You’re a Liar, I’m a Liar – Here’s Why…

Whether we care to admit it or not, we are liars.
Go ahead, soak it up, take it in…
Some of you are probably offended by this accusation.
Some of you might be nervous – don’t be.

The Lies 
The biggest lie that we tell ourselves is this:  “I don’t need God.”
The second biggest lie that we tell ourselves is: “every thing is okay.”
And then there are those lies that we tell God – “Lord I promise if you get me out of this situation I will never do that (insert whatever “that” is here) again!”  Or, we go to the altar at some fancy big church event and confess our sins in a big emotional altar call and make promises that only last that weekend…in essence we lie because deep down we know we don’t plan on changing.
lies
We also lie to God by telling Him that He’s the only God in our lives, but let me ask you, how many hours a day do you spend on the internet or on social media?  How many hours a day watching tv, netflix etc…?  Are there other things that consume all of your time?  Are there things that you would shamefully admit that you’re obsessed with?  Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of this stuff, but when we spend hours and hours and hour a day gaming or web surfing or whatever – we have become consumed, and when we become consumed by something other than God – we have essentially set up idols to false gods in our lives.  Basically, whatever takes the place of God – becomes our god…and we are then liars who claim we know God, but rather, we only know of God.

1 John 1:8-10 says; “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

God Doesn’t LieGod
What God says – He means.
What He says He will do – He will do.
God doesn’t break His promises to us – We are usually the ones who break our promises to Him.  Do we need Him?  Absolutely, and yet our ego at times convinces us that we can go it alone and we don’t need Him to “interfere”.   Don’t lie to God, He’s not fooled.  Also, don’t lie to yourself!

stopStop The Lies
So what’s the point?
Do some soul searching in your life today.
Be humble,.in other words, put yourself low, look hard and deep at your own life right now – without any sugar coating or facades (which are lies that you have told yourself).

– Another lie we might hear in our minds from time to time is this:  “I am not good enough to be called a Child of God, (or to be called a “Christian”)” We might buy into that lie because of guilt and shame, but God’s grace through Jesus Christ can remove that guilt and shame completely – making us totally covered by grace and completely forgiven!  Don’t buy this lie anymore!!  God loves you, and He wants you to know how valuable you are to Him!

We tell ourselves a lot of lies…and sometimes we start to believe them.
We also try and tell God lies too…but we aren’t fooling Him, He knows.

honestBe Honest.
Allow the Lord access to every part of your mind today…even the spaces in the recesses of your mind that you are ashamed of.  He already knows, but we have to let Him in and allow His light to shine onto those dark, shameful places in order for healing, true healing to take place.  Admittedly, this is a work in progress for all of us.  There will be times when we lie, or believe a lie in our minds again.  But the next time that happens, recognize it and within that recognition, plot and strive to change that behavior.  Ask God to help you in those moments!  True sincerity and admission/penitence moment by moment allow us access to God, and it also provides us with tangible spiritual growth.

prayPray.
Lord, I confess my lies to you today.
Lies that I have told, and the lies that I have believed about myself.
I am weakened by these lies, but I know that with your strength I can be whole again!
Walk beside me today Lord, reveal to me the moments of my dishonesty to you and to those I come in contact with.  Convict me when I live double-mindedly.  Lord, I do not want this barrier to remain between us.  I know this has stunted my spiritual growth, and I desire to be closer to you.  Lead me Lord, I desire to give all there is of me to you – even those spaces in my life and mind that I am ashamed of.  Wash me clean again.  -Amen.

Something more to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Answering The Call

Here is the principle – adapt your measures to the necessity of the people to whom you minister. You are to take the Gospel to them in such modes and circumstances as will gain for it from them a hearing.” –Catherine Boothcatherine

How far do we go in answering the call for help?
Are we truly listening?
All around our communities, there are hurting people.
Regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances, our mission is to help, and in so doing, we can open the door to offering spiritual aide as well.  But how far will we go?  Do we still adapt our measures to the extreme of the need of people?

