Dear Salvation Army, Is It Just ‘Busy’ Work?

It is a question I have often asked myself.
Something I’ve pondered.
Waged war with.
Chewed on until my jaws ache.

Have I (personally speaking) focused too much on the ‘busy’ work instead of the priorities of salvation? Am I spending so much time doing the mundane, the time consuming, soul-sucking tasks that offer no vital substance to life?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not viewing certain tasks as beneath me. I am, instead, uncovering something that I feel has been convicting to me…and perhaps it has been revealed to you as well by the Holy Spirit.

We, as an Army, have grown far beyond a movement birthed out of the ashes and smoke the industrial era. This movement has grown arms and legs in order to meet human needs in Jesus’ name. But with that growth, it becomes inevitable that we develop not so good traits as well. Over working ourselves. Demanding more and more income to support bloating projects. Straining for every ounce of local and federal funding sources. Funds are, of course vital to our cause, but there is a danger here: We might become tempted, in our busyness to trust less in the provision of God and trust more in our own efforts, our own donors, our own coffers.

Have we allowed busy work to shape our faith?
Have we entered into simply trusting in the next financial campaign instead of diligently seeking out what God would have us do? I pray this is never the case!

I am certainly not negating hard work, I am simply pondering whether in the midst of our hard work we have stopped looking to the Author of all things in exchange for the things He has created? Instead of commanding time, time is commanding us. In a very real sense have we lost our first love and replaced it with busy work?

I understand that we mustn’t grow tired of doing Good (Galatians 6:9)
But there should be moments of reflect that we do in order to be brought back to our first love and first priority – Loving God. THEN we are able to reach out and offer our soup, soap and salvation.

So how do we avoid making what we do just ‘Busy Work’?

3 Ways to Avoid The Trap of Busy Work:

1) Practicing the Presence of God Daily (Even moment by moment)
Brother Lawrence was right – we need to get into the practice of communing with the presence of God moment by moment. We need to fellowship with our Creator during the most trying of tasks to the most mundane of them. When we open up our lives and everything in them to God, we begin to share our experiences with Him. We are inviting Him to participate in them with us. Just because we have to do required mundane tasks doesn’t mean that it is busy work. ‘Busy work’ is done when we have no purpose, no mission or no aim. Busy work leads no one to Christ, consumes all our time and offers nothing in spiritual nourishment. When we enter into God’s presence throughout our day, we begin to eliminate the busy work. When we ask Him to commune with us, we begin to see what truly matters and life (and tasks) are given purpose once again. Why? We because we are not living for ourselves, our own hard work, our own ambitions, our own understanding…we are now dying to self, dying to corporate ladder climbing, dying to the search for approval and acceptance of others. Instead, we are living a new created life born out of holiness and the desire to be selfless.

2) Asking the question “Why”?
When we find ourselves caught in the busyness trap, we need to begin to asked questions. Like, “why am I doing what I am currently doing”. “Is this task or habit really what I should be doing?” “What is this contributing to the Kingdom building process?” Why do I catch myself falling into this ‘busyness’ trap again and again?

Habits are hard to break, and I believe busy work can be one of these bad habits that needs to be broken. We all are given time to do the necessary reports, chores, tasks…yet how often do we catch ourselves staring blankly at a computer screen? How often do we labor away at things that don’t really matter? I’m not saying we don’t do them, I am saying that perhaps we place too much emphasis on them. We give them too much importance and so our time gets eaten up in the non-Kingdom building habits.

There comes a point where we must look up.
Where we see where God desires us to go. Perhaps it is to talk to that person in the Social Services waiting room. Maybe it is to go and visit corps members, sit with a person that needs a friend, or spend a few solitary moments in the chapel praying. Are we looking up? Or do we go about our day with our heads down and buried in our computers, meanwhile making all of our tasks and duties “busy work”?
Why?

3) Connect with others.
I have mentioned this already in the second point…but it begs saying again: we MUST connect with other people (and not just on social media). Look people in the eyes. Really listen to their needs. Hear the hurt. See the longing for fellowship. Be a light to someone in need. Winning the world of Jesus begins with one or two people. If we aren’t reaching people for Christ what is the point of calling our selves an army of salvation?

When we realign ourselves with our first love and, in turn, pour that love out on others, we will have eliminated all ‘busy work’? How?
By turning each moment and each task into an opportunity to serve God. When we change our perspective and our priorities, we reorient our mission and purpose to the place it should have been all along.

Dear Salvation Army…is there ‘busy work’ taking place in your ministry right now?
Do you find yourself missing the mark and feeling unfulfilled in your calling?
Perhaps you must look up.
Perhaps a reprioritizing of life needs to take place.
Perhaps a rededication, a recommitment, a reigniting of the heart is in order.

Busy work happens to all of us…but we mustn’t remain there, we need to get up and move.

