Dear Salvation Army,THIS ______Changes Everything!!

“The divine breath evokes divine harmonies.” General Frederick Coutts

Dear Army,
-Are there not days when you feel tired, worn and spent?
-Are there not moments when circumstances and reality hit you square between the eyes and you can’t help but wonder about your own breaking point?
-Are there not moments when you leave home long before the sun rises and finally enter your home once again well after the sun has gone to bed?

This is fight is not a fight that we will win on our own.
What fight you ask?  The fight against sin.  The fight against injustice.  The fight against poverty.  The fight we as Christ-followers engage in every day.   We will never be strong enough on our own, yet pridefully we attempt such feats only to find discouragement and loss.  We can not defeat the enemy, who is the father of lies and the bondages of sin…on our own.  We are not the source of strength.  We were not created to be islands unto ourselves, self-sustaining and without need of help.

Our weapons of war are provided to us.
God the Father sent His Spirit to guide and to provide.
He alone has the power to equip us in these battles we fight.
The battles are far from over.
They are turbulent and many casualties within our ranks have occurred.
Yet, because of His great love and His love for those who are lost, we carry on.

So what changes everything?
What is the tipping point within the war?
What is our secret weapon you ask?

SAPrayOur power comes from the One who sends us out into the fray.
Our power comes from a band of soldiers bound together in holy prayer, without personal benefit, but for the purpose of upholding one another within the very hands of God.  Our power resides in His Holy Presence sustaining us in the darkest of moments and in the most dire of circumstances.  He is but a whisper away and will come to our aid even before we ask Him.

The real key to this Divine power is our faith and allegiance.
Do we sincerely believe He can still perform miracles in our world?
Do we sincerely believe that God will answer, or even hear our prayers?
Do we humble incline our hearts and ears to listen to His answers that He whispers to us?
Are we prepare to move when He sends us?
Are we ready to act and to speak when we prompts us to?

The true power of prayer resides within His provision as well as our receiving and believing.
The receptacle has to accept that which is given in order for the light to shine.
So how is your heart today?
Do you firmly believe God has orders for you?
Are you ready to humble accept those orders?
What of your brother or sister along side you in this war?
Will you make it a matter of discipline to bring them daily before the throne of God in prayer?
Can you commit to encouraging and lifting up one another?
Forget about Church politics, policies and procedures, the jostling for political powers that occur within any Church…and pray.

It is quite astounding that we often times treat prayer as some sort of last resort in our spiritual arsenal, when it is our front-line.   The disciplined solider MUST intentionally seek out the front-line weapon that is prayer.   It ought not remain a knee-jerk response to times of crisis; because if we gird (arm) ourselves and bath ourselves as well as our fellow comrades in this Holy power, we will be equipped and baptized in His Holy Presence.

Prayer changes everything…if we will proactively employ its power before the daily battles begin.

kneelingQuestions to ponder today: 
How can I employ the power of prayer before I engage the world each day?
Am I lifting up my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (in and out of uniform)?
Have I, in the past, only resorted to prayer when everything else had failed?
How can I change my prayer life so that I can better engage the world around me?

Oh that my utterances in prayer be for You alone dear Lord.
That my heart and its intentions are bowed low before Your throne.
Gird this way, the path that you have set before me.
Baptize me again in Your Holy presence
Fill me a new today.
-Amen

Something more for our Army to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, 5 Ministry Life Hacks That Can Improve Your Ministry

You’ve seen all of the life hack ideas out there.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were Ministry Life Hacks?  Well, there are.
I’ve done a little digging on the web as well as thought of some realistic ministry hacks on my own.
I should point out though that ministry hacks are necessarily short cuts or a means to short change your ministry…it still takes hard work and determination, but perhaps we should be thinking smarter about the way we do things instead of making it harder when there could be a simpler way.

