moral character outwardly. The doctrine of holiness is grounded in the command to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2 and other Old Testament loci). Jesus commanded, “Be perfect therefore as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also taught that true Christian discipleship requires loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving neighbor as self (Mt. 22:34-40).” (Asbury University/Wesleyan-Holiness Theology – source: Wesleyan Holiness Theology)

We become saved, we perhaps kneel at the mercy seat and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.   What then takes place is the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence within your life.  We receive this “second blessing” – as He indwells among us.  With the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we are then forced to confront the “old self” still remaining within our lives.   I know of individuals who, at the moment of salvation, seemed to be completely changed.  I also know other individuals (myself included) who, at the moment of salvation, still struggled with the old life and with temptation.

Just because we have this passion and desire to become like the Christ doesn’t always mean it will happen over night, in fact, in my experience it is both a crisis and a process.  Holiness begins on our knees accepting Christ into our lives, and it progresses so that we become less and He becomes more day by day, minute by minute.

purify2.  What is Entire Sanctification?  
The Bible often speaks of sanctification, which basically means the total, lifelong process of becoming holy.  Because the process begins with the new birth (salvation), we call the spiritual growth immediately following regeneration “initial sanctification.”  That is, we begin walking God’s way.  The fruit of the Spirit in our lives becomes evidence that a change has taken place…Entire Sanctification is God’s gift.  We do not earn or deserve it any more than we earned or deserved regeneration.  We consecrate; God sanctifies.”  (Frank Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 68)

Is entire sanctification possible?  You bet it is!
Many will struggle with this concept because we can become so tied up in the notion of perfection.  Entire Sanctification doesn’t mean “Human Perfection”, it means that we have surrendered fully and we have died completely to the old self and have begun to completely live for Christ in every facet and in every way.  John Wesley even addressed the debate about whether or not”ES” was a process or an instantaneous second work of grace.  His answer?  “Yes“.   It is both a crisis and a process.  From my experience the Holy Spirit still have much to teach me in regards to this faith.  I am not completely like Christ yet…but I desire to be.  This crisis and process has to first be an individual holiness before it can be a corporate holiness.

The difference between our spiritual progress before and after Entire Sanctification centers on the removal of the hindrance of self-sovereignty” (Moore, Coffee Shop Theology p. 69)

bible3.  Renew, Refresh, Restart!
How do we renew?  How do we maintain this “Holiness” in our lives when there are so many distractions all around?

Samuel Logan Brengle describes the need to study and diligence –
If you want to hold the truth fast and not let it slip, you must read and read and re-read the Bible.  You must constantly refresh your mind with its truths, just as the diligent student constantly refreshes his mind by reviewing his textbooks, just as the lawyer who wishes to succeed constantly studies his law books, or the doctor his medical works.  John Wesley, in his old age, after having read and re-read the Bible all his life, said of himself; ‘I am homo unius libri’ – a man of one book.  The truth will surely slip, if you do not refresh your mind by constantly reading and meditating in the Bible.” (Brengle, Helps to Holiness p. 74)

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always understand these theological terms.
Be a faithful soldier of Christ.  Read the Bible.  Study.  Be mindful that life was never guaranteed to be easy post salvation and the second blessing.  Remember that there is more for us to learn, more room for us to grow.  Renew daily in Him.  Find a prayer closet, make it a discipline in your life.  Be aware of the distractions of life and perhaps fast from those distractions from time to time.  If He is to become more and you are to become less, then you must become disciplined in this path.

Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.” -Brother Lawrence, The practice of the presence of God

Wrapping It Up: 

In concert with Phil Laeger

Where are you in your faith journey?
Is Holiness important to you?
How determined are we to sacrifice self-sovereignty and take on the mantle of selflessness?
Are we committed to Entire Sanctification?
Is Christ-likeness truly our goal and passion in our lives?

Dear Soldier,
We are a Holiness Movement, we don’t wear this simply as a badge of honor, it should propel in all we are and all we do.  How is your faith journey today?