Something more for our Army to ponder today.

Dear Salvation Army, The Fish-Bowl Effect…

Dear Salvation Army, are we fooling ourselves?
Are we seeing one thing within our ivory towers while the reality looks quite different?

Please don’t take offense.
I mean no disrespect.
I just wonder if there are times that we are disconnected from how things truly are as opposed to how we perceive them to be.

It’s like the notion of missing the mark of evangelism & missions…It is like aiming for the lost with a harpoon when what you needed was a loving hug and a warm cup of coffee. Or perhaps, there is this grandiose idea of what success will look like (we envision a mega church with people all neatly lined up trying to get in) when in reality it is meeting with that single mother and ensuring she has enough to feed her family and she takes the leap of coming to church on a Sunday morning.

Do we miss the mark because our notion of successful mission has been aligned with a faulty or unrealistic sense of who we are serving and what they need? It can become that illustration of insanity, ever endeavoring to do the same thing over and over again, only to realize that it hasn’t worked in thirty years.

Perhaps we need to wake up.
I fear we have become too insulated in our own fishbowls, be it the corps, divisional headquarters, territorial headquarters or beyond. We cannot sit in our offices and expect the people to come to us. Yes, our branding is recognizable, but that doesn’t mean that we become lazy in our planning and in the reaching for the lost, hurting and oppressed. We cannot afford to sit in our fishbowls. We cannot become complacent, overly busy with interior paperwork, when outside in our communities families and individuals need to see the hope that the Holy Spirit is prodding us to give because we serve more than just an Army, we serve the Lord first and foremost.

Dear Salvation Army,
I am fearful that we have lost our way, because of mission drift.
I am fearful that leaders from every rank have forgotten what it means to have a heart to God and a hand to man. This is a broad brushstroke, not aimed at offending, but perhaps prodding those who need it. There are many, many saints in our Army. I wish to recognize that as fact, may we ever endeavor to emulate their great faith!

Lastly, we cannot program our army to death.
We cannot course correct without first dispelling the faulty realities that have gotten us to this point.

Questions to Ponder:
What fishbowls do we need to get out of today?
Do we truly know the communities and people that we have been commissioned to minister to?
Have we prayed about our mission and vision for the lost in our areas of influence? (Not all of these places will look the same, or require the same kinds of ministry tools to reach the lost and disciple the faithful).
How can we (I) encourage 1 person today (maybe more, but start with just one)?
Can we pray that God would reveal to us the hindrances and hang ups in our lives right now that prevent us from having a greater impact on the Kingdom in His name?

As I sit here and write this, I admittedly have first considered the fishbowls that I have placed myself in. No, this has nothing to do with appointments or rank, but as a follower of Christ there are walls that I have constructed that have not been ordained by Him. Constructs that insulate my selfish heart and profit nothing for the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps you can relate, dear Soldier. I believe that if we do not first dispel these walls and climb out of our fishbowls, so too will our impact for the Kingdom be limited.

Can we identify these fishbowls?
Are we prepared to climb out of them?

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

Dear Salvation Army Officer’s Kids: 5 Survival Tips For Officer Kids Who Are Moving…

Hey fellow ponderers, please allow me this moment to be a little selfish…actually I want to specifically think of my children, and other officer kids out there on the cusp of moving (perhaps once again).   I know that this blog post will not speak to everyone, and not everyone will relate, but please recognize that I have a heart for the kids that these moves effect…because I was once one of them.  I know the hurt of moving, and hopefully, in some small way, I desire to help other Officer kids out there going through another move…

Dear Officer’s Kids: 
I remember vividly the day my parents broke the news to my sister and me that we were being fare-welled.   It struck my heart, my friends, my school, my corps family…everything was about to be uprooted, dislodged and, in my adolescent mind, ruined.  Life as I had known it sucked!  That’s what I thought.  That’s how I felt…and, in some small way, I was angry about it.

My family had spent eight years of our life overseas as missionaries to three separate locations in Southern Africa.  Then when we moved back to America, I had this thought that perhaps we would stay in our “American” appointment for a whole lot longer…but that was not to be, and at that time, I was very sad about the prospects of moving once again.

So we packed up our things, and began the long goodbye that is the farewell process in The Salvation Army.

Let’s face it, moving is never easy.  Your parents can get stressed out, frazzled and downright difficult to live with during this time; But how we view these kinds of transitions can make all the difference in how we face the next place we live.

Here are 5 Survival Tips For Officers Kids Who Are Moving:
(Perhaps, if you can practice these tips, it will be less survival and more thriving in a new opportunity!)

