Dear Salvation Army, 3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

I was watching my son play a football match the other day.
In the U.S. we call it soccer, for the rest of the world it’s called Football.
Just to give you a little history about who I am; I have played soccer since I was a young boy.  It began in the playground as a little boy on the Island of St. Helena.  My parents were missionaries there many years ago.   I played soccer in South Africa as a boy – my parents were missionaries there too.  I played soccer in the United States – my parents were missionaries there too.

I love the game.
As I have grown up, so has my knowledge of the game of football.
I finally see the strategy that my father once called “Chess-like”.  -A player makes one move and then a counter move…and so on.  The game is built upon team work, strategy, and determination.  I admire the structure of this sport that I played so long ago.  I equally enjoy watching my son compete in it as well.

This brings me to my point today, Dear Salvation Army.
Here’s my metaphor for the day – There are lessons we can acquire from the game of football.  These lessons can have a deep impact on our ministries.  These lessons can either shape us if applied, or break us if not applied.  Allow me to share these 3 spiritual lessons with you today.

3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

soccer1.  Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion:
I have watched professional games where you can almost tell which team will win just by how they compete.  The players who stay focused and on their toes (literally) will be better equipped to create attacking plays and score goals.

When you play the game of football, you must constantly operate on the balls of your feet.  Being “on your toes” helps you anticipate passes, gives you an edged, and allows you to move faster.   If players play flat-footed, they lose a step.  That player will not be quick to the ball, and they will become reactive instead of proactive.

Are we Flat-footed or are we on our toes?
Spiritually speaking, we cannot operated our ministries in a reactionary capacity.  We must anticipate and move when the Holy Spirit prompts us to move.  Sitting back on our heels doesn’t prepare us for active ministry, it opens us up for failure in ministry.  We weren’t called to preserve we were called to persevere!

When we go out and engage our communities…
When we get up out of the pews and help others in our communities…
When we seek to be a resource of solutions to problems and situations in society…
When we practice what we preach on Monday – Saturday…
We will cease to be flat-footed and on our toes in ministry.

ronaldo2.  We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi!
No offense to these phenomenally talented footballers, but the game is usually never won because of one player among 12.  The whole team has to contribute.  The Goalie has to know his/her role.  The full backs need to know their role.  The midfielders and the forwards – theirs as well.  It’s a team sport.    messi

I love to watch teams like the Netherlands national team play.  They pass with precision.  The operate as a group.  Sure, there are some stand-out talent on the team, but without players who can move the ball, pass and defend – that talent is useless.

We are members of one body (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12).
Each part of the body has to work with the other.  This doesn’t mean that we lord over other parts and brag about our accomplishments, rather, it means we help each other along- we work together for the same purposes.  Do we not have the same mission, Dear Army?  Are we all equally important?  Sometimes I think (and it happens in almost all Churches) we have “Stars” who tend to get all of the notoriety and credit…just like Ronaldo and Messi.  Most of these “Stars” are actually very humble about their role within the Army.  We must never lose focus on what is MOST important.

It’s not about who gets the credit (God should actually get this praise…right?!).
It’s not about who looks better in the uniform.
It’s not about ranks and roles and positions…although some would disagree with me.
-We need more team work and less ball hogs.
-We need more sharing of vital tools for ministry and less hoarding of these resources.
-We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead compare our lives with Christ – who ought to be the one we long to emulate and imitate.

conditioning3.  Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness) 
Okay, let’s get the cynics out of the way first – yes, of course some of the major football clubs also have MILLIONS of pounds, dollars, euros (and everything in between) to work with.

Without physical conditioning a team will fall flat on its face.
Without being disciplined in the sport, a team will fall apart when pressure mounts.    endurance
Physical strength requires sweat, toil, tears, and even pain.  One cannot expect to compete at a professional level without first sacrificing time, laziness, and other luxuries.  Practice is required, not optional.  Determination to practice and perform at the peak of excellence is desired for all players on the pitch.  If a player begins to decline or under-performs, that player may be sent down to a subordinate minor league team, or kicked off the team all together.