Something more for our Army to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Re-read this week’s conversation on Holiness here by clicking on the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace
Unpopular Holiness

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army – What Do You Know About Unpopular Holiness?

Dear Salvation Army,
It might feel good to hear the acclaims of the public, to receive accolades for the work that we do…these are certainly affirming to us…but we aren’t in the business of helping people for the purpose of accolades are we?

We didn’t sign up to wear uncomfortable uniforms for the purpose of basking in the limelight did we?
No, the purpose for our movement is MORE than just helping people!
We ARE STILL a Holiness movement!  Let us never forget this truth, may it never get muddied in our various pursuits to “do the most good” in our communities.

Holiness is not an easy road for followers of Christ.

In concert with Phil Laeger
In concert with Phil Laeger
It is not the popular route.  Why?  Because it actually demands more from Christ’s followers.  It requires each of us to ACTUALLY face our sins, our hidden sins, our indiscretions, those things which embarrass us and cause us great shame.  It demands that we not only look at them but we allow the Holy Spirit to cast his glorious light upon them.  When we have given up fighting the Holy Spirit and have finally surrendered to His pleas, (perhaps there are those of you who relinquished right away, and of that I am envious) He then can begin this new work, this revitalizing-restoring creation within us.  Entire Sanctification is very real – but it will undoubtedly be the most unpopular thing an Officer or Soldier could ever preach.

Why so unpopular?  
Because it is not simple.  It is hard.  There is sacrifice, and in the Western Church, sacrifice is not something many are willing to really fully commit to in a long-term capacity.  We live in a hedonistic culture, even in Church,  and dare I say that Holiness will always be in conflict with such a lifestyle.
brengle

Samuel Logan Brengle in his book “Helps to Holiness” puts it this way – “Dear brother, do not think you can make holiness  popular.  It cannot be done.   There is no such thing as holiness separate from ‘Christ in you,’ and it is an impossibility to make Christ Jesus popular in this world.  To sinners and carnal professors, the real Christ Jesus has always been and always will be ‘as a root out of a dry ground, despised and rejected of men.’ ‘Christ in you’ is the ‘same yesterday, to-day, and forever’ – hated, reviled, persecuted, crucified…He (Christ) will pronounce the most terrible, yet tearful, maledictions against the hypocritical formalist and the lukewarm professor who are the friends of the world and, consequently, the enemies of God…Do you not see the impossibility of making such a radical Gospel as this popular?  This spirit and the spirit of the world are as fully opposed to each other as two locomotives on the same track running toward each at the same rate of sixty miles an hour.  Fire and water will consort together as quickly as the ‘Christ in you’ and the spirit of the world.” (pg. 92, 93, 96)

Questions to Ponder today: 
Can we accept such an Unpopular Holiness?
Are we up to the challenge?
Are we afraid of this world’s ridicule and shame?
Which “spirit” will we select tomorrow, and the next day, and the one after that?

Dear Salvation Army – We cannot separate the need for entire sanctification from what we do in our soup kitchens, social services offices or on the gym floor.  There should never be a distinction between what we do on Sundays from what we do the rest of the week.  The entire thrust of what “we do” is to bring people to Christ for the purpose of entire sanctification – through and through.

unpopularThis will be unpopular.
Many people, even soldiers will reject such a call…it’s too radical, it’s too much work, it requires too much study, patience and sacrifice…but isn’t that the purpose of becoming a true disciple of Christ – so that we become like Him in every way?!   Some are far too comfortable just coming to church on Sundays.  Some are happy with this familiar routine in life.  They don’t want to be shaken to the core.  They don’t want to be disrupted.  Some have stopped learning about Christ all together – internally they have become lazy in their studies of the Bible, they have thought in their minds “no one can teach me any more, because I already know everything there is to know about God and the Bible.”  -This is entirely far from the truth…I am ashamed to have even considered this phrase to be true in my own heart sometimes, yet God brings this spirit of conviction in me.  Dear soldiers, we need to humble ourselves once again.  We need to fall on our faces and repent.  We need to allow His Holy Spirit to renew us once more…and to allow Him to complete His work in us.

