Dear Salvation Army, Baptism & The Great Commission?

16″ Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Salvation Army Doctrine #1:We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”

I do not mean to stir the waters, pun intended, but I have often wondered what your Salvationist response would be on this topic.  I must confess that I have often struggled with reconciling our doctrine with the lack of fulfillment of the great commission as described in verse 19; “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”   Yes, I understand that we are non-sacramental in religious practice, but one wonders why even such a discussion often evokes the same response one might expect from a discovery of a sin issue.  Seriously, it’s generally frowned upon, knee-jerk reactions abound every time Communion and Baptism are even mentioned.  It almost seems like we treat such conversations as heresy and equate such talk to sin.  Why is that?
Why such harsh attacks on even the mention of these religious practices?

I bring the topic of Baptism up today in this pondering so that we can dialogue together, so that we might bring a deeper understanding of our theology to the forefront and that we do not linger amongst the shallow answers of “Because that’s how we have always done things“…but why?

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Historical Context:
We ought to recognize that Industrial England, the birth place of The Salvation Army, certainly had it dichotomy of the upper class and the poor.  Many within the lower East-end would not have been welcome in The Church of that day.  Also, within the lack of practice of Baptism and Communion, we know that our theological tradition precludes the need of such symbolic practices because we are “baptized by the Holy Spirit” and “The Sacrificial life is more important than participation in the Sacraments”.  Understandably so, but I wonder if such staunch views have prohibited some in recent years of full membership?  What I mean is, does our lack of practice or participation in these fundamental “Christian” elements, distract some would-be soldiers in joining our ranks?  There are certainly many views on the subject.  On one extreme – there are those within other denominations who feel since one was never “properly” Baptized they cannot claim to be Christians.  And then on the other side of the spectrum, there are those who view practices of water baptism to be archaic and unnecessary.

 So back to my original question…
If we believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice, Why do we fail to include parts of the “Great Commission”?  Again I don’t mean to stir up controversy, but I would like us to answer this…I want you to help me fill in the content here that I struggle with.  No, I don’t have a baptismal in my corps building, no I don’t baptize my members, but I’m curious how we decide to fulfill some of the “Divine rule of Christian faith and practice” while excluding others?  Why is this topic so taboo?

Another question that comes to my mind then is this:  Are we a fluid moving Army or are there somethings that cannot change within our structure and practice?  I am in no way advocating we change our stance on Baptism or Communion; but is there a point where the reasons we refrained from such practices in another age and era should be reconsidered in another age and era?  Would this be going backwards or progressing forward?  Or perhaps there is too much emphasis on the baptism part and there ought to be more emphasis made on the “make disciples” component to the Great Commission.  Perhaps this is the “happy middle”?

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Again, I’m curious on your answers here.
As always, I look forward to the responses that sound off with shock and awe that such a question should ever be asked within the Army.  Again, it is surprising to me how we often treat this topic as “hush, hush“, almost as if we’re talking about a sin.  Why is that?  Couldn’t we even deepen our understanding of our own doctrine by talking out-loud about such things and there by adding clarity to the topic for others?  Also, I am not looking for a lecture here either, simply a dialogue and what your response might be on this specific topic.

Something more for the Army to ponder today, hopefully you don’t label me a heretic for even asking the question.  Blessings on you today!


Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are not necessarily the opinions and views of The Salvation Army, but rather the writer’s own thoughts, questions and opinions expressed.  Reader discretion is advised.  

Dear Salvation Army – 10 Things That Will Kill Your Corps

Today I want to explore with you only ten things that will kill our corps.  As with other lists we have compiled here on Pastorsponderings, this is merely a primer and I know there are other issues that will certainly lead to a terminal corps.  Be mindful as we explore this list to consider your own corps, ask yourself the hard questions.  Our goal is not to tear down or make anyone feel bad about their corps, but instead through critical thinking, help us to inject vibrancy into corps settings.  One other word of caution – Corps Officers, don’t try to be the dictator of every aspect of your corps, micromanaging will stunt the potential growth of your soldiers and local officers.  Soldiers & Local Officers, don’t expect or accept the notion that your corps officer is to do everything either.  This is a partnership.  It is true that the position of corps officer is a very temporal position and with it comes differing views and leadership styles, but be firm and strong as the glue that hold your corps together!  More often than not, corps that die usually have little to no local officers leading the way.  Without that infrastructure the corps can collapse.