  1. Talk To Your Parents/Parents Talk To Your Child! 
    Mother and Daughter TalkingAsk as many questions as you can about where your parents are being sent.  Start to be inquisitive, and ask about your new school, corps, summer camp?  When we actually talk about the new appointment, or place you’re moving to, it becomes less of an unknown, scary thing, and more of an absolute, tangible ‘new home’.   Keep in mind that talking won’t always be easy.  There will be times when your parents will be stressed or upset too about the move, but keep in mind that families need to stick together and talk about the transition.  Parents: this is SO vital!  As soon as you can, tell your children.  Get them ready for the move.  Also please remember that how you view this move will positively or negatively impact how your child will view this move.  Discuss the pros and cons of moving…don’t neglect that both adults and children will feel a sense of loss, especially if the the current appointment is a place that you’ve been in for a long time!  Talk about what you’re going to miss and also talk about what you’re not going to miss – be honest and sensitive to what your child/children are saying.
  2. View Moving As An Adventure & Use What’s Familiar!
    Young Man Traveler with backpack relaxing outdoorMy parents helped my sister and me in this important topic by showing us the adventure that awaited us.  Now I know that there are some who are reading this and may be thinking to yourself, ‘It’s not always so joyful when we move’, and you’re right; but the more we can begin to view moving as an adventure, the more we can begin (and help our children begin) to adjust to a semi-transitory lifestyle.I recall knowing people who have lived in one place for their entire life, and I can’t even begin to understand that, but I don’t envy it either.  As I look back at the ‘Army’ life that I have lived, both growing up and now as an adult, I see all of the life lessons that I’ve had the opportunity to learn.  I also have experienced a broader world view than if my family had just stayed in one location for my whole life.  This adventure has taken me to live in different cultural places, I have learned different local customs of many regions, and because of it I feel like my life is more rounded.O the places you will go…and the places you will see as an Officer’s Kid!

    To Parents and Kids:  Start talking about the adventure…then live the adventure!  It can be easy to always look back and miss where you once lived, but if you look back the whole time, you will miss the adventure that you’re about to step through in the next appointment.  Find the fun in life.  View the new place that you’re about to live with a sense of fun and adventure.  Coupled with the new adventure, set up your rooms and homes with the familiar so that where ever you go, Home looks and feels the same – this is the ‘safe ground’, the sanctuary, the ‘fortress of solitude’ and the family first environment!  Bring your familiar blankets, pillows, posters, decorations…etc.

  3. Research, Explore & Google Places To See In Your New Home Townexplore
    We all have smart phones, computers and tablets, so use them to not only check out your new home, but all of the fun places around your new home.  Check out apps like Google, TripAdvisor, Zomato Yelp…etc to find new and exciting places to eat, explore and visit when you arrive at your new appointment.  Make plans to check out those places – and then do it!It can be fun to use your google maps to literally view the street your house is on and then go for an interactive ‘drive’ down the street through that app.  As you do this, you will start to envision yourself there.  It will never take the place of where you are living right now, or the places you’ve been, but it will certainly add to your life’s adventure!  Think of it as the next chapter, but you will never, ever replace the last chapter…it just becomes a wonderful part of your life’s book!
  4. Find Activities To Get Involved In Right Away In Your New School!
    activitiesWhen you move to your new home, (and here’s the BIG, frightening step of faith you should take:)  find activities that you are interested at your new school and/or community that you can become involved in.  Don’t wait for a year to jump into it, do it right away…trust me on this!I know some of you might be introverts at heart and you’ll want to stick close to home and ‘play it safe’, but try to push yourself to get out get involved!

    When I was a kid, I loved sports, and so when we moved I joined the soccer team and the track team.  By the time school actually started, I already knew people at my new school because they were friends from soccer.  I made it a point to get involved.  It wasn’t easy…and there were days that my stomach just churned with anxiety about being the ‘new guy’, but I pushed myself, and my parents gently pushed me too.

    That’s the key too parents:  your kids are stronger that we sometimes think they are.  They will thrive if we get them out there and involved in activities.  I’m not saying don’t allow them their down time at home, but don’t let them settle into unhealthy – isolating cocoons either!   Help them find activities that they are interested in within your new appointment and plug them into those activities.  When we can help our children find these healthy sources, they will develop friendships and become invested in this new adventure!

  5. Stay Positivepositive
    I’m not going to lie to you.  There will be days when you will sorely miss the place that you just came from.  There will be days that you will be tempted to withdraw from your new place and quit…don’t.  Families need to stick together during this ‘mourning’ phase of moving.  Emphasize the positives…look for the bright side and the opportunities.They say that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to things – so attitude is VERY important in these transitions!If your new school stinks, then perhaps you can find one friend to enjoy the stink with at that school.

    If your corps is not the best place to be, then perhaps you can find a small corner of it to make it your own despite the circumstances.

    Officers Kids and Parents:  How we act towards one another matters.  Be an encourager to each other.  Don’t go negative and only focus on what you hate about this new place.  Sure, talk about those things, but don’t stay there – find the silver lining and when you do, you will find hope and joy despite the ups and downs of these transitory circumstances.

