Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Booing Adam Goodes has become about Racism.

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The pot has been stirred and Australia can't stop talking about it. No, I'm not referring to Bronwyn Bishop's travel expenses, though that too gets us talking. And I'm not speaking about changing the Marriage Act or whether Bill Shorten would make a good Prime Minister. I'm talking about racism. Well, more directly, I'm talking about the booing saga that has Adam Goodes choosing to sit out for a week of professional football and which has divided the Australian public.

Go with me for a minute. Remember the apology to the 'Stolen Generation'? Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood before the parliament, during his tenure as Prime Minister and offered a heartfelt apology to Indigenous Australia. He said:
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on....our fellow [indigenous] Australians. We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry...
The moment was February 13th, 2008. Such words were spoken because underlying the relationships between Anglo-Australians and Indigenous Australians was a bubbling discontent. Someone had to step forward and offer some leadership to help bring about reconciliation. Rudd ripped off the band-aid and tried to offer some disinfectant.

Though it is clear that some seven years later, the tension and hurt still runs deep with the inherent differences around our race. In a piece called Racism in Australia today, I wrote: 
You could liken racism in Australia to soup in a pot boiling away on the stove and occasionally someone turns up the heat and the pot overflows. Right from the settlement of white immigrants in the late 18th Century there has been racial tension, and discrimination has been bubbling away, coming to the surface on occasions.
Adam Goodes has turned up the heat.

Now, who would have thought, that something as seemingly simple as booing a footballer during an AFL match could spark up issues of race today. Some of you are yelling at the computer now, saying, 'It's not about racism!' Well, that may be true for you, but if it is interpreted as racism, does that not make it so? I mean, if you abuse someone, and a person feels abused, surely you don't get the luxury of pointing out that you 'felt like abuse did not occur' and then automatically that becomes true. That's as petty and pathetic as when I was in high school and someone punched me in the arm, and I said that it hurt. The reply came, 'That didn't hurt!' But wait a minute! That's my arm, and I can tell you it hurts! Don't tell me it doesn't hurt, because you're the one inflicting it upon me!

Maybe, it was not about racism when it all started. Sure. I can go with that. Though, when people on social media start labelling Adam Goodes everything under the sun, we quickly realise, Australia has racism issues. And the reason the Adam Goodes thing became linked to racism, was because when someone applies the heat to Australian culture, the cracks appear, and one of those cracks is our racist attitudes towards Indigenous Australians.

The sooner we admit we have an underlying racist problem in Australia, the better. Then and only then can we truly start to do something about it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

9 Reasons Why I'm a Salvationist

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9 Reasons Why I'm A Salvationist 
by Captain Peter Brookshaw

I love The Salvation Army. Now don’t hear me as being someone who lacks the ability to critique a movement to which I have committed to serve my life in. Far from it. But, that being said, I love The Salvation Army. Maybe we don’t say that enough. We are so ready, as we would say in Australia, ‘to take the Micky out of it’. That is we are quick to find the negative and let that be the content of our conversation. Repentance and humility is needed. Absolutely. But let me take a different approach right now.

The list I offer to you is not ’9 reasons why I chose Salvationism over something else…’ I’m not attempting to compare the mission and ministry of The Salvation Army with that of the church down the road. I want to point out ideas, concepts and reasons why I feel absolutely connected with the work of this movement.

I want to offer to you, in no particular order, 9 reasons why I’m a Salvationist. I surely should have some reasons; I mean, I had put aside other ambitions in life and sacrificed other things to become a Soldier in The Salvation Army. You may have your own list.
Here is mine. 9 Reasons why I’m a Salvationist.

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 1 –
 I want to fight to make a difference in the world. Salvationism best expresses my own inherent desires to stand tall and advocate against injustice, to work to rid the world of sinfulness, through Jesus Christ. There is an alignment between what I desire to do in my life with the mission to which God has called The Salvation Army to participate in, and that which the Lord would have us do. I’m still ok with the para-military nature of this ‘Army’. I can hold the tension between a pacifist, compassion-filled, Jesus-focused kind of ministry, with the need to fight. To water down the ‘fighting’ aspect of The Salvation Army, I believe dilutes the passionate, aggressive drive within us to combat injustice and right the wrongs of a broken society. We can reconcile a call to compassionate ministry, with a resolute commitment to speaking out against discrimination and fighting for the rights of the last, lost and the least. In fact, to not fight for such things is not compassion at all. 