So, without further adieu, let us delve into
Ten Things That Will Kill Your Corps 

  1.  Legalism legal
    Contrary to some views, the Pharisee of the Bible did not die…they still exist sometimes even in our corps.  Be mindful of the use of rules and regulations.  Yes, we need order and operate within a quasi-military structure, but watch out that extreme legalism doesn’t soffocate your members!  Remember that we are not under law but under grace!  (Rom. 6:14)   Yes, keep to the doctrines of our Army, but do not lord it over soldiers and adherents.  Excessive power will divide people and make them dispise leadership, where as grace and love will solidify the soldiers and friends of our army.  Sometimes, bite your tongue and say nothing is a better formula than lashing out, judging and becoming the rule enforcer!
  2. Tolerance of Sin Issues
    sinAt the other end of the spectrum is the ignoring and tolerance of sin issues in your corps.  Be mindful that we are not the judge of our world, but we do hold a high standard for our fellow brothers and sister in Christ who wear this uniform.  This almost seems to be in complete conflict with the first point, but it is not.  Galatians 6:1 clearly reminds us as it did in Paul’s day – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

    Do not blindly ignore sin issues in your corps.
    Confront in love with the support of other believers.  We must be very cautious here, make sure this is not done in anger, unless righteous anger is needed (let the Holy Spirit lead you).  Pray about these issues.  Wait for the right time.  DO NOT confront from the Pulpit or lash out at people just to “get even”.  Use your corps council, your local officers, contact an mediatary from your divisional headquarters, but do not let anyone in your fellowship slip further into sin and/or by ignoring it condone it by-proxy.

