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.

The Problem With Submission…

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” -James 4:7-8

I have a tough time with one word in this passage.
It has nothing to do with God, faith or salvation…it has everything to do with how this word is used in the world, sometimes maliciously, in order to put people in their place.

What is the word?

“Submit”.

I don’t do well with submission.
Honestly, it makes me feel like a prisoner having to obey the warden. (Images of Shawshank Redemption come to mind)…

Perhaps it is because I have personally witnessed that word being used and abused.
Perhaps it is because I struggle with my own need for freedom.
Regardless of the why, there is still the issue with the how…how do I submit…and the ‘who’ – who am I to submit to?

For some of us it is the trust involved in such an act.
Questions like, “what if my trust is betrayed”, and “can I really trust them”?
Many time it isn’t even about submitting to God, but rather authority figures in our own lives; Bosses, business advisors, managers, family members…etc. Then, when we have been burned by submitting to a faulty human-led system, we transplant this disappointment and disillusionment upon God…as if He too is imperfect and will let us down.

I too have struggled with this notion, meanwhile transplanting my own mortal experience upon an immortal God. But have I short changed God when I’ve done this? Do I still struggle with these trust issues? Can I fully submit to God in spite of my past hurts and the numerous failed dumpster fires of attempted human submission?

Maybe I’m overthinking this…have you ever done that?
I’ve counted all of the variables, outcomes, pros and cons way before ever taking a step. My 1st Grade Teacher’s voice keeps ringing in my ear as she said, “look before you leap.” But maybe in this case, it’s the other way round?! Perhaps I just have to go for it and place my all before God when I do.

In James 4:7-8, perhaps it’s more about coming near to God than it is about submitting to Him…because wouldn’t we naturally do that anyway when we really, really know someone? After all, didn’t God come close to us first when He sent Jesus into this messed up world? He met us more than halfway as He hung on a cross for our sins.

You see, I know all of the theological implications of such an act. I know Jesus intellectually, but are there still times when my heart does not know Him…when I’m not near to God, in fact, I couldn’t be further from Him? Have you ever felt like that? We have all of the head knowledge, but when it really comes down to it, there’s a heart issue that still needs working out.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you’re still trying to reconcile what submission looks like with God. I’ve been on this journey for quite some time, and I feel that the Holy Spirit has led me this far, I’m going to have trust Him in the things I have yet to figure out. He hasn’t given up on me, and I’m positive He certainly hasn’t given up on you either. Perhaps it’s not so much submission that He’s after, but rather a closer relationship with us. After all, doesn’t submission come from a place of trust? I cannot submit to something I don’t trust, and I cannot trust if I don’t come close enough to God.

The trouble with submission is we aren’t close enough to a God who desires a relationship with us…and I’m still working through this. I don’t have a Mary Poppins answer for you, just a notion and a nudge to deepen your relationship with the Almighty…we just might discover that is what was needed all along.

-Something more to ponder today.

Days – Even in This Place? (a Poem)

There are days when I feel like Elijah after the fire…
afraid for his life even in the face of victory.
racked with fear and mortality.
loaded down with concerns of his enemies and
what they thought about him.

There are days when I feel like Jonah after the big fish…
when he told the wicked people of God’s wrath…
and they turned from their ways
but Jonah did not…
and so, there he sat in self-pity and lamented.
“just let me die”
But God would not have any of that.

There are days when I feel like Paul in chains…
having done all I can do for ‘the cause’ but…
there’s still a thorn in my side
and it’s hurting me so – “Lord please take it away”
But He doesn’t, so here I sit here thorn and all.

There are days when I feel like Jesus overlooking Jerusalem
and I weep for the blindless of people
and I’ve done all that I can do,
and still it rends my heart because the ignorance lingers on.
and then I face my own cross and I beg for the cup to be lifted
but God does not lift it, and I must drink.

Still there are dark days that plague my heart
when storms threaten to overtake me and wash me away.
when in my strength I am completely helpless
and alone.
Have I been forsaken?
Have you left me God?
It feels as if I have no friends
no where to turn…
or run.

Lord, are you here
even in this place?

