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.  

The Gift Of Giving (Gary’s Story)

Perhaps you have stopped at a fast food restaurant and  gone through the drive thru, or you have stopped at a toll booth only to discover someone has “paid it forward” as the clerk cheerfully tells you “The car ahead of you paid for yours”.   It’s a surprising feeling isn’t it; experiencing someone else’s generosity?  Perhaps for some of us, it’s a little humbling.  For others it reinforces the need to give back.

bucket3The gift of giving truly is the meaning of Christmas.
We stop to recognize the ultimate gift that was given to humanity – Christ Jesus.  Perhaps in some small way we can give back to our communities and to specific people.  Giving isn’t always natural…sometimes it needs to be forced, sometimes we need a little convincing.

There is no need to convince Gary though, he has been giving to our Red Campaign this Christmas season in a manner of his time and talent.   Gary has been bell ringing for The Salvation Army of Evansville for as much time as he can give this year.  Some days, it is a whole day’s shift from 10 am in the morning, until it gets dark outside. He has been vigilant, dependable and a constant feature at one of our Walmart locations.   Every evening when the red kettle driver picks up Gary’s bucket, you can rest assured it is a full bucket of much needed funds.  bucket2

There is something else about Gary you should know, other than his generosity of time and talent.   For those two vital assets alone are truly commendable and honorable.  But there’s something more about Gary – something that would shake the very fabric of our lives and quake us to the core and make us evaluate everything that we hold dear and consider important in life – Gary has terminal Leukemia.

His doctors have given him roughly nine months to live.  He could be doing anything with his precious time that he has left.  He could be crossing off things on his bucket list, and perhaps he is.  He could have gone home and wallowed in self-pity – no one would have blamed him.  Yet, Gary is paying it forward in such a way that lives will be touched and changed.  Gary is so much more than just a bell ringer at yet another red kettle campaign.  Gary is giving more than just another few hours at a random kettle location.  Gary is giving of himself.  This is his gift.  This is his moment to shine.
bucket4.jpg
I wonder if we’re all capable of giving as Gary is giving today?
I wonder if we could simply give without terms or conditions, and just give of ourselves regardless of the circumstances of our lives?  I recognize that life isn’t always perfect, I’m also pretty sure there has never been any promises that life is fair and perfect from the start.  Many of us have bruises and scars to prove just how unfair and imperfect life can truly be.
BUT the gift of giving truly MUST transcend our circumstances and conditions.  We shouldn’t ever say “well I couldn’t give because the moment just wasn’t right…” well, let me ask you when will the moment ever be right?    (and I’m speaking to myself right now) We can’t continue to make excuses in life – it doesn’t matter where we’ve been or the hurts we’ve endured – how we come out of those moments truly will define us.

Gary is testament to a defying circumstances.
He has touched my heart in a way that I am forever changed.
His gift is so much more than eight hours out at a Salvation Army kettle stand.  Despite his circumstances, Gary is displaying what living life should look like.

Do you have time to give?   Then give it.
Do you have talents to give?  Then give it.
Do you have treasure to give?  Then give it.
Don’t make excuses, don’t hold back, don’t squander it or hoard it.
Our gifts come in many shapes and sizes…what we do with these gifts matters!

Something more to ponder today.

Facing The Wall – A Pondering On Problems

If you think of a problem as being like a medieval walled city, then a lot of people will attack it head on, like a battering ram.  They will storm the gates and try to smash through the defenses with sheer intellectual power and brilliance.  I just camp outside the city.  I wait.  And I think.  Until one day – maybe after I’ve turned to a completely different problem – the drawbridge comes down and the defenders say, “We surrender.” The answer to the problem comes all at once.”  -Arthur McKinsey