A Snoozing Army ?
snoozeAre we alert to the ever present need to adapt to our changing communities?
Are we awake?  Or are we happily slumbering in an Army of bygone eras and rusting instruments in a chapel only marginally attended?  This may sound harsh, but perhaps we have been caught snoozing.  In our attempts to play “Church” which we are not, or more than – we have forgotten this principle plainly outlined by our Co-founder Catherine Booth.  While we have been polishing our awards and photographs of yesteryear, we have lost sight of the present dangers ruling our streets and pulling the helpless into the very pit of hell, lined with addictions, abuse, pornography, apathy, hatred, human slavery, and all kinds of other horrors.  Is this you?  Is this me?  I pray it is not.  I pray if it is, we would wake up and recognize the reasons we may be dying are directly related to our missing vision and mission.  Our origin story.  Our principle for being an Army in the first place.  To go for souls and go for the worst.  To combat the forces of evil that still ravage our communities, and do so without fear of reprisals and attacks of the enemy.

I fear we have slipped because we have failed to adapt.  adapt
I fear we have stopped being revolutionary in our methods to reach the lost.
Perhaps we have grown too comfortable in our offices and in our perceived places of power and authority.  Perhaps we have grown lax and lost some of our vigilant passion.  If we are to continue winning souls for the kingdom, we won’t find them banging on our doors to be let into our Sunday services – No!  We must adopt other means to seek souls out.  William and Catherine Booth didn’t start the Christian mission in a pristine church ornately decorated with stained glass, NO!  They went to the Pub, they went where no other church would go.  Are we as bold as they were?  Can we, perhaps, pray for such a boldness in our Army today?  Oh Lord, grant us the courage to go where you send us, and the conviction to remain steadfast despite the intimidation of the evil one.  For I fear that currently the evil one is perfectly happy with our lack of zeal in the streets, as we usher ourselves away quietly in our corps halls to worship and nothing more.

No, a new revolution must be waged!  
soldierA new passion for souls must be prayed for, not just in our hearts but in every soldier’s heart.  This isn’t just an army that preserves a heritage of the yesteryear, this is an army that carves out its destiny in the present and future through faithfulness and reliance on the Holy Spirit!  We must recognize this need!  We must reorganize, realign, re-imagine and act upon this mission of ours!  We are not an army to sit on our backsides and do nothing!  No! We MUST be a forward moving army, who has accepted and adapted to this modern spiritual war we are in.  We cannot capitulate, grow soft and comfortable – to do so will bring about our fall, and someone else will take our place!  I say we still have a war to wage!  I say we support our Officers not just in prayer but action.  I say we support our Soldiers not just in flowery words on Sunday mornings behind the pulpit but with deep compassion, love, truth and by God’s authority.  When we are united as one Army, we are so much more effective than just solitary entities running around in the streets trying to do good.

Are we ready?
Let’s Go!
Let’s fight to the very end!
Let’s continue to wage this war – and through God’s power, we will prevail in this generation…and the next!!!

Questions to ponder: ponder
What can we do that is revolutionary to reach our community?
Are there “out of the box” methods we have yet to employ?
What is holding us back from employing them?
How much prayer to you devote to your mission and your community?
Are there burdens or unaddressed issues in your corps that need tending so that you can unite and move out into the streets?

I know it is easier said than done.
I know we all have so much to do.
I realize there are programs to “maintain”…but can we do ONE thing that impacts new lives for Christ?  Can we focus on individuals, not numbers?  Can we develop connections with people, not statistical figures?  Perhaps set a goal with your corps council or your local officers…or even just with yourself – to make one impactful relationship in the next three months.  Pray about who that will be.  Ask the Lord to lead you to that one person…and watch out!  When we are alert and aware of our surroundings, those people God places in our path will not be too hard to find.

Are you ready to answer that call?!

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

Dear Salvation Army – 10 Things That Will Kill Your Corps

Today I want to explore with you only ten things that will kill our corps.  As with other lists we have compiled here on Pastorsponderings, this is merely a primer and I know there are other issues that will certainly lead to a terminal corps.  Be mindful as we explore this list to consider your own corps, ask yourself the hard questions.  Our goal is not to tear down or make anyone feel bad about their corps, but instead through critical thinking, help us to inject vibrancy into corps settings.  One other word of caution – Corps Officers, don’t try to be the dictator of every aspect of your corps, micromanaging will stunt the potential growth of your soldiers and local officers.  Soldiers & Local Officers, don’t expect or accept the notion that your corps officer is to do everything either.  This is a partnership.  It is true that the position of corps officer is a very temporal position and with it comes differing views and leadership styles, but be firm and strong as the glue that hold your corps together!  More often than not, corps that die usually have little to no local officers leading the way.  Without that infrastructure the corps can collapse.