Dear Salvation Army, The Fish-Bowl Effect…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Salvation Army: Communion, It’s Not What You Think It Is…

Dear fellow Ponderers…
I have been dragging my feet in writing this for some time.
Not because I didn’t want to write this edition to Pastorsponderings, but rather because I want to be careful in how I broach this conversation.  I do not wish to offend and upset you – the reader.   Some will no doubt become offended anyway, and I have come to terms with the fact that I will not always make everyone happy – that’s a fool’s errand anyway.

Perhaps in light of this Holy Week that we are all entering into we might also reflect on the Passover feast that Jesus participated in with His disciples…what we now call “The Last Supper”.

Thus, I write this with the utmost sensitivity and respect.

I have been contemplating the topic of Communion once again
(See previous conversations on this:
https://pastorsponderings.org/2014/07/23/dear-salvation-army-communion-survey-results/

Is Communion Considered Taboo in our Army? 
Within The Salvation Army, even the conversation of the Lord’s Table/Supper/Communion has become a taboo topic.  It is almost as if we are forbidden to talk about it, let alone partake in this ceremony.  Some have postulated that despite not participating in this ceremony, we have created our own sacred ceremonies in place of it, thus making the argument that we are non-sacramental in practice null and void.

I fear that failure to discuss such topics within our Army can lead to a polarization of our theological perspective, and variants of our doctrine might splinter and break off (as in some locations, it already has).

Some within our Army would treat the topic of communion with deep disdain to the point that the practice of it is almost treated as an organizational sin.  It is my estimation that too much focus on such a topic in this light is a waste of time and not conducive to unity within our Army.  There should be more open dialogue on this topic as I believe there should be on the topic of baptism.   -Someone will inevitably lambaste me for that, but that would just prove my point that we treat such innocent conversations on the topic as complete taboo and even sinful to even mention, which is ludicrous.
Davinci

Is Communion Misunderstood In The Universal Church? 
In Luke 22 it is recorded the celebration of Passover that Jesus and His disciples were partaking of.  This has now been dubbed “the Last Supper”, where Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to fulfill the final act of Salvation in His false trial, torture, and death by crucifixion.  Thus, Jesus reclines with His disciples and takes in these final private moments with those He is closest with:

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:14-19)

Could it be that over the centuries the emphasis (or fixation) upon the bread and wine have been misplaced?  Didn’t Jesus preach in parable and often teach as Rabbis of His day taught?  With questions and metaphor?  When Jesus spoke of doing “this” in remembrance of me, is it not possible that it wasn’t just the bread and wine He was talking about, but rather the entire dinner together, the fellowship and unity of disciples?  Is it possible that instead of coming together just to contemplate the bread and the wine, the whole ceremony of remembrance is just as vital?   Coupled with the remembrance, the unifying love of Christ that binds it all together is the common denominator.  So much so, that when the disciples gathered in another upper room together in perfect unity, they encountered the second blessing an the day of Pentecost?  (Acts 2:1-31)
fellowship 2
Perhaps, it is in the very practice of gathering in unity and prayer that we find the proper practice of Communion to be viable and appropriate – even commanded by Christ Himself.  After all, didn’t Jesus also pray for unity of the believers when we said, “ that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)
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Dear Salvation Army,
Let me ask you a question:  When are our Soldiers unified with the love of Christ?
When is it that we remember Jesus as our Savior and source of resurrection power?
Would you suggest that it is when we gather in times of confession, of worship, of fellowship?  When does the mission of Christ within our Army become the most galvanized and evident in the body of believers?
fellowship
Is there a time for ceremony and formal recognition?  Of course!
What do those intentionally consecrated moments look like?
Could it be that Communion has been vilified in our Army?  (Perhaps that is too strong a word)…
Is it possible that what Communion truly is – is the coming together of His disciples in fellowship and unity instead of mere ceremony?  Can we do this over a meal together?
fellowship 4
Perhaps instead on the over emphasis of the elements we have lost sight of the One who broke the bread and poured the wine?

What do YOU think? 
Post your comments below and let’s continue this pondering together.

*Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are of the author’s views and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Salvation Army.  Reader desecration is advised. *

 

Dear Salvation Army, How Accountable Are We Really?

Last year (2016), General Cox set forth an initiative called Journey of Renewal.
This initiative has been created to encourage, grow, and tackle many of the struggles our Army faces today.  In some countries in recent years there have been horrific criminal events that have taken place, and in some regards this is the Army’s response as a preventative measure for the present and future.