Kids:  You got this!
You are resilient, smart, amazing people!  Help your parents, and remember we aren’t alone in this!  Officers kids are band of brothers and sisters and we can do anything we set our minds to!  Let’s stick together!

Parents:  Keep speaking truth, love and joy into your kids.  Be patient with them…and at times go easy on them!  Encourage them to be active, and show them what it means to live this Officer life…live the adventure with them!

Something more for This Army world to ponder!
May God richly bless on your move!

Dear Salvation Army, Where Are We Going?

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -Michelangelo

This is more of a collective pondering today. We need your comments, thoughts and opinions in order to carefully and thoughtful answer the above question: Where Are We Going?

What is our vision?

What should our vision be?

How do we make that vision a reality?

What are some of the obstacles in our way of fully realizing that reality?

Who will it take (e.g. soldiers, officers, volunteers, donors)?

How important is accountability in such a large movement/organization?

How can we become more accountable to Christ within this Army? Where does Holiness belong in such a conversation?

I have disclosed numerous questions to ponder today…are you willing to take a chance at answering any or all of these questions? The larger scope question: Where Are We Going? In other words, if you were to envision where the Army SHOULD BE in 20 years, what would it look like? What would you want to see different, the same, the growth?

-If we have no plan or vision, then we will flounder and waver.

We look forward to your responses!

Something more for the Army to ponder today!

Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison

*Disclaimer: the thoughts and opinions represented here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of The Salvation Army and are that of the writer of this blog, reader discretion is advised.*

3 Resources to help you become a better Salvation Army Officer…

Let’s face it, the role of a Salvation Army Officer is difficult.  I know…understatement of the century!

There are certainly joys…along with heartache and sorrows – it’s a mixed bag sometimes.  We all wish that things would go according to plan, but most of the time we look like this:
spinningAnd, we hope nothing gets dropped along the way…

The question doesn’t become what can we do less of, but rather how can we do the good things better?  How can we begin to focus on the strengths of our corps and our corps people?

If I have learned anything from Officership it is that we are very, very good at doing many things, but we do not do many things well.  Perhaps it is time to stop meeting the average expectations, stop doing mediocre work because we’re spread far too thin to do anything well; and instead, focus on the things that make our corps or ministry unique and successful!  To do this, sacrifices might have to be made, we might have to eliminate or reduce the amount of ‘spinning plates’, but we do no one any good if we implode from over-extending ourselves.

It would be so easy to simply offer you some amazing new Apps that will help you in your ministry.  It would be simple to offer this new thing I found of the internet that other pastors are using…instead let me offer you 3 Resources that you already have and will not cost you a dime (except for your time and effort).

  1.  Pastoral Partnerships: 
    pastorsThe unfortunate side of ministry, it would seem, is that many churches and pastors are in competition for parishioners.  It isn’t always intentional, but many churches have created their own silos, including The Salvation Army.  Sometimes it’s pride, and self-reliance, but these silos prevent us from truly experiencing the fellowship of other ministries and resources because we cannot work with others.  Visit other pastors in your community.  Go to their churches (but not on Mondays = Universal Pastoral day off) and meet fellow workers in the fields of souls.I recently visited the pastor of our local Wesleyan Church.  He called me up to donate some food to our soup kitchen, and I had not had the chance to meet him yet…so I personally went to see him.  What I experienced in talking to him for only 45 minutes was not only refreshing to my soul, but it encouraged me greatly.  We also struck up some commonalities, and resources were exchanged for the development of future partnerships together.

    Fellow Officers, we are so much stronger together than we are by remaining in our individual denominational silos.

    2.   Community Connections  Puzzle
    This resource is closely related to #1 as well as the continued need to get out of the silo…(perhaps you are picking up on the theme of this particular article).  There are many people in your community right now that love The Salvation Army and they just need an invitation to help out.  Be mindful that business professionals are very busy, so make sure the buy-in request is tangible, well thought out, and clear.  You are looking for pieces to the puzzle to help with the over all mission, that Bank president can help in great ways provided that you put that ‘piece’ into the right place.

    3.  Leadership Development, Empowerment & Delegation!
    The last resource (at least on this list, because there is SO much more that we could cover) is, in my opinion, the most important resource that your corps or ministry has – people who are already invested in the mission!!  We are only as strong as the team around us.  We as Officers are good at trying to do everything on our own, so much so that we often face burnout.  In Exodus 18, we find a workaholic named Moses who is wisely counseled by his father-in-law Jethro.  Jethro tells Moses; “what you are doing is not good.  You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.  The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18)

    This is extremely wise advise to Moses and to us.  We cannot do it all ourselves, so why do we try to be SuperOfficer?  Why do we think it all has to get completed by us?  This is where leadership development, empowerment and delegation comes into play.  We owe it to ourselves and the future development and growth of our corps to raise up leaders who can help us.  Perhaps those leaders are already there, they just don’t know it yet.  This type of development and action will take time and patience, but your ministry will be stronger because of it.

