Dear Salvation Army: Is The Holiness Movement Dying? Then Perhaps This is Why…

I continue to dream and pray about a revival of holiness in our day that moves forth in mission and creates authentic community in which each person can be unleashed through the empowerment of the Spirit to fulfill God’s creational intentions.” John Wesley

Dear beloved Army,
This holiness movement used to be so much grander than it is today.
Are we a dying breed?
Is this movement more of a nod to a bygone era?

More and more, we find that Holiness is being preached less and less, and even more praytroubling is that holiness is not being lived out or made into something real and tangible for the world to see.  The notion of being set-apart is both vital and necessary for the purpose of entire sanctification.   Being set-apart means that we wash the feet of those who have only experienced religion with strings attached.  For we are not a religion, we are a movement that preaches about this holy relationship we can have with the Almighty!  We are a movement (or at least we used to be) that lived out holiness and preached it from our pulpits.  If this is missing in our corps and in our witness then perhaps we have lost a step and are no longer a moving, passionate movement…but instead could it be that we are static and floundering about trying to define our identity apart from Holiness?

Have We Forgotten The Power Prayer?  
couttsGeneral Frederick Coutts once said:  “To pray together is to be shielded from evil, not only from the perils which beset the body, but also the dangers that assail the soul
Coupled with this near extinction of the Holiness movement, have we lost sight of the power of prayer?  Has prayer, and prayer meetings become a thing of the past in our corps?  I am sure that some will write me and proclaim that their corps still holds prayer meetings, this is wonderful news to hear, but for every one corps that proclaims this, there are most likely three or four more that will admit to its vacancy.   Have we stopped praying for one another?  Have we relinquished this vital weapon of spiritual warfare?  An Army no longer on its knees in prayer is an army who ill-equipped for the battles ahead.  How can we march out into the streets and boldly proclaim “the world for God” when we have not been earnestly praying for each other in our corps buildings as we individually engage in spiritual battles no one is willing to talk about let alone confront?

holiness.jpgI believe that if that we are to experience a revival again as a movement, it will only come when we begin to take our prayer lives more seriously.  This spiritual discipline is vital to both the corporate worship setting as well as the personal one done in those private moments.  Let me ask you this, how often to you pray for your fellow soldiers and officers? How often do we lift up our concerns before the Almighty and continue to wait on Him?  In our fast paced lifestyles we have grown impatient and we lack attention to prayer.  We need more prayer warriors in our Army and less prayer worriers.  We need authentic, vulnerable moments in our pews as much as we need real, genuine times of solitude in our homes devoted to prayer.

The disciples, post ascension, waited on God…only when they waited and prayed and longed for His presence were they able receive His holy presence and go out and proclaim the resurrected and transformational Christ!

prayerSomewhere along the line did we get ahead of Christ?
Did we leave Him in our upper rooms?  Did we rush out to do good works and forget to bring Him with us?  We can certainly fix the brokenness of physical needs through charity and social work, but we cannot bring the cure to sin-sick habitual living if we ourselves have forgotten about the need for entire sanctification in our corps and in our lives.  The uniform means nothing if we do not first have this yearning to become the very image of Christ in our living and in our breathing.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.

So let me ask you this:  Is the Holiness movement dead?
Is it on life support in our army?
Or is it thriving in your “neck of the woods”?
If it is indeed thriving, please tell us about your experiences!
I would never presume anything about your corps, and I am not saying anything other than what the Lord is convicting me of in my own life right now.
It is my belief that if we are not continually laying our all on the altar in full-surrender to Christ, and if we are not giving ourselves continually to the discipline of prayer – we will in affect have sounded the death-knell of this Holiness movement.

Dear Salvation Army, if we have been asleep to these disciplines, I pray we wake up and shake off the polarizing agendas and the distractions and get on with being Holy…from this act we can then do this holiness through the mission of our movement.

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

*Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.* 

Dear Salvationist – Arrogance Beware!

Luke 18:9-14(NLT)

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[a]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Beware dear Soldier of the trappings of arrogance, for it can creep into that uniform of yours and corrupt your heart and attitude!  We do not wear this uniform and associate ourselves with this army because we are better than other people, instead we should wear it as as sign of utter humility, servitude to Christ and as a constant reminder of our mission in this world.

selfCould our corps halls feel like an exclusive club to outsiders?  -This should never be the case!  We might become tempted, at times, to puff ourselves up with all of our corps’ accomplishments and fortunes, instead run from such thoughts and temptations!  Do not become like the Pharisee in the parable Jesus told – who was so enamored by his own pride and arrogance that those earnestly seeking were criticized and despised.

