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!

“Legacy – Owning Your Influence” – Precious Diamonds!

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.’
–Martin Luther King Jr.

matterYesterday at church I spoke on the topic of “Legacy”.
It’s an important message for all of us to hear, not because I spoke it, but because we are all called to this holy purpose.  If we claim to be a Christ-follower, we are set apart for something much more precious than common existence.

diamondImagine if someone were to give you a magnificent diamond to take care of.   (I know, but imagine with me for just a second)  The gem is extremely valuable, the clarity is remarkable and it truly is a precious stone to admire and protect.  There is nothing common about this diamond, it is one of a kind and cannot be replaced.   So, what do you do?  You protect it.  You store it in a safe place.  You don’t just leave it laying around like a common rock gathered from a field.

Similarly – You are precious to God.
You are HIS prized possession.  You matter to Him.  There is nothing common about you in His eyes.  He has saved you for a Holy purpose, and at a mighty price:  His Son’s death on a cross.  Because of the resurrection, because of grace, because of forgiveness and atonement, we have become His, and His alone!

childNow that we know WHOSE we are, WHAT we DO matters!
A legacy isn’t so much about what we want people to remember us by, but about being found faithful in WHOSE we are.  Everything that we say and everything that we do MATTERS!  Everything we are inside a church building and ESPECIALLY outside a church building matters!  There is nothing more off-putting to people in our communities than individuals who claim to be “Christians” but their lives consistently contradict the claim.  Why would anyone want to be a Christian if they don’t practice what they preach?

What kinds of fields are we sowing in our communities?
What kinds of legacies and examples are we living out loud for our children?

How is the world better off because we have lived and are faithfully serving in it?

Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our lives today.
Perhaps we need to re-commit our lives to Christ.
Perhaps there is a deep need for a reconciliation of our hearts and intentions to the will of God once more.

What we do – matters.
How we live – makes a difference.

matter1WHOSE we are – defines the impact we can make in our small corners of the world.

How is your Legacy going today?
Something more to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

“The Feast of Bitter Berries…”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Pondering:
Sometimes it is so much easier to fall into the negative elements of life.
Sometimes it is much, much harder to focus on the joys of life instead.

Have you been there?
I’m sure we all have been there.

bitterThe Addiction of Bitterness:
Sometimes we settle for the bitter berries of life that only serve to poison our souls and litter our hearts with wounds of disappointment.  This can be an addiction.  We can focus so much on the negative things and the hurts that it becomes like a shark frenzy at the scent of blood in the water.  We need to break our addiction of bitterness.  It poisons us and leaves us shriveled, broken and unlikeable to others around us.

Do you focus on the bitter berries of life?
Have you engaged or entertained others who always seem to be negative in their attitudes and their perspectives of life?

ReFuel: refuel
The Apostle Paul empowers the readers of the letter of Romans  by telling them to trust in the Lord and the outcome of this would be hope, joy and peace!  If we feast on the right kinds of things, and trust in the right sources (or Source), we will find that we will be refueled, revived and full of a positive perspective once again!

We should take this verse in Romans to heart as well!
Read it again – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

3d white people lying on a question markQuestions to Ponder: 
What sort of struggles are you facing in life right now?
What are your frustrations?
What are your discouragements?
How easy is it for YOU to wallow in these frustrations and let them affect all other aspects of your life?
How do we break free from the negativity even in the midst of our frustrations and days of difficulty?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says; “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.

May we recognize the times when we’re still feasting on the berries of bitterness instead of the righteousness and peace of the Lord.  May we change directions and habits in this regard so that we can truly live the life that is worthy of our calling.  The God of peace will sustain us even when the future doesn’t look so bright…He is with us!

Something more to ponder today!

Perspectives Day #4 “Commissioner Corner” Featuring Commissioner Paul Du Plessis & Comissioner Harry Read

There are men and women in our Army who have made a lasting impact on the world around them.
Two such people are featured here today.  Both Commissioner Du Plessis and Commissioner Harry Read have touch lives for Christ all over the world, and they continue to do so even in retirement.  I have a profound respect for both of these Commissioners, and I know many in our Army world feel the same.  Here are two poems that these humble  soldiers of God have written.  Both Commissioners are excellent writers and poets in their respected careers while in ministry.    So on behalf of all of us, thank you Commissioners for your continued ministry to us!
———————————————————————————————————————————
Commissioner Paul Du Plessis paul

“Paradise Regained” 
Escape from the mixture of odours

Boiled up by the central heating,
The lunch trolley aromas stagnant
In a bathroom fragranced with aerosols,
So cross the threshold into the garden
To be braced by fresh air
That ripples over goose pimples
Lifting hairs on the back of the neck,
So that remembered images become real
With bumble bees frolicking in the lavender,
The fuchsias dangling their bells,
Alchemilla sparkling with raindrops.