We all face the wall from time to time.
No, not like a child being placed in “time-out”, but like the insurmountable walls of our problems and stresses.  The kind of wall that seem to effortlessly and ominously climb into the sky and cause us to panic at the sheer magnitude of our problems.
Photo Nov 10, 12 07 14 PM
You know the old saying, “making a mountain out of a mole hill” – this is the mountain becoming a super mountain.  This is the small speed bump in the road of life becoming a sink-hole.  Sometimes we can do nothing but watch the city burn as we attempt to blow on the flames.  I don’t wish to paint a dark gloomy picture today for you, but I would be lying if I said walls of this magnitude never come our way.   They do.  These types of problems will come knocking on our doors.  They will just show up sometimes.  Other times they have been cresting on the horizon for a while…perhaps we just ignored the warning signs.

wall2Are you facing the wall today?
Does it seem  insurmountable?
Do you feel heavy with burdens and heart sick with these problems you are attempting to carry?

I won’t sugar coat it for you today.
There isn’t some magical pray for you to recite and *poof* all of your problems will fade away, but I would like to offer you some perspective on your walls.

The Truth: 
wallsWe all face walls.
We all endure heartache, stress, hardships…and sometimes more hardships.  Life isn’t easy…this we know all too well.
BUT – We aren’t alone.
We should all know that each of us carries difficulties, we carry stress, we face walls together.

Jesus says this still to us today –
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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 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? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” -Matthew 6:25-27

handAnother Truth: 
God will show up for us!
He will be there when we call.
Sometimes He provides a means to overcome these walls.
Sometimes He provides us the endurance to wait it out.
All of the time – WE AREN’T ALONE!

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.” -Psalm 55:22

Waiting is the hardest part…but, we can either hem and haw about it or find the resolve to be patient.  Many times I have opted to hem and haw – (gripe and complain) about my situation instead of waiting patiently.  Did it help?  No.  Was it the best use of my time?  Absolutely not.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” -Psalm 27:14

I don’t know what wall you’re facing today.
It might be a small fence, or it could be a fortified city.
Either way, you will survive this!
You matter to God!
This life we live has it trials and troubles…but I believe in the One who overcame the world…do you?

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

Hope In Discouragement?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been to the well of discouragement.
We drink from this well from time to time.
Discouragement is alive and well in this world.
It can hit us at anytime and any place, especially when we aren’t looking for it…most of the time, unless we’re a glutton for punishment, we don’t go looking for trouble and/or disappointment.

Pick Your Poison: poison
-We find discouragement when:
-our friends let us down.
-our workplace and those we work with treat us poorly.
-there is added stress at home.
-our kids act out or are struggling, or are rebellious.
-our health or the health of loved ones is in question.
-we are stressed out with the responsibilities of life and work and the ever increasing “to do” list seems to never end.
-when depression hits.
-when we are in a financial mess.
-when, when, when….

Truths: 
discourageDiscouragement happens.
People will sometimes let us down.
Health, finances, relationships, families, hopes, dreams, school – all can wane from time to time.

I don’t say this to further discourage you today, I say this because we MUST face reality – Discouragement is often times unavoidable.

– BUT – 

We don’t have to live there.
We don’t have to continually drink from this well and let it further poison our faith, our relationships, our lives.  We can find hope in the midst of discouragement!

Question: How do we find this hope even when we are discouraged?  
Here are 4 Answers: 

discouragement1.  Don’t Quit! 
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
-Galatians 6:9
Discouragement will tell you to just quit.
It may try and convince you that you’re not strong enough or good enough or healthy enough, and that you should just quit.  – DON’T!  Don’t give up, don’t quit, don’t let the lie saturate your faith and hope.  FIGHT!
You WILL see better days again!
You WILL survive this season of discouragement.
You WILL find happiness and hope again!

eyes2. Walk By Faith, Not By Sight!
for we walk by faith, not by sight.” -2 Corinthians 5:7
The Apostle Paul and the early Church faced many obstacles, frustrations, persecution and extreme discouragement – yet they did not quit.  Why?  Because their mission and purpose was bigger than they were!
In this faith, we have been given a very large mission and purpose, and it’s bigger than we are!  We are called to this higher purpose and with that we drink from a well that provides us with life, strength and hope!  Although we can’t see what tomorrow holds, and all we might be seeing right now is this discouragement in our lives, we can boldly step forward and onward because we know WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE!   With this knowledge firmly in grasp, we can survive these days of discouragement!  We cannot allow discouragement to dictate what our next steps will be!  Don’t allow it hold you captive – Christ can and will break these chains in your life!  Simply (although it isn’t always so simple, this we all know) trust in Him!  Cry out to the Father!  Ask for His Holy presence to guide and sustain you!  It may be hell right now, but you can keep going because you have this amazing faith to rely on!

