Dear Salvationist -Watch Your Mouth!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29

The Holiness Movement is far from dead.
We, as Salvationists, have within our veins more than the figurative colors of red, yellow, blue…we have the image of Christ within our hearts.  Not to say that other Christ-followers do not, or that we are better than anyone else, but this message, this pondering is primarily for Salvationists in our world today.

We face difficulties in our communities and in our culture which makes it hard to be truly set apart for God.  The lure of many things comes knocking at our doors and begs us to participate, to comprise, to ignore this calling.   Is it possible to look so much like the culture that our effectiveness in mission is compromised?  Is there a line that begs and pleads alluringly to be crossed?  What of our attitudes, our hearts, and our speech?  Do these go hand in hand with our lifestyles, with our mission?

There isn’t a time clock that we punch when we accept this holy mission of Christ’s.  We are either all in or not at all.  We don’t wear the uniform to the corps but once it’s off at home we become someone else, with a different set of life rules.    We are beckoned to “go into all the world…”  We are asked to “take up our crosses” and follow Christ.  If we are to imitate Him in every way (Ephesians 5:1), then this includes what we say.

Confession: blah
I can be cynical at times (That’s not a shock to some of you).
I always joke that I have the spiritual gift of sarcasm, but sometimes that sarcasm takes a very harmful turn.  My speech isn’t always as it should be.  Words can become barbs that are razor sharp that can cut to the heart of people faster than any blade could ever penetrate.  I know this of myself.  I make no excuse of this.  Does that mean I wish to continue to the live my life in a verbal rut?  Of course not!

Dear Salvationist
blood and fireDo you have the deep desire to continue to grow in Christ?
Is there, within your heart, the Spirit’s pleading to become more than you are right now?
Are we settling for the verbal ruts, the bad habits, the inexcusable behavior?  Do we make excuses and/or rationalize these away in order to make them more palatable and accepted? I can tell you truthfully that you will never really know peace within your heart as long as you continue to reside where the Holy Spirit does not want you to reside – in regards to ungodly habits and behaviors that are contrary to your covenant or promise to Him.

Like our tithe, like our commitments to God – if we continue to only give Him a portion, we will never be truly satisfied living within His will.  What is God’s will for us?  Read Micah 6:8 again “He has shown you, oh man what is good and what the Lord requires from you.  To live justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”   Matthew 16:24 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Watch Your Mouth!mouth
Be mindful of your mission field.
Be aware of how ungodly speech corrupts your heart and those around you.
What kind of speech am I talking about?  Not just profanity and course language, but (and more importantly) unkind words towards others, Gossip of any kind, malicious-hate fueled speech.  Words that do not build up but instead destroy.  Soldiers of this Army; more importantly Soldiers of God do not act this way…should not act this way!  Watch your mouth…it can build souls and help them become more Christ-like, or it can burn the heart and fuel it into hatred towards God…that is how helpful or harmful your words can be.

Questions to Ponder Today:
How can I change my patterns of speech?
Do I recognize those moments when my words become barbs and are used as weapons?
What is the Holy Spirit instructing me to do within my actions and my use of speech?
What kinds of changes do I need to make right now?
Have I settled for where I am right now or am I willing to grow through the direction of the Holy Spirit?

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

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.

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 – 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.”

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…

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.

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.


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.

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!

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.
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-
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.

Dear Salvation Army, Too Much Rhetoric Not Enough Practice??

You don’t have to be in a political office in order to view politics…it’s everywhere including the church.
Church/corps splits have happened because of truly silly things – “the color of the carpet in the sanctuary”…really??

I’m feeling a little feisty today, so please bear with me.
Rhetoric…and Holiness???
The Salvation Army struggles with too much rhetoric and not enough practice sometimes.
What do I mean by this?
We (like any church) are so good at saying all of the right things.
We (like any church) are so good at wearing all the right clothes…ahem the uniform.
We (like any church) are so good at touting our scripture verses and doctrines…but can it become more about outward appearances like when the DC, TC or General comes to visit than about personal/corporate holiness?

Sometimes I feel as if we are very good at polishing the outside of the cup while we just keep neglecting to do the hard stuff like cleaning the inside of the cup (our hearts).  We try and try to impress the “brass” with our efforts and works but are we truly living consistently?  This isn’t some sort of witch-hunt today.  I’m not pointing the finger at anymore more than I am pointing fingers. back. at. myself.

This is Personal…
This is truly personal.
if this resounds with anyone else, then great!
Let’s do something about this together.
I honestly know that I am not the only one who struggles with this.
We are so good at singing ‘the Founder’s Song’ in Holiness meeting and thirty minutes later we’re at our favorite “Sunday Lunch Spot” complaining about the wait time, the server, we barely give a tip and then we complain on our way home about the traffic and some ignorant sap who just cut us off…do you get what I’m saying?

This is Deadly…blood
I, for one, do not want to be a member of the Salvation Army in Laodicea, if you get what I mean (Revelations 3:14-22).
If I’m honest, I’d rather rip off this uniform and walk away from it all before I start striving to become a pew warmer and a luke-warm one at that.  The church of Laodicea, according to Revelation, didn’t get their act together.  They didn’t have the passion to serve Christ as His bride.  They weren’t on fire for Him, instead they were barely tepid in their faith.  Sometimes I feel that in our Army we walk a fine line too.  We can utter all of the “catch-phrases” of our Army like “Fire a volley” and “Hallelujah”  but on the inside we’re so caught up in the bickering and pettiness that are missing out on the fire of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t think we need another Pentecost, it’s already here we are just so caught up in our own issues that we can’t see it…that’s just how I see it…I hope I’m wrong.  When did we desire to be a mediocre Army?  When did we sign up to warm a pew but as soon as the hard work comes we’re suddenly absent?  If we are truly “witnesses for Jesus” why aren’t we more visible with this message in the streets?  We cannot hole ourselves up in beautiful Halls of worship and expect the brokeness of neighborhoods to be mended by how well we sing and play an instrument.  We’ve got to get on with it!  We’ve got to either catch fire and be moved by the Holy Spirit or we need to get out of the way and stop hampering the Spirit and the potential growth of other Soldiers.  Either warm up or be spit out.

shielfThis is real…
I have felt this sting of conviction.
I don’t write this as a “guilt trip” for anyone before it strikes my heart and brings ME up short first.
We need to stop “playing” army and be army.
We need to stop fighting amongst each other and fight the real war for the souls of those who are lost.
We need to stop spouting half-empty words of rhetoric when our hearts aren’t in it and instead fall upon our faces and recommit ALL OF WHO WE ARE to Christ once more.
We do not need pew warmers and more apathetic bodies in uniforms, instead we need leaders who are servant who will serve and love regardless of where someone came from or what their last name might be.
We don’t have time to play “church politics”…this gets in the way and stunts our growth as a corporate body of holiness.

It’s “Put up” or “Shut-Up” time.
I have seen the walking dead amongst soldiers and officers.
I have seen the passion-less works of apathetic hearts.
I have witnessed the “going through the motions” without a resemblance of the practice of holiness.
We have a choice.
We can either put up or shut up.
We can either live lives worthy of this calling upon our lives, or we can stop pretending and get out of the way.
This is a wake up call.
This is a call to holiness.
This is a reminder that there is more to it than donning on the uniform and spouting all the right words.

How is your heart today?
How is your spiritual journey?
This is something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

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