Dear Salvation Army, we cannot afford to have spiritually flabby soldiers.
I mean this with the sincerest amount of grace.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to press for spiritual discipline and spiritual conditioning.  We cannot settle for mediocrity IF there is even a hint that we can be more and do more.  God doesn’t want our leftovers on the mission fields we are called to, He wants our best efforts, or complete faithfulness, and our whole hearts.  If we are to be a better Army, we have to strive for spiritual excellence and holiness.  We cannot remain static if the Holy Spirit is calling us to move forward.

I love football, and I apologize to some of you that really don’t care for sports at all.
It’s an analogy that works for me.
Perhaps it will click for some of you as well.

Recap:
-Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion
-We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi in Uniform – Be Who God Called You To Be!
-Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness)

There is so much more I could write on this topic, and perhaps I will in the future…but for now, this is enough fodder for one day.

Something more to Ponder today…(oh and by the way Go Manchester United!)
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, You’re Not Worthy…

unworthyYou’re not worthy of the world’s acclaim.
You’re not worthy of the world’s standards in regards to human perfections.
You’re not worthy of worldly successes.
Nor are you worthy of all of the riches the world offers.

Why do I say these things today?
What is the point?  – To offend?
– To make one feel inferior?
– To hurt one’s feelings?

No, the point is that the world’s standards; the way the world looks at you and me, and judges us is unfortunate but real.  We will never live up to the expectations and judgments of the world, dear soldier.  We have chosen to be set apart for God.  We have decided, no matter how hard it might be, to follow His lead and not the world’s.  We are not worthy in the world’s eyes.  We will never be as successful or rich or beautiful…it is pointless pursuit…and yet we constantly compare ourselves by the world’s standards.   Girls become objects to manipulate and judge; boys become judged and prodded at…the world wants our youth to grow up too quickly.  And despite all of these conditions, none of us is worthy, none of us truly “make the cut”.

Dear Soldier, Dear Christian, Dear follower of Christ…we were never worthy in the world’s eyes, but God in his unconditional love and grace makes us worthy in His eyes.

Let me share with you a writing by Henri J.M. Nouwen to better illustration what I mean today.  It is from his book “The return of the prodigal son”, in it he writes this:

home“To whom do I belong? To God  or to the world?”  Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God.  A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depress.  A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me.  It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down.  Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves.  All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me. 

As Long as I keep running about asking: “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with “ifs.”  The world says” “yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy.  I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections.  I love you if produce much, sell much, and buy much.”  There are endless “ifs” hidden in the world’s love.  These “ifs” enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them.  The world’s love is and always will be conditional.  As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world – trying, failing, and trying again.  It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.”  (p.42, The Return of the Prodigal Son”, Nouwen)

Questions to consider today: 
How many times have we run back to the world for approval?
How many times have we forgotten that God already loves us unconditionally?
Why do we constantly run back seeking acceptance?
Are we addicted to the glory that the world offers to us?

In all honesty the words of Nouwen ring true in my heart as well…does it ring true in yours?
I need to run back to the Father daily.
I need to confess my wayward desires.
I am hopelessly lost in a world that does not truly love me…but God does.
I pray that we run back to Him; that we remain in His presence.
May we pursue righteousness instead of worldly fame, holiness instead of riches and success, salvation instead of the lusts of the heart.

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

Dear Salvation Army, Holiness Of The Heart…

Catherine“I have pledged myself until I find the holiness of the heart”  -Catherine Booth.

Let us delve once more into the most important aspect of our personal salvation – personal holiness.
We are all equipped for spiritual growth.  For some, it might take a lifetime, while others days or years.
We are made for so much more than we are right now.  The Holy Spirit isn’t done with us yet.  We are a work in progress, an unfinished masterpiece – as we are being transformed into the image of the Might High.