Some may cast this pondering aside today, because it will certainly be unpopular.
But I want to call us back to the Altar.  I want us to recognize the work we have left unfinished in our hearts.  We cannot go any further in our mission if we do not first stop here and ensure our hearts, our lives are completely His once more.  I know there is still work to be done in me…how about you?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today, to God be the glory!

To read more on this week’s topic of Holiness click the links below:
Sin and Holiness
Cheap Grace

Disclaimer:  The writings, and opinions of Pastorsponders are the writers expressed opinions and do not always reflect the opinions and views of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army, Cheap Grace…

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

readingI believe that one of the major failings of the “Seeker Sensitive” movement is that many times it became a numbers game with very little by way of discipleship after repentance.  Do we do this still in our Corps, dear Army?  We are “over the moon” about seekers coming to the altar, but then we don’t really know what to do with them once they come.   BUT…Is that it?

I don’t wish to point fingers because I realize that I am also pointing at me.
BOOTHI am not always very good at the “what happens next phase”.
In the old Army, there are numerous stories of drunkards becoming gloriously saved.  The amazing thing was that the old Army soldiers and officers knew what to do next.  These drunkards had a perpetual problem of the habitual kind.   Once such story recounts how this drunkard, now saved knew he had to change his old patterns of life, so each day after work this man was met at the doors of his place of employment by fellow members of The Salvation Army.  They literally walked him to and from work each day for the purpose of helping him overcome his addiction at the local bar.  That is truly determination.  That is truly going the extra mile.


How are we going the extra mile?

The Extra Mile Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
I don’t say this to guilt us into something.
I am quite serious about asking this very question in my own present ministry.
BECAUSE…
-It won’t matter how good you preach on a Sunday…
-It won’t matter how good the band sounds…
-It won’t matter how immaculate your chapel may be…
-It won’t matter how friendly your soldiers are to visitors…
IF 
There isn’t accountability and discipleship taking place throughout the week.
This one stipulation is a major time requirement!
It involves all of us being completely invested in one another’s lives.
We aren’t simply playing church on Sunday and then we have nothing to do with one another throughout the week.  There MUST be something more to our corps than just worship services.

Cheap Grace: Cheap+Grace
-It is apathy and the lack of concern for the “continuance in a state of salvation…” of ourselves and others. (Doctrine #9)
-It is forced fellowship without love.
jail-It is the Monopoly game “get out of jail” card type of repentance where the rationale “I can always come back and ask for forgiveness next Sunday at the altar” is uttered in our hearts but sincerity and true repentance is lacking.
-It is more concern for the preservation of program than the preservation and salvation of souls.

-It is found in our surfaced, shallow calls for forgiveness but never the reconciliation of believers.
-It is acceptance of sin and a lack of conviction to call out sin within the body of Christ.
-It is ignore the Holy Spirit’s promptings to relinquish control over those deeply hidden strongholds of the heart.
accountability
Cheap Grace still exists, but many times we’ve become so blind to it.
It is almost common place.
We cry out sins in the street and lifestyles in our culture and yet we don’t talk about unmarried soldiers living together without the bonds of marriage.  We decry the plight of people “over there” yet we don’t really take the time to look into the eyes of people in our buildings and around our neighborhoods.

We don’t need to look outside our walls to find Cheap Grace, because it still exists in the church…it still exists even in the Army.
Photo Oct 20, 9 22 58 AM
Again, I don’t say this to point fingers that I am not willing to first point at me.
I have blindly accepted cheap grace from time to time.
I am still in need of forgiveness and to give that forgiveness to others.
I have at times ignored the Holy Spirit’s plea in my own life to tear down remaining strongholds of my heart.
I too confess that I have not always discipled as I should.
I have not always taken the time to truly fellowship with other believers that helps to sharpen iron and forge holy communion with one another…

Doctrine #7 says this:
We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.

