The Salvation Army…A Holiness for Failures.

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Okay, I admit my title is a little inflammatory…hang with me, I’ll get to the point.  Here’s what I mean: The Salvation Army ministers to many who come from hard-living lifestyles.  Admittedly many souls who come to us for help are victims of these lifestyles.  How we minister to them begins with the old catch phrase/slogan “Soup, soap, salvation”.  We long to fill their stomachs, clean them up and get their lives back on track before we can minister to their hearts.  Perhaps it doesn’t have to be specifically in that chronological order either, our ministry opportunities could come simultaneously.  But the core of our ministry stems upon a demographic of those who are marginalized, poor and/or destitute…and the failures – there I said it.   

The “Failure” –
We live in a numbers oriented ministry driven world where, from an outside point of view only having 20 or 40 in a service on Sunday seems to indicate a dying church when compared to mega churches and large community churches that boast well over a 1,000 members.  I’m not knocking these churches, nor am I jealous and want to become them…but there are quite a few who join the ranks of the army who look at these churches and then look at our corps attendance on Sundays and feel as if we’ve failed and/or are dying.  It’s a failure of a different sort, a failure of perspective.  This failure of perspective comes when we buy into the lie that numbers in the pews are the only source or indicator of a ministry’s effectiveness.   Successful ministry begins and ends at personal relationships.  Do we spend quality time one on one with those with whom we minister with and to?  This is the true evidence of genuine discipleship.  Not that it can’t happen in other ministries where you can possibly get lost in the crowd, but can you hide in a corps that boasts 40 members?

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 Are we caring for the complete person?  Is there follow-up and attention to the real sources of crucial personal issues in their lives? The Salvation Army isn’t like other churches because it isn’t just a church, it’s a movement and a triage location to the lost, hurting, marginalized and the failures.  

Operating within a Holiness For Failures: 
Fellow spiritual freedom fighters we aren’t strictly in the business of merely facilitating “goods” to those in need.  We have a broader, greater mission to fulfill.  It may indeed begin with the services of goods in order to meet the physical needs, but it mustn’t end there!  That is only the beginning.   We must be willing able to help usher those we serve in our community into the very throne room of heaven in order for them to have the opportunity to meet and know Christ Jesus.  Providing “goods” and services gets us in the door but if we are a mission of holiness for failures (myself included) then we must do more than a box of food, a place to sleep and a warm meal…we must display and convey Jesus!  

Jesus came for the Failures and the Lost! 

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Jesus came for the whosoever, and those He picked to serve in His mission were not the best of the best.  They were tough men and women.  Many were from hard living lifestyles and many did not have the best of educations.  If Jesus had operated within modern day success oriented means He would have gone to the synagogues and recruited the most educated.  He would have filled the temples to the brim and He would have had an active prosperous ministry that would have afforded Himself many properties and riches…yet this wasn’t His mission.  He came to the rejects, the prostitutes, the outcasts, the uneducated, the lame and the sick, the dead and all we failures.  Not failures by occupational standards or in friendships (not all anyway) but by a salvation standard.  “For all have sinned (failed) and fallen short of the glory of God.”   (Romans 3:23)  He operated within a holiness for failures system.  This isn’t to mean that Holiness is or was a failure, but rather He went to the sinner, He lived among to poor, He cared for the outcasts and brought the power of redemption to those who would hear and seek.  Even selecting His disciples He showed evidence that He would use anyone who was willing to follow and willing to receive His holiness and success at the cost of even death.  

From point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ 

How are we bringing people from point ‘a’ (a life of sin and shame) to point ‘b’ (a life of salvation, redemption and holiness)?  What are we concerned with more?  Numerical success or the success of holistic ministry and spiritual life altering opportunities?  Are we looking over the fences at other ministries that do not embody what our movement is all about? We are many parts of the body of Christ and with that being said other ministries out there operate for different reasons.  Jesus brought hope to a world of failures, how are we emulating Him in our Corps and in our various ministries in our communities?  

Perhaps you’re hung up on the word “failure” today because of its negative connotations.  Jesus came you and for me because we needed Him!  Still today many are lost in their failures, blinded by habitual sins and shame…be a light to them not by your power but by His Holy Presence.  Help to usher His holiness to those who need Him most!  Perhaps we must stop looking over the fences, stop comparing ourselves and get back to work.  The upside – when we allow Christ to work within us as well as those we minister to He will turn us from Failures into His Holy Success stories.

 “Go for souls, and go for the worst!” 

-Just another thought to Ponder.

 

 

By Faith – Memorial Day Thought

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Hebrews 11:1-16 (NIV)
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.  12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
16 Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 These 16 verses and more make up the ‘Faith’ chapter in Hebrews.  The author evokes for us the necessity of faith in a world so wrought with uncertainties.  He recalls pillars of the faith who took leaps of faith and landed on their feet because of God.  Faith is important in this life.  Faith helps us get through many situations and if we persevere, God will provide the means for our survival.   Do you have faith? 

On this weekend throughout the United States, this country celebrates and looks back at those who have gone on before us.  Our generations who have given their lives for this country…but we too should consider our family members, church members and pillars of our faith who have paved…no blazed the way for us!  The too lived by faith and every time we recall them in our hearts my it spur us on to keep going in our lives!  Their testimonies still live on in our remembering and we ought to not only honor them in our memories but consider the trails we too are blazing in this life at this very moment.

You are an inspiration to others!

Did  you know that?  Little one, children and others will eventually look up to you and in how you conducted your life…will you be an inspiration or a tell tale of how not to live this life?  I want my kids to remember me for being a loving father and godly man…I want my children’s children to consider me when they make crucial decisions.  I don’t say this to be prideful or arrogant but rather I want to live in a such a way that I please the Lord and by the faith provide a long term role model for others to follow as well.

By Faith I Want to Live…do you? 

Just a thought for today!

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