To me, a holiness of the heart begins with self denial.
We must have the fortitude and willingness to want to change from the inside out.
This transformation is dependent upon how reluctant or willing we are to the pleading of the Holy Spirit.
If we are “all in”, and we allow these personal sacrifices to become reality in our every day life, the holiness of the heart becomes all that more attainable.  If we say we are “all in”, and yet we resist the proddings of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to our need for surrender in very specific and private spaces, we (sometimes unknowingly) hamper this holiness of the heart.    Either we are fully committed to His work in us, or we resist and stunt the potential growth we could have.  a-life-of-holiness

Confession Time:
I cannot tell you how often I have resisted His pleadings, for they far outweigh my moments of obedience.
I hope I am not alone in this.  I only say this to you so that we might understand how uncommon and unnatural this holiness of the heart can be.  I am not saying it is wrong, or something we shouldn’t strive for in our personal relationship to Christ.  I am just saying that the longer we resist, the more unnatural it may feel because the old unsurrendered self still takes up residence where the transformed new life should be.   I confess that I am still a work in progress.  I pray daily that the Lord would do His working within me, and yet this living sacrifice still slides and moves off of the altar.  I do long to more like Him in every way.  I do cling to the Holy Spirit.  I want so desperately to be “all in” every day, every moment, and every second…I am not there yet…but I want to be.

How about you?
How is your Holiness of the heart going?
Are you struggling as well?
You aren’t alone dear Soldier, fight the good fight, do not quit, keep waging this war against sin!
Listen intently to the Holy Spirit.
We too possess this holiness of the heart, yet He is not finished with us yet!

“All there is of me Lord, All there is of me
Time and talents, day by day,
All I bring to thee;
All there is of me, Lord,
All there is of me,
On thine altar here I lay
All there is of me.”

May we delve deeply within our hearts as we listen intently to the Holy Spirit.
May we be Soldiers of this Army hell bent on pulling people back from the flames through His power.
May we be the kinds of Soldiers of God that reflect Christ’s love in every way so that others may see Him too.

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

Dear Salvation Army, A Practical Guide To Personal Holiness

Before  you click away from this article and judge this post as “too boring” let me ask, do you want to be like Christ?  Is being like Christ important to you?   If the answer to both questions is ‘yes’ but you don’t know where to begin, let me help by offering a few suggestions today.  This is not an exhaustive list, this is merely a primer, a starter for all of us.   Dear Soldiers of our Army, we need to be a holy Army for God!  Holiness is available not only to officers or older adults, it is available to ALL of us!  Without holiness, without the Spirit’s transformation in us, we cannot be all that He has intended us to be!  Dear Salvation Army, we still are in need of Holiness today!  We still need a fresh anointing of His presence.
Do you believe Holiness is possible?

Let me clarify here as well about the topic of Holiness –
Holiness Might be IS possible for all believers in Christ.  
BUT Holiness is NOT human perfection – so let’s get that false notion out of the way right now.  Human perfection is something many people chase after in order to make themselves “better”, but does human perfection actually exist?  NO, the only perfect person to walk this earth was Christ…and even that statement at times troubles me because if Jesus were fully God and fully Man…well let’s leave that conversation for another time.   Human perfection does not equal holiness!  We are created in the image of God but because of sin we have a marred image of God within us.  Human perfection or the pursuit of such a goal can lead to arrogance, pride and even self-defeat.

Holiness is first personal before it is corporate…
1. SET ASIDE TIME IN YOUR PRAYER CLOSET DAILY closet

Understandably the prompting of such a transformation can be prompted within the corporate setting, but real transformation and change BY the Holy Spirit often takes place within our own private prayer closets.  The deeply spiritual moments, if we allot time for them, can be pivotal in our understanding of what the Holy Spirit longs to do in our lives, and the strongholds we have yet to surrender to Him.  Without our daily prayer closet moment with God, we can compartmentalize and push aside its importance within our busy lives.  The prayer closet can be an actual location that you go (usually alone) to and meditate on scriptures as well as prayer.  Some people write in journals, some people draw, some people express this moment differently.  Our prayer closet moment each day can be something that prods us, something that spurs us onward, and something that allows us clarify in a deafening world as it puts us in tune again with the Holy Spirit.