Yes, cheap grace still exists.
I am still working to eradicate it from my life, how about you?
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Yesterday’s Blog – Dear Salvation Army, Let’s Talk About Sin and Holiness!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in Pastorsponderings are the writer’s view and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army – Let’s Talk About Sin & Holiness…

I do not wish to meddle in your life, my life has its own problems, but I wanted to touch upon an important topic that I believe we pass on all too often – sin

It’s not easy to truly confront this head on…and mean it.
We all talk a good game, but when it comes to the follow-through, I think most of us fail.
I’m really not here to beat you up today, I just want to peel back the veneer that we have erected around this topic.  I want to expose this wound and bring it out into the light.  It won’t be comfortable, but it is necessary.
I believe that we as an Army aren’t progressing forward as we once were because we are too invested in our communities to confront sin as we once did.

If we don’t hold the standard high (with grace infused) we become more than bystanders, we become accessories to sin.  I don’t say this lightly, because I have work to be done in my life with this as well.  I merely want to poke at this festering wound so that perhaps it might heal if we expose it to the right kind of healing.

For the devoted Soldier: soldiers
What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:1-4)

Jesus has given us victory over sin, so why is it that sometimes we act like we’re still stuck in it?  Could it be that we don’t truly believe Christ has delivered us, or that we can be truly delivered?  I don’t mean to say that we won’t still struggled with temptation, but it doesn’t mean we have to act upon that temptation.  We have been delivered, shouldn’t we act and live like those who have been given a second chance?  We have been granted this new life, isn’t that something to be joyous about?  Why is it then that we still struggle with this doubt?  Why is it then that we still feed the old, sinful ways?

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:5-6)

I will be the first to confess that I do not have it all together yet.
I know that I have my many flaws as a Soldier of this Army as well as a Child of God…but I do know that Christ’s death and resurrection has transformed my life!  Do I still struggle?  Yes, but I also know that I have this new creation – and because of it, I deeply long to resemble Christ…but it MUST become more than that.  I should want others to see Christ and not me.  I should want this life to be Christ and not me.  If we do not have this deep desire to see lives transformed by His Holy power that once transformed us, then I do not know why we are still engaged in this Army.   That may be a bold statement, but this ought not be an army of mediocrity and wishy-washy doctrines that incorporate tolerance of sin within its ranks.  We are born of something far bigger than ourselves in this “New Creation”!  We are an Army of Salvation hell bent of fighting against sin – not embracing it.

Dear Soldier, this does not mean that we discourage and forcibly condemn those still struggling with sin in their lives, but it does mean that we stop placating to the culture of habitual sin.  If we ignore these chains will they still be chains?  Of course!  We can’t simply ignore the metal bars that hold in the prisoner, we must fight with all of our strength to open the prison doors – and this is only possible with the power of the Holy Spirit!

Get On With It! 
Dear Solider, band
Please don’t use the phrase – “Well I’m only human” – this, I feel attempts to excuse our behaviors and indiscretions.  We were made for so much more – if we have accepted this amazing gift of salvation.  If we have allowed His transforming power into our lives through the workings of the Holy Spirit then we are indeed a new creation.  He might still have work to be done in us, but we must be patient and continually pray for deliverance from sin as we avoid temptation.  

These are bold words today, but I believe that we as an Army are up for this challenge!
Either we believe the Holy Spirit can transform from the inside out or He can’t…which is it?

Doctrine # 10 says this, “We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
                                                                              So where are you today?
sin1This is both a personal and corporate question.
Are there still strongholds in your life?
Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit access to those strongholds?
He longs to sanctify you completely…but it requires your willingness to sacrifice every aspect of your former self.

My prayer is that we might all be challenged to live out this new creation as Soldiers of Salvation!
Something more for our Army world to ponder today!