5 Life Hacks That Can Improve Your Ministry
These might be some obvious and/or not so obvious to you.
The key in our ministries is to be relateable, realistic and holy.
How do we do these things?
-Consistency
-Be Real
-Be Honest
-Be Available
You get the point.
Anyway…here we go…

1.  YouTube Mini Webisodes icon
Here’s a hack within a hack – 

Your corps could do these type of videos in your services as well…it’s really very simple.
You might also consider doing these videos instead of your regular “announcement time”.

Most smart phones these days are affordable and relatively easy to navigate.
The world becomes closer to your fingertips and using it for the right reasons makes all the difference.  We ought to take advantage of these media platforms.  It’s really not hard.  The hard part is adding content to places like YouTube that people will actually watch and/or be interested in.  Make sure the videos you post are well thought out, planned and creative.  YouTube channels are free.  You can add one yourself with just a google e-mail account.  With the use of a smart phone you can now upload simple webisodes and/or informational content to your YouTube channel.  You don’t have to have a big budget on video editing equipment to get your message out to the masses.  Experiment and give it a try for yourself!

calendar2.  Keep And Sync Your Lotus Notes Calendar to all your (approved) devices
(Or Google Calendar)
Again, the nice thing about modern technology is that you can organize your life.
I have a confession, I’m not the most organized person in the world, in fact I’m far from it.
I need this kind of help on a daily basis in order to keep track of my schedule and calendar of events.
You can use IBM’s Lotus Notes Calendar and have it synced to your phones…it works!
If you’re more of a web-based calendar person, you can use google calendar (Note: I really don’t work for google, seriously, it just stuff that I’ve found through trial and error that works).

Maybe you’re like me and you’re unorganized and you need help.
Try using a calendar for a month…stick with it.  Any new habit has to be formed and it takes time.

3.  Media Saturated Social Media Posts

Image of male touching virtual icon of social network
There will undoubtedly be someone out there who will say (and comment)  “Well, what about just using the Bible and preach the gospel, we don’t need all of this stuff!”  If that’s the case then don’t use all this stuff.  This is just a means to make our ministry smarter, better prepared and sharper.  

If your corps/ministry uses social media then use it well!
Put your phones to use by taking photos of events and posting them.
Put thought provoking content on you Corps facebook page, twitter account, tumblr and any other media platform you may use.  Keep your corps members engaged through out the week.  If your sermon on Sunday can spill over onto your website or social media page then do that!  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to stay connected and be a source of hope and challenge to your corps members and community!

It’s really taking the quote “Why should the devil have all the good music” and bringing it into the modern generation.   Why should the devil have all the good media content (other than the occasional “if you love God then click ‘like’ if you don’t then ignore” dumb posts you see sometimes on places like Facebook)?

Being innovative in your ministry doesn’t mean selling the truth of the gospel out.
I. Am. Not. Saying. That.  (But someone will certainly accuse me of this today…just watch)
What I’m merely suggesting is we ought to use the tools that we have at our finger tips to get that message out more and in a more accessible and visible way.

4.  Be Prepared!  prepared2
It’s really not a new life ministry hack.
Do you remember the old Colonel or Major that used to tell you “keep an extra sermon in your bible just in case” THIS STILL APPLIES!   Preparation is King!  Always have a message to speak.  Be creative, be innovative, be prepared!  It’s so much more than the Boy Scout motto.  It ought to be the Christ-follower’s motto as well!

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...” (1 Peter 3:15)

remoteMaybe put down the tv remote and refrain from watching another hour of programming.
Maybe put aside that video game that you’re totally immersed in.
Maybe get up a little earlier each morning and get some spiritual preparation under your belt by spending time in prayer and meditating on God.
Maybe put aside any other distractions that might get in the way of your preparation as a minister/Officer/Soldier/Evangelist/Worship Leader/Corps Sergeant Major/YPSM (the list goes on)…

Maybe read a challenging book about the Christian faith.  challenge
Maybe do something that stretches you.
Do whatever prepares you to engage our world and those we have the privilege to minister to.