  3. Lack of Core Leadership
    Without core leaders in the corps, the vision and decisions fall solely on the Corps leadOfficer(s).  Yes, they have had training, yes they are leaders, but they cannot lead properly without the core leaders to help them.  A shared vision and delegated group will be better equipped to handle opportunities and threats that come to your corps and community.  If you don’t currently have core leaders, begin by praying and asking God to reveal potential leaders to you.  Prayer is never a last resort, but a constant conversation.  Don’t limit your search to just the older members, the younger generations will eventually replace us at some point, so begin to invest in them.  Begin to disciple them, and display for them what leadership is all about!  Gather one or two influential people with common sense to help you in your corps.  Remember, that we are an egalitarian movement – both men and women are equal, so do not limit your leadership search to just men or just women.  Without a core group of leaders, the vision and movement will be limited.
  4. Polarizing Visions
    disagreement
    Polarizing Vision Can Kill!
    On the other end of the spectrum you might have too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.  What happens when the core leaders in your core do not agree on which direction to take?  This is a danger, and if not addressed properly can leader to dysfunction, an exodus of membership and death in the corps.  A shared vision is of the utmost importance.  Without a shared vision, everyone will be doing their own thing and everyone will be going every which way, and nothing will ever get done successfully.  “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 11:14)
  5. Inwardly focused – All-in
    There is a danger in our corps to become so insulated, so accustomed to who is there, focusedand what we do as a corps, that we begin to have no need for the “outside world”.  We stop looking out into our community and we become self-reliant and self-focused.  In this danger, what happens when our congregation gets old and dies?  Will there be youth to raise up and take our place?  Will be just be a group of inbred soldiers?  I don’t mean to sound crass, but the reality is, we need to stop being afraid of our communities.  We need to stop treating the people outside our buildings as “those people” with a sense of superiority.  We must squelch the desire to just remain in our buildings and selfishly focus on “us”.  What about the great commission?  What are we fighting for if we only fight for ourselves and our traditions and self-interests?  If we are all-in and inwardly focused, we will slowly die away…and no one will care when we’re gone.
  6. Outwardly focused – All-in
    godThis is probably a rare thing, but perhaps not.  Perhaps there are some corps that have so many services to the community that worship and all things “Spiritual” are an after thought, and then you come to Sunday and it just becomes a “thing we do”.  We focus all of our energies on the outside, on meeting human needs but we seldom meet those needs “in HIS name” anymore.  We might as well be just another social service agency or a humanitarian group, because we will have forgotten our first love and the “body” will be just bits and pieces pulled and stretched so thin that it doesn’t resemble Christ any longer.
  7. Rigid Goals and Vision 
    We can plan to fail by over planning everything.  This can kill our corps, if we do not listen to feedback from those we serve, and we merely continue to plod on in ourrule vision and goal because “they have been set, and we don’t alter these goals”.  Goals should never be so rigid that there is no looking back and re-evaluating what works and what does not work, whether it be in evangelism, discipleship, or corps fellowship growth strategies.  Remember what worked 100 years ago, might not necessarily be the best method to use in an ever evolving culture.  Not to say we adopt our culture, but we ought to consider what works and what does not work any longer and not be so rigid that we refuse to ever change how we plan and how we enact a strategy in our corps.  Rigidity can kill your corps, and stifle any potential growth you might see.
  8. Holiness is not taught
    holyIf you corps does not understand Holiness, and or it is never preached on spoken of, perhaps this might be an indicator of a terminal issue.  I am not saying that holiness is the end-all be-all of the corps, but what do you do with Salvation after receiving it?  Where does one go after initial sanctification?  Does the Holy Spirit still desire to transform us through and through?  Does He not want us to be the very reflection of Christ?  Yes.  There needs to be continual conversation about our surrendered life and how that looks in the real world.
  9. Discipleship is not cultivated
    With the teachings of Holiness, comes the deeper fellowship of discipleship.  This isn’t some text book class we all are forced to attend, this is mentoring, this is disemulating elders we respect, this is becoming more than who we are now.  Walking in the footsteps of saints and in so doing, we too become saints within this great army.  If your corps does not have this vital element, closely connected to holiness, you could be facing extinction.  Recognize this need, and do something!!
  10. Comfort Over Risk 
    Lastly, our army could will die if we merely remain content in where we have come.  We can sit back and relish the past.  We can lament that things aren’t how they used lazyto be in the bygone days.  We can rest comfortably on financial resources and riches we have been given from various places, and never take another risk again…and if we do this, we. will. die.  I cannot stress it enough, in order for God to change our Army, we have to become uncomfortable again.  We have to take risks and forget what the rules and regulations say.  We have to close dead corps, move to places of need without bureaucratic red tape hamstringing us along the way.  We have to get out of our pews and put feet to our professed faith.  It’s either put up or shut-up.  Seriously, we can talk a good game, but if we can’t back it up, then hung it up and quit already.  We don’t need fans in the stands not doing the work.  We don’t need complainers and criticizers telling it us it can’t be done – because the risk is too great.  If we don’t do something, we might as well put our corps on life-support right now.  There is a sad trend that is taking place in our corps around the USA, and our corps are not statistically growing anymore.  We are not busting out of our corps buildings anymore.  Yes, perhaps it’s across the board in all denominations, but could it be that we are so comfortable now that we have stopped ACTUALLY trying to reach our communities?  Could this be an entire systemic issue of spiritual laziness?  Forgive me if I offend you today, I can’t help but feel alarmed at how swiftly our corps are dying.  And I can’t help but wonder what the next 50 years will hold for this movement?  If we do nothing, we will not be here in 50 years…not like we have been, not like we should be…and then perhaps, Lord forbid, God raises up someone else to do what we should have been doing.

    These are ten things that are killing our corps…there are more, but for now that is more than enough to ponder and chew on in our army.  What do you think?  Tell us, please, I relish your input, opinion and testimonies.

    Blessings on you and your corps today!
    To God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, Is The General Right?

This quote has bothered me, perhaps more than it should.
Is there more to this conversation that has not been quoted here that would cast a different light on this subject?  I do not presume to know everything, but I would like to attempt at interpreting this soundbite with your help.

Are we splitting hairs here, or is this a general assumption?
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I have seen this quote floating around for a day and a half, and I wonder if, perhaps some context is required before jumping to conclusions.

What does this quote mean?
What did the General mean when he said “Worshiping community”?
Are these two mutually exclusive or interconnected?