ear2.  INTENTLY ASK, BUT ACTIVELY LISTEN!
When we set aside this time within our prayer closet, we must be intentional in its purpose.  Naturally we will want to tell God everything (which He already knows) and sometimes it can become a gripe fest (trust me I’ve had my share), but instead – how much listening do we actually do in these possibly sacred times?  I’m not saying we don’t ask for help in specific areas of our lives, but we should also actively listen to the Spirit’s voice.  He can and will guide us if we can stop talking for ten seconds and listen to Him.  Be attentive to the prodding and pleading of the Holy Spirit.  He longs to transform us, and He will help us!

3.  BEGIN TO LOVE  love
This begins with our friends and colleagues, but should extend to those who are not friends but rather enemies.  Loving people despite what they do to us can transform any situation into an evangelical moment for others to see Christ in you.  Love without strings attached.  Love without stipulations.  Love because Christ first loved us, and if we ACTUALLY want to emulate Him we must put aside our preconceived notions about others, our judgments, our phoniness and simply love (which is ironic because loving our enemies is never “simple”).  Love anyway, despite our grudges, our differences, our former prejudices…love.  When we can tear down these old strong holds of resistance with love, we open up molded walls that the Holy Spirit wants to remove in our lives.  Breaking these old tired barriers allows us to be vulnerable and yet available to His Spirit’s transformation of our lives.

potLord, break me, melt me, mold me, use me!
Spirit of the Living God fall afresh on me.
May it be so with us!
Something more to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Taking A Drink Of Living Water!

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38)

It’s funny how one small thing could be so important.
Take water for example, if one were to go without it for three days, the consequences would be terminal.  Vital organs would shut down and the body would die.  Water is THAT important to each of us.  Sometimes we might take it for granted, especially those of us who live where fresh water is in abundance.
ice water
I recently suffered a mild bout of heat exhaustion…and it wasn’t pretty.   It happened this week while taking my children to a theme park in Orlando.  The temperature was well past the 90 degree mark, and we were in the throws of a typical Florida summer: HOT.  Like a typical guy I thought I could “handle it”.  We went from attraction to attraction and I apparently did not drink enough water nor stay out of sun as much as I should have.  By the evening, as crowds continued to ebb and flow and we lined up for one more long wait on a new attraction, I had a pounding headache and became horribly sick to my stomach.

Yes, water is THAT important.
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
(It’s good to still learn lessons, and I hope we never stop learning them…however hard they may be from time to time)

I also have a new found appreciation for a nice cold glass of water.
If you have ever been truly thirsty while working out in the hot sun, you too will understand.
Nothing quenches your dry throat and deep thirst like a cold cup of water.
Water brings with it life…a spark to carry on…a refreshing spring to desert land.

livingSimilarly, Jesus uses this cultural understanding of a dry and thirsty land to explain what He had come to do for all who were seeking.  He would quench the thirst of the heart and soul.  He could bring a refreshing like no other known to earth.  His “living water” would provide life – true eternal living – to the soul!  How could we not wish to drink from this source of living water?  How could we not yearn for His presence in our lives when the world around us at times is a rather arid and lonely place?   His living water can heal our brokenness.  His living water can restore our static and sun burnt lives.  He provides this freely…and the beauty of this living water is that we can come to this source of real life and drink over and over again.

waterAre you thirsty today?
Have you been to the living waters?  It will quench the thirst of your soul!  Jesus longs for us to come to Him and stay beneath his fellowship and beside these living waters.  Sometimes, I must confess, that I have thought (like my bout with heat exhaustion) that I could handle it on my own…but I was wrong.  Perhaps you’re a bit like me.  Perhaps there are days where you feel that you require no such support and that this living water is not really needed.  May we run to these living waters once again.  Don’t wait too long!  Don’t assume you have it all “worked out” and that you don’t need His help.  Drink from these living waters again…and be healed!

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

Dear Salvation Army, 150 Years!!!