The scent of the earth, a glance at the sun;
Inside and out, the soul is reborn.
lady's mantle
Willett House

——————————————————————————————————————————–
Commissioner Harry Read      Read

Heart Talk

Prayer is a great adventure
In realms of mystery
Which blaze with heavenly splendour,
With awe and majesty.
There love gives all things meaning,
Of Heaven, of earth, of space;
Love constantly redeeming,
The work of sovereign grace.

By prayer we find resources,
Beyond our power to dream,
As God himself endorses
The hopes that through us stream.
Not only for our pleasure,
But his plans to fulfil,
God gives strength without measure,
Such is his blessed will.

It is by prayer we enter
This realm of sheer delight,
By prayer we reach the centre
Where love and power shine bright.
And, God, our faith beholding
Asks us more closely move,
And with his love enfolding,
Bids us prayer’s power to prove.

Matthew 6: 6
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray
to your Father who is unseen”.

With every blessing,

Harry
04.10.15

Perspectives Day #2 Featuring Captain Pete Brookshaw – “What is a Salvationist? You’ll be surprised by the answer…”

If you’re part of The Salvation Army, you’re part of a dynamic, exciting movement with a desire to change the world. There I’ve said it. Though one may ask, what actually is Salvationism? What is a Salvationist?

Let me start with this: I’ve heard plenty of definitions of the mission of The Salvation Army. Maybe you have too. Some inspire you to make a difference and others feel like dry words merely articulated on a page. It goes without saying, when the mission is clear, The Salvation Army has clarity and focus. And clarity and focus is what we need.

So what then is the mission of The Salvation Army? And further more, what is Salvationism?  


In the Australia Southern Territory of The Salvation Army, we say that God raised up the Army for the purpose of:

  • Transforming Lives
  • Caring for People
  • Making Disciples
  • Reforming Society

In other parts of the Army, the words spoken by General John Gowans are used: The Mission of The Salvation Army is to Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity.


If you haven’t heard, the International Mission Statement of The Salvation Army is:


The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian
Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission
is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.


Some narrow down the mission of The Salvation Army to one sentence: Win the world for Jesus.


It’s bold, gutsy, arduous and worth embracing. The Salvation Army does not sit around waiting for bums on seats. We won’t sit and wait for the world to embrace God, like all of a sudden people will start flocking to our communities of faith, believing we have some answers to their brokenness. The Salvation Army is a pragmatic movement seeking to change the world, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Salvationist is one working to that end. 


I mean, a Salvationist is clumsily defined in most dictionaries as, ‘A member of The Salvation Army.’ Though, that’s like defining a great hamburger as ‘A bun with a meat pattie and some ingredients inside.’ It fails to encapsulate the essence of Salvationism.

A Salvationist has agreed to live a certain way (holiness) and has agreed to live out and actively pursue the fulfilment of the mission of The Salvation Army. Soldier’s sign a Soldier’s Covenant, because they understand the significance of what Salvationism means and the power of aligning oneself to such a covenant.

I think the signing of that Soldier’s Covenant and subsequently living out that covenant is relevant and spiritually powerful.


The Salvation Army should be unapologetic in calling people to Salvationism. In an age where we are post-denominational and we are a ‘go with the flow’ kind of people, it is still of value to stand by principles that create clarity and purpose for one’s life and to then commit to it.

We are a salvation people.

I am reminded by a lady in our Corps named Di. She is being enrolled as a soldier very shortly. Though the story goes back to coming for welfare support at the corps. Then she joined our community lunch and starting helping. Then she immersed herself into our Thrift Shop ministry. At some point she chose to forgive her mother. Then she starting dancing and laughing up the front of the church on a Sunday morning. Then we did Soldiership classes. She wants to change the world. She wants to express that desire through Salvation Army Soldiership.

Pause for moment. 

Let me make some quick comments on what it means to be a Salvationist. A Salvationist is a:

  • Passionate prayer warrior
  • Committed social justice advocate
  • Zealous evangelist
  • Generous giver
  • Faith-filled risk-taker
  • Holy-inspired follower of Jesus
  • Covenanted child of the King
  • Unapologetically driven to support the work of the Kingdom of God through The Salvation Army
  • Loyal and active participator in a local Corps

You may add your own thoughts on what it means to be a Salvationist.