3.  No Pain, No Gain!?! -Right?! pain1
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.” -1 Corinthians 9:24
This is about holiness, about Christ-likeness, but this is also about striving beyond our discouragements and pains and into something eternally worth-while!  We will face opposition, pain and discouragement!  We will endure hardships, stresses, sleepless nights and pain, but we MUST gut it out!  We must persevere beyond the turmoil and the pain.  When we keep going through perseverance, we will rediscover the hope that His holy presence has placed in our lives!  Keep going, keep on – His well of living water will restore your discouraged life!

  1. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
    His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
    His power no boundary known unto men;
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
    (“He Giveth more grace” -by Annie Flint)

hope34.  The Source Of Our HOPE is External not Internal!  
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
When we are facing our struggles and discouragements and troubles, we might only be seeing that which frustrates and defeats us.  We might be treading water but our eyes are only focused on the strong currents of those waters as they attempt to pull us under.  We might be missing the strong hand of the rescuer as He attempts to pull us up out of those depths.  The source of our salvation doesn’t come from ourselves, although at times we try and fool ourselves into thinking that WE have it all under control.  -That WE don’t need rescuing.  -That WE don’t need help period.  Sure, help is for the weak, for the helpless, but we’re not helpless, we’re strong – we’re almost superhuman.  NEWSFLASH: We aren’t superhuman.  We need help!  We need continual saving.  We need His source and supply of strength, hope, glory, grace, endurance.

Questions:

-Does God still supply your needs?
-Are you trusting in Him to be there for you?
-Are you allowing Him access to your life so that He can do the rescuing OR are you still attempting to control it all and save yourself?

This discouragement that you’re facing isn’t new.
Many have walked the path that you’re on right now.
Many have survived – and so can you!
Don’t simply rely on your own strength to just “survive”.
Allow God’s holy presence to be with you and to provide what you need when these days of discouragement do happen!

You aren’t alone in this battle!
He will come through for you even in the midst of the storms that you are facing right now.
Take heart, the Lord is with you!

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I cannot see this path that I am on right now.
All I can see are the crashing waves that are about to envelop me.
I confess that I have often attempted to take control of my life while failing to include you in it.
I am often times stubborn and I fail to ask you for your help.
Be with me today.  Help me.  Guide me.  It is your strength that I seek, your wisdom that I need.
Deliver me from these waves of discouragement, I want to drink deeply of your living water again today.
In your name I pray these things.  -Amen.

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

The Salvation Army Responds to Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II

The Salvation Army Responds to Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War IIStaff and volunteers on the ground serving physical, emotional and spiritual needs in Europe
ALEXANDRIA, VA (September 16, 2015) – The Salvation Army is providing food, shelter, medical aid, legal assistance, and emotional and spiritual care to refugees and migrants in 13 European countries. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean Sea in the first eight months of 2015, representing more than a 63 percent increase over the yearly total in 2014.

