“The Exchange”

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” -Proverbs 18:10

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event
Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

I used to run track when I was in high school.
I was a sprinter.  I would train with my team every day after school even when it was hard.  I would run the 100 meter, 200 meter and the 4×100 meter relay.  The relay was where team work would come in.  Each runner had their own part to play in the race.  Each ran their respective portion…but it would be all for naught if the exchange of the baton was mishandled.  Sometimes failure in the exchange came by way of holding on too tightly to the baton as one attempted to pass it on.  Sometimes failure in the exchange came by way of holding on too loosely as one attempted to pass it on.  That’s why we practiced day after day.  We needed to be a synced group.  We needed to have a simple, nondramatic hand-off each time in order to even consider winning the race.  The relay’s success of failure hinged upon “the exchange”.

Have you ever felt weak?
I imagine we all have from time to time…some of us probably just thought to themselves “I feel weak all the time”.  I want to encourage you today.  There is strength in knowing the Lord.  There is joy in this “knowing” as well.   What happens within this fragment of time (when we allow God’s strength to become our strength and exchange1when we “know” whose strength it is coursing through us) is an exchange of lordship.  The success and failure of the Christian walk sometimes hinges on this pivotal exchange!   Within this exchange of lordship, what we are saying is “Lord I abdicate my human authority that is frail and weak and I exchange it for your Lordship in my life!”  When we allow this lordship exchange to take place within us, we knock down pride and selfishness and erect a stronger, more firmer foundation found only within complete humility and selflessness.

The Apostle Paul puts it like this – “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Despite Paul’s sufferings, despite his weaknesses, despite everything kind of persecution he faced, he recognized that even in weakness Christ would be strong!

I wonder if any of you are kind of like me.  I am stubborn.  I am often prideful.  I am sometimes insecure.  I am quick to repay wrongs done to me in similar reciprocating responses.  I am still far from the prize of holiness.  BUT… there is something within this confession of mine.  I have to recognize that in all of these shortcomings I cannot attain the strength that I need on my own.  I require this exchange of authority in my life.  I require the Holy Spirit’s presence within me.  I cannot afford to run aimlessly, full of myself and on my own.  My own efforts will, and frequently have, failed.

run1Oh that we run to the Lord!
Oh that we allow His presence to transform us.
Oh that we are filled with His strength by emptying our weaknesses out at His feet.
This is where the exchange of lordship begins…and the prize of holiness (the very reflection of Christ) is seen.
May we allow this exchange of lordship to occur within us.
It is a very private matter for most of us.  It isn’t something that often happens overnight, but instead His presence begins to urge us to relinquish things.  His presence begins to remind us of what could be.  His presence prompts us to run to Him and lay down our pride and self-assurances at His feet.

How’s your “Exchange of lordship” going?
Something more to ponder today, to God be the glory!

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Reasons Your Corps Needs A Vision Statement

Some people aim at nothing in life and hit it with amazing accuracy.
―Aman Jassal
We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are.
―John C Maxwell

Having vision is vital.
Having vision within our mission as a Salvation Army is crucial.
We cannot wander aimlessly around hoping to do something remarkable if we have no idea where we want to go and how we are going to get there.

Here’s a classic definition of a Vision Statement:
A Vision Statement defines what your business will do and why it will exist tomorrow and it has defined goals to be accomplished by a set date. AVision Statement takes into account the current status of the organization, and serves to point the direction of where the organization wishes to go.” -(Bruce Mayhew Consulting)

Does your corps know where it wants needs to go?
Is there a clearly communicated vision statement for all of your soldiers, adherents, volunteers and employees?
How can we accomplish our mission if we have not articulated where we need to go in our community to meet human needs in His name?

I would like to congratulate those corps out there who have a vision statement that is visible to all and attainable.  Many times, if the vision is clear and it is executed appropriately, corps will see success.  Similarly, if there is no vision, there is aimlessness and polarizing directions.

