Dear Salvation Army, A Persecuted Army: Joy In Suffering???

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4

Last week, a horrific attack took place in Kenya.
The aftermath left 147 people dead…mostly students…many were Christians.
It is heartbreaking.
Violence and religion seem to be odd partners.
Radical groups, terrorism, and death seem to plague our world.

Our hearts ache for those who are immediately affected by such acts of appalling violence.
Let me be honest, senseless killings not only makes me sad, it makes me angry.
The world is still filled with bullies and power-hungry zealots.

churchIt WILL get worse!
I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom today, but I can’t help but feel that things are going to get a lot worse for Christians before it will get better.  Many within our ranks in various places in Africa, India, Asia and the Middle East place their lives on the line for the cause of Christ daily…and we should be praying for them!
As an Army of Salvation, we have the opportunity to provide love and care to many corners of our world…we are even able to gain access to places most churches aren’t allowed to go because we provide humanitarian aid.

Is the cause of Christ worth our sacrifice? bible2
I sure hope so!
– Are we living up to our calling to love the unlovable?
– Are we living up to our calling to clothe and feed the poor?
– Are we living up to our calling to take care of the orphans and widows?
– Are we striving to be the very reflection of Christ in our corner of the world?

If Christians suffer persecution, you can bet that The Salvation Army will suffer too because we go to the places with the most need!  We engage in the mission on the front lines.  We cannot be afraid, we cannot falter in our call.
I am not writing these words to “puff us up”, I am writing these words to encourage our Army to continue on into the fight even in the face of persecution and the possibility of death.  If we take up our crosses and follow Jesus, sometimes that path leads us through the very valley of the shadow of death.  We do not fight for General Booth, he was a mere faithful servant of Christ, no, we fight for souls because Christ has saved us and has commissioned us to go!

To my brothers and sisters, fellow soldiers in our Army in places like Kenya, who have been immediately impacted by violence and threatened with death for your faith, we pray for you!  You are not alone!  We support you, some of us will join you on these front lines!  Your faith is strong and I want to encourage you to keep holding up Christ’s light of compassion and hope to all who need it!  You are a shining example of perseverance to the faith, may the rest of us be as bold as you! Keep your standards high, and show us, by your example, how we ought to be conducting ourselves as soldiers of the cross!  perse

I am reminded of this song in our red song books:
SASB #825
1. Christ for the world, we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
with loving zeal;
The poor and those who mourn,
the faint and overborne,
sin-sick and sorrow-worn,
whom Christ doth heal.

2.  Christ for the world, we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
with fervent prayers;
The wayward and the lost
by restless passions tossed,
redeemed at countless cost
from dark despair.

4.  Christ for the world, we sing;
The world to Christ we bring
with one accord;
with us the work to share,
with us reproach to dare,
with us the cross to bare,
for Christ our Lord.
-Samuel Wolcott (1813-86)

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

Crushed, Mushed, Yet Persistent

crushing your head

Ok I admit it, I used to love this sketch, but today it reminds me of something more than just comedy…although HA! This sketch still makes me laugh.

“In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up.”

(2 Corinthians 4:8)

This has been one of my favorite passages for a long time, and I’ll tell you why…one word ‘Hope’.  Not ‘hope’ in the sense of wishes, like “I hope it will be warmer tomorrow”, but rather the confidence in something so much more absolute and dependable.  The hope that is conveyed here by the apostle Paul is a confidence in God and in the mission of this great truth of Christ.

If someone who had been beaten for his faith could relate to such an emotion as hope, then there must be something to it for us as well.  Paul had been obsessed with eradicating these heretic followers of Christ when he was known as Saul, before the blinding celestial lights on the highway to Damascus came on.  His experience there transformed him into a “won’t back down” kind of missionary and evangelist.  He wasn’t in it for fame, certainly not fortune because there was none and his political and notoriety took a nose dive following his decision to declare Christ’s message to the known world.  Paul knew that this road he was on would lead him to his eventual death…yet he didn’t take the next exit off this highway.

It kind of boggles the mind doesn’t it?  This dude was beaten for his faith; he had been put in chains, and was serving Christ in various house arrests, ship wreaks, and eventually his ultimate sacrifice of execution.   If there was ever a “who’s who” of hard-core Christ followers, Paul would most definitely be on that list!  Yet in his difficulties, in his personal struggles and leadership struggles, he writes this letter of encouragement and hope to a church he hadn’t seen in a year.

The very first chapter he writes; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in ALL our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, which the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”(2 Cor. 3-4).

Not only was Paul confident in this hope that was in God, but he wanted others to know this comfort, confidence and hope too.  His love for others placed him in danger yet he didn’t quit, withdraw, or deny his allegiance to God through the Messiah Christ Jesus.

Have you been crushed, pressed on all sides?  Do you feel discouraged, let down, torn by life circumstances?  Have you considered throwing up the white flag and giving up?  You are not alone!  I’ve been there, might be there again tomorrow…I don’t know.  But what I do know is that this message that Paul wrote a looooooong time ago, is for me and you too!  We may not face certain death for our convictions or declarations of faith, but we do face trouble because of it.  Your struggle might be spiritual, physical or a little of both.  Whatever you’re going through today, you are not alone, and God does NOT want you to give up either!

I’ve never been or wanted to be on the “who’s who” list of Hard-core followers of Christ, but I know still today, God calls us to take giant stands for Him, and whatever comes of these convictions and proclamations…we won’t back down or quit.  This isn’t some call to arms, or some strange militia rant, this is a declaration of faith, and the knowledge that God will comfort you and me even in the most difficult of circumstances.

So stand firm, be bold, and don’t give up!

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