No, instead fight this war against pride and arrogance as a Soldier of this army!  We ought to fall to our knees and repent every time we become prideful of who we are instead of Whose we are.   We must recognize and repent every time we aspire to places of position and power out of personal gain and selfish ambition.  Pride and arrogance will poison our army if we are not careful; and although we do good in our communities lest we not forget Who our faith is in and for Whom all of these good works are accomplished.thumb

If we as soldiers exchange this true calling of sincere holiness in our lives for earthly recognition and these temporary places of authority the world bestows upon us, we will have lost it all – and our identity as an Army for God.

Jesus despised the hypocrite and the religious zealot who couldn’t see past their own personal needs and desires.  Beware dear Soldier of the trappings of arrogance and pride.

Prayer:
Lord, make us humble.  May we be mindful of our fellow man – and the hurting world around us.  Give us Your heart and eyes – may we ever be on our knees earnestly seeking after you.  Holy Spirit, instill in us this servant-heart.  Break us of our pride and arrogance. Remove the dross, wipe away the old life.  If need be, remove us from places of prominence so that we may be yours and yours alone.  Lord, forgive us when we have had a divided heart – you want us all to yourself, and there have been times when we have strayed.  May Christ-likeness be our goal as we humbly serve.  Amen.
cs
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

 

A Holiness for 1

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Holiness is often something Christians view as the Everest of the spiritual realm.  It is formidable, the price is steep, and many turn back within its clefts and craggy cliffs.  Why is this misnomer on holiness so prevalent?  Corps members whom I’ve spoken with tell me that holiness is impossible or just too hard…I am shocked when I hear them tell me this.  Commonly I will ask them why they think that holiness is impossible, and usually there will be those who respond by saying because to be holy you have to be perfect.  But is that correct?  Holiness is perfection?  I would have to say a resounding ‘no’! We are still sinners saved by grace, and ultimate perfection or total sanctification will only take place when we finally come face to face with Christ in Eternity.  But though we are still imperfect, the Holy Spirit is making us perfectly into the image of Christ if we allow Him to do so.

Holiness first and foremost is submitting to the will of God in every aspect of our lives.  We say to the Lord, “Not my will but Yours, and you can have all there is of me.”  Does this imply that we automatically become perfect?  Absolutely not.  We still struggle, we still ought to pray “Lord lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” Because the fact of the matter is we will still face temptation in this life.  Holiness isn’t about automatically living in perfection, but rather about walking in the footsteps of Jesus and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of Christ in this life.  We reject the old sinful self, as well embrace the new creation which is Christ in us.

Another aspect of holiness that I feel we often get wrong is this notion that it’s a corporate holiness.  Meaning that holiness is first done as a body of Christ.  I think we get this backwards.  We have to first be transformed and sanctified individually before we are holy in corporate fellowship.  General Shaw Clifton once put it this way in reference to Samuel Logan Brengle:  “His (SLB) constant emphasis was upon personal holiness.  Now we hear much today about institutional holiness but I cannot help thinking sometimes that this misses the point.  There can be no institutional holiness without your personal holiness and mine.  Only then can institutional holiness flow through an organization.” (Select Writings, Clifton. pg.181)

So what does this holiness for one look like?

Like Daniel of old, do we have a prayer closet?  A place where we daily kneel before our Lord and pray and fellowship with Him?  These moments of solitary fellowship are vital to our personal holiness.  Do we allow Him the first fruits of our time, our talent and our treasure?  Is He included in everything that we do or do we often leave Him at home with our devotions or bible by the night stand?  I believe Brother Lawrence had it right as well, and let me take his ideology one step further.  We practice the presence of God in every moment of every day…is it possible?  Yes.  Difficult?  Of course!  But transforming holiness in our personal lives ought to be moment by moment within our day and not just during our devotions in the morning or evening.  Our fellowship with God on a moment by moment basis draws us closer to Him and to His very will for our lives.

These are sacred things should not to be trifled with or taken lightly.  If we, as His people, are truly serious about living holy lives and embracing this theology of holiness then, as difficult as it is, we ought to practice living within His presence on a moment by moment basis.  This is a holiness for one!  We invite Him into our thoughts, every corner of them.   The Holy Spirit will bring conviction when areas yet to be surrendered are brought into His light.  He will also provide affirmation to us when we are growing and on the right path.

When this intimate setting for one is preserved in us and our lives are His, then and only then will can we begin to look at the corporate body of Christ through the lens of holiness.

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