I am greatly encouraged by this initiative, and see the possibilities of being truly transparent…but please afford me a small measure of cynicism too.  I am hopeful, yet I am unsure if this can, or will actually work.  (I really, really hope it does!)

I want transparency and accountability for all leadership. salvation army
I believe that this is not only biblical, it is also ethical.
Yet, I am unsure how this will be done from every level, when the accountability of all leadership is not currently in place yet.  Sure, there are the yearly reviews and the audits and so on, but how does one thoroughly weigh the performance of Army personnel from afar?

We must tread carefully as we throw the word accountability around, because, as this initiative states, we must have proof with facts and not just rumors.  Accusations and rumors can destroy leaders from every level if wrongfully accused, this we must be mindful of.  On the same token, our accountability of leadership MUST encompass every level of authority from the top down.  We cannot have true accountability until every rank, position and appointment are held to the same level.  We cannot sweep things under the rug for one and enforce disciplinary measures for another.

We also should recognize that every level of leadership is fallible and is sometimes subject to making mistakes.  A level of grace must be given while these measures of accountability are kept.  Without grace, all of us fall short of the glory of God!

Please allow me to quote a portion of this initiative from General Cox:  
renewal
Being open and transparent.
The Accountability Movement encourages people to be more open and transparent. Leaders should not ask ‘why do they need to know?’ but rather enable an open, transparent culture of ‘why shouldn’t people be told?’

Salvation Army leaders at all levels should encourage people to think, discuss and debate how the Army can be more effective, efficient and faithful in doing God’s will in our communities.

Mutual respect and truth.
There must be a culture of mutual respect and truth-telling between Army leaders and those under their command. Developing this culture means that if leaders or followers behave badly there must be consequences. The General has made it clear that everyone needs to be held to account – but fairly.

The practice of complaining secretly or writing anonymous letters has to end. A new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers – but allegations must be backed up with facts, not rumours.” http://accountability.salvationarmy.org/

I must tell you the portion that I am most wary of: “complaining of secretly  or writing anonymous letters has to end…”  I understand that there have been many forms of accusation in various places around the Army world, some legitimate while others slanderous and maliciously false.  One of the causes of such a practice in our army (letter writing and secretly complaining) is that there is a very real fear of reprisals or punishment for those who would cry foul, and the fear is this punishment will be handed out by leaders in authority.  Perhaps an officer has complained about leadership, and so without any investigation, that officer is either directly dealt with or sent to a punishment appointment in the hopes that they will then resign and then the “problem” officer is gone.    Our Army is very good at holding our cards tightly to our chest.  We are not very good at transparency, although at times we talk a good game…much improvement needs to take place in order to actually be transparent, and I think General Cox is right in talking about this and starting this initiative.

With that being said though, if transparency is to be fully realized there must be a level playing field for all Officers and soldiers (which I really hope this initiative produces). Some people in our Army do not have any way in which they can safely respond to improper use of authority and maltreatment.  Where does a soldier go to report the misuse of authority by their Corps Officer?  Where does a Corps Officer go to report the misuse of authority by their Divisional Officer?  The list goes on.  Who will really listen to them and actually take them seriously and look into it?  And if something is found, will anything really be done unless it becomes a legal issue?
who
Please do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating any kind of witch-hunt in our Army by any means, all I am inferring is that everyone who holds a shred of authority from the General on down to the local officer in a corps should be held accountable in the same way.  Yes, the level of responsibility is different, but everyone should be striving for the same goal:  Christ-likeness and Kingdom building.  If another ambition or goal has been improperly submitted, then hold that person accountable and measure the fruit that each produces.

new accountability culture will require effective processes to address the concerns of whistle-blowers

I am very curious to know what “effective processes” actually means?
Dear Salvation Army, if you want to be truly transparent, then these effective processes will be explained in greater detail in the near future.  I am encouraged by this initiative “Journey of Renewal”!  I see great things taking place if this is followed through with.  If we want to see real change and renewal in our Army, we must make the hard decisions; we must confront sin issues and deal with them, but we must also do it with grace and love.  We have to take responsibility for our actions from the top down and the bottom up!  No one is more important than the next, and if we are leaders, we must be servants first.