    Just think, every time we ‘go it alone’ we are potentially robbing someone of the opportunity to learn, lead and grow!  Do you need help developing your team?  Having struggles figuring out how this ought to be done?  Consult your divisional staff, ask for help from other pastors, and perhaps do some research on how other corps are appointing leaders and developing them.  MinistryHere is one resource that the Central Territory is using, and I know that there are other resources just like this in other territories.

    Do not leave your corps members behind while planning for the future!  Raise up others to help you accomplish the mission of the Army!  It might be easier to do everything yourself, but entrust, empower and lead others to become better invested in the mission of this Salvation Army!

    These are just three resources to help you become a better Officer, naturally, never discount or take for granted the power of the Holy Spirit in all of these ventures!  He will empower you to do what must be done, so above all else, humble submit yourself to Him daily!

    Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
    God bless you!
    officer.jpg

Dear Salvation Army Officers, How To Find The Time For Ministry In 4 Steps

Dear Officer,
what does your normal day look like?
Are there reports to submit, bills to sign, checks to deposit, phone calls to be made, budgets to be crafted (or re-crafted for the 10th time), personnel fires to put out….?  Does that sound about right?  I probably forgot to add, routine maintenance to schedule, board meeting details, corps council action steps to follow through on, people in visit in the hospital, statistics to enter, important community meetings to attend and perhaps a club meeting to participate in…and THAT sometimes is just the tip of the iceberg.

Commissioner George Scott Railton once said, “God requires the duty. If its performance brings no return, that is God’s affair not yours. The soldier who has obeyed every order comes back from defeat, as from victory, with honour.”

I often mistake business for duty, don’t you?
It seems we as Officers and even Soldiers are so good at busy-work that perhaps at times we miss the ministry altogether.  We are very good at being soldiers and obeying orders yet miss the mark on pastoral ministries…and each one of us are pastors and ministry ought to be at the forefront of what we do in and out of uniform.  If we work hard and climb whatever ladder we aspire to, yet lose the “Salvation” in our Army, then we will have lost everything and all of our hard work (duty) will be for naught.

Here are 4 steps to help each of us find the time for ministry again.
I hope and pray this will be beneficial to you as you read these.  Most will seem quite obvious, yet actually following through on them intentionally will certainly be harder.
I also acknowledge that these suggested steps could include many more, yet for the sake of time a succinct list has been compiled here for us to consider.  Also note that it is quite difficult to quantify these and wrap them up in a nice red bow, so as you read, perhaps you will discover other steps that I would ask you to share with us if you would be so kind.

HOW TO FIND THE TIME FOR MINISTRY IN 4 Steps:

  1.  Recognize Everything As Ministry
    ministryAs someone once pointed out everything is spiritual, there should be no compartmentalizing of our various tasks and that of holistic ministry.  I know a financial planner in our community who makes a point of praying for every client that comes to visit him.  He has even prayed with me there in his office.  These prayers that he offers are not pithy cliche prayers either, but one can feel the presence of God while he prays for you and the present circumstances that you are facing.  He considers his office not only the place he draws his paycheck from, but a chapel in which he ministers.  Perhaps we have not made our officers our chapels of ministry.  Perhaps we get so bogged down by what is required of us that we forget to include God in those spaces in order to make them sacred.  Everything we do from the most mundane of things to the most important things ought to be considered ministry – not some laborious task to get accomplished.

    Martin Luther King Jr is quoted as saying, ““If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

    Consider each task ministry – from the least to the most important!

  2. Intentionally Pray And Plan
    We undoubtedly do our ministry a great disservice when we do not first intently pray for it and for those we will meet along its path.  Prayer should never be the last resort, but the first weapon in our spiritual arsenal.  If we aren’t burdened for the needs of others through prayer on our knees then we ought reach deeper into ourselves and explore our hearts and motivation. pray When we pray for each segment of our officership and appointment, we will find that our hearts are attuned to the moving of the Holy Spirit.  If everything we do is spiritual, then why do not pray in such a way?  When we intentionally pray and make this a spiritual discipline we will be better equipped to make the necessary plans that our ministries so desperately need. plan Don’t stumble into your day or week having now idea what you wish to accomplish.  Don’t wait until the last minute to pray for our congregation and those you minister to.  Keep them in the forefront of what you are doing, after all, the paperwork and reports are all because they are vitally important to you and to God.  Do not make haphazard plans at the last minute, throwing things together and hoping they all pan out…do yourself a favor and your soldiers a favor and make intentional, prayerful plans that will form and shape lives for Christ.
  3. Intentionally Show Up – Practice Presence
    cellI catch myself doing this, and I recognize my own conviction here:
    Put down the cell phones, put away the distractions…close the laptop and look your people in the eye.  Show up to your appointment ready to serve the Lord and those He has placed on your path.  Practice the presence of availability.  It almost seems contradictory, but forget those reports and the paperwork and spend time talking to your staff, your volunteers, your corps members…they are all members of your flock.  They will know if you are not actually available to them just by your presentemphasis on the “important stuff” that consumes all of your time.  I would imagine nearly 99% of us officers are guilty of this at one time or another.  Show up and be present.  Ask God to give you His eyes to see the needs around you.  Spend time drinking coffee (or tea or water) with those who frequent your soup kitchen.  Invest yourselves in the lives of people and do not stop with those who wear our uniform and within whom we already know.  Step out of your comfort zone and be available to listen, serve and love.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