5.   Connect with Corps Members Through Intentional Social Events. 

Group of people at lunch table outdoors, smiling, portrait

If food is the way to a man’s heart, then social events are the way to your corps people’s hearts.
How else will we connect on a fellowship level if we don’t intentionally schedule events that will allow us to “let our hair down”?  All families, singles, divorcees, seniors, middle agers, young adults crave some sort of social connection other than Sunday morning worship times.  Don’t skimp of the fellowship times because you think it’s a frivolous waste of time.  Schedule.  Connect.  Don’t make it all about some sort of additional bible study time.  Don’t be afraid to have some fun with your corps members.  This allows them access to you as a person and not just their officer or local officer.   Be real.  Make the attempt.  This ministry life hack is the grease to the ‘cohesive body of Christ’ cog.

These are a mere five suggestions to help improve your ministry.
Do you have additional suggestions?  Comment below and share with us your insight!
Join the conversation, that’s what these ponderings are all about!

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

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

I was watching my son play a football match the other day.
In the U.S. we call it soccer, for the rest of the world it’s called Football.
Just to give you a little history about who I am; I have played soccer since I was a young boy.  It began in the playground as a little boy on the Island of St. Helena.  My parents were missionaries there many years ago.   I played soccer in South Africa as a boy – my parents were missionaries there too.  I played soccer in the United States – my parents were missionaries there too.

I love the game.
As I have grown up, so has my knowledge of the game of football.
I finally see the strategy that my father once called “Chess-like”.  -A player makes one move and then a counter move…and so on.  The game is built upon team work, strategy, and determination.  I admire the structure of this sport that I played so long ago.  I equally enjoy watching my son compete in it as well.

This brings me to my point today, Dear Salvation Army.
Here’s my metaphor for the day – There are lessons we can acquire from the game of football.  These lessons can have a deep impact on our ministries.  These lessons can either shape us if applied, or break us if not applied.  Allow me to share these 3 spiritual lessons with you today.

3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!

soccer1.  Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion:
I have watched professional games where you can almost tell which team will win just by how they compete.  The players who stay focused and on their toes (literally) will be better equipped to create attacking plays and score goals.

When you play the game of football, you must constantly operate on the balls of your feet.  Being “on your toes” helps you anticipate passes, gives you an edged, and allows you to move faster.   If players play flat-footed, they lose a step.  That player will not be quick to the ball, and they will become reactive instead of proactive.

Are we Flat-footed or are we on our toes?
Spiritually speaking, we cannot operated our ministries in a reactionary capacity.  We must anticipate and move when the Holy Spirit prompts us to move.  Sitting back on our heels doesn’t prepare us for active ministry, it opens us up for failure in ministry.  We weren’t called to preserve we were called to persevere!

When we go out and engage our communities…
When we get up out of the pews and help others in our communities…
When we seek to be a resource of solutions to problems and situations in society…
When we practice what we preach on Monday – Saturday…
We will cease to be flat-footed and on our toes in ministry.

ronaldo2.  We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi!
No offense to these phenomenally talented footballers, but the game is usually never won because of one player among 12.  The whole team has to contribute.  The Goalie has to know his/her role.  The full backs need to know their role.  The midfielders and the forwards – theirs as well.  It’s a team sport.    messi

I love to watch teams like the Netherlands national team play.  They pass with precision.  The operate as a group.  Sure, there are some stand-out talent on the team, but without players who can move the ball, pass and defend – that talent is useless.

We are members of one body (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12).
Each part of the body has to work with the other.  This doesn’t mean that we lord over other parts and brag about our accomplishments, rather, it means we help each other along- we work together for the same purposes.  Do we not have the same mission, Dear Army?  Are we all equally important?  Sometimes I think (and it happens in almost all Churches) we have “Stars” who tend to get all of the notoriety and credit…just like Ronaldo and Messi.  Most of these “Stars” are actually very humble about their role within the Army.  We must never lose focus on what is MOST important.