Let me finish with this definition of Salvationism.

William Booth sums up Salvationism in one sentence:

‘Salvationism means simply the overcoming and banishing from the earth of wickedness.’  

To read more, go to www.petebrookshaw.com

Perspectives Day #1 – Featuring Colonel Dennis Strissel “Opinion8ed”

“Opinion–8-ed”

(A series of eight installments)

Number Seven – Mulligans for Ministry continued

Photo Jan 05, 4 13 24 PM

In his excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas includes this important event as foundational to Bonhoeffer’s faith.

 “In November 1921, at the age of fifteen, Bonhoeffer went to the first evangelistic meeting of his life. General Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army had conducted ministry in Germany before the war, and in 1919, greatly moved by reports of suffering there, especially the hunger among children, he found a way around the official channels and was able to have milk distributed. He also gave five thousand pounds to relief efforts.

Two years later Booth came to Berlin to lead a series of evangelistic meetings. Thousands showed up, including many soldiers broken by the war. Sabine recalled that ‘Dietrich was eager to take part in it. He was the youngest person there, but he was very interested. He was impressed by the joy he had seen on Booth’s face, and he told us of the people carried away by Booth, and of the conversions.’ A part of him was powerfully attracted to this sort of thing, but he wouldn’t see anything like it again for ten years, when he attended the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.”

Forgive me for having some measure of pride in the fact that the joy observed and experienced through the moving of the Holy Spirit by Salvationists past, impressed and blessed an adolescent Bonhoeffer. Perhaps the memory of such joy accompanied him through his darkest hours. One of Bonhoeffer’s final writing describes life’s finality in this way, “Death is the supreme festival on the road to freedom.” That is only possible through divine joy.

Since this article is meant to be reflective, considering what I would have done better during my years of active service, it goes without saying that living a joyful life would be paramount. Life in Christ is always about joyfulness. It is distinct from simply being happy. We can all attest to days that are not happy ones but in spite of the seriousness that life brings, joy can always be found in every event or experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear someone express the beginning of the faith walk as a result of seeing your joy, even during some of the most stressful times of life? Perhaps you will join me in praying part of David’s prayer of contrition today…

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

Ps 51:7-13 NIV

Amen

Perspectives Day # 4 Featuring Captain Marianneke (Anney) Summerifeld “Family”

familyFamily.  This one word evokes a particular meaning to the reader, doesn’t it?  Something specific.  Something defined. Something wholesome, perhaps?  A television show is “family oriented” or an activity is “family friendly.”  What does it mean to you?  The lines surrounding the definition are not rigid, and they are becoming increasingly fluid.  A traditional, nuclear, family is not what we once pictured it as.  Roles are changing rapidly around us, and if we, as ministers of the Gospel, are to preach the love of Jesus without discrimination, what does that mean and how does that look?

Sure, we are all know that “society is different” and “times they are a-changin’!” – but when things affect you personally, you become all-too aware of where there are lags in our ministry and motivation.

I love my family.  I am daddy’s girl, I look up to my mom, and my siblings have morphed into dear friends.  Growing up, we were the picture of ‘traditional.’ Everything normal, everything happy. In recent years and months, and even as I type, I am suddenly confronted with the idea that normal is changing, and happiness isn’t the be all and end all.  What is? Love.  Love for God and love for others.  Love for our family, however that might look.

Ten years  ago (even five, really), I wouldn’t have been able to define “polyamorous triad,” and if I did know what it meant, I would have never expected it to be a part of my lexicon, not to mention my family story. Never would mentions of divorce and infidelity ever come into mind as being in the realm of possibility.  But you know what?  Life happens.  People change, people grow; and as they grow and change so does our understanding.  I cannot stop loving my loved ones.  I continue to strive to love as Jesus loves, despite bumps along the way.  How can I not?  As an officer, an ordained minister, it’s my calling to share in Jesus’ love.  I have no room to judge or condemn.  Until you experience something yourself, you never know how you will react.

All of that isn’t to say, “hey look at my family, aren’t we a bunch of kooks!,” rather, it is to show that even circumstances thought to be so static and just right “as is” do change and while they change I cannot sit by on the sidelines wondering what to do and letting life pass by.  Should I change with it?

Yes.  And no.