Since its inception, The Salvation Army has been a beacon of hope to those in need.
It is hard to believe that 150 years has gone by since its start.  I am proud to be an Officer within its ranks while at the same time I know that we still have room to grow, adapt and improve.  Like any form of ministry, time passes, culture and customs evolve, and with it so should the delivery of the same message of Christ.

booth1The Past
I recognize the innovators in our army who were bold and unabashed in their proclamations of faith and salvation for all.  We need this fervor today.  Sometimes we still need to be civilly disobedient and unafraid of being arrested.  We need to be reminded of where we came from and why we are still an army.  We STILL have a mission as soldiers of this army.

pray

We STILL fight for those without voices.  We STILL ought to be the safe harbor for people to go.  We STILL should “do something” for those who find themselves in hopeless situations and cannot find their way out.

The Present 150
There are many social platforms within which we can fight for those in need.
There are many single mothers and fathers out there struggling to do “right by their kids” and have hardly enough food to put on the table for them.  There are countless drug addicts in our communities who need to get clean and who need someone in uniform who cares for them despite their current behaviors. Taking the strain There are so many outliers in our communities, those who have been ostracized, marginalized, brutalized and victimized…they need us!  Where ever we look we can find poor souls who need our help.  Where ever we look we can find poverty, rejection, dejection, panic, sadness and grief…and we can still help bring relief to the many with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:
Are we still a sanctified Army or is there still further cleansing to be done?
Have we given ourselves entirely to the will of the Father or are we still holding on to remnants and identities?
Are we lacking passion and zeal for His purposes within we as soldiers of this army?
Are we asking for His direction and guidance through these turbulent and often volatile times?

1501Today I celebrate the 150th Anniversary of this Army…and yet I know that we have much work to be done.  I do not wish to downplay all that we HAVE done already, but rather I recognize the work that STILL needs to be done.  We can only do so much in our own strength, but when we allow God’s holy presence to take up the fight within our faithfulness, we can do anything…I truly believe this!

To my comrades who are in London today, and have gathered with 18,000 other soldiers for Boundless 2015, I say please spur us onward!  Let us run and not grow weary!  (Isaiah 40:31) May we be on our knees earnestly praying for the many souls we can reach in His name.  May we begin to witness the miracles again for an Army filled with His Holy Spirit…renew us, reignite us, cleanse us, and spur us onward Dear Lord!

To God be the glory!

“The Exchange”

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” -Proverbs 18:10

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event
Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

I used to run track when I was in high school.
I was a sprinter.  I would train with my team every day after school even when it was hard.  I would run the 100 meter, 200 meter and the 4×100 meter relay.  The relay was where team work would come in.  Each runner had their own part to play in the race.  Each ran their respective portion…but it would be all for naught if the exchange of the baton was mishandled.  Sometimes failure in the exchange came by way of holding on too tightly to the baton as one attempted to pass it on.  Sometimes failure in the exchange came by way of holding on too loosely as one attempted to pass it on.  That’s why we practiced day after day.  We needed to be a synced group.  We needed to have a simple, nondramatic hand-off each time in order to even consider winning the race.  The relay’s success of failure hinged upon “the exchange”.

Have you ever felt weak?
I imagine we all have from time to time…some of us probably just thought to themselves “I feel weak all the time”.  I want to encourage you today.  There is strength in knowing the Lord.  There is joy in this “knowing” as well.   What happens within this fragment of time (when we allow God’s strength to become our strength and exchange1when we “know” whose strength it is coursing through us) is an exchange of lordship.  The success and failure of the Christian walk sometimes hinges on this pivotal exchange!   Within this exchange of lordship, what we are saying is “Lord I abdicate my human authority that is frail and weak and I exchange it for your Lordship in my life!”  When we allow this lordship exchange to take place within us, we knock down pride and selfishness and erect a stronger, more firmer foundation found only within complete humility and selflessness.

The Apostle Paul puts it like this – “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Despite Paul’s sufferings, despite his weaknesses, despite everything kind of persecution he faced, he recognized that even in weakness Christ would be strong!