So, without further adieu, let us delve into
Ten Things That Will Kill Your Corps 

  1.  Legalism legal
    Contrary to some views, the Pharisee of the Bible did not die…they still exist sometimes even in our corps.  Be mindful of the use of rules and regulations.  Yes, we need order and operate within a quasi-military structure, but watch out that extreme legalism doesn’t soffocate your members!  Remember that we are not under law but under grace!  (Rom. 6:14)   Yes, keep to the doctrines of our Army, but do not lord it over soldiers and adherents.  Excessive power will divide people and make them dispise leadership, where as grace and love will solidify the soldiers and friends of our army.  Sometimes, bite your tongue and say nothing is a better formula than lashing out, judging and becoming the rule enforcer!
  2. Tolerance of Sin Issues
    sinAt the other end of the spectrum is the ignoring and tolerance of sin issues in your corps.  Be mindful that we are not the judge of our world, but we do hold a high standard for our fellow brothers and sister in Christ who wear this uniform.  This almost seems to be in complete conflict with the first point, but it is not.  Galatians 6:1 clearly reminds us as it did in Paul’s day – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

    Do not blindly ignore sin issues in your corps.
    Confront in love with the support of other believers.  We must be very cautious here, make sure this is not done in anger, unless righteous anger is needed (let the Holy Spirit lead you).  Pray about these issues.  Wait for the right time.  DO NOT confront from the Pulpit or lash out at people just to “get even”.  Use your corps council, your local officers, contact an mediatary from your divisional headquarters, but do not let anyone in your fellowship slip further into sin and/or by ignoring it condone it by-proxy.

  3. Lack of Core Leadership
    Without core leaders in the corps, the vision and decisions fall solely on the Corps leadOfficer(s).  Yes, they have had training, yes they are leaders, but they cannot lead properly without the core leaders to help them.  A shared vision and delegated group will be better equipped to handle opportunities and threats that come to your corps and community.  If you don’t currently have core leaders, begin by praying and asking God to reveal potential leaders to you.  Prayer is never a last resort, but a constant conversation.  Don’t limit your search to just the older members, the younger generations will eventually replace us at some point, so begin to invest in them.  Begin to disciple them, and display for them what leadership is all about!  Gather one or two influential people with common sense to help you in your corps.  Remember, that we are an egalitarian movement – both men and women are equal, so do not limit your leadership search to just men or just women.  Without a core group of leaders, the vision and movement will be limited.
  4. Polarizing Visions
    disagreement
    Polarizing Vision Can Kill!
    On the other end of the spectrum you might have too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.  What happens when the core leaders in your core do not agree on which direction to take?  This is a danger, and if not addressed properly can leader to dysfunction, an exodus of membership and death in the corps.  A shared vision is of the utmost importance.  Without a shared vision, everyone will be doing their own thing and everyone will be going every which way, and nothing will ever get done successfully.  “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14)
  5. Inwardly focused – All-in
    There is a danger in our corps to become so insulated, so accustomed to who is there, focusedand what we do as a corps, that we begin to have no need for the “outside world”.  We stop looking out into our community and we become self-reliant and self-focused.  In this danger, what happens when our congregation gets old and dies?  Will there be youth to raise up and take our place?  Will be just be a group of inbred soldiers?  I don’t mean to sound crass, but the reality is, we need to stop being afraid of our communities.  We need to stop treating the people outside our buildings as “those people” with a sense of superiority.  We must squelch the desire to just remain in our buildings and selfishly focus on “us”.  What about the great commission?  What are we fighting for if we only fight for ourselves and our traditions and self-interests?  If we are all-in and inwardly focused, we will slowly die away…and no one will care when we’re gone.
  6. Outwardly focused – All-in
    godThis is probably a rare thing, but perhaps not.  Perhaps there are some corps that have so many services to the community that worship and all things “Spiritual” are an after thought, and then you come to Sunday and it just becomes a “thing we do”.  We focus all of our energies on the outside, on meeting human needs but we seldom meet those needs “in HIS name” anymore.  We might as well be just another social service agency or a humanitarian group, because we will have forgotten our first love and the “body” will be just bits and pieces pulled and stretched so thin that it doesn’t resemble Christ any longer.
  7. Rigid Goals and Vision 
    We can plan to fail by over planning everything.  This can kill our corps, if we do not listen to feedback from those we serve, and we merely continue to plod on in ourrule vision and goal because “they have been set, and we don’t alter these goals”.  Goals should never be so rigid that there is no looking back and re-evaluating what works and what does not work, whether it be in evangelism, discipleship, or corps fellowship growth strategies.  Remember what worked 100 years ago, might not necessarily be the best method to use in an ever evolving culture.  Not to say we adopt our culture, but we ought to consider what works and what does not work any longer and not be so rigid that we refuse to ever change how we plan and how we enact a strategy in our corps.  Rigidity can kill your corps, and stifle any potential growth you might see.
  8. Holiness is not taught
    holyIf you corps does not understand Holiness, and or it is never preached on spoken of, perhaps this might be an indicator of a terminal issue.  I am not saying that holiness is the end-all be-all of the corps, but what do you do with Salvation after receiving it?  Where does one go after initial sanctification?  Does the Holy Spirit still desire to transform us through and through?  Does He not want us to be the very reflection of Christ?  Yes.  There needs to be continual conversation about our surrendered life and how that looks in the real world.
  9. Discipleship is not cultivated
    With the teachings of Holiness, comes the deeper fellowship of discipleship.  This isn’t some text book class we all are forced to attend, this is mentoring, this is disemulating elders we respect, this is becoming more than who we are now.  Walking in the footsteps of saints and in so doing, we too become saints within this great army.  If your corps does not have this vital element, closely connected to holiness, you could be facing extinction.  Recognize this need, and do something!!
  10. Comfort Over Risk 
    Lastly, our army could will die if we merely remain content in where we have come.  We can sit back and relish the past.  We can lament that things aren’t how they used lazyto be in the bygone days.  We can rest comfortably on financial resources and riches we have been given from various places, and never take another risk again…and if we do this, we. will. die.  I cannot stress it enough, in order for God to change our Army, we have to become uncomfortable again.  We have to take risks and forget what the rules and regulations say.  We have to close dead corps, move to places of need without bureaucratic red tape hamstringing us along the way.  We have to get out of our pews and put feet to our professed faith.  It’s either put up or shut-up.  Seriously, we can talk a good game, but if we can’t back it up, then hung it up and quit already.  We don’t need fans in the stands not doing the work.  We don’t need complainers and criticizers telling it us it can’t be done – because the risk is too great.  If we don’t do something, we might as well put our corps on life-support right now.  There is a sad trend that is taking place in our corps around the USA, and our corps are not statistically growing anymore.  We are not busting out of our corps buildings anymore.  Yes, perhaps it’s across the board in all denominations, but could it be that we are so comfortable now that we have stopped ACTUALLY trying to reach our communities?  Could this be an entire systemic issue of spiritual laziness?  Forgive me if I offend you today, I can’t help but feel alarmed at how swiftly our corps are dying.  And I can’t help but wonder what the next 50 years will hold for this movement?  If we do nothing, we will not be here in 50 years…not like we have been, not like we should be…and then perhaps, Lord forbid, God raises up someone else to do what we should have been doing.