As I write this, I am supposed to be writing my sermon for Mother’s Day.  I was finding verses on being Children of God and what it means to be in His family.  1 John 3:1 reads, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  Later in 1 John, we read, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands” (1 John 5:2).  And what are God’s commands? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I’m pretty sure changing the Greatest Commandment isn’t a good idea.  Likewise, I shouldn’t seek to change the Gospel just because it might not gel with someone else’s belief system.  But I CAN change my approach. I can change the borders of my understanding as the borders of  family continue to change.  This won’t be easy.  Some might see loving others as endorsement or acceptance of lifestyles contrary to what we see as the Biblical standard. No one is saying we need to water down the message, and loving others doesn’t compromise our own beliefs and doctrine.  We need to look head on at the world around us, literally right beside us.  The growing definition of what family means WILL affect you and your ministry if it hasn’t already.  So the question is: what are we going to do about?

Tell you what, let’s start with love.  I can’t tell you HOW to love and how your ministry to your immediate family, your family of origin, your adopted family, your corps family…(you get the idea) is going to look and how it will work.  Most likely, steps made today will have to change sometime in the future. This is fluid.  Don’t be scared, rather, see this as a challenge – the good kind.  A challenge of loving God and carrying out His commands as best we can.  We will make mistakes, I know I have.  Ah, but remember, if we are jumping headfirst into love and loving others, this also means we are jumping headfirst into forgiveness and grace.  Take my hand; let’s dive together!

(Captain Marianneke (Anney) Summerifeld is the Corps Officer of the Burbank Corps in California.)

“Perspectives” Day # 3 Featuring Captain Shanais Strissel

What is tradition and why do some of us cling tightly to it and some of us find it suffocating?  Why is there such a struggle between being something new and holding tightly to something old?  Is tradition or newness best for the Corps?

The answer is yes to both.

I think that in order to find what’s best for the church, within the Salvation Army, both camps must loosen their death grips and come to see that the answer lies within each claim, just in an unexpected way.
Jesus was the master at taking something old and renewing it.  Not remaking it, but renewing it.

And I believe the answer to why our churches are dying lies within the struggle to come to terms with the unexpected, because if we do not come to terms with the unexpected, I am afraid that we may go the way of the Pharisees and leaders of the law.  Are we to become something that a church history class studies in a hundred years from now, a charitable entity who faded away into irrelevancy because we just couldn’t grasp the way of the unexpected?

Jesus was always doing things that upset the religious leaders, healing on the Sabbath (how dare he) not fasting (how un-Jewish of him) telling the Pharisees they are dirty unwashed bowls (gasp), what in the world is this man doing?
He was not remaking the law; he was renewing how the people saw it.  They had taken something simple and made it complicated and unwieldy.  They made it difficult for God’s work to be done because of all the, ahem, addendums that they added to it….

It is not that the old ways where bad in themselves, but the way that people applied them over the years that made it into something that it was not intended to be.
It happens.  People muck things up from time to time and God has to shake things back into the rightful place.  The question to ask ourselves is, are we going to move with God when he shakes this Army or will we get left behind as God moves his mission forward in this world?

So…what’s the answer?…

The answer, I believe, lies in the unexpected.

Jesus’ actions were always consistent with the law, just in different and unexpected ways.  He observed the ritual but took the meaning of the law and expanded and enriched it!  The Pharisees and religious leaders had it backwards; they took the ritual and expanded it while ignoring the richness and meaning of the law in the first place.

And here is what I believe has become a stumbling block for the Salvation Army.  We don’t need more ritual a.k.a more “growth” programs, more paperwork, more ritual, more law, what we need is a deeper richer meaning to the simple foundation of what make the Salvation Army who it already is.

We do not need to get rid of our rich traditions, but we do need to get rid of all of the baggage that hinders the mission.

Somewhere we lost our simplicity of mission among the mounds of responsibility heaped onto Officers backs, and I mean all Officers not just Corps Officers.  We have spread ourselves so thin that we are in danger of becoming shallow and useless, instead of deep and rich.

I am not calling for a revolution of the Salvation Army, what I am asking you to consider is a re-evaluation of who we already are.  Not to remake the whole system but to pull out and expand what is good and to keep it SIMPLE!  Let go of the complicated extended busy work and enrich and deepen what is good!  Don’t extend the shallow and complicate the simple!

Jesus’ way is simple and his burden is light, it’s his followers who tend to weigh things down.

So, how do we figure it out?  How do we come together as an organization and deepen, enrich, simplify and give deep meaning to the traditions we already have, how do we embrace the unexpected?

That is something that we have to figure out together.

Let’s let God Shake us up shall we?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