“It’s our ethical and humanitarian responsibility to provide support to individuals and families fleeing their homelands in crisis,” said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bowers, National Secretary of The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO). “In partnership with our International Headquarters and the help of staff and volunteers in local communities, we have been able to meet refugees with compassion and hope.”
With a significant presence throughout Europe, The Salvation Army is uniquely positioned to provide support to refugees and local residents. Active relief efforts are taking place in Greece, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and Finland. The Salvation Army also is working to provide support to refugees and migrants in Romania, Russia and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, President Barack Obama has asked his administration to receive additional Syrian refugees. The Salvation Army in the United States is preparing to meet the increased demand on social services. “Our number one priority is to meet human need wherever it exists,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ron Busroe, National Community Relations and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army.
To learn more about our humanitarian effort to support refugees and migrants, or to make a contribution to support our services, please visit sawso.org.
Monetary donations are the most critical need to help refugees and migrants. The Salvation Army has set up a designated fund for relief efforts in Europe. During times of disaster, 100 percent of every dollar donated supports response and relief efforts. To give, visit salar.my/RefugeeGive or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769). Check donations to Salvation Army World Service Office (designate “Refugees in Europe”) can be sent to:

International Relief Fund 

P.O. Box 418558

Boston, MA 02241-8558
In-kind donations are not being accepted for the refugee crises, however; your local Salvation Army is always in need of gently used items for resale in our Thrift & Family Stores. For the nearest location, please go to satruck.org .

Occasionally, conditions in the field may alter relief activities. If this occurs, The Salvation Army will direct funds to our International relief efforts in the region

Dear Salvation Army, When Do We Hit The Reset Button?…

setPeople have reminded me over and over again that change just for the sake of change isn’t always good…I agree!  I am not proposing change just because it’s the “in” thing to do, in fact a lot of things we do in our Army has meaning and significance.  But what happens when things lose their meaning, their relevance and vital-ness?  What happens when that program, symbol (and or any other thing in our Army) becomes the object of worship?  *gasp*  Does that even happen?  Could it happen?

I doubt something becomes an object of worship intentionally.
I also doubt programs and/or things in our Army lose their significance and meaning quickly, but rather a little over time.

When this happens, isn’t it an indicator that perhaps we have wavered?
Isn’t it an indicator that perhaps we have veered from our course?
Perhaps then the need to hit the reset button becomes paramount.

But are we afraid to push it?
One might wonder if this would change everything.
One might wonder if this would destroy everything.
One might also wonder if they would be known for destroying everything just because they dared to hit the reset button.

reset_buttonPrograms In Ministry
Sometimes we do the same thing year after year…once, long ago we had the passion and drive for it, but now it seems as if all we are doing is go through the motions and just “getting it done” because it’s required.  What happened to it being fun?  What happened to spontaneity?  What happened to progress when it just seems we are maintaining?

Is there a point when the program that we’ve been doing for years and years (since Catherine and William were still alive) is just tired, old, repeated, and irrelevant?  So when do we hit the reset button?  How does that look?  Does it mean first me must internally realign our motives and intentions in ministry?  -Absolutely!
Does it mean that perhaps we put that spark back into thing…that spark that’s been missing in our ministry for years?  -You bet.  Do we politely and rather intentionally push for changes to come from our leadership in the Army too?  -Of course!

In the past few years a number of reset buttons have been pushed.  RESET-BUTTON
Programs like – Home League, Corps Cadets, Junior Soldiers…and so on.
I wonder though if we are really hitting the reset button at all or just relabeling and repackaging the same old thing?  No offense to those whose programs are thriving…perhaps we can learn a lot from you!

Questions to Ponder:
When do we hit the reset button on certain programs and things in our ministry?
How do we know that the time is right?
How do we evaluate success and failure?
How do we know if our programs are tired, old, defeated?
How much prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit are we doing?
Are we guilty at times of merely want to change for no good reason?
Are our motives sincere?
Is our mission still intact?

I pray that when the Holy Spirit spurs us into action to step “out of the norm” that we listen.
I pray that we are bold and daring for not only the Army but most importantly for God.
I prayer that we pursue lives not just statistics.
I prayer that we measure our successes not by mere public accolades and government funding, but by lives discipled and transformed by our willingness and His power.    reset_button_MLEK

Is it time to hit the reset button in your ministry?
Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, Leading Through Grace Or Fear?

Recently I wrote on the topic of being a leader or a manager
Click link here to read: Are You A Leader Or A Manager?