It’s not about who gets the credit (God should actually get this praise…right?!).
It’s not about who looks better in the uniform.
It’s not about ranks and roles and positions…although some would disagree with me.
-We need more team work and less ball hogs.
-We need more sharing of vital tools for ministry and less hoarding of these resources.
-We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead compare our lives with Christ – who ought to be the one we long to emulate and imitate.

conditioning3.  Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness) 
Okay, let’s get the cynics out of the way first – yes, of course some of the major football clubs also have MILLIONS of pounds, dollars, euros (and everything in between) to work with.

Without physical conditioning a team will fall flat on its face.
Without being disciplined in the sport, a team will fall apart when pressure mounts.    endurance
Physical strength requires sweat, toil, tears, and even pain.  One cannot expect to compete at a professional level without first sacrificing time, laziness, and other luxuries.  Practice is required, not optional.  Determination to practice and perform at the peak of excellence is desired for all players on the pitch.  If a player begins to decline or under-performs, that player may be sent down to a subordinate minor league team, or kicked off the team all together.

Dear Salvation Army, we cannot afford to have spiritually flabby soldiers.
I mean this with the sincerest amount of grace.  We need to hold each other accountable.  We need to press for spiritual discipline and spiritual conditioning.  We cannot settle for mediocrity IF there is even a hint that we can be more and do more.  God doesn’t want our leftovers on the mission fields we are called to, He wants our best efforts, or complete faithfulness, and our whole hearts.  If we are to be a better Army, we have to strive for spiritual excellence and holiness.  We cannot remain static if the Holy Spirit is calling us to move forward.

I love football, and I apologize to some of you that really don’t care for sports at all.
It’s an analogy that works for me.
Perhaps it will click for some of you as well.

Recap:
-Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion
-We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi in Uniform – Be Who God Called You To Be!
-Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness)

There is so much more I could write on this topic, and perhaps I will in the future…but for now, this is enough fodder for one day.

Something more to Ponder today…(oh and by the way Go Manchester United!)
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things No One Told You About Wearing A Uniform…

Bad luck
The Salvation Army uniform is, for the most part, recognized by many  people (that is unless you happen to be in uniform in an airport).   It’s certainly not the most comfortable thing you’ll ever wear, but it’s certainly not the most uncomfortable either (er pantyhose…nevermind).

I’ve been wearing an army uniform since I was born…I mean since I made a junior soldier.

3 Things No One Told You About Wearing A Uniform: 

1.  Evolution Exists In The Uniform: salvation-boston_0008
The Salvation Army uniform is, or should be, a fluid thing.
If you don’t believe me that there is an evolutionary process to the uniform just look at pictures of our uniforms as early as 1990…things are changing.  Some of us might wish the uniform would change a little faster, but the days of the high collar and the bonnet are gone (cue the sad music and some of you will no doubt pine for days gone by).   The Railton shirts and the Dorcas (maybe a better name could have been suggested) blouses are relatively new editions to our growing uniform.  Perhaps one day the “Patriot” shirt and others might not be limited to only certain times of year but instead may be worn year round…thus the evolving uniform.

obama2.  The Uniform Opens Doors:
Perhaps someone once told you that the uniform opened doors, but you didn’t believe them.  It really does, if you still don’t believe me just wear it traveling sometime and you’ll see.  Some soldiers have joked that they have worn their uniforms to coffee shops and received a military discount.  Besides the occasional discount (which of course isn’t the reason we wear our uniforms) visits to governmental offices and dignitaries tends to go a lot smoother when wearing of our polyester finest.  The uniform can open some doors…not all.  There might be places and occasions where the uniform is not welcome, so bear that in mind too.