Please pray for your leaders, the greater the responsibility of leadership one assumes the more temptation there is, and they face a lot more pressure as well.

May we hold each other accountable for no other purpose than to see lives transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit and to witness the lost being found by a mighty, mighty God!

Something more for the Army world to ponder today!
Tell us what you think!  Do you think this new initiative will work?  How can we make it work in our community/ministry?  How are you already doing “accountability” in your appointment, corps, ministry?
Leave your comments, questions and thoughts below.
Thanks!

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Disclaimer:  “The thoughts and opinions written here are the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Salvation Army’s, reader discretion is advised.”

Drowning In The Waters?

I have this memory.
Do you know the kind?  It’s the kind that embeds those moments in your life, those moments of great fear or panic, and they etch themselves so deeply into the recesses of your brain that you will never forget?

Do you have memories like this?
I’m sure you do.

My memory?
I am a small boy, in a swimming pool at Gene Epply camp.
I don’t remember hardly anything from that time…but I remember that pool.
I remember how I stepped off of the edge and into reflective waters.  Perhaps it was a hot day, I do not recall, but I do recall my little legs straining to touch the bottom and just finding more water.  Panic set in.  The sounds of the laughing and playing children around me faded in and out as I struggled to stay afloat while my vision and my ears were precariously between the two plains – Water and air.

I can only imagine what my face looked like in those brief but terrifying moments.  Others might have seen a small toe-headed boy with wild panicked eyes flailing around in aqua blue waters.  I knew, without help, I would drown.  I hadn’t learned to swim yet, and I was going under.

All of this probably lasted only mere seconds, but to a drowning boy who was taking water into his lungs like it was air, this moment seemed to take an eternity!  Finally, large hands grabbed me with great strength, and I was hoisted out of the depths of those waters and into safety once again.

It’s funny what you remember when you are young.  Those odd things that stand the test of time and come calling into our recollection from time to time.  Memories are a funny thing.  They flutter about, and come to life when certain scents waft in the air, or through certain songs…or in this instance, when I visit a swimming pool.

That moment still lingers in me even after all of these years.
I believe it was my father that pulled me out of those waters – me, a little terrified boy who had yet to learn to swim.

I think there is a very real spiritual parallel here to grasp.
Many people in our communities are struggling to stay afloat in life.
Some have waded out too far from the safety of the shores.
Some have terrified looks in their eyes as they suddenly realize their predicaments.
Others have simply given up trying to stay afloat and are about to go under for the last time.

My son became a lifeguard last summer.
His time as a lifeguard taught him to remain vigilant during his shift at the waters edge.
Every now and then he and the rest of the lifeguards had to come to someone’s rescue and pull them back to safety.  The job of a lifeguard seems glamorous with awesome opportunities for tanning, but in reality it is a job of ever watchfulness.

In the same way, a follower of Christ ought to be a lifeguard who is deeply committed to watchfulness.  The water’s edge, the place of safety is the Church…where firm ground and restored hope surrounds all that are rescued.  The problem I see in the Church today is that there are far too few lifeguards willing to risk it all and venture into the depths of the waters when they see hapless people drowning in its depths.  There are far too many comfortable lifeguards who are more preoccupied with casting judgments like “it serves them right” or “they are just getting what they deserve!”

I am glad Jesus didn’t say that about us!
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…it doesn’t say all (except for ________(insert our names here), no ALL…everyone of us have fallen short.  (Romans 3:23)  Instead it says, “for while we were sinners (while we were drowning in the depths…while we were going under for the last time) Jesus died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

I still have that memory forever etched in my mind.
The day I almost drowned, was also the day I was rescued.

Perhaps, dear Church, we should get back to lifeguarding, because there are still so many falling below those dangerous waters…and who will help them?  Who will come to their rescue?  We are called out

Dear Salvation Army Officers: 4 Reasons Not To Leave Officership

**This blog entry is Officer specific, but this can be applied to soldiers as well! **

Dear Salvation Army Officer who is on the verge of resigning…this is for you.
Stop and consider these words before you make that phone call or write that email or letter.  I know that officership is hard.  Ministry in general is hard.  We sometimes face pressures from many different places – the corps, headquarters, a disgruntled employee or volunteer, a public figure who you don’t see eye to eye with.  It seems as if almost every area of ministry we find opposition.  There are certainly joys in ministry as well, but for a few minutes let me highlight 4 reason NOT to leave officership!  First of all, if you were called into this ministry by God these next four reasons I list below should be reasons that you stay and fight for not only This army, but for your purpose as an officer!