Today I wanted to expound on this topic. 
Just because we are modeled after the military doesn’t mean we are now equipped to bark orders.
If we look hard at our mission and the purpose for which we were created, we would recognize that our mission is about grace and love to those we can reach.  I wonder sometimes if we forget our purpose from time to time.  Sometimes when power and authority is given to a person it can taint that person, make them “too big for their britches” (as my Grandmother used to say).  Power and authority, if not handled correctly, can cause more harm than good.  An added measure of humility is needed, as well as the constant reminder that the Holy Spirit is really who is in charge…and drives us to do the mighty work that we do.

Let me dissect this issue this morning, and I’m not saying this happens all the time, but it does happen from time to time in our Army and we need to be aware of it!

Leading through Fear:  fear
When a leader (Local Officer, Corps Officer, Divisional Officer, Territorial Officer) leads through fear and intimidation a few things take place – sure, the “fear of God” is put into those they “Command”, but so does resentment, reluctance in making any further decisions, and innovative/creative thinking takes a back seat.  This goes back to being a manger instead of a leader.  A manager has the tendency to micromanage everything and does not allow those who work under them to claim part of the ownership within the mission.  When the micromanaging takes place the workers or those subordinate to the manager feel as if the manager is lurking over their shoulder all the time and will pull back from being proactive for fear of not adhering to the manager’s vision.  You see when leading through fear, generally it’s not about a shared vision, it is about perceived forced vision that only one can manage and the rest must fall in line.  This is not a consultative democracy by any means, rather this model represents a fearful authoritative model of management.

Leading through fear might garner results, but it also suffocates ingenuity, creative planning and incorporating others into the vision.  As an Army, many of us have witnessed this type of leadership whether at the corps level, at the divisional level or beyond.  Sure, perceived strength in that “leader” might occur, but a stronger model brings others along to accomplish the mission not by wrangling, forcing and demanding.

graceLeading through Grace:
I recall one such leader in my life.
He was giving me feedback on my performance, and in the midst of his honest and candid critique he actually wept when praying for my wife and me.  It was touching, it was genuine…it wasn’t business as usual, this leader actually cared for us and wanted us to become the best leaders we could possibly be.   Was this leader a “pushover”?  No way!  He could be firm when he needed to be, but many times his leadership exuded a godly example of grace and love for those he led.

Leading through grace doesn’t mean subordinates can do whatever they want and there is little to no accountability, rather this type of leadership (not management) provides kind and loving direction so that not only the mission can be completed but a shared vision can be cultivated.

It is weakness not strength that dictates to managers that they must exert their authority and “put the fear of God” into a subordinate.
It is weakness not strength that commands respect, when respect is earned by working alongside one another.
It is weakness not strength that requires telling people what to do over consulting them and finding the solution to issues together in order to accomplish the same holy mission.

Let me say something controversial here for a moment –
The Salvation Army needs fewer managers who lead through fear and intimidation and more leaders who will lead by example and lead through grace!  Perhaps that isn’t so controversial at all…perhaps this is already happening.  I believe that the time of fear mongering “leadership” within our Army is at an end.  I believe that if we are to better our Army, more grace must be exercised.  More love exuded.  More honesty and ownership of the mission.  We cannot rely on some of our failed models of leadership to usher us into the present and future.

Some might think this is completely and totally directed and executive leadership, but I beg to differ.  This is directed at anyone and everyone who might pick up a mantle of leadership from the local officer level all the way up to the office of General.  How we choose to lead makes a HUGE difference!
leadership
So what will it be?
Leadership built on Fear or Leadership built on Grace?
Grace still has accountability.
Grace still has difficult conversations.
Grace still commands respect (more so than fear ever did).

I hope we all aspire to be the kinds of leaders that exude grace and love…let’s put down the iron fist.
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Earthquakes, Fires, Disaster…We Are There!