3.  In Times Of Crisis, The Uniform Changes Lives:
poor

All joking aside, moments of crisis do take place around us, and The Salvation Army uniform is recognizable!  After the horrific events of 9-1-1, The Salvation Army’s presence in New York and ground zero was sought out.  Counseling took place for rescue workers and individuals by uniformed Salvationists.  When you wear the uniform, the opportunities to impact lives in crisis increases.  In times like these 1 Peter 3:15 comes to mind; “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

The Salvation Army uniform is a unique thing.   It can be annoying to wear from time to time but it can also be a witness tool, a blessing and a door opener.  I used to take the use of the uniform rather lightly…there are times that I still grudgingly donn it on, if I am honest.  But the older I get the more I see its vital use within the Salvation Army’s ministry.  I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be changes made in the future to it, but I am saying I hope we don’t simply relegate its use only for Sundays.

Perhaps there are more things that no one told you about wearing The Salvation Army uniform that you would like to share with us.  Comment below, we’d love to hear your responses as well!

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

Dear Salvation Army, You’re Not Qualified!

Unqualified to qualified conceptional words on whiteboard


“I’m sorry, but you’re just not qualified for this position.”

This could be a devastating sentence to hear if you were applying for a job or ministry position.
One might ask themselves; What does “not qualified” mean?
Does it mean that I’m not good enough?
Does this mean that I have no worth? 
                                                  Am I useless? 
                                                  Am I wanted? 
                                                  What’s the point in even trying?

Not being qualified could have this effect on us.
Knowing that there are others out there in the world who are far more qualified than we are…this has a broad brush stroke within the context of The Salvation Army.  There are far better humanitarians out there.  There are numerous philanthropic organizations who have Phd’s and world wide recognition for their star studded supporters.

I don’t mean to drag The Salvation Army’s name through the mud, that is not my intention (be patient, I’m getting to my point) here with this topic of “qualifications”.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  -C.S Lewis

God-qualifies-the-unqualifiedJesus walked upon the shoreline looking for the unqualified; He was looking for the willing.
Not the know-it-alls, or the scholars, or the lawyers or the strongest and best…he was looking for the willing.
Is it no wonder that He begins his search among the most humblest of places?  He called to the first would-be disciples and they dropped their nets and followed Him.  They weren’t the most educated.  They weren’t the brightest of their classes.  They were simply willing to follow him.  Were they perfect when it came to following the Rabbi?  No.  Numerous times Jesus calls them “You of little faith“…He didn’t call the qualified, no, He qualified those He called.

Questions to Ponder: 
Do you consider yourself worthless or do you lack self-confidence?
Do you feel unqualified?
What would it take for you to feel worthy of God’s calling upon your life?

uniformCan I be honest with you?
Most days, when I put on this uniform, I feel undeserving, I feel unqualified, like I can’t truly do this work alone…
There have been many days when I have been reminded by the Holy Spirit that I indeed am unqualified and was never called to “know-it-all” or assume command.  I have been called to be faithful to Him.  There will be days that many of us feel largely unqualified for the tasks that are put before us…don’t panic, You will be alright!  God will provide you with His direction, peace and provision.  Can we JUST be faithful in the moments of being unqualified?  We may never “have it all together”.  We may never individually command world-wide respect, but if that’s why we’re Soldiers in this Army, I’m afraid we’ve mistaken the mission for something else.

Guess what?
You’re Not Qualified.
I’m Not Qualified…
But God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies those He calls.

I don’t believe this is a cliche, I truly believe that God’s provision will sustain those who are faithful.
Stand firm today, dear Soldiers.
Stand firm in His grace and love.
Don’t forget that you’re unqualified, but also don’t forget that He has called you and He will equipped you for the battles, for the journey, for the sea of overwhelming tasks that are placed before you.