If I were to simply interpret this quote/sound bite, I would have to wonder why shouldn’t they be interconnected?  And also, what is so bad about being a worshiping community?
Another thought that comes to mind within this pondering then is this; wouldn’t a worshiping community’s bi-product or outpouring/ evidence of fruit be in the complete submission to God and the service of man – thereby being also a serving community?

If, I have interpreted this correctly, (and if I haven’t please correct me) I would have to disagree with the General.  I do not believe the Army’s paradigm has shifted nor has it’s hand to man.  This army of salvation certainly has an ever evolving identity within this world, but it’s mission, in my opinion, still remains firmly intact.

Is there fear that The Salvation Army is yearning to become a full-fledged Church somewhere?  From my small context of the Army world, I do not see that as an issue.  In fact, just the opposite would be my fear – we become, or have become far too Social Work heavy and lacking the “Heart to God” in our service.  With the ever increasing funding sources coming from governmental entities(at least in the U.S.), sometimes there is the fear that our hands become tied to preach the Gospel in His name while meeting the physical needs.

The Balancing Act…
I understand what the General is saying, if the context is correct, but I would have to counter with the notion that this is certainly a balancing act.  We serve the Almighty and through our discipleship, fellowship and worship we begin to understand how to better serve the world around us.   The pendulum certainly can sway in either direction and we must be mindful of it.  If we are properly aligned as an Army,  our worship and adoration of God will lead to the outpouring of service to man.

So is the General wrong?
Perhaps in places of the world this is true, but in this little corner of the world, I just don’t see it.

What do you think ?
Leave your comments below, share your thoughts on this and tell us what you think this means?

Something more for our Army world to ponder today.

*Disclaimer, this blog’s opinions and content does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of The Salvation Army.*

Dear Salvationist – Arrogance Beware!

Luke 18:9-14(NLT)

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sermon Podcast – “It’s Not My Job”

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Listen to our Sermon Podcast here:

Or download today’s Message Here:
“Not My Job” 

Ephesians 4:1-16 (NLT)


Unity in the Body

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

However, he has given each one of us a special gift[a] through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,

“When he ascended to the heights,
    he led a crowd of captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b]

Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world.[c] 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Dear Salvationist: “Those People”

A New PonderCast – (an Audio Pondering) is available to listen today.
Today, hear the words of General William Booth and ponder with me on the topic of “Those People”

Or Click Here to Download & Subscribe to our PonderCast: “Those People”

Transcript of today’s PonderCast is here as well:

                                                                    “Those People”

Dear Salvation Army,
Dear Salvationist,
I would like to take a moment and talk to you about what this Ministry of the Salvation Army is and isn’t – at least from my experience.

The Salvation Army is more than just a church first and foremost.
Our ministry takes giving within the context of ministry a step further than most churches do.
I’m not saying we are better than other churches, I’m just saying that our scope of the Great Commission has more of an aggressive tone than other churches.  We claim the old motto “Soup Soap & Salvation” and we attempt to live it out in our ministry.

The very fiber of our being, of who The Salvation is can be wrapped up in that phrase of William Booth – when He said, “Others”.

The funny is we still live in a very divided world – even amongst Christians and Church.
We even have this division in our corps sometimes.
We can become so comfortable in our services and in how things operate but when new families start coming we get a little nervous and sometimes even upset.

It’s like when the disciples and others watched Jesus go to Zecheus’ house – there were some who complained because Zecheus was a tax collector and he was reviled by people.  Why would Jesus go to that person’s house.  Why would he go see “those people”

Another of “those people” that Jesus visited was the Samaritan woman at the well.  Even his disciples kind of shook their heads at this encounter.  Why would Jesus go to “those people”?  And besides that a man, let alone a Rabbi wouldn’t be caught dead talking with a woman – and a Samaritan woman at that.

But you see Jesus came for the least of these, those who were searching.
He didn’t care where they came from or where they had been…you see “those people – were His people!”

And sometimes in our corps – when we get too comfortable and suddenly “those people” show up, it sort of disrupts our flow…It upsets the apple cart…and we have to wonder sometimes, even in our uniforms if we haven’t become that clique –that exclusive social gather fighting for a cause so everyone can see us and pat us on the back…and when genuine spiritual need comes to our corps building – do we shun it?  Or welcome it?  Do visitors to our corps buildings feel like “guests” or do they feel like outsiders…because the ones in uniform are giving them sideways glances, shaking their heads at the unchurched, unfamiliar new comers…

Ah Salvationists…Dear Salvation Army – “Those People” are our people too!
The drunk that smells like the fumes around his body might spontaneously combust at any moment and he is shaking so bad that it’s visibly noticible in the seat next to you.  Yeah, Jesus says “that’s my people too”.