“Where there is no (Vision) revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” –Proverbs 2:18 
Here are 3 Reasons Your Corps Needs A Vision Statement: 

vision1.  A Specific and Clear Vision Statement Helps To Eliminate Polarizing Views
When we present a clear, concise vision within our mission as a local corps ministry, we can take the blinders off and begin to see clearly.  With the razor sharp vision set to meet specific needs in our communities, we can drastically reduce the wasted space of other polarizing notions and aimless attempts.  Meeting the needs of the people around us in Christ’s name means that we have been given a huge responsibility.  It also means that we ought to be good stewards of this keeping.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do in a corps is to unite everyone together under the same goal and purpose.  Unfortunately we are very individualistic in our purposes to attend the corps from time to time.  As hard as it is to say, we all come to the corps with our own motivations and intentions…sometimes they are not always for the purposes of helping others, but for the purposes of selfish gains and personal accomplishments.  In order to have a specific and clear vision, we must shuck our egos out the window and work together.  The body of Christ does not operate separately without proper recourse and consideration of the body as a whole.  When we have a clear and specific vision, we are better joined into this body of Christ…we become His sacrificial message of salvation, love and compassion to the world.

iron 2.  A Clear and Specific Vision Statement “Sharpens Iron”
Once we have established a clear and specific vision statement, we begin to hone the tools of mission.
We, ourselves, become sharper and more intentional in our service to Christ as we reach out into our communities.  These vision statements (as well as the goals that we set) make us more accountable to each other (Soldier to Soldier, Officer to Soldier, Soldier to Officer).   When this takes place, we become in step with one another.  If ever we needed a united front in our communities and in our singular aim it is now!  From the point of a specific vision, we can also better disciple one another.  We have a point of reference to draw from and we, as soldiers of this army and of Christ, can become stronger with these visions firmly grasped and displayed in our corps buildings.

3.  Goals Are Better Accomplished (Forward Progress)

Runner crossing finish line
Runner crossing finish line

Have you ever taken a road trip?  I imagine we all have.
When we begin our journey we have maps that help us chart the route that is to be taken.
With these maps we can also gauge how long we will be on any specific road at a given time.
Maps are important.
Without a map we can easily become lost, sidetracked and disoriented.

Think of the vision statement as our map to where we want to go on this journey.
Without the map we will become aimless and directionally challenged.
Goals are wonderful tools for any business, organization and even our corps, but without a clear vision, these goals can take us all over the map (so to speak).  Once we have clearly articulated the vision for our corps (where we want to go) we can then put into place and execute specific, purposeful goals to help us accomplish that vision!

boothSO WHAT? 
These are just three reasons our corps’ need vision statements.
There are more, many more reason.
This is not corps specific either, it is beneficial for the entire organization and mission of The Salvation Army!
Is your corps currently without a clear vision?
Perhaps it is time to begin the process of outlining where your current ministry needs to go.
Perhaps it is time to sharpen iron and better equip your soldiery.

Also, as we continue this conversation (as I’m sure we will), I would love to hear some of the ways your corps have created your personal vision statements and set specific goals in order to reach community needs in Christ’s name.

Please, leave some feedback today.
leave your comments and suggestions for the rest of us…we’re all in this together and we all desire to improve our Army!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Salvation Army, Beware of Mines!

soldier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Salvation Army, Are You Equipped For Battle?

“…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry…” Ephesians 4:12

If you are a Soldier of this Army, you have aligned yourself with helping the lost, fighting for tangible change in our world, and it is because of the cross that we “march on”.

Read Ephesians 4:12-16
“12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
crest
Questions To Ponder As A Soldier of our Army and a Soldier of God today: 

-How are we equipping saints? (v.12)  
This is more than just discipling…equipping is the next step that goes further. What sort of weapons of spiritual warfare do we still need?  What are lacking?

-What is our “work of ministry”?  (v. 12)
What is it that WE as an Army do?  Once we ARE Holy people of God, what is it that we are called to do in and out of uniform?  How is that “work” going?  What are your current pitfalls?  What are you struggling with?

-How do we actively “edify the Body of Christ” (v.12b)
What does it take to edify the body of Christ?
Who is included in “the Body”?
Are there exceptions to “the Body”?
How far will we go to edify each other?
Where have we failed as an Army to edify the body?
What lessons can we learn from these experiences?