    These are ten things that are killing our corps…there are more, but for now that is more than enough to ponder and chew on in our army.  What do you think?  Tell us, please, I relish your input, opinion and testimonies.

    Blessings on you and your corps today!
    To God be the glory!

Spiritual Growth – A Lawnmower Theology

What do you mean by “Lawnmower theology”?  you might be asking…let me first tell you a story.

I was mowing the grass the other day.
I greatly enjoy mowing, it’s cathartic for me and it gives me time to think.
We just got a new lawnmower and I had to put it together before using it.
So I begin by putting the arm onto the mower body and attaching the pull lever to the extended arm.  Then I put the nuts and bolts into the connector holes at the bottom of the arm that actually attaches to the base of the mower.  Long story short, I merely tightened them with my fingers and did not use the tool needed to tighten it fully – I’m impatient like that sometimes.

I was really anxious to start up the new mower and get to mowing our neglected backyard.  So I start it up for the first time, and it just purrs – it was wonderful (I know I’m lawnmower nerd).   I begin to make my way around the yard, meticulously ensuring I don’t miss any wayward grass as I pass with the new machine.  It was really starting to look good…and then it happened – the arm that I had attached with the nuts and bolts came loose.   I had not tightened it enough and through the constant jostling and vibration of the engine, one of the bolts had come loose and was no where to be seen.   I looked aroundbolts in the tall grass and in places I had already mowed, I couldn’t find it anywhere – it was gone, *poof* vanished.   I searched for another five minutes only to recognize that in my haste to get the job finished, I had lost a crucial component that held everything together.  I had to make a run to the hardware store and purchase a new bolt and nut – only this time I used the appropriate tool (not my fingers) to tighten the bolt into place.   Now, it’s not going anywhere!