  1. boss Bullies
    Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.  Bullies in the community that push around people who come to your corps.  There might be bullies IN your corps.  You might encounter bullies at your headquarters by way of department heads or even the occasional leader.  Unfortunately, bullies do not discriminate, and if you are making waves for Christ in what you do, then you will most likely encounter these bullies.  Never leave the Army because you encountered a bully.  The Army isn’t just compromised of people – we don’t stay because we necessarily always like each other either, and we might not always agree with each other.   No, instead we stay because we believe in this movement as an Army despite people sometimes….even other officers or leaders who have hurt you or done things that were ungodly to you.  Do not leave these ranks because of bullies within them or in your appointment.  Stand up, unite with other like minded officers and soldiers and find your strength to fight on.I cannot stand a bully, especially a bully with any ounce of power.  Most bullies are weak minded, power hungry, insecure individuals.  I feel, even in this army we tolerate this kind of person more than we should instead of dealing with them directly.  Many an officer has either considered leaving or has left because of how a bully has treated them.  I also say this to any officer who would take up a mantel of leadership:  fight for the little guy, remember what corps were like, understand how each soldier feels when they come to you for help…don’t lose sight of the army’s mission as a mighty movement known as The Salvation Army!
  2. Politics:
    Do not leave these ranks because of church politics.  politicsEvery church has these political decisions that we may not always agree with.  At the end of the day our Army is still run by people who are imperfect.  I would say that most are here for the right reasons and that decisions made from the corps level on up to IHQ have been made with much prayer and careful thought.  Have there been instances of personal kingdom making in the army through politicing?  YES of course, but do not allow these small instances to disillusion you and make you resign your commission as an officer!  Also keep in mind that what we might perceive as bad politics, might be something that is aimed at a long range vision for our mission.  Pray for your corps.  Pray for your leaders.  Pray for those instances when church politics does not have your best interest in mind.  Ask God to help you to not only be a holy force for change in the Army, but that you might show mercy and grace in the process.  You can be a change agent in the Army if you remain and fight…so fight on!
  3. Favoritism: favoritism
    Just as politics happens in all organizations and churches, so does favoritism.  It is sometimes ugly, painful, and wrong…but it can happen.  I’m not saying that it always does happen, but when it does don’t allow this to be the deciding factor in your exit strategy as an officer!  It happened in the early church and it still happens in all levels of the Army.  There are many godly men and women who fight against this and are principled in stopping these kinds of things, but know that it may still occur from time to time.  Be aware of favoritism when it happens, but don’t be bothered by it.  Move on, remember your calling isn’t first to leadership or even the Army, it is to God…so be faithful to that, be consistent to that and do your very best for the Lord.  His favor will always shine on the faithful!  Keep on keeping on!
  4. Perceptions:
    perceptionDespite how others might “perceive” you or use the term “perception”, do not allow it to discourage you or cause you to quit.  If you are a kingdom builder, then you will face the occasional criticism or erroneous perception of you.  Use a discernment filter in your mind to filter out what is truth and what is perceived truth – these words are not mutually exclusive or even the same.   If a perception is true then perhaps the Holy Spirit is working on you through others, if the perception is not true, then do not allow it to consume you with discouragement which could lead to your early exit via a letter of resignation.
    perceptUse two measures of truth:

    Titus 1:7 – “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,”

    Micah 6:8 – “He has told you, O man, what is good;
        and what does the Lord require of you
    but to do justice, and to love kindness,
        and to walk humbly with your God?”

    If we apply these two passages of truth in our lives then other people’s opinions and perceptions of us (even those within the leadership spectrum) will either be true or untrue.  If we are above reproach, if we are humble and a lover of mercy, then we will take perceptions of us with a grain of salt, and allow the untruths to roll off of our backs like water on a duck.