-Is “Unity” truly our goal as The Salvation Army?  (V. 13)
How do we bring this global Army together with all of its differences both culturally and socially?
How does The Holy Spirit aide us in this?
Can there be unity without His help?
Have we become stubborn and deaf to His leading for Unity in the body?

Today, this is more of spiritual inventory.
This is personal inventory.
Are you called to equip others for battle?
Are you called to edify the body of Christ?
Are you prepared for what that truly means?
Are you prepared to make sacrifices for Him?

I ponder this today, because I feel the Holy Spirit has laid this upon my heart.
I write this because I, myself battle daily with full submission to Him.
I write this because I too struggle in life and understand that I am not “there” yet.
How about you, dear Soldier?  Is there still room for Jesus? Is there still room for personal growth?
Are you fully equipped for the spiritual struggles ahead?

These are many, many questions to ponder today, and I hope that we take these to heart.
I want to be the best Soldier for Christ that I can be…I’m not there yet, I have room to grow, and I’m hoping that I’m not the only one!

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

Dear Salvation Army, Would Jesus Be A Soldier?

Admittedly it’s a facetious pondering today…
but I think it’s something worth exploring in round about way.

soldierWould Jesus…(if He walked this earth today) be a soldier of The Salvation Army?
Some of you would say, “No, He would be the General”…

But…
when it comes to our mission.
when it comes to our purpose.
when it comes to serving suffering humanity…
would Jesus be a soldier?

Would He hang out with the undesirable people?
Would He converse with that smelly person in your soup kitchen that no one else wants to sit by?
Would He go into the homes of the abused, the drunkard, the hoarder, the unclean, the lowest of the low?
YOU. BET. HE. WOULD. 
Jesus1
Would He fight on even when He was tired, busy, discouraged, angry, facing all kinds of adversity?
ABSOLUTELY!

It IS really a silly pondering to consider today, but it is a necessary one.
Sometimes we must peel back all of the orders and regulations.
Sometimes we must step around the finance minutes and the policies and procedures.
Sometimes we put aside the “busy work” lingering on our desks and in our “bring up” files…And just consider what it would take for Jesus to wear this uniform and for Jesus to serve those in need regardless of the hour or the inconvenience.

Because…
If we are an Army of Holiness.
If we are theologically and philosophically aligned with the “Holiness Movement”

THEN
Jesus is in uniform
Jesus is a Soldier
Jesus is a part of this mission.
Because the Holy Spirit has taken up residence WITHIN us!

uniform2So in a very real sense…
We are the very hands of feet of Christ.
We are that representation of Christ to the world.
We are called to imitate Him in every way.

SO…
here is where the rubber meets the road:
Are we?
Are we representing Christ in the very best way?
We are NOT perfect by the world standards.
We do have issues…sometimes many.
We all come with our own baggage and burdens.
But He can free us from these.
Do we try to be the best soldier that we can be?
Not to please the General, or our Corps Officer, or the Divisional/Territorial Commander…but to please God.
To honor Him with everything we do…are we THAT kind of soldier?
Are we loving people regardless of how they smell, where they come from, how they dress, the various walks of life they reside in?

This is front line ministry.
This is vital ministry.
This can be hope to countless hopeless causes and cases.
This…
what we do…
matters!

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!
May His glory shine in all we do!
Soldier on!

Dear Salvation Army, Are We Slothful?

Go ahead, leave comments below and tell me how offended you are at this question.
The truth is, I kind of hope we are all offended by this in some way.
If we aren’t offended…
If we aren’t in some way incensed…
if we aren’t in some way spurned into action…
then I fear the pondering posed today is in fact true of us.

I do not think this is the case, but it is worth exploring today.
Photo Mar 18, 10 18 15 AM
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” Colossians 3:23

Sloth is more than just laziness.
As a Christ follower, sloth takes on a deeper connotation to mean one who is spiritually or emotionally apathetic.
One who is physically, spiritually and/or emotionally inactive.