Why do you I tell you this tale?
What’s the point?
I think our Spiritual Growth can be a lot like this lawnmower of mine; or rather, how we put this “Christian life” together.  We are often impatient with ourselves and with God.  We want to just get out there and live for him, and so we take shortcuts.  I took a shortcut wayin assembling my spanking new lawnmower – I thought I had tightened everything down good enough only to discover I had misjudged my strength and the terrain around me.  Perhaps in our lives this rings true too.  We get ahead of ourselves.  We cut corners and take shortcuts because we think we already know it all.  We don’t take the time as we should in our Spiritual lives and explore the spiritual disciplines necessary for long-term spiritual growth and success.  Instead we settle for the quick fix.  We go to a service here or there and we think it’s enough – yet the things that hold our “Christian” lives together isn’t enough, and it’s certainly not strong enough either.

Why do we think we know better than God knows us?
Why is it that we become impatient with God when He seems to take a long time?
Do you get impatient with Him?  I am embarrassed to say this, but I do sometimes.
I don’t always take the time I know I need with Him.
Sometimes I do all of the talking and I hardly ever hear what He has to say to me.
And so I get out there in life and I plod ahead full-steam only to realize I’m not as put together as I thought I was.  I find that I, all too easily fall apart – because I didn’t take the time to truly tighten things down in my prayer life, or my faith walk.  Sometimes I’m a mess…and it’s all my fault.

Have you been there?
Are you there right now?
I have to confess I’ve been there more times than I care to admit.
I’ve run so far ahead of God only to fall apart.
It’s in those moments that I realize just how much I need Him.
It’s also very humbling to know that I still have much work to be done within my life.
There are perhaps a few missing nuts and bolts that have to be replaced by God – but I have to be willing to let Him work on me.  It’s painful sometimes to admit this.
It’s embarrassing to recognize that although I’ve been a Christian most of my life – I still need help, I still need work, I still fall apart from time to time.

Have you been running ahead of God in your life?  hs
Perhaps you recognize right now that there are pieces missing in your life.  That somewhere along the way you have taken a shortcut and you really aren’t as “put together” as you want everyone to think you are.   The Holy Spirit still has work to do with us!  He longs for us to expose those missing pieces, those broken pieces, the dirty old life that still remains.  He wants us to surrender it all to Him.   It won’t be easy – but in the long run we will be made whole without any shortcuts or missing pieces.  He has something much better in store for us – if we allow Him complete access to us daily, even moment by moment.

So how about it?
Are you ready to put the lawnmower together the right way this time?

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

Putting Jesus Back

Monday after Easter, and the Easter dress is on the floor in the laundry room, as are the Easter suits and carelessly tossed ties and shoes.  Easter is over.  The Celebration party had its curtain call.  Everyone went home.  So…what now?

What impact does the Resurrection have on us the day after?  The week after?  The month after?   Understandably we can say “Well there’s always next year…”  or “I go to church every Sunday anyway.”  These are all valid points, but what kind of impact does Christ’s resurrection have on you and me in our daily lives?

All too often we want to put Jesus back.
We put Him back into those boxes for next year.
We put Him back on the hanger as we hang up that Easter dress or suit.  dress
We close our Bibles to that story until next year rolls back around.
We put Jesus back into our preconceived, compartmentalized places.

But should we put it all back like that?
Is there a trace of Him in our work places, social events, friendships, relationships, families?  Or does He get put away just like the seasonal stuff in our closets?
I have to wonder what the answer is even for me sometimes.
I can accept a risen Savior, but what does it mean in my habits, and in my faith walk and my desire to become more and more like Him?  How does this Resurrected Christ fit into my overly complicated life?  Am I secretly compartmentalizing Jesus?  Am I packing Him away for another year?  Am I checking that season off on my calendar  and moving on without Him there?

box2

 

What a tragedy it would be for any of us to progress past the cross and the empty tomb without it affecting the entirety of who we are as His creation!  Essentially when we put Him back on the shelf, in the box, on a hanger – we are selectively accepting who He is and who He can be in our lives.   We are, subconsciously putting limits on the Almighty…we are also putting limits on our own spiritual growth.