  4. Focus On Lives Not Numbers!
    statsThis step goes hand in hand with #3.
    Be mindful that our “end game” is not filling the statistics with numerical growth.
    If our sole focus is on building our Sunday stats with attendees then all that we will be focused on in church invitations and getting people through the doors of “Sunday Church”….have you stopped to consider that EVERYTHING we do is Church?  Have you considered that perhaps your biggest ministry isn’t on Sunday morning but during the week when you encounter broken people earnestly seeking help?  These are members of your flock that often get taken for granted.  They may never ever darken the doors of a traditional church, but 9 times out of 10 they call The Salvation Army their church home because we feed them on a regular basis and there are people who care for them.  Focus on individual lives of people, how to reach them, pray for them and with them.  Care about them…forget numbers, numbers will take care of itself if we are loving people and earnestly placing their needs at the foot of Christ.

    Evangeline Booth once said, “It is not how many years we live, but what we do with them.”  Allow me to adjust this quote to fit you the Officer today, and I do not think this loses any emphasis in doing so:    “It is not how many years of service you have, but what you do with them.”
    flag
    Something more for our Army and our Officers to consider today.
    Blessings!

    Please tell us what you think and offer additional steps you might offer in addition to these.  Thank you!

    *Disclaimer:  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are the writer’s thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and thoughts of The Salvation Army.  Reader discretion is advised.*

Dear Salvation Army, Without Borders, Without Division…

boothHardship, unbelief, suffering and poverty have not stopped our soldiery from rendering their service to God and man. The Salvation Army is a great empire, an empire without a frontier made up of a tangle of races, tongues and colors such as never before in all history gathered together under one flag.” -General Evangeline Booth

I do not wish to pat ourselves on the back today, this is not my purpose.
The purpose for this pondering is to explore the structure and foundation of our Army today.
This week we have talked about our identity and that we are more than simply a “church”…this calling that we are answering is to the front lines, to places where the church often shies away from.  It is my intention to judge the church, but rather to paint the necessity of our Army to remain in the front lines.

We cannot boast that this uniform or this mission is glamorous, because it is more often than not, a tiring, thankless duty.  We must get our hands dirty in order to grasp the hand of the one needing rescue from the pit. We must be available to listen to the lonely soul who feels as if they are all alone.  Yes, it is often a most unglamourous (If I may make up a word) duty we are called to perform.

A Stalwart Soldier:
Storms will come. steadfast
Doubt will occur.
Leaders will come that you might not see eye to eye with.
Clouds of disillusionment might appear on your horizon.
But we MUST remain firm.  We cannot retreat, despite these imperfections within our ranks.
We are all imperfect people being cleansed by a Holy God.  We must allot for grace and forgiveness so that we can continue to serve Christ in the many capacities that He has placed us in.
I too struggle with “the system” from time to time.
I too question certain policies and decision from time to time, BUT this will not deter me from serving Christ first and attempting to continue this mission to the world around me.

Your community needs you.
Your town, city, neighbor – they need you!
They need a functioning, loving, graceful Salvation Army to go where no one else dares to go.

We don’t have time to become divided upon anything. fall
The moment we become a divided Army, is the moment that we lose ground and lose our place within our communities and most importantly God’s mission for us.  When we relinquish our prejudices and societal divisions and allow the grace of God and the love of Christ to permeate us entirely, we tear down all divisions and become united again.  This road that we are on is not easy, it was never supposed to be easy.  Christ’s path to the cross was not easy, and we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him – no matter where that leads us.

Are you prepared to carry that cross? 
There will be person sacrifices to be made. cross
It is not always glamorous.
There will be bumps and bruises along the way…but we need you!
This Army of Salvation needs viable, faithful, loving, holy, Salvationists to lead the way.
Now more than ever, we must remain united as one Army throughout our World.
One mission…One purpose.  Yes, we will lose comrades along the way. Attrition is real.