This is something more for our Army world to ponder today!
To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Not Another Suicide…

We just recently moved, or more accurately, we were appointed to a new appointment within the Salvation Army.  Every ministry is unique from town to town, city to city…this is no different.  Our ministry here in the new appointment is far different from the last.  The need within abstract poverty is significantly higher.  There is more drug and alcohol problems…and a staggering amount of mental health issues within this community.
depression
Just recently a young adult female in our soup kitchen committed suicide…it hurts me to think that no one was there for her when she needed someone the most.  She was only 22 years old.  She suffered from depression and a slew of other mental health issues.  I wish her story was an isolated incident, but I know it’s not.  I could probably rationalized it all away and say to myself “well she was already troubled” or “She was too far gone to get help and prevent her suicide“…but I won’t do that.  I can’t help but wonder if we missed an opportunity with her.  Are we missing out on a crucial life and death ministry?

I know there are no easy answers and “quick fixes” will not solve deeper issues, but we cannot afford to do nothing.  We cannot ignore this blight of humanity.

Statistics:
Affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.  (Source: adaa.org)

350,000,000 is the number of people globally who are affected by some form of depression.
70% is the The percentage by which women are more likely than men to experience depression in their lifetime.
16,000,000 is The estimated number of U.S. adults who had at least one major depressive episode 2012. This made up approximately 6.9 percent of all adults in the country.
50%  is the percentage of Americans with major depression who don’t seek treatment for the mental illness.

(Source: Huffington Post)

povertyQuestions to Ponder Today:
-Can we, as Salvationists, do something to help either directly or indirectly (seeking professional help and counselors who can help)?
-What does ministry that serves those who suffer from mental health issues look like?
-Can we help to prevent suicides of those who come into our doors for help?
-Are there marginalized people in my community who suffer from mental health illnesses that I can help?
-How can we be more sensitive to the needs of those who are suffering with these ailments?

soup
I don’t have all of the answers, in fact, I have more questions than answers…but I know that we can do more.
I don’t want to just be a soup kitchen that feeds the body but does nothing to help the mind find healing.
I know that many mental illnesses are difficult to treat and even cure, but certainly we can do something…
Many displaced individuals who come for food into our soup kitchens are struggling through things like depression, thoughts of suicide, and other deeper mental issues…certainly we can work with professionals to help them.  We can’t not help.  We must help.  We could be the last stop before they consider taking their lives.

Is there a need for a mental health ministry in your corps?
Are you already doing something in your present ministry that you could share with us?
Please respond, please share, and I covet your suggestions and experiences…post them here if you can, we can help each other find workable solutions to this horrific blight on humanity.

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

Prayer: Lord help us to have discernment with the people we minister to.  Help us love the unlovable.  Help us to be your witnesses of love to the downtrodden.  Guide us in doing this ministry.  We are your people first and from this flows your mercy and grace.  Guide The Salvation Army as we bring hope into hopeless situations through your power alone.  Guide us dear Lord.  -Amen.

Dear Salvation Army, If Only My Corps Had…

Photo Jul 08, 8 08 52 AM Photo Jul 08, 8 07 19 AM
Dear Salvation Army, there might be the instance (from time to time) where we might begin to compare ourselves with others.  Sometimes the comparisons we draw from are from outside our denominational walls, while other times we covetously peer over the “hedge” of our corps and into the properties of another corps which seems to have it all put together.   Thus we can be tempted to play the “If Only” game.

It goes like this: 
If only we had more financial contributions…
If only we had more people…
If only we had a better building…
If only we had more resources…
If only…
If only…
If only…

This is a game that I too have played.
It can be self-defeating and self-destructive.  The “If onlys” can lead to disillusionment and a surrendering to a false identity.  The body of Christ ought not compare itself to another part of the body.  It sounds rather silly when we think of it like that – A Hand of Christ looking at a Foot and wishing it too was a foot…but the reality is that this unfortunately happens all the time.  The “If Onlys” crosses cultural and international lines.  It doesn’t matter what location in the world that one resides in, this game is still played out.   Social media can be a boon as well as a bane.  We can peer through our tiny windows within our computers and see Salvationists from all walks of life.  We can envy the opportunities that they have and we can sometimes covet.  Salvationists this ought not be!