 

A New Creation: 
A friend of mine on Facebook posted this comment that sparked my heart and ignited some intrinsic truth deep within me.  Have you ever had one of those “A-ha” moments?  Where the light bulb flickers on, and it’s bright and it shines on truth.  Perhaps this will spark something within you too in terms of re-framing  who Jesus is, which will undoubtedly make us second guess putting Jesus back…here it is:

One could suggest that the ‘tetelestai’ (it is finished) saying refers not to atonement but to creation; it is the creation that is completed on the cross. On the cross, the true human is created, creation is now complete.” (Cameron Horsburgh/Michael Hardin)

                                                      -Mind. Blown. –

How can you ever go back to putting Jesus on the shelf?
How can you not have a life changing event take place in your heart when you consider ALL of creation is now complete in this Messiah atonement?  That we can’t put God in a box and only bring Him out once a year in light of creation becoming complete in Him.  There’s nowhere else to move besides forward in our relationship to the One who has made EVERYTHING complete!

It’s like buying a new suit, wearing it only one time just to put it on a hanger and stare at it while wearing the same old dingy ripped up, dirty outfit you’ve always worn.  It just doesn’t make any sense.  So…why do we do this sometimes with Jesus?

Unwrapping It.
Take Jesus off the shelf.   box3
Throw the old outfit away – you have a new suit to wear!
Throw away the old title for yourself – “Sinner”
Because you’ve been saved by this amazing grace found only in Jesus, and you’ve been given a new title – “Child of God.”
You can’t compartmentalize Jesus.
You can’t “seasonalize” Him either.
He can’t be contained.
He wants to transform you!
He has already completed creation – which can include YOU!

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20

May you find an ever present Christ with you today!
May our hearts be compelled to live for Him and reside with Him every moment of every day!  May we experience this new creation every time we utter His name on our breath.
May this transformation of the new, complete creation be in us EVERY day.

Something more to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

(Another fitting article for today from Steve Simms entitled: “Why Put Jesus In A Box?” check it out too!)

Should Christians Share Their Political Views?

godI’ve been pondering long and hard on this topic of politics and what it means to be a Christian during a presidential election year.  One thing I will say before starting in on this pondering is that it’s going to get worse – the slander, the malicious attacks, the hateful dialogue and mud-slinging.

The amazing ability of social media is that you can share almost anything and within minutes, even hours thousands of people will view it.  This opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities: e.g. – evangelism, supporting a cause, raising awareness for something important, getting started on your craft business, book writing, radio/podcast…etc.  The sky is the limit to this platform.

boxThere are negatives though to social media.
Trolls actually exist…(not the green ugly type, just ugly to other humans)
Bully pulpits.
Slander.
Inconsistencies in faith – words / action…

We literally are putting our lives under the microscope and in full view of the world around us – both friend…and not friend.

Putting this aside, let me tackle the elephant…er donkey…er large object neither politically aligned that is in the room right now….(at least in mine, maybe not yours).
politics
I am not sure how we can be Christians who are to show love for others around us and yet descend into brutal knock-down, drag out fights with other so called “Christians” and even non-Christians over which candidate they may or may not be supporting for the upcoming presidential election.  It is truly disparaging to see people of proclaimed faith engaging in such low displays – whether it’s slamming or smearing a candidate they can’t stand or disagree with or slamming and calling people studid or fools if they don’t agree. AND I DON’T CARE WHICH SIDE OF THE ISLE YOU ALIGN YOURSELF WITH!!!
post
I might upset a few of you today, I’m sorry – that is not my purpose.
I am NOT saying don’t have a political opinion or view, I’m just saying either temper it with forethought or don’t share with others that you know will incite a fight…and I sit back and quickly click past your post because it just exploded into another prime example of Christians engaging in some very questionable disagreements.

My personal opinion – 
God is on the throne and He is Lord and holds ultimate authority over this earth.
I choose to keep my political opinions and views to exactly that – MY personal and private opinion.   Someone might argue “well, if you don’t stand for something…” or “well, you have to take a side...”   I would answer, just because I don’t publicly share my views doesn’t mean I don’t have them…but for the sake of my sanity and harmony of my friendships, I will keep them private.  After all, I don’t bring my friends into the voting booth…that might seem a little odd if I did (and probably illegal).

cards

I look at the political posts sometimes out there on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s sarcastic, it’s mean a meme or opinion, and I wonder (no matter if they are posted with humor in mind or not) how God-honoring these social activities and posts truly are ?   Because I wonder what non-Christians, who are looking at these kinds of posts – posted by “Christians” think about it.  I would just like to peer into the window of that exchange for a moment.  Because I don’t see acceptance – I see rejection.  I don’t see compassion – I see divisiveness, bitterness, rage, envy, malice, harmful dialogue…I see spite and hatred…and I just cringe when I think of the damage it might be doing to our reputation and that of Christ, who we’ve aligned ourselves with by name.