That older lady who come occasionally just to see what she can take with her after the service – She’s one of “those people” and Jesus says that “She’s one of His people”.   That young scary looking young man who wanders into your service half way through who smells and is wearing a questionable tshirt with offense material on it – “We look at him and think THOSE PEOPLE” AND Jesus says “He’s one of my people.”

Salvationist –
Our halls are emergency rooms for the spiritually afflicted.
And we are all “those people”…we all came searching for hope and love and acceptance.
We do not look  like other churches because the least of these are our regulars.   It is a shame when we try to become like other ministries and churches when our calling as an Army is has a specific target and ministry already.

We don’t look like other churches because the Salvation Army shield is like a beacon of hope, a lighthouse to many of “those people” who have lost their way.  It is a safe-harbor for many to come.  It should be a place where “those people” don’t feel as if we’re looking down at them – because we have all been there.

Where other places have turned “those people” away – we must accept them, welcome them offer them love and hope and in turn – eventually show them what Christ’s transforming power looks like.

 

Dear Salvationist – 5 Ways To Kill A Corps

I am certainly not advocating trying these out today in your corps, actually I’m pleading for all of us to do the opposite.  Our various ministries can, and should be paramount to our faith and to those we serve.   How we lead others, how we conduct ourselves in our corps makes a difference!

With that being said, dear Soldier, here are 5 ways to kill a Corps!

5.  Gossip lie
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
The Fastest way to burn your corps down to the ground is to strike the match of the malicious tongue that wags and pierces hearts.  Be aware of what you say and how you say things.  No one likes  to be around people who are asinine in their speech and malicious in their actions and opinions of others.  Gossip has no place in the corps, unless you long for it to die a slow and agonizing death.

We know that gossip shouldn’t be, but why do we tolerate it and even entertain it in our halls?  Dear Salvationist, have nothing to do with idle chatter and people who only want to slander and smear the truth.  (2 Timothy 2:23).

4.  Favoritism 
favorMy brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.  For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” (James 2:1-6 NASB)

It even happens in Corps buildings.
It might not necessarily be about rich and poor, but perhaps personalities and someone’s available gifts.  An Officer can favor only a specific few corps members and by doing so, unknowingly cause dissension, envy and strife.  The same can be said for local officers who choose corps members to help them in their daily duties.  Be fair to all who come into your halls!  Show love and compassion and be aware that favoritism can happen even if we’re not cognizant of it.  Favoritism is a true, perhaps unseen danger in our corps, and if left unchecked will cause jealousy, anger and disharmony to occur which can lead to a terminal corps.

3.  Lording Power power
“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder andwitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will ofGod; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3)

This Salvation Army was founded upon a militant structure and sometimes we can get carried away with ourselves in places of leadership and authority.  Many of us have heard story after story where, one who was entrusted with power and authority, has used it in very unbiblical ways to hurt others.  I would hope that this is not the norm, but rather isolated incidents of worldly ambitions becoming visible to all.

power1Dear Soldier, be keenly aware of the pending dangers of authority and power.  If you are or ever become entrusted with any kind of power – use it wisely and with every amount of Holiness that you can muster!  What you say, how you lead, what you do – makes the world a difference!  Although we have a militant structure, keep in mind who is the head of our army – it certainly isn’t me or you, or even the General – It is the King of kings and Lord of lords!!  Be good leaders!  Be kind leaders.  Be wise leaders.  Set a godly standard by exercising grace, love and hope.

2.  Find Fault In Everything and Everyone!
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” (Romans 14:1-2)
fault-findingI have met some deeply cynical people in my day.  Many were housed within the corps…these individuals could never be pleased no matter how hard one might try.  No matter what took place, these individuals always saw the negative and very rarely the positive.  After time, no one wanted anything to do with them, because bitterness tends to bleed into the very fabric of our corps buildings if we let it.  thumbs

This blazing fire that could consume your corps, is like that of gossip.  It can invade and taint everything it touches.  People become disillusioned by it because no matter how hard you try fault and imperfections are always seem instead.