RX3 Prescriptions To Combat “If Only”: 
1) Be Confident That Christ Has Called You To Your Specific Place!
I believe in Divine Appointments.  I recognize that at times the Lord places people at just the right location for His might purposes.  Recognize that where you are right now, even if you serve in a tiny corps in the middle of nowhere, that you are serving the Almighty!  He longs for our faithfulness in the small things as well as the large things.  Accept this ministry in faith and know that God has appointed you there!

2) Claim This Mission Field That Christ Has Given You!
Look around your community, there are many souls who need YOU! Regardless if you have the financial resources or not, God is still on the throne and He will take care of you and this mission field!  Be faithful to God and to the mission field you have been placed in.  We are to be good stewards of what He has entrusted with.  Claim the streets around your corps.  Claim the ministries as opportunities for more people to come to Christ.  Walk those streets in uniform.  Get to know the people living there.  Do not be afraid to be the influence of change and hope in your community!

3) Work Together, Not Against!
Stop peering over the hedge at other corps or other churches that seem to have all of the “if onlys”.  If we are truly the body of Christ then we ought to be working together not against one another through coveting and jealousy.  Share resources when we are able.  Ask for help.  Be mindful that we are all in this together and together we are a much stronger army for God!  Petty Jealousy has no place in our Army.  It is a tool the father of lies wishes to use in order to divide and conquer us.  Keep a clear head and may we fight the good fight with other fellow soldiers at our sides.

So What?
What am I trying to say today?
Don’t allow the “If Onlys” to penetrate and disturb your ministries.
Don’t play this destructive game.
Get on with loving your communities through the power of the Almighty!
He is faithful and He will always provide what you need, when you need it!
Get on with meeting human needs in His name!

Something more for this Army to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army Officers, All My Bags Are Packed…I’m Ready to Go??

We (my family) are under farewell.
In Salvation Army terminology we were given marching orders, and soon those orders will come to fruition.
It is, as it usually is, bittersweet.  It reminds me, as an Officer, that this life and calling is at times very transitory.

It seems that we could claim that famous line from Robert Frost that says,
But I have promises to keep,  
And miles to go before I sleep
(Stopping by Woods on a snowy evening)
boxes1For it seems to me that this journey within this uniform is often times met with both laughter and tears, sorrow and joy,  the swell of jubilation and the crash of brokenness…all rolled into one.  Those words of Jesus often resound in my head like I was there that day listening to them, hanging on them, and making them mine – “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58)… We as Salvationists who have accepted this calling as Officers of The Salvation Army, literally live within borrowed homes and it seems all so temporary.  It is not that we are attempting to do the impossible and assume the very existence of Christ, but within the covenant that we have signed and in the sacrificial lives that we are to accept, there is certainly this element of homelessness that embodies transitions such as these.

paintI am, perhaps feeling a little bit melancholy today.
For the boxes are piling up in the garage.
The paintings and photographs are now bubble wrapped and in the ready.
The children’s art work that used to adorn the refrigerator and would often times overflow onto the surrounding cabinet in a cacophany of paint splashes and vibrant colors reflecting child-like creative expression, has now been carefully folded and packaged beneath plastic bins containing other family keepsakes.
The quarters, the house that we have occupied for nearly four years is becoming vacant and echos of emptiness fill both my ears and my heart.   There are, however, still ghosts which linger here.  Mere memories of events hosted, and parties with favors and paper streamers strewn everywhere.  These ghosts hover upon my memories today.  They fill the void of these now empty rooms as lists of cleanings and briefs and a litany of other concerns flood in before the final goodbyes take place.   house