I’m really not in a place to judge – I am certainly not any better than anyone else, and I still make mistakes.  I just wonder if we as Christians are still so invested in our political parties that we have lost sight of the bigger picture?  Because no matter who is elected president this year, I recognize that all authority comes from God (good or bad) – He has the power to appoint and He alone has the power to take away.

So dear Christian, be mindful & be careful how and what you post…perhaps this will fall on deaf ears today…then again, perhaps not.

Something more to ponder today.

 

PonderCast – “Letting Go”

Do Not Worry (Matthew 6:25-34)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Click Here to listen to today’s PonderCast: “Letting GO” 

Something more to Ponder today!
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David Bowie, Lazarus, Blackstar, Life and Death

I have to admit right up front that I was never an avid fan of Bowie’s music.
Sure, I know all of the hits, like “China Girl“, “Let’s Dance” and the Iconic song duet with Freddie Mercury “Under pressure“: …but I wouldn’t categorize my fandom as “superfan” by any means.  I don’t have all of his records, cd’s or downloaded musical content.

movieMy very first recollection of Bowie’s work came by way of the movie “The Labyrinth”.
He played an amazing villainous character known as the Goblin King.  His music and strange vocals carried a mediocre movie into the realms of a cult classic.

David Bowie wasn’t your average, run of the mill musician.  He sort of did his own thing.  He set the trend.  His music was strangely weird and fascinating at the same time.  In 1969 Bowie gave us Major Tom in “The Space Oddity” which tells the tale of an astronaut leaving Earth and of his fears in a rather nostalgic and melancholy way.

Throughout his career he gave us odd.  He gave us artistry and creativity.  He certainly gave us something unique and rarely (if ever) duplicated.

But…
this isn’t really a tribute today.
This is a pondering.  And like all ponderings, I would like to ask questions that perhaps have no answer, but maybe, just maybe we continue to seek them out along the way.

BLACKSTAR Photo Jan 26, 8 18 49 AM
I find it rather fascinating that David Bowie kept his failing, terminal diagnosis of cancer to himself.  It is astounding in this day and age that something that was private stayed private.  What’s even more interesting is that although Bowie was given this gloomy prognosis, he set his sights on finishing this remarkable journey on his own terms.  Just two days after the release of Blackstar, Bowie died.  It was as if he had timed all of this, and everything went according to his plans.

Life and Death…
blackI have listened to Bowie’s last album “Blackstar”.
I have seen both music videos for Lazarus and Blackstar.  They are hypnotic, weird and yet oddly captivating.  Within these depictions of death, we find a man struggling with his own mortality and coming to grips with his own illness.  There is so much to ponder with this final release.  He certainly knew he was dying when he began work on this album.  He knew time was short.  Despite his prognosis, Bowie decided how his passing would be depicted to the world.  I do not want to delve too deeply into the symbolism and interpretation of his final songs, but I am quite interested in the final product of who each of us are…and what we leave wish to behind.

Making it Personal…
My personal interpretation of this final act of Bowie’s speaks to me on a much deeper plain than mere showbiz and pop culture.  The question begs to be asked in my own life.  It’s a question that currently doesn’t have a specific timetable like Bowie’s did, and yet keeps pounding on the door of my life.  It’s not a prideful question, or a fear of one’s reputation either.  In the purest sense…in the honesty of silence, when no one else is around…this question begs me to answer.  It’s really a two fold question that keeps getting kicked around in my head, and I still find myself falling short on the words that would formulate an appropriate answer.  Questions like: “How do you want to be remembered, and what sort of legacy do you want to leave behind?” float around my mind waiting to be explored, quantified and perhaps answered in slow-small doses.

Honestly, I don’t wish to take away anything from Bowie’s artistry and canvas that he has hung on its final frame and placed on his legacy (that is a stand-alone project of His life – not mine) …but within my own heart I must ask this of myself…and perhaps we all do.  I’m some what fearful to what the answers might be, because it can be far too revealing even to ourselves.  “What am I doing with my life right now that matters?”  “What can I leave as a legacy for my children and for the world around me?”  “How is the world better because of what I’ve done to better it around me?”