To God be the glory!

Disclaimer:  “The Views and Opinions shared in Pastorsponderings are strictly the writer’s views and opinions and do not necessarily ALWAYS reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.”

THIS should be our ONE aim and desire!

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1

Conversational Statement:
spiritual
There is no such thing as a “spiritual life”.
You might ask yourself; “What, no spiritual life?  How can that be? Why would you say such a thing?  Of course there is a spiritual life!
Let me ask you this; is there a separation from what we do in Church to what we do at home?
How often do we compartmentalize what we do with God and what we do in our everyday life?

QUESTION:
Was this life ever intended to be compartmentalized and separated?  No.
In the Jewish culture there was no such thing as a spiritual life, because everything was considered spiritual.  Everything they did; everything they discussed; everything they thought was considered spiritual.
Life, as a whole = IS SPIRITUAL!

Is it no wonder that David, a man after God’s own heart, says “ALL my inmost being” praises His holy name?!  What does God require from us?  What sort of relationship does He want from us?  Is it a part-time relationship – where we come to Him once or twice a week while at church?  Is this relationship that is just a friendship type of deal?  We just sort of pick up where we left off after some time apart while we do our own thing?  NO!  This relationship is either all-in or nothing at all!

That might sound like such a committed thing…BECAUSE IT IS!  I’m not saying I’m even there yet, but I’m saying that we need to get to the point where we either say “Lord I’m all-in” or “I’m out!”.

Which will it be for us?
Can we honestly say right now that ALL our inmost being praises His holy name?
Can we boldly say – “Lord come with me, I invite you to go wherever I go today…”?
Can we cast aside the “part-time” relationship deal that we have sort of conveniently worked out in our minds?

God wants all there is of us.
God desires a relationship that goes far beyond some sort of surfaced thing.
He wants to walk beside us.
-To commune with us.
-To journey along with us wherever we go.

Is your everyday life currently segmented and separated from your “spiritual” life?
Perhaps it’s time to realign them and put it all back together again.
Perhaps it’s time for us to declare (and mean it) ALL my inmost being – praise His holy name!

You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” -Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

It’s either ALL or NOTHING.
Something more for us to ponder today.

Perspectives Day #2 Featuring Captain Pete Brookshaw – “What is a Salvationist? You’ll be surprised by the answer…”

If you’re part of The Salvation Army, you’re part of a dynamic, exciting movement with a desire to change the world. There I’ve said it. Though one may ask, what actually is Salvationism? What is a Salvationist?

Let me start with this: I’ve heard plenty of definitions of the mission of The Salvation Army. Maybe you have too. Some inspire you to make a difference and others feel like dry words merely articulated on a page. It goes without saying, when the mission is clear, The Salvation Army has clarity and focus. And clarity and focus is what we need.

So what then is the mission of The Salvation Army? And further more, what is Salvationism?  


In the Australia Southern Territory of The Salvation Army, we say that God raised up the Army for the purpose of:

  • Transforming Lives
  • Caring for People
  • Making Disciples
  • Reforming Society

In other parts of the Army, the words spoken by General John Gowans are used: The Mission of The Salvation Army is to Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity.


If you haven’t heard, the International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army is:


The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission
is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.


Some narrow down the mission of The Salvation Army to one sentence: Win the world for Jesus.


It’s bold, gutsy, arduous and worth embracing. The Salvation Army does not sit around waiting for bums on seats. We won’t sit and wait for the world to embrace God, like all of a sudden people will start flocking to our communities of faith, believing we have some answers to their brokenness. The Salvation Army is a pragmatic movement seeking to change the world, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Salvationist is one working to that end. 


I mean, a Salvationist is clumsily defined in most dictionaries as, ‘A member of The Salvation Army.’ Though, that’s like defining a great hamburger as ‘A bun with a meat pattie and some ingredients inside.’ It fails to encapsulate the essence of Salvationism.