Examples (just to name a few):
“Well Captain, the service is just too dry for my tastes…”
“That worship band plays too loudly and I hate that sort of music…”
“We’ve never done it that way before, and we’re not about to try!”
“That man in the back has been coming to our corps for three weeks and he smells…”
“I might stop coming to the corps because _______(name here)___ is still there and they are horrible people!”

Sometimes, these nay-sayers use the old phrase “This and better will do” to justify their salty – never satisfied – fault finding attitudes that they have.  The problem isn’t everyone else, the problem stems from these individuals who can find nothing good to say…ever!  Don’t the the corps burn to ground because of fault-finders and judgmental people!

1. Abdicate All Leadership and Responsibilities  
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Let someone else do it!
I don’t have the time to come to corps programs and activities…”
Corps Officer – “So, who will lead adult Sunday School for the next three months?” (silence fills the space…no one volunteers even though there are many capable individuals in the room)
This Army isn’t fully functional until ALL capable members of our corps are engaged and serving!  Officers – you cannot abdicate your calling and role in the corps!  Soldiers, you cannot let or conceive that all things done in the corps is the sole responsibility of the officer!

If we want our corps to die – then never step up.
If we want to preach to empty pews during holiness meetings – then never lead.
We can die by not taking responsibility.  We can allow stagnation to set in and wilt away as one generation dies and there is no one left to take their place.

If you suffer from self-esteem issues or you question if you’re good enough to lead – you can do it!  You just need one person to believe in you.  We all make mistakes, it comes with the territory of leadership.  Being responsible means we own up to our victories and our failures…and then we keep going and we don’t quit simply because the going got tough.  We need more soldiers and officers with backbones – there I’ve said it.  It’s not a slam again those who are faithfully serving (Thank you for what you do both behind the scene and in front of everyone!)…we cannot afford to abdicate our authority and leadership IF this is where God has called us to!  Be faithful in the good times AND in the not so good times!   This Army needs you!  It needs good leaders!  It needs consistent, prayer driven leaders.

Wrapping it up.
So this is my top 5, it’s a primer…what’s yours?
Share with us your top 5 things that will kill any corps from your experiences!
Together, we can avoid these pitfalls!

Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Photo Mar 11, 9 09 43 AM
*Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent The Salvation Army’s thoughts and opinions, reader discretion is advised*

Review – “IRIS” No. 2 By Kyle Reardon

The second installment of IRIS has been out for a little while now, and I want to give you a comprehensive review of this graphic novel thus far.  First of all, you have to know that this is a break-through genre for The Salvation Army’s Frontier Press, and I believe this is just portent of some amazing things to come!

Artistry:
IRIS is aesthetically pleasing.
You know the old phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Unfortunately many who shop around for graphic novels will undoubtedly look at the cover and make a judgement call.   IRIS pleases the eye with its artistic style and depth of color.  Last time I reviewed IRIS, I made the comment that I wished they would have made it in color…well they did!  Looking back now at both installments; I find that they are equally pleasing to the eye in their own right.  I like the black and white first edition, and I like the second installment, which is in color.

Story Line & Ethics:
The story line in IRIS keeps you interested but it doesn’t give you more than you can handle all at once (which is a little frustrating to me because I have Netflix and I want to skip to the next episode to find out what happens next…but we have to wait).   Frontier Press, the publisher, introduces IRIS in this way: “IRIS now faces an uncertain future. Given a second chance at life, she faces a world convinced her body is a piece of technology owned by Biostronomy. IRIS searches for meaning and ways to use her growing physical strength, encountering difficult questions of faith along the way. She is a woman once dead, but alive again—however unnaturally. What debt does she owe and to whom? And what of her soul?”  There are some deeply philosophical and moral questions within this complex character and would be hero.  It does leave me wondering if they will they tackle such questions as life after death, ethical restraint as scientific knowledge expands, should man create or recreate life?  I can already see IRIS struggling with her new identity and how conflicted she must feel being a science experiment.  With an introduction of such a character in such a time as this, it is not too far fetched anymore to have to consider the moral and ethical dilemmas that are currently presenting themselves in real life cutting edge science.  These are some of the questions that have been provoked within me as I have read the first two editions of IRIS.    IRIS will keep you wanting to know more, and I believe this is where this graphic novel really excels!  As I said last time, I like how tangible-realistic science has been incorporated into this hero’s story.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in No. 3!  I will be putting in my preorder for the next one just to see what takes place!

