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

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

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

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

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  Most of these special needs adults are slightly withdrawn and they can take quite a while to warm up to new environments.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beware of the Relapse

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But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”  –2 Corinthians 11:3 

Christ-follower beware!

 

 

ImageSalvation 
            is freely available…BUT

It 
can
     be

       Image

 

 

 

 

We have
this thing
called

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Free Will
allows us to 
choose                                                                           It allows us to 
                                                                                       live beneath God’s

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                                                                                             Image

 

                                                                                                    2

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Reject His Grace…

Here is 
a
Truth:
A Relapse 

into

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is a very
real 
Danger!

It begins in our Hearts 
              &
           Minds.

A Saint (that’s You & Me)
is still 

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to the 
trappings

of

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Don’t 
be
swept 
away
by it’s lure
and its
sultry voice.

 

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Stand Firm…
                                                                                               Meditate
                                                                                                      on

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Do Not
become Prideful
and think for 
one second                                                                         You are
                                                                                         Invulnerable!

Spiritual
Relapse
is very 
real!

so….

Image

 

Just 
more of                                                       this
                                                                   Pastor’s

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On the journey

Like the sorrows of the sea

drifting back and forth,

froth with foam

deep as the midnight sky

a firmament of wonder 

that stretches out far beyond

our eyes can see…

there we find our humble 

existence. 

There we recognize 

just how finite we are

within an infinite realm. 

As the ebb and flow 

the undertow 

and the currents of time

cast us about messages in bottles

and washed up wreckages 

we tell our tale, a story to share

existential clarity 

never charity but love

centered and fine. 

This pure hope resounds

keeps stillness at bay, 

at arms length the death knell

is silenced. 

Thankful

I close my eyes…

and enjoy this journey.  

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Jesus, Zombies & Humanity – Sermon

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Sermon Link is below:

Jesus, Zombies & Humanity – Sermon.

John 6:44-69 (NIV) 
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus spoke in the temple…about Zombies…”Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day..”(54)

I.  Jesus taught a difficult message (v60)

He declared himself the only way to the father and also that He was the bread of life that had come down from Heaven.  He was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum…many came to listen and he had his disciples there which number way more than 12 at this time. 

 

II.  The of God will sometimes offend (v61)

 

III.  Do we have faith or doubt? (v64)

 

IV.  Declare who Christ is correctly!  (67-69)

Jesus, Zombies & Humanity (A lesson in rejection)

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The Zombies are everywhere, waiting to consume the flesh of the living.  Waiting to chew on the brains of the fallen.  Sound gross?  Of course it is, yet the horror of these fictitious tales of mayhem and gore are irresistible to many.  If you need evidence of this just look up “walking dead” on google and you quickly realize how big a show that has become.  Dare I say that I too enjoy a good zombie story from time to time.  The idea of a post-apocalyptic world is both dreadful and curious to me.  Such a scenario pits humanity’s survival on the cusp of total and complete decimation.  It’s thrilling and captivates a wide audience because simply to survive, within these tales is a minute by minute adventure.

Jesus talked about zombies…ok maybe not in the context that we think.  But the Jews gathered in the synagogue in Capernaum certainly thought that was what He was saying.  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven, if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”   (John 6:51)  With bitter taste of distain and disgust on their tongues these Jews began to argue upon hearing Jesus’ words; “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  They had come to temple to hear the readings from the Torah and instead they hear of flesh eating deliverance from heaven.  For a moment can’t you imagine hearing Jesus’ words and thinking the same thing?  “How can this be?”

Certainly they would understand in context that blood offerings were given to atone for sin, as animals were routinely sacrificed for transgressions…it had become quite a booming business as well.  But to hear one speak of consuming human flesh and drinking of human blood for eternal life set their teeth on edge.

For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”   Jesus said.  (John 7:55)  Those who heard were more than perplexed.  They didn’t get it.  Jesus wasn’t literally speaking of a zombie smorgasbord when He spoke of His life’s purpose.  Just like the teachings of His parables, those who heard often times didn’t understand, and those who actually had ears to hear, heard and pondered.  Jesus was speaking and alluding to His willing sacrifice and eventual death on the cross for all of humanity…but most who gathered in the synagogue that day didn’t understand this spiritual zombie apocalypse.

But even many of Jesus’ own disciples who heard this teaching disserted Him following this metaphorical bloodletting event.  Jesus even asked them before they departed from Him, “Does this offend you?” (John 6:61) The response wasn’t so much in what they said, but rather what they did: they left.  Of course it offended them.  In fact what Jesus said to His own culture offended many.  Isn’t it interesting that when He spoke the truth, the truth was rejected and scorned by most.  The very human side of Jesus must have obviously felt rejected and hurt.  The very human side of Jesus must have experienced the pangs of loss when many of those who called themselves “disciples” turned their backs on Him.  We might often overlook this very painful event of Jesus because of the content of His message.  If we had to stand in Jesus’ shoes and speak this very hard message, knowing that it would probably offend and drive people away from us…would we have had the guts to speak it?

Yet Jesus knew and was filled with the Spirit who equipped Him for this painful event.  He even identifies some of His own when He says, “Yet there are some of you who do no believe.”  He didn’t sugar coat it, He didn’t seek to curry favor, He simply told them that they didn’t believe.  The response resulted in painful rejection.  “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” (John 6:66)

How often does God ask those He calls to declare His truth and speak hard teachings?  If we are to be Christ-followers, these moments will also come to us.  We can’t be afraid of facing rejection.  Some Churches today have allowed sin of all kinds to continue because they are afraid to address them because it would result in people leaving their doors.  Some Churches have curry favored and sugar coated God’s Word to make it more appealing to those living double lives.  There’s a time to let things go, but there’s also a time to confront and face possible rejection.   Jesus’ walking dead moment took some aback.  His declaration offended many, yet He didn’t back down or back pedal from what He had said.  As the crowd of resigned disciples walked away from Jesus, He even looked at the initial ‘twelve’ and said, “You do not want to leave too, do you?

Jesus faced rejection and He knew He would offend many with the truth.  Are we?  I’m not implying that we are to deliberately find ways to offend people.  But when the Lord prompts us to address issues or speak hard truths we ought to listen and obey.  Jesus came to save humanity and to give the gift of eternal life.  As Christ-followers, you and I are called to carry that message to the whosoever despite the throngs of rejections we might receive along the way.  Our walking dead moments will come also…how will we respond?

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