    Stand firm, dear Officer.  
    You are vitally important to this movement!  You have not signed your allegiance to any one person in the army, nor will you be moved by any one poor example listed above!  Know that we as an army will sometimes become more concerned with our inner struggles that we will lose sight of our mission and vision for the World.  So look up, keep your focus on the outcomes of the good that you are doing.  Work hard.  Take your days of respite and self-care.  Pray for your appointments, the people in them, those you encounter in our community, pray also for your leaders and the leadership of this global army.  We do not need more officers walking out frustrated, worn out and feeling crushed…no, we need more weathered officers who will stand firm, fight hard and not giving up or caving to the trappings of an ever growing and progressing army!

    Something more for our Army to ponder today.
    May God continue to bless you, dear Officer!

    *Disclaimer:  The opinions and thoughts expressed here are not necessarily the opinions and thoughts of The Salvation Army, but rather the opinions and thoughts of this writer.  Reader discretion is advised.*

You’re a Liar, I’m a Liar – Here’s Why…

Whether we care to admit it or not, we are liars.
Go ahead, soak it up, take it in…
Some of you are probably offended by this accusation.
Some of you might be nervous – don’t be.

The Lies 
The biggest lie that we tell ourselves is this:  “I don’t need God.”
The second biggest lie that we tell ourselves is: “every thing is okay.”
And then there are those lies that we tell God – “Lord I promise if you get me out of this situation I will never do that (insert whatever “that” is here) again!”  Or, we go to the altar at some fancy big church event and confess our sins in a big emotional altar call and make promises that only last that weekend…in essence we lie because deep down we know we don’t plan on changing.
lies
We also lie to God by telling Him that He’s the only God in our lives, but let me ask you, how many hours a day do you spend on the internet or on social media?  How many hours a day watching tv, netflix etc…?  Are there other things that consume all of your time?  Are there things that you would shamefully admit that you’re obsessed with?  Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of this stuff, but when we spend hours and hours and hour a day gaming or web surfing or whatever – we have become consumed, and when we become consumed by something other than God – we have essentially set up idols to false gods in our lives.  Basically, whatever takes the place of God – becomes our god…and we are then liars who claim we know God, but rather, we only know of God.

1 John 1:8-10 says; “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

God Doesn’t LieGod
What God says – He means.
What He says He will do – He will do.
God doesn’t break His promises to us – We are usually the ones who break our promises to Him.  Do we need Him?  Absolutely, and yet our ego at times convinces us that we can go it alone and we don’t need Him to “interfere”.   Don’t lie to God, He’s not fooled.  Also, don’t lie to yourself!

stopStop The Lies
So what’s the point?
Do some soul searching in your life today.
Be humble,.in other words, put yourself low, look hard and deep at your own life right now – without any sugar coating or facades (which are lies that you have told yourself).

– Another lie we might hear in our minds from time to time is this:  “I am not good enough to be called a Child of God, (or to be called a “Christian”)” We might buy into that lie because of guilt and shame, but God’s grace through Jesus Christ can remove that guilt and shame completely – making us totally covered by grace and completely forgiven!  Don’t buy this lie anymore!!  God loves you, and He wants you to know how valuable you are to Him!

We tell ourselves a lot of lies…and sometimes we start to believe them.
We also try and tell God lies too…but we aren’t fooling Him, He knows.

honestBe Honest.
Allow the Lord access to every part of your mind today…even the spaces in the recesses of your mind that you are ashamed of.  He already knows, but we have to let Him in and allow His light to shine onto those dark, shameful places in order for healing, true healing to take place.  Admittedly, this is a work in progress for all of us.  There will be times when we lie, or believe a lie in our minds again.  But the next time that happens, recognize it and within that recognition, plot and strive to change that behavior.  Ask God to help you in those moments!  True sincerity and admission/penitence moment by moment allow us access to God, and it also provides us with tangible spiritual growth.

prayPray.
Lord, I confess my lies to you today.
Lies that I have told, and the lies that I have believed about myself.
I am weakened by these lies, but I know that with your strength I can be whole again!
Walk beside me today Lord, reveal to me the moments of my dishonesty to you and to those I come in contact with.  Convict me when I live double-mindedly.  Lord, I do not want this barrier to remain between us.  I know this has stunted my spiritual growth, and I desire to be closer to you.  Lead me Lord, I desire to give all there is of me to you – even those spaces in my life and mind that I am ashamed of.  Wash me clean again.  -Amen.

Something more to Ponder today.
To God be the glory!

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