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 2 – 
I have joined a movement that has agreement on foundational doctrinal statements. I don’t aim to be theologically controversial in this article. We have tried and tested doctrinal statements that provide a great foundation for the faith to which we profess. One may critique the wording and the nuances of such statements, and I welcome that, but that doesn’t alter the fact, for me personally, that such beliefs undergird my commitment to this movement. See, we believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe people can be sanctified. We believe people need justification from sin that only Jesus provides and they need the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. We believe in the eternal happiness of the righteous and the endless punishment of the wicked. The ground hasn’t shifted such that we no longer uphold the nature of God, original sin, justification, holiness, and the like. I love the consistency of theological belief across this global movement.   

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 3 – 
We integrate the work of evangelism and social justice. We don’t separate the two and place them in two different buildings with two different line managers and never the twain shall meet. No. As William Booth said, they are like Siamese twins. As I wrote in a recent blog post, ‘When the gospel is only about the salvation of souls we deprive Salvationism of the fullness of the work of Christ. When the service of God through The Salvation Army is only about cups of cold water to those in need we can let people go spiritually thirsty. Captain Andy Miller III in his new book Holistic Hospitality says, 'The way in which people understood [the] balance between what is social and what is spiritual was an issue in the beginning of the Army and is still an issue today.' He mentions that in some points of The Salvation Army's history we had 'dynamic holistic missiology'.’ See the post: Controversial Ideas The Salvation Army needs to wrestle with. I love when I witness the amazing power that happens when someone follows Christ and at the same time is finding shelter, forgiveness, food and reconciliation.

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 4 –
 I have joined a global movement. I believe we are yet to grasp the significance of having global interconnectedness. When a powerful move of the Holy Spirit impacts enough territories within the Army, it will spread like an Australian Bushfire through the entire movement. In today’s technological culture, let’s not sleep through an era in which there is so much potential. Can I be honest for moment? I am disappointed there are not more Salvationists using the platforms of social media to make a difference in the world. I wrote a blog the other day and it had 1,700 readers in two days. That’s more than my Grandma and Great Aunt. Your God-ideas can go global in minutes. Why are not more Salvationists embracing it? Why are there not more Commissioners with Facebook pages, using their God-given position and the ‘brand’ that that represents and use it to grow the Kingdom of God? Why are there not more social justice advocates with far-reaching twitter accounts? We have global connectedness in The Salvation Army. It is largely underutilized and over bureaucratized. Speak out about Jesus! Advocate for the oppressed! Use all the avenues given to you to make a difference!

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 5 – 
What grabbed hold of me when I first became a part of a Salvation Army community of faith (when I was 18), was the welcome I felt within that community. This wasn’t some manipulative welcoming that was intended to simply grab another recruit or fill an empty chair on a Sunday morning. There was something alive within the Corps that made me feel alive. People would join together every Sunday night after the meeting and go out for pizza and pasta. We would laugh until our bellies hurt and eat until our bellies hurt. I couldn’t go past the welcome that these particular Jesus-people offered. See, I didn’t receive that welcome at the local sporting club, and I sure didn’t have that kind of community in my schooling years.
Some of your hear this and say, ‘Well, I haven’t been part of that kind of welcoming community. In fact, where I was, there was only judgmentalism.’ I’m sorry if that was your experience. But, what I am saying, is that one of the core reasons why I personally am a Salvationist today is because of that amazingly warm welcoming spirit that engulfed me at that local corps. May we replicate such inclusive community in our local expressions of Salvation Army ministry.

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 6 –
 The history of The Salvation Army fires me up and still does. The explosive growth of The Salvation Army, in particular the years 1878 – 1890 absolutely grips my heart. How could God raise up a movement that radically expanded into scores of countries within years? What was it that drove a 16 year-old girl named Eliza Shirley to move from the UK to Philadelphia, U.S.A. to open fire in a new country? Why would Edward Saunders and John Gore be so passionate about this Christian mission, that in the late 1800s they stood on the back of a greengrocer’s cart in a park in South Australia and preached the gospel and offered people a meal? Why would Salvationists be praying ALL-NIGHT and even run out of room in the prayer meetings, because the facilities were not big enough to accommodate all those attending the prayer meeting? Why would Salvationists like William McKenzie be in the trenches in World War I, praying with Army soldiers, leading funerals, running out into battle with the troops and being a chaplain in such a volatile, horrific situation like WWI? What drove William Booth to travel the world to raise up such a movement?

The passion, tenacity, focus and faith-filled dynamism of such Salvationists still inspires me today. They lived for something that drove them to their knees in prayer, that called them to leave the comforts of their own lifestyles, and to partner with God with vision that sparked a world-wide movement. God, may we replicate the passion and drive of such Salvationists today.

 I think of Eugene Peterson’s version of Romans 12:1-2, ‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.’

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 7 – 
One of the reasons why I’m a Salvationist is because of what I believe God wants to do through The Salvation Army in the days ahead. This is