BUT:
-If we are more concerned with being like Christ instead of looking the part of a soldier…
-If we are focused on Kingdom building instead of personal, selfish agendas…
-If we have a deep compassion for people and are grieved by the sickness of sin instead of settling for a compromised faith…
-If we careless about attaining certain positions and ranks and care more for others…
-If we spend more time on our knees before the throne of heaven intently listening instead of jabbering away and complaining about our gripes and wants…
-If we studied more about what Jesus said and did and why He did those things instead of studying what our founders did (I’m sorry, I deeply respect our founders, but they surrendered to Christ too)…
leadership
If we do these things, and strive for holiness in everything that we are and do…these borders and divisions that we face will decrease and Christ will increase in our vision and heart.  We can’t allow our minds to become consumed with these impossible, insurmountable boarders any longer – because we serve a God who does the impossible and STILL performs miracles in our communities.

Dear Army, we are an Army of Salvation that is spurred on by the resurrection power of Christ Jesus!  Each of us are a standing testimony to this power.  He still longs to transform lives in your corps, in your communities. Despite the darkness, Christ can and will shine His light and expose sin and deliver souls from these chains.  We, dear soldiers, have the deep privilege of bearing that light into those places…if we will only commit to it and stop wavering between our old lives and our new.
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I seemed to hear a voice sounding in my ears, ‘Where can you go and find such heathen as these, and where is there so great a need for your labors?…God shall have all there is of William Booth”  -William Booth

Does He have all of you yet?
Something more for our Army world to ponder today, To God be the glory!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these ponderings on pastorspondrings.org are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Salvation Army.

Dear Salvation Army, Identity Crisis or just “More than a Church”?

We are an army of soldiers of Christ, organised as perfectly as we have been able to accomplish, seeking no church status, avoiding as we would the plague of every denominational rut, in order perpetually to reach more and more of those who live outside every church boundary.” (Commissioner George Scott Railton)

No church is perfect.
No Christian witness is flawless.
No song we sing can ever compare to the Holiness of God.

Dear Soldier of The Salvation Army,
prayI don’t necessarily see our mission and identity as completely “Church”.
Yes, we celebrate the resurrected Christ.
We recognize Jesus as the Son of God; the only way to eternal life and the source of salvation to the world; but this good news cannot be contained within four walls of a church building can it?  No!  We are called to go out into the world.  Our mission as The Salvation Army is about being faithful to going out into our communities.  It’s not just about feeding and clothing the poor, but this is a starting place!

We should represent the most welcoming aspect of “Church” in our communities to those who truly will “come as you are”!  Many that we have the opportunity to reach will be unchurched, uneducated in “church etiquette”, and having little to no practice in biblical understanding.  Some will know, but life has often times robbed them (whether through conscience choice or beyond their control) of their dignity, hope and joy.  Yet, because of our mission, we have the capacity to welcome them into our buildings and provide for them more than just a morsel of food, but something more substantial – living water, and living bread.

We Are Not Perfect!
Photo Jul 08, 8 07 19 AMThis organization is NOT perfect, it does have its flaws, it’s politics, its issues, as do we all as individuals.
There are numerous social issues we MUST fight for, however, that begs us to put these faults and imperfections aside and get back to work within our mission.  If we can first get past the fact that we are flawed, we are imperfect even within our uniforms, we can make a more rapid response to the plight of people all around us.

We MUST be humble! 

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Officers & Soldiers, no matter what rank you are, no matter how long you have served, no matter how “high” you go up in the structure of our Army – know this:  we do not serve as soldiers in this Army to attain rank and position.  This should never be our aim and first pursuit.  Unlike the world around us, our mission for Christ is about winning souls, serving souls, and caring for the lost, sick and afflicted.  We cannot afford to become sidetracked on fame, rank, power, position or anything that would entrap us.  The father of lies would love for us to become entangled in this game of church politics and army power wrangling…because if we do become ensnared in this, we become limited within the scope of our mission and its success.

The disciples of Jesus even argued about this very thing.
They wrangled about who would be the greatest disciple.
They tried to show off, look better, be more attentive to Jesus…it wasn’t what Jesus wanted from them.
So Jesus set them straight:
 “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” (Luke 9:46-48)

Dear Soldiers, we must be completely humble.
None of us should think we are greater than our fellow soldier.
We need each other and so we too must humble ourselves.
He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

No, we do not have an identity crisis in our Army…we simply have to recall what our identity is and should be for future generations!  The structure of this Army is to get beyond Church walls, beyond Church boundaries, politics, policy and procedures and to reach into our communities toward those who have been rejected by everyone else.  We must reach into our communities for those who are disparaged, discouraged, disillusioned, drugged out, pimped out, drunk, condemned, and without all hope.

So, what is your identity as a soldier of this army?
Are you humbly serving as a soldier of Christ?
Where is He sending you?
What is holding you back?
Who in your community is the fallen and rejected?
Can you go to them?
Will you show them love and grace and offer them hope?