Obviously this isn’t indicative of The Salvation Army I know and serve within…
yet, are there moments?
are there those within its ranks?
are there corps and soldiers in need of this kind of wake up call?
could it be me?

shoes1I Am A Runner.
I don’t say that to indicate that I am a good runner.
I don’t say this to sound prideful or boastful.
I run because I have hereditary heart issues in my family and I want to stave off those problems in my life later on.
I find running tedious if I am honest.
I grudgingly put on my running shoes in the morning and my aim is to complete my required three miles.
Some days I languish under the strain of those three miles.
Other days it seems to go by rather quickly and it feels good!

Then there are those days, even multiple days when I don’t run.  sloth
I sometimes make up excuses as to why I am not able to run on a particular day.
Momentarily it is a relief.
It seems the burden is lifted…but soon enough I feel a little guilty.
I know I should be completing my run.
I know when I have missed the mark on these personal commitments to my health and well-being.
When I miss a number of days and then put on my running shoes once more, I find that I have lost a step or two.
I also find that my endurance is not as it should be and in a small way, I have lost a little bit of muscle mass.
I have become inactive  in just a few days, and I need to get back to it.

So What?
soldierDear Soldiers,
in the very same way a runner who takes a break finds it harder to run again, are we soldiers as fit as we should be on the front lines of this mission?  I don’t wish to offend you today, but perhaps to spur us all onward.  Have we lost a step or two? Have we grown tired or weary and left the fight?  Are we sidelined by internal battles within our corps?  Are we inactive all together?

More pointedly
As soldiers sometimes we have seen it all.
We have heard all of the stories people tell us in order to get help from us.
We have been “around the block a time or two”.
Have we become calloused?
Too thick skinned that we no longer feel anymore?
Has sloth entered our lives because we have “settled” into our comfy seats in the corps buildings and we have stopped reaching out anymore because we expect “them” to come to us?
Apathy is the gasping breath of dying Army…and I am sure none of us want to be a part of dying Army!
If we stop caring about the souls of people…
If we stop fighting for the worthy cause of Christ…
If we stop caring about each other in order to better ourselves…
We will, in fact, be the cause of the final death throws of William Booth’s vision.

So, if I have offended you in this pondering today…good.
This is a reconciliation call to myself…and to you.
This is a wake up call to everyone who serves within this army.
We cannot and will not be an ever forward moving army if we do not first commit everything and every resource we possess (and do not possess) to the Lord.

If you are already “running”, if you are already actively engaged then I applaud you!
This isn’t a guilt session, and we need YOU to lead the way!

Let’s lace up our shoes…
Strap on our boots…
get out of the pews…
Pray for a softening of our hearts…
and flee anything that would cause us to fall into the trappings of sloth.

1) The Saviour of men came to seek and to save
The souls who were lost to the good;
His Spirit was moved for the world which he loved
With the boundless compassion of God.
And still there are fields where the laborers are few,
And still there are souls without bread,
And still eyes that weep where the darkness is deep,
And still straying sheep to be led.

Except I am moved with compassion,
How dwelleth thy Spirit in me?
In word and in deed
Burning love is my need;
I know I can find this in thee.

2) O is not the Christ ‘midst the crowd of today
Whose questioning cries do not cease?
And will he not show to the hearts that would know
The things that belong to their peace?
But how shall they hear if the preacher forbear
Or lack in compassionate zeal?
Or how shall hearts move with the Master’s own love,
Without his anointing and seal?

3) It is not with might to establish the right,
Nor yet with the wise to give rest;
The mind cannot show what the heart longs to know
Nor comfort a people distressed.
O Saviour of men, touch my spirit again,
And grant that thy servant may be
Intense every day, as I labor and pray,
Both instant and constant for thee.

(Except I Am Moved With Compassion, Albert Orsborn)

Something more for our Army world to ponder today!

Hey Salvation Army, We’re All Fools!!

railtonWhy did God choose the foolish? Because He loved and wished to save all, and had need of agents who would despise nobody but honor everybody, and be the servants of all people.” -Commissioner George Scott Railton

We are all fools.
We are fools for Christ.
We are fools who are prepared to win souls for Christ!

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

God didn’t call the qualified, He called the faithful and the willing.