A Salvationist has agreed to live a certain way (holiness) and has agreed to live out and actively pursue the fulfilment of the mission of The Salvation Army. Soldier’s sign a Soldier’s Covenant, because they understand the significance of what Salvationism means and the power of aligning oneself to such a covenant.

I think the signing of that Soldier’s Covenant and subsequently living out that covenant is relevant and spiritually powerful.


The Salvation Army should be unapologetic in calling people to Salvationism. In an age where we are post-denominational and we are a ‘go with the flow’ kind of people, it is still of value to stand by principles that create clarity and purpose for one’s life and to then commit to it.

We are a salvation people.

I am reminded by a lady in our Corps named Di. She is being enrolled as a soldier very shortly. Though the story goes back to coming for welfare support at the corps. Then she joined our community lunch and starting helping. Then she immersed herself into our Thrift Shop ministry. At some point she chose to forgive her mother. Then she starting dancing and laughing up the front of the church on a Sunday morning. Then we did Soldiership classes. She wants to change the world. She wants to express that desire through Salvation Army Soldiership.

Pause for moment. 

Let me make some quick comments on what it means to be a Salvationist. A Salvationist is a:

  • Passionate prayer warrior
  • Committed social justice advocate
  • Zealous evangelist
  • Generous giver
  • Faith-filled risk-taker
  • Holy-inspired follower of Jesus
  • Covenanted child of the King
  • Unapologetically driven to support the work of the Kingdom of God through The Salvation Army
  • Loyal and active participator in a local Corps

You may add your own thoughts on what it means to be a Salvationist.

Let me finish with this definition of Salvationism.

William Booth sums up Salvationism in one sentence:

‘Salvationism means simply the overcoming and banishing from the earth of wickedness.’  

To read more, go to www.petebrookshaw.com

Perspectives Day #1 – Featuring Colonel Dennis Strissel “Opinion8ed”

“Opinion–8-ed”

(A series of eight installments)

Number Seven – Mulligans for Ministry continued

Photo Jan 05, 4 13 24 PM

In his excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas includes this important event as foundational to Bonhoeffer’s faith.

 “In November 1921, at the age of fifteen, Bonhoeffer went to the first evangelistic meeting of his life. General Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army had conducted ministry in Germany before the war, and in 1919, greatly moved by reports of suffering there, especially the hunger among children, he found a way around the official channels and was able to have milk distributed. He also gave five thousand pounds to relief efforts.

Two years later Booth came to Berlin to lead a series of evangelistic meetings. Thousands showed up, including many soldiers broken by the war. Sabine recalled that ‘Dietrich was eager to take part in it. He was the youngest person there, but he was very interested. He was impressed by the joy he had seen on Booth’s face, and he told us of the people carried away by Booth, and of the conversions.’ A part of him was powerfully attracted to this sort of thing, but he wouldn’t see anything like it again for ten years, when he attended the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.”

Forgive me for having some measure of pride in the fact that the joy observed and experienced through the moving of the Holy Spirit by Salvationists past, impressed and blessed an adolescent Bonhoeffer. Perhaps the memory of such joy accompanied him through his darkest hours. One of Bonhoeffer’s final writing describes life’s finality in this way, “Death is the supreme festival on the road to freedom.” That is only possible through divine joy.

Since this article is meant to be reflective, considering what I would have done better during my years of active service, it goes without saying that living a joyful life would be paramount. Life in Christ is always about joyfulness. It is distinct from simply being happy. We can all attest to days that are not happy ones but in spite of the seriousness that life brings, joy can always be found in every event or experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone express the beginning of the faith walk as a result of seeing your joy, even during some of the most stressful times of life? Perhaps you will join me in praying part of David’s prayer of contrition today…

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

Ps 51:7-13 NIV

Amen

Dear Salvation Army, Without Borders, Without Division…

boothHardship, unbelief, suffering and poverty have not stopped our soldiery from rendering their service to God and man. The Salvation Army is a great empire, an empire without a frontier made up of a tangle of races, tongues and colors such as never before in all history gathered together under one flag.” -General Evangeline Booth

I do not wish to pat ourselves on the back today, this is not my purpose.
The purpose for this pondering is to explore the structure and foundation of our Army today.
This week we have talked about our identity and that we are more than simply a “church”…this calling that we are answering is to the front lines, to places where the church often shies away from.  It is my intention to judge the church, but rather to paint the necessity of our Army to remain in the front lines.