Dear Salvation Army, let’s keep up this fight!
We are not finished yet!
Our calling still stands – His Holy Spirit will guide us!

Something more for our Army to ponder today!

Disclaimer: These postings and ponderings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Salvation Army.”

Dear Salvationists….3 Reasons To Run From Church.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Before I get a bunch of hate mail about this topic and title, let me clarify.
I am in no way suggesting that you abandon your posts and/or corps.
The body of Christ needs you.
This Army needs dedicated soldiers and officers like you, so don’t surrender or quit!

What am I saying then?  

There are moments when Church fellowship has been destroyed.
There are moments when you face more hostility than acceptance.
There are moments when the body is literally broken.

Have you been there?  

Sometimes the worst kinds battles occur within the walls of “Church”.
Sometimes the worst judges, juries and executioners are sitting in the pews every Sunday morning.  They cast looks with furrowed eyebrows and brandish barbed words and sharpened blades of deceit.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t in every corps, nor is it in every church, but when it does happen it can destroy lives.
Sometimes it is found in the maligned uses of Scripture to fit the needs or used as a weapon.

So why run?  run3
What do I possibly mean by this?
I don’t want to sound like a cynic today, but I am not naive to believe that every church is practicing what they preach.  This sounds judgmental too doesn’t it – sorry, I don’t mean it to be.  I just want to caution you, and use this as a metaphor today.  The “Church” is more than four walls.  The “Church” is more than what happens on Sunday.  The “Church” is more than a group of people in odd looking uniforms.  The “Church” is you, it is me, it is our very bodies, our very nature as Transformed new creations.  So let me speak of this “Church” metaphor today, and why we should run.

What are we to run from? 
3 Reasons To Run From Church:

gossip1.  Let’s run from the Gossip Church!
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” -Proverbs 20:19
If Church is all about backbiting, slander and all kinds of verbal abuse, then run.
Don’t associate yourselves with the Church of Gossip.  Don’t hang out in its halls.  Don’t participate in it’s rotten potlucks full of foul intentions and underhanded comments.  These things will make you sick and poison your soul.  Don’t involve yourself in this tainted fellowship, instead RUN!  Gossip can seem quite innocuous at first with a mere sentence of “hey did you hear…”, or “I want you to pray for so and so because they….” -Gossip is NOT edifying to the body of Christ. So don’t a part of that Church, instead run from it and have nothing to do with it at all!

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” Matthew 12:36

2.  Let’s run from Weaponized Scripture!   drone
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” James 4:11

If scripture is being abused and used to attack other people – Run.
Don’t take specific passages out of context in order to fulfill the needs of “Church”.
Don’t listen to such poison either.
Be mindful that this can be Church of one (me, myself and I) as well as a group of people.

Jesus didn’t care much for the abusers of the Torah and it’s many laws, this should give you an inkling of what His response would be to those who do that still today.  Modern day Pharisees do exist among us.  There are times to confront them and times when we should RUN from them.

If scripture is used purposely to fit a Church’s needs and/or to attack other people with it – get away from them and run!  Don’t waste another moment in that fellowship.  Also, spend time studying the Bible for yourself, don’t just take other people’s word at face value.  Begin to develop your own understanding of what is being said.  Understand the context of each passage and to whom it was originally written to.  Be aware of this sort of weaponizing of scripture…the purpose of a weaponized scripture isn’t to bring people to Christ, instead it is used to condemn others and hold power and authority over them by looking down on them.   If that’s the case then run from the Weaponized Scripture Church.

If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.” -Exodus 23:5

3.  Run From the Loveless Church!
hate1
You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...” Matthew 5:43-44

A Church without love is a dead church.
A heart that feels nothing for others is a sad and pitiful life.
Run from such a Church.  Run from the religion of hate, judgement and condemnation.  Don’t waste your time in these loveless pursuits.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20

We will not always agree with one another in Church.  This is different than lacking love completely.  I don’t know of any church that is void of love, lacking sometimes – yes, but not void of it.  But within our hearts we can become apathetic, we can become unloving and uncaring for others.  Run from this Church.  Run from this desire to NOT care.

What Church should we RUN TO? 

1.  Run to the Church of Sincerity.
2. Run to the Church of Honesty.
3. Run to the Church of Authenticity.
4. Run to the Church of Forgiveness and Grace
5. Run to the Church of Holiness – a transforming life (He is still working on you/me/us).
6. Run to the Church of Reconciliation and Restoration of the Broken

Dear Salvationist,
We can’t afford to run into the Church of gossip.
We can’t afford to run into the Church of the Weaponized Word.
We can’t afford to run into the Church of the loveless.

If we truly want to win the world for Jesus, then we have to run to the right places.
Our hearts must be in the right place.
Our lives are His, and His alone.

Something more for our Army to consider this morning.
To God be the glory!

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