From a Christ-driven relationship perspective, I also know that I do not live for myself, thomasbut for One who has given us all grace.  I live for One who holds both life and death in His hands, and in Whom everlasting life can be found.  I find that my “Lazarus” in this new life, in the hope of eternal life is completely and utterly found in Christ.  This isn’t some sermon I’m writing, or a persuasive speech, this is just how I feel and what I see in my life.  I know hope exists.  I know peace exists.  Everlasting love and life also exist – in Christ.

Silhouette of hiking man jumping over the mountains at sunsetWhere ever you live.
Whatever you do.
If you are facing grim prognosis’ in life…know that this life is only the beginning.
We can grasp onto a life that is eternal and will never run down or expire unlike these bodies of ours.

Something more to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, Short Changing Tithe?

This is a pondering that attempts to meddle – I’m sorry.
I was asked by one of our readers to do a pondering on this topic…it’s a good one.  It is a rather relevant one too, isn’t it?  If we were truly honest with ourselves (and no one else) – we might admit that there are times when we take our resources and our blessings for granted.

Individually 
powerballIn a world, currently that is consumed with who will win the next Powerball lottery jackpot, we don’t often fathom what we already have to be a true blessing…because we crave more.

I do not mean to step on anyone’s toes today, any more than I am already stepping heavily upon my own – and this hurts.  But I can confess that I have, at times, neglected to give the Lord the best…instead I’ve given Him what’s left.  Why would we do such a thing? How could we neglect the Author of Life our first fruits?   Life does happen.  Bills sometimes pile up.  Children, like vacuums, suck the dollars right out of your wallet.  But are those just excuses sometimes?  Am I just attempting to rationalize my spending or my haphazard, inconsistent giving?  -Yes.  tithe

You might say that I’m being hard on myself…perhaps I am.  But who ought to take responsibility for what we do or don’t do?  Will anyone else take that blame from me?  Is it someone else’s fault when I short change God with my tithes of time, talent and treasure? Of course not.

Corporately
I am not shifting blame, please don’t take it that way.
I wonder sometimes if, as leaders, we set the bar higher for others and yet that bar suddenly doesn’t apply to us?  Does this happen?  Are there times (in any organization and/or church) when leadership decides these are the guidelines for those under them, but those same guidelines do not apply to the administrators of those same guidelines?  Do double standards apply to financial giving from Administration to Subordinates?  Does this happen from IHQ/THQ/DHQ/Corps?  I certainly hope not, this is not necessarily my experience.
trim
Where does financial accountability play into this?
How important is it to be consistent from Administration all the way down to volunteer and soldier/adherent/attendee?

Let me give you my opinion on this subject – Accountability matters from the top down, and from the down to the top.  We must be accountable with the big things, we must also be accountable with the small things regardless of rank or lack there of.

Back To You And Me
We can not, however,  afford to look over the fence at anyone else other than ourselves when it comes to being good stewards of the things God has given to us to take care of.  We are accountable first to God, then to those He has placed above us.  What we do with our time, talent and treasure matters.  How we spend any of that – matters.  Who we are in and out of church or the office – matters.  There isn’t a time clock that we sluggishly punch each day then get home and take off our masks to become someone else.  We are His – that should be our identity.

Questions to Ponder:
I find it very interesting that other “churches” (and I know we’re not specifically a church) support the ministries they do through tithing…It is equally interesting that most Salvation Army corps cannot fully support the ministries they do in their communities, let alone World Services through tithing alone…is that a good thing or bad thing?   Is it because many of our corps members do not have the financial resources to consistently tithe?  (this could very well be the case)

Have I, or am I (on a personal level) short changing God in my tithing?
Am I building MY kingdom here with stuff, trophies of my accomplishments, hoarding my resources…is this who I am?
Are there areas of my life where self-denial is lacking?
Can I be honest with myself and with God when it comes to my tithing habits?
Are there other places in the world that could use my financial contributions?
Do I give consistently to World Services?
Do I give consistently to my Corps?
Do I care about poverty in my world?  What can I do to help?
Do my contributions matter?
Am I giving enough?  Is it Net or Gross Pay?

There is much to discover and ponder in this topic today…I hope the shoe prints on our toes fade…then again, maybe not.

Something more to for us to ponder today!

Disclaimer: The opinions and thoughts expressed in Pastorsponderings.org are the expressed opinions and thoughts of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Salvation Army.  

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