We cannot boast that this uniform or this mission is glamorous, because it is more often than not, a tiring, thankless duty.  We must get our hands dirty in order to grasp the hand of the one needing rescue from the pit. We must be available to listen to the lonely soul who feels as if they are all alone.  Yes, it is often a most unglamourous (If I may make up a word) duty we are called to perform.

A Stalwart Soldier:
Storms will come. steadfast
Doubt will occur.
Leaders will come that you might not see eye to eye with.
Clouds of disillusionment might appear on your horizon.
But we MUST remain firm.  We cannot retreat, despite these imperfections within our ranks.
We are all imperfect people being cleansed by a Holy God.  We must allot for grace and forgiveness so that we can continue to serve Christ in the many capacities that He has placed us in.
I too struggle with “the system” from time to time.
I too question certain policies and decision from time to time, BUT this will not deter me from serving Christ first and attempting to continue this mission to the world around me.

Your community needs you.
Your town, city, neighbor – they need you!
They need a functioning, loving, graceful Salvation Army to go where no one else dares to go.

We don’t have time to become divided upon anything. fall
The moment we become a divided Army, is the moment that we lose ground and lose our place within our communities and most importantly God’s mission for us.  When we relinquish our prejudices and societal divisions and allow the grace of God and the love of Christ to permeate us entirely, we tear down all divisions and become united again.  This road that we are on is not easy, it was never supposed to be easy.  Christ’s path to the cross was not easy, and we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him – no matter where that leads us.

Are you prepared to carry that cross? 
There will be person sacrifices to be made. cross
It is not always glamorous.
There will be bumps and bruises along the way…but we need you!
This Army of Salvation needs viable, faithful, loving, holy, Salvationists to lead the way.
Now more than ever, we must remain united as one Army throughout our World.
One mission…One purpose.  Yes, we will lose comrades along the way. Attrition is real.

BUT:
-If we are more concerned with being like Christ instead of looking the part of a soldier…
-If we are focused on Kingdom building instead of personal, selfish agendas…
-If we have a deep compassion for people and are grieved by the sickness of sin instead of settling for a compromised faith…
-If we careless about attaining certain positions and ranks and care more for others…
-If we spend more time on our knees before the throne of heaven intently listening instead of jabbering away and complaining about our gripes and wants…
-If we studied more about what Jesus said and did and why He did those things instead of studying what our founders did (I’m sorry, I deeply respect our founders, but they surrendered to Christ too)…
leadership
If we do these things, and strive for holiness in everything that we are and do…these borders and divisions that we face will decrease and Christ will increase in our vision and heart.  We can’t allow our minds to become consumed with these impossible, insurmountable boarders any longer – because we serve a God who does the impossible and STILL performs miracles in our communities.

Dear Army, we are an Army of Salvation that is spurred on by the resurrection power of Christ Jesus!  Each of us are a standing testimony to this power.  He still longs to transform lives in your corps, in your communities. Despite the darkness, Christ can and will shine His light and expose sin and deliver souls from these chains.  We, dear soldiers, have the deep privilege of bearing that light into those places…if we will only commit to it and stop wavering between our old lives and our new.
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I seemed to hear a voice sounding in my ears, ‘Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labors?…God shall have all there is of William Booth”  -William Booth

Does He have all of you yet?
Something more for our Army world to ponder today, To God be the glory!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these ponderings on pastorspondrings.org are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army.

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