This is, to be certain, a unique calling to undertake.
We can sometimes, with rose colored glasses, peer into “Officership” and see only the adventures and the “win the worlds for Jesus'”, but often times it does come with a price.  There are trade offs.  We don’t ever take for granted what is provided to us, for certainly we are taken care of (far more than yesteryear where officers wouldn’t even have a paycheck for nearly a year if times were hard) and our families are supported rather well.  We are blessed to see this level of support.  No, we do not take this for granted, but despite our best efforts, these transitions, these farewells and marching orders do take a toll.  The transition (which may as well be some sort of holiness movement’s version of purgatory) can sometimes leave us stepping from one appointment over the deep dark, scary crevice of limbo and uneasiness.   It is the letting go of hands that you have ministered to for the last four years and have invested countless hours in…those hands will be holding onto another shepherd (very qualified I am positive of by the way)…and as you let go, there in the other direction is another group of hands of people to minister to lead and disciple (they too have been shepherded by very capable hands as well).   This is certainly a unique place to stand at the moment.  I am currently staring into the empty room that once occupied so much…our bags are all packed, and yet there is a burden and an ache as I write these words today.   hands1

Some have wisely said that if we didn’t feel this burden and ache as you leave then perhaps there might be something wrong.  If this is true, then something is certainly right with me today.  Each place of ministry is unique.  It is an adventure.  It is, often times, a leap of faith.  I do sometimes struggle with this full-submission in the calling.  It’s not so much that I don’t trust God as to where He will place our next step…but perhaps I just don’t trust people as much as I should…perhaps I am still learning to trust leaders and leadership of any kind.

Honestly, the life of an Officer in the Salvation Army is rewarding, but there are the heartaches as well…maybe that’s what Jesus was talking about when said those words to those He was calling to follow Him:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Manhas no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.”  But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”  Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

I’m really not trying to look back today.
I’m ready…?!?
It’s daunting…But Jesus is strong to deliver, He IS mighty to save, mighty to save!
And so we go, and we go in faith.
This sacrificial life is not easy, but then again nothing is easy if it’s worth it…and I know it’s worth it!

Something more to ponder today as I go back and pack some more boxes.
To God be the glory!  

Dear Salvation Army, Beware of Mines!

soldier

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Danger minesThis is a difficult pondering today.
Dear Soldier, have we purified our hearts AND our lives?
Are we living as we should?
OR
Are there still “stones” left to be overturned?
Are there still those “private” sins that we still indulge in?
I don’t mean to meddle today, but I feel compelled to write on this sensitive topic.
Sexual images are literally EVERYWHERE!
Temptation abounds in many places, not only on the internet but in our every day lives.
Our body, in our out of uniform, is the very temple of God.
How is your temple?
How are you doing with the every day temptations of life?

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we are no longer susceptible from the lures of temptation.
Don’t be foolish!!
When we make that conscious decision to act on temptation, let us call it for what it is – SIN.
Be careful, dear Soldier.
Beware of the mines!
Be alert and awake!
You are called by God.
When you became a Soldier of this Salvation Army, you signed the articles of war…and if you became an Officer you signed a covenant with God.  We are to be set apart for Him…in every way!  How is your testimony today?

This is NOT easy!
Soldiership and Officership is NOT easy.
Living for Christ is NOT easy.

Questions: 
Do you sometimes stumble?
Do you sometimes give into temptation (no matter what “it” is)?
Have you asked for forgiveness?
Have you prayed about specific situations and areas of temptation in your life?
mines2
You are never alone!
God is with you!
He will sustain you.
He is willing to come to our aid!

If we are to be a stronger Army…
If we are to be an Army on fire for God…
If we truly desire to change the world around us for Him…
Then 
-we ought to desire His holiness in our lives!
-we ought to long to take hold of this new life for all it’s worth!
-we ought to desire to be like Christ in every way!

Dear Salvation Army, beware of the mines!
Dear Soldier of this Army, beware of the mines!
For they will devastate us if we entertain its lures.
They will ravage us and leave us broken and defeated.
Beware and tread carefully…steer clear of those places and areas of greatest vulnerability.
Allow His Holy Spirit to guide you! mines1

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

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

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