I wonder if any of you are kind of like me.  I am stubborn.  I am often prideful.  I am sometimes insecure.  I am quick to repay wrongs done to me in similar reciprocating responses.  I am still far from the prize of holiness.  BUT… there is something within this confession of mine.  I have to recognize that in all of these shortcomings I cannot attain the strength that I need on my own.  I require this exchange of authority in my life.  I require the Holy Spirit’s presence within me.  I cannot afford to run aimlessly, full of myself and on my own.  My own efforts will, and frequently have, failed.

run1Oh that we run to the Lord!
Oh that we allow His presence to transform us.
Oh that we are filled with His strength by emptying our weaknesses out at His feet.
This is where the exchange of lordship begins…and the prize of holiness (the very reflection of Christ) is seen.
May we allow this exchange of lordship to occur within us.
It is a very private matter for most of us.  It isn’t something that often happens overnight, but instead His presence begins to urge us to relinquish things.  His presence begins to remind us of what could be.  His presence prompts us to run to Him and lay down our pride and self-assurances at His feet.

How’s your “Exchange of lordship” going?
Something more to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Stories About Humanity And How We Make A Difference!

Today I have been challenged…and I hope this challenges you too.

We’ve been challenged to love.
love is pure.
love is true.
The greatest form of love for God comes through how we love and serve humanity.
It is a calling to participate in practical holiness…
It is this kind of love that should be a fragrant offering.
This kind of love is (not always an immediate response, mind you)a response to being unlovable, hopelessly lost in our own sins, and yet receiving this unmerited grace, this undeserved love.  We respond in the practical.  We respond to this love in how we love others.  We attempt to reciprocate this love to God, and we are consumed by this desire to serve a mighty God here where He has placed us.

God has placed a very special man in our corps building recently…
His name is Bill.
He came to us first to volunteer, and we kept him.
He has this sort of passionate fire in his heart to serve people around him.
Strangers will come to our corps for help with food and find a friend where they might least expect it.
They find Bill.
He usually wears a red Salvation Army Emergency Disaster cap on his head and with a big smile he begins to engage the down and out in our foodshelf…but this isn’t the end of the story…

foodRecently, our foodshelf coordinator Linda was contacted by a non-profit organization that helps special needs adults find places to work, contribute and volunteer.   They were looking for locations that they could send about two or three special needs young adults to work.  Linda recognized an opportunity and agreed to be a host site here at The Salvation Army’s foodshelf.  Most of these special needs adults are slightly withdrawn and they can take quite a while to warm up to new environments.   Change is extremely difficult for most of them.   One such young adult was Anthony.  Anthony is naturally shy, and because of his disability, he doesn’t welcome change easily.  He is uncomfortable with meeting new people and his anxiety sometimes is too much to bear.

food1Anthony’s first day at The Salvation Army just so happened to be Bill’s regular volunteer day in the foodshelf.  Imagine this shy, quiet adult meeting this big gregarious red capped man…you’d think Anthony would have run away…but he didn’t.   Within that first day of volunteering in our foodshelf, Anthony became Bill’s good friend.  Bill took him under his wing, showed him how to pack food boxes, how to clean the floors, how to meet and greet clients coming to us for help.  Bill became Anthony’s mentor as they worked side by side each week filling boxes with food, sharing much needed breaks, taking out the trash, laughing together in the hallways, and engaging families and individuals in need who came to the door for food.

Bill is a servant of Christ, and to see him and Anthony together meeting human need in a very practical way here in the foodshelf is heart warming!
When Anthony comes in now to volunteer, he always looks for Bill.
He wants to work right there beside Bill, to emulate him.
Anthony feels comfortable there.  He feels safe.  He feels accepted.

Perhaps we need more Bills in our corps.
People who aren’t afraid to engage. food3
People who have this passion to serve Christ in any aspect both big and small.
People who make a difference in lives without even having to preach a sermon because their lives are that sermon.