Today I write with encouragement.
Today I take off my critical lenses on this army that I love and I wish to encourage you.
Every one of these entries on pastorsponderings known as “Dear Salvation Army” has a purpose.  All of these postings and articles are intentional and purposeful.  All of them are constructive in nature, geared for the purposes of improving our Army, not tearing it down.  I want us to work together in this.  I want us to march onward (so to speak) and continue to win souls for Christ.  If we lose this momentum we will fail at our mission.  If we lose this momentum we will never achieve our vision.
katmandu
Today: (News From IHQ)
http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/news/inr290415

Nepal.
The Salvation Army is in Nepal.
We are providing aid and much needed funds and supplies.
I know that we care.
I know that lives matter.
I know that it’s not just about winning souls, but taking care of men, women and children.
What happened to one of the poorest, most congested cities in the world is horrible…but I know that we, among others, are there!

When utter disaster faces occurs, people are desperate for help.
We can be that source.
We can be that life line.
We are that life line.

I am not painting a perfect picture of The Salvation Army.
I am not proclaiming us “the best organization” in the world.
I am not saying “look at us, look at us”…BUT I believe God has placed us here to be His hands and feet to the world.  We have access to many places in the world where other organizations can’t go.  Our soldiers are on the ground in some of the most remote places in the world.  This is no accident.  This is no coincidence.  I firmly believe that God has placed us in those places.   How we react and how we offer salve to those hurts matters!

Questions to Ponder:
Has God called you to serve in this Army?
Are you responding to His calling every day?
Will you go if He tells you to go?
What can you do for Him?

May it never be about how flashy or how good we look in a uniform, but may it always be about responding to God’s calling in faithfulness, humility and love.  When everything is stripped away, may our Army of Salvation be genuine…may our Army be true…may our Army be forever compassionate to the hurting and the lost wheresoever they may live in our world.

Will you be there?
Will we provide aid, love, hope, compassion, joy, light?
Something more for our Army to ponder today!

Please keep Nepal in your prayers, and seek out ways that you can support these vital efforts!
To God be the glory!

For more links and ways to help please visit the sites below:
https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp
http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/nepalearthquake;jsessionid=BC2A283C79B7CC9AB73273B5C55AA3AD
https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp?projectId=IHQ-NepalEarthquake

Burn Your Ships And Commit!

cortesThe History Lesson
In 1519 Hernan Cortes, Spanish explorer, landed on Mexican soil.
He and his 600 Spanish troops were commissioned to take Mexico for Spain.
In a swift move to stave off any thoughts of retreat, he commanded that his fleet be burned.

Can you imagine being one of those six hundred men on alien soil standing there watching your only lifeline to the ‘old life’ being burned at sea.  The only recourse was to make progress deeper into this unknown land; to fight, survive and claim it for the crown.  The ships were gone, they had to fully commit or die.

For Us. 
I am not justifying any other actions of Cortes.
Some of his decisions were down right brutal.
That being said, I do believe that there is something here for us today.

Spiritually speaking…
Have we burned our ships in the act of a full commitment to Christ?
Or
Are we still looking back longingly at the places that we used to live before we accepted this new life in the form of Salvation?   Do we (even subconsciously) consider this “commitment” to be temporary while all along we have a fall back plan in case it just doesn’t pan out?

I believe even Jesus had disciples in His day that had one foot in the new life while the other foot was still firmly grounded in the old.

Read:
(Luke 9:57-62)

The Cost of Following Jesus
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The cost of following Christ is high!
The commitment level of such a calling is total or none at all.
We cannot have one foot in the new life while our other foot is firmly planted in the old life.
Either we are all in or we are not in at all.

Perhaps it is time that we burned the ships.
Perhaps it is time to burn that which holds us back from making that full commitment to Christ.
Don’t allow those things to pull you in two different directions any longer.
His path, His calling is the path of true peace, of true redemption, of true love.
When we burn the ships, we can no longer turn back from His will for our lives. ships
He wants a relationship with us that requires a full commitment.
So, how about it, are we willing to burn the ships?

Something more to ponder today!

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