Breaking Stereotypes:
Not only is IRIS ground-breaking for Frontier Press, but I believe it is ground breaking for the genre of graphic novels.    Traditionally, the old classic graphic novels typically involved a male hero with the occasional female hero making cameo appearances.  I don’t want to read too much into any motives for this series (and I could be totally off base with my opinion), but I really like the fact that we have a female hero leading the way!   I believe it should be common place to feature a stand-alone female hero which can empower girls all around the world!  I’m not saying it can’t or doesn’t empower boys, and/or young adults too – I just love the fact that we have an amazing character in IRIS who just so happens to be female!

Recommendations:
As a consumer – I simply want to know more about IRIS.
As I have already said, I really want to know what happens next (have I said that enough yet?  I don’t think so).
Should you buy IRIS and read it for yourself?  I would have to say YES!  Purchase a copy on Amazon Link Here.  It’s only $2.99 – Seriously?  That’s a great price and you will be happy with your small investment!  To Frontier Press and to Kyle Reardon, here’s just a couple of recommendations in my opinion – 1) the only issue that I had with the series thus far is the selection of the font, sometimes the letters get bunched together a bit and I had to refocus my eyes to properly read it.  Other than that  – 2) Keep delivering these epic installments and I will keep buying them! (I know I’m won’t be the only one!)

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! 

hum
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 Salvation Army, 150 Years!!!

Since its inception, The Salvation Army has been a beacon of hope to those in need.
It is hard to believe that 150 years has gone by since its start.  I am proud to be an Officer within its ranks while at the same time I know that we still have room to grow, adapt and improve.  Like any form of ministry, time passes, culture and customs evolve, and with it so should the delivery of the same message of Christ.

booth1The Past
I recognize the innovators in our army who were bold and unabashed in their proclamations of faith and salvation for all.  We need this fervor today.  Sometimes we still need to be civilly disobedient and unafraid of being arrested.  We need to be reminded of where we came from and why we are still an army.  We STILL have a mission as soldiers of this army.

pray

We STILL fight for those without voices.  We STILL ought to be the safe harbor for people to go.  We STILL should “do something” for those who find themselves in hopeless situations and cannot find their way out.

The Present 150
There are many social platforms within which we can fight for those in need.
There are many single mothers and fathers out there struggling to do “right by their kids” and have hardly enough food to put on the table for them.  There are countless drug addicts in our communities who need to get clean and who need someone in uniform who cares for them despite their current behaviors. Taking the strain There are so many outliers in our communities, those who have been ostracized, marginalized, brutalized and victimized…they need us!  Where ever we look we can find poor souls who need our help.  Where ever we look we can find poverty, rejection, dejection, panic, sadness and grief…and we can still help bring relief to the many with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:
Are we still a sanctified Army or is there still further cleansing to be done?
Have we given ourselves entirely to the will of the Father or are we still holding on to remnants and identities?
Are we lacking passion and zeal for His purposes within we as soldiers of this army?
Are we asking for His direction and guidance through these turbulent and often volatile times?

1501Today I celebrate the 150th Anniversary of this Army…and yet I know that we have much work to be done.  I do not wish to downplay all that we HAVE done already, but rather I recognize the work that STILL needs to be done.  We can only do so much in our own strength, but when we allow God’s holy presence to take up the fight within our faithfulness, we can do anything…I truly believe this!

To my comrades who are in London today, and have gathered with 18,000 other soldiers for Boundless 2015, I say please spur us onward!  Let us run and not grow weary!  (Isaiah 40:31) May we be on our knees earnestly praying for the many souls we can reach in His name.  May we begin to witness the miracles again for an Army filled with His Holy Spirit…renew us, reignite us, cleanse us, and spur us onward Dear Lord!

To God be the glory!

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