We do make a difference in people’s lives, dear Salvation Army.
I hope that we never ever forget this.
We sing these wonderful battle songs of “fill the world with glory”, and these are great, but sometimes I think we lose the tree for the forest around us.  We lose the little things that make differences in people right in front of us.  We are so busy looking “out there” when all along we can make a difference, we can make an impact right here.  It is a practical holiness that transforms lives.  It is a practical holiness that preaches sermons that touches lives without even having to stand in a pulpit.  We need more practical holiness in our corps.  We need more people willing to do both the big tasks as well as the small mundane duties…both matter!

To Anthony, Bill became the representation of Christ in his life.
Bill became the very reflection of Christ that Anthony needed.
There are many more stories just like this waiting to be told in your corps.
There are many more lives that can be impacted for the better because of what you do next.
We do make a difference…and it starts with the execution of practical holiness in our lives.

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

Win Championships, Get In The Game!

jordan2I have to admit, I have been an avid fan of NBA basketball ever since I was a teenagers and watched the Bulls during the Jordan/Pippen dynasty.  I would rush home to watch the Bulls play their games.  If I didn’t make it home in time I would have it on the radio in the car as I was driving…sometimes the radio stations would go in and out as we traveled.  I was a die-hard Bulls fan.

jordanfluThe NBA finals are electric and the crowds really rally around their home team.  I remember Michael Jordan playing through the flu to win a crucial game against the Stockton/Malone duo of the Jazz (the Bulls would go on to win the championship that year).  How fanatical I would be as I sometimes screamed at the television as if they could hear me.  I was cheering on my team.  I was cheering on my basketball heroes.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet,  I love to watch professional basketball.  The reason I do is because of the drive many of these NBA players have to win a championship.  Last night I Watched (while I cleaned) the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers and win the championship.  This year was just another epic journey of athleticism and passion to be the best.  Another reason I love to watch this fast-paced sport is because of the drive for perfection.  It’s a  pressure sport.  There exists upon that court a pressure to perform at such a degree that to fail could define a career.  NBA2

When some of the greatest players take the stage, we cheer and we pull for them to perform impossible feats in order to bring home the victory…this got me thinking – In order to be a champion one must have a drive to excel.

lebron

They must also push beyond any pain they are experiencing so that they can succeed.  True champions must strain, bleed, push the limits of endurance and sometimes face pain in order to win.  What do they win?  Accolades?  Trophies?  Riches?  Fame?  Glory?  A better future?  -All of the above.
So what could a pastor possibly be getting at in this meandering pondering today?
Perhaps there is something here for us as well to glean.

The Spiritual Athlete: run1
How far do we go in order to seek holiness?
Do we have a desire to overcome sin in our lives?
Is our desire to be the very reflection of Christ in every possible way?
How far have we yet to go in order to achieve our hopes and dreams as Christ-followers?
Yes, it is with the Holy Spirit’s help, but we have a role to play in this as well.
We must be diligent.
We must be faithful.
We must desire transformation through holiness.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26 says this;
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

I still love these athletic heroes of mine.
In them I see the drive to excel.
In them I see the drive to be the very best that they can be.

run2I really enjoyed watching this year’s NBA finals.
Both teams pushed the limits of excellence.
Watching Stephen Curry make shot after shot was amazing to see.

Watching ‘King’ Lebron James try to lift his team to victory was stellar.  lebron2
I know it’s just a game…but to me it represents so much more.

I recognize the discipline that is needed of this spiritual body.
We still have much room to grow and develop.
Our lives are not our own, but we have become the very extension of Christ in this world.
It is a great responsibility and yet the eternal rewards far surpass any sport accolades and championship trophies.  We are called to this higher calling.  I takes endurance.  It takes discipline.  It takes determination.

I don’t know about you, but I won’t settle for riding the bench.
I want to a starting position in this spiritual race.
It’s not about being better than anyone.  It is about being who Christ has called me to be.
It is about being who Christ has called you to be.

Let’s get in the game!
Let’s push beyond our old selfish lives and strive for something so much more worthwhile.
To Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, I say a job well done!
To you my fellow Christ-followers, I say let’s do this…we were called for this…He is equipping us already to do this amazing feat of holiness.

Something more to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

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