Questions to consider today:
What kind of fool am I?
How far will I go in my commitment to Christ?
Am I committed enough to help serve suffering humanity?
Am I committed enough to deny myself so that others needs are met?
Am I committed enough to sacrifice my pride, my need for human recognition?
Am I a man/woman after God’s own heart?

I would like us to consider Railton’s quote today.
Are there people in our lives that we despise?
Are we harboring grudges, bitterness, anger?
Have we given ourselves over to His calling completely…or are we holding back?
Are we being held back by some of the emotions I just mentioned?

If you still have bitterness in your heart because of how you have been treated or because you have been hurt in the past (intentionally or unintentionally) – LET. IT. GO.

boulderDon’t hold onto those grudges.
Don’t cling to those remnants of rage and bitterness.
Don’t become engaged in feuds…some times we have this giant chip on our shoulders that we carry around with us and we don’t even realize it.  It is like carrying around a giant heavy boulder where ever you go…you just won’t get anywhere.

(Back to being fools)
If we cannot let go of the bitterness of the past, we will be of no use (or less effective) in the present.
This doesn’t only hurt ourselves and this mission, this hurts potential people we could be reaching out to.
Like it or not, if we harbor bitterness in our ministry we will most likely poison others along the way.

I want to be a fool.
I want to be a fool for Christ.
Do you?

Whether you’re an adherent, soldier or officer, you matter to this Army!
You are needed in this fight!
His message is for EVERYONE!
He doesn’t discriminate.
He longs for right relationship with ALL people, from ALL walks of life!
We cannot afford to despise anyone.
We shouldn’t waste our time on bitterness or envy or rage…especially if we are running after Christ with full abandon.
hate
Let me ask…
what kind of fool are you?

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

Dear Salvation Army, 5 ‘Right’ Ways To Disciple (Part 2)

Yesterday we explored the wrong ways to disciple:  “5 Wrong Ways To Disciple (Part 1)

Today I would like to flip the coin.
I would like us to look at the positive side of things.
Discipleship is vital to our Army.
We want need soldiers who are discipled, who are living a life of holiness, who are determined and disciplined, and those who long to disciple others along as well.

In other words: The Salvation Army needs us all to grow up!
We need to grow up in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We need to mature in our faith walk.
We need to deepened our spiritual wells.
We must step up, stop living on baby formula and strive to feast of a richer more sustainable way of holy living.

“…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,…” (Ephesians 4:15)

Photo Mar 10, 11 06 52 AMYes, many within our ranks may have grown up in broken homes.
Yes, many within our ranks may have experienced abuses of many kinds.
Yes, many within our ranks may still carry these scars into the present…some may never fully heal.
BUT I believe in a mighty God who can and will transform, restore and renew us!
Each of us are capable of growth regardless of the scars that we carry with us.
We are not called to be educated.
We are not called to have all of the answers.
We are not even called to be capable by human standards…BUT: we are called to be faithful and He will provide the tools that we need in order to thrive within His plan for our lives.

5 Right Ways To Disciple: 
1.  Slow down – Don’t Run but Walk run
There will be certainly times that the Holy Spirit will prompt us to pick up the pace, but if we are discipling others along in this faith, remember that it will take time.  Be patient!  Don’t overwhelm new Christians will all of your religious jargon and “army terminology”.  They will not be ready for this.  It is too much.  They won’t understand and you may inadvertently drive them away.  So go easy!

Understandably we have “Christian” standards that we, who are more mature in the faith, live by…remember that those with whom you have the privilege of discipling or mentoring do not have those deep roots yet.

treeA Parable of sorts:  A tree within the forest can grow for hundreds of years.  As that tree grows (slowly) over time, the root system expands and deepens into the fertile soil.  Younger trees, however, are more susceptible to the prevailing winds as their roots have yet to embed and deepen.

Remember, dear mentor, soldier, friend, that God has been patient with us…and we are far from perfect even now.
Go slow with those you disciple.
Be patient.
Don’t discourage those that are young in the faith because they still have many roots to deepen…show them that you care and that they truly are loved and accepted!

2.  Be Real, Be Genuine! real
The second right way is to be honest.
Don’t hide the fact that you yourself still struggles with things of this life.
Don’t try to make yourself look perfect in every way.
Don’t hide behind some sort of “Super Soldier” facade.
Be a real person who is accessible and honest with those that you disciple.
Two things happen when we are real and genuine:
a. We have a more tender hearted approach to those we mentor because we too have become vulnerable.
b. the disciplee will see honest living, nothing faked, and they will treasure this gift!

Do you know what millennials despise more than anything? – Disingenuous overly religious people who are hypocrites and hide behind religious sayings and mantras but are in no way righteous in their living.
I think Jesus despised disingenuous people as well…no wait, I know He did!  Lead by example, not by dictating laws and rules…Genuine living trumps hypocrites and phonies any day!

bible13. Reverence of Scripture and life application!
Are there other spiritual sources for encouragement and Christian living?  Of course, but do not discount the power of God’s Word.  Were the people who wrote various books in the Bible perfect?  Of course not!  But there is also hope, joy and encouragement wedged within those pages as well!  Teach from the Word of God!  Make sure it is utilized when mentoring disciples of the faith.  Life application should take place within the narrative lessons of the Bible.  When reading passages of scripture, I still ask myself the question “what can I learn and apply in my own life from this story or teaching?

The Bible is not obsolete, it is not writings of an ancient people that has no footing in our world today…so use it wisely.

4.  Point To Holiness
For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7

This walk of faith that we are on, directs us to the longing and the need to be like Christ in every way.
This isn’t some mumbo-jumbo babble about holiness, this is our prime example of holy living!
Mentors, speak of holy living often!
Live holy lives!
Display selflessness.
Be genuine and sincere.
Allow those you disciple to understand who we are to imitate and follow after!
Speak often of the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Of His indwelling within us.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

5.  Invest of yourself and your time!  clock
If we are leading disciples of Christ into a deeper relationship with Him, we must make ourselves available!
This includes our “personal spaces”, times of real fellowship can occur in places other than the corps building!
I recall those mature Christians who mentored me – they were accessible, they were available to my questions, they were there when I needed them.  Are we available to those we disciple?  How much of our time are investing in them?

Again, this is not a sprint but a marathon.
Discipling people will demand our attention and our time.
Are we prepared to give it?
Are we prepared to give of ourselves?
Those we disciple will know if we feel inconvenienced all the time with their questions and need to linger with us.
Be patient, and compassionate and kind.
Your attention to them will make a difference!

Note:  You don’t necessarily have to have a book on “how to disciple” someone.
Sure, there are good materials out there, but if you don’t have text books available to you to lead someone through a discipleship/mentoring program, just be who God has called you to be and teach through example and through the Word of God!

Photo Mar 10, 11 07 43 AMDear Salvation Army,
we need more willing, godly Soldiers to step up and disciple others!
We need more examples of holy living in our corps!
We need more examples of holy living to our young people who are being pulled in every which way and could succumb to the immense pressures of temptation and sin.

Will you go?
Will you disciple?
Will you invest of yourself?
Will you be the very reflection of Christ?

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

Dear Salvation Army, 3 Things Corps Officers Should Know About Their Soldiers!

Last week I wrote part 1 of this “two sided coin” so to speak – 3 Things Soldiers Should Know About Their Corps Officer(s)

Today I would like to conclude the second side of the coin on the topic of “things the Corps Officer should know about their Soldiers!”  Understandably without Soldiers in our corps doing the amazing work that they do, we are hopelessly lost!  We need strong soldiers to lead.  We need strong leaders to help the Corps Officers.  I understand that sometimes these two dynamics in the corps does not “gel” the way it should.  Both sides of this coin ought to recognize that we are all on the same team…but sometimes, unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way.  I believe Satan thrives upon our disunity and polarizing leadership directions.  He wants us to fail.  We, often times, will fail in our corps, not because we lack the appropriate resources to complete the mission, but because we can’t see eye to eye, or we all think that we know what is best for the corps and we take opposing directions.

The Corps is the forefront of The Salvation Army mission – make no mistake about that!
Yes, vital lifesaving missions are also located in the Harbor Light, and ARC’s and Schools and Shelters, and in a way they are a corps unto themselves.  At the Corps level we engage the enemy and we see the hopelessness of those who come to us for help!  This fight isn’t just about who the Corps Officer is (it was never about that in the first place) but about who will lead and who will serve Christ in every aspect of this mission to the lost.
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3 Things Corps Officers Should Know About Their Soldiers:

1.  They Are The Long-term Investors
Local Officers and Soldiers have been there long before you came to that appointment, and they will be there a long time after you are gone.  They have invested in that the local Corps’ mission.  They understand that community probably much better than you ever will, no matter what education you might have and what your grade point average was at Training College.  I do not mean to sound snarky here by any means, I simply wish to convey how invested most soldiers are to that current Corps.  They are the backbone of the corps…or at least they should be.  Sometimes (and I know this is true) Corps Officers have run over Soldiers and Local Officers to accomplish what they believe the direction of the corps should be.  Sometimes this has happened the other way around as well.  Every Corps is different, this much is true, but when Corps Officers and Soldiers work together side-by-side, we work for the same purpose, the same cause.  Understand, Corps Officers, that your Soldiers and Local Officers are the Long-term investors of your corps!

2.  They Want To Be Led By Godly, Consistent Officers! uniform
Corps Officers, it is imperative that we lead our corps and its constituents in a godly manner.
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:2-4
Yes, hold your local officers and soldiers accountable, but be accountable to these same standards as well!
Don’t ask something of others that you yourself aren’t willing to do either.  Be the kind of leader that leads by example and does the hard work right along with your soldiers!  God honors holy leaders who are consistent in word and deed!  Be consistent leaders!  Lead by humility and love, not by power and might!  Don’t lord over others with your authority, after all, you can and will be replaced one day.  Invest in your soldiers, but also give fully of yourself where possible.

flags3.  Delegate, Lean And Learn!
There is a HUGE difference between a seasoned Officer and a salty one.  Don’t be a salty one!  There will be difficult days as officers in this Army.  There will be times when you will want to take out your frustrations upon soldiers.  Choose your battles wisely.  Confront when you need to confront, but do so in love and by first praying about every situation that you face!
If you think of yourself as Super-Officer that wears a navy blue and red cape and one who doesn’t need any help from soldiers and local officers, then you need to kill Super-Officer.  There, I’ve said it for all soldiers everywhere.  YOU. CAN’T. DO. EVERYTHING. YOURSELF.  So stop trying to be Super-Officer, because Super-Officer will ultimately burn out, fade away and become discontent.

Corps Officers, you need to understand the vital usage of delegation.  Moses couldn’t do everything and so, thankfully he began to delegate responsibilities.  Don’t hold the reins of everything so tightly that you begin to slowly strangle your corps to death.  Let others lead when you have individuals willing and able to lead.  It may not meet your standards at first, but trust them, teach them…don’t enable your soldiers to always rely on the Officer to do everything!  You shortchange and stunt the growth of your soldiers and leaders when you become Super-Officer who leads and does everything!  So get rid of Super Officer, and delegate, teach and lean on your Soldiers!

Lastly, do not think for a minute that you have learned all there is to know about leadership, and that your soldiers and local officers can’t teach you something new!  Always be pliable and teachable yourself!  Recognize that book-learning sometimes isn’t enough and that life-learning can aid you to become a better, more godly Officer.   Your Corps, your present appointment can and will teach you something wonderful if you are available to be taught.  Do not become so prideful in your abilities that you become arrogant and incapable of the kind of change that you yourself preach about from the pulpit to others.

These are just three things Corps Officers should know about their Soldiers.
There are many more…but it begins by listening.
It begins by listening to the Holy Spirit, to your Soldiers and to the community that you serve!
So listen, lead your flock that are long-term investors, and lead them well!  Allow them to teach you something.  Allow them to learn with you.  Help them develop into the best leaders that they can be as well!  Together we can accomplish this great mission.  Together we are a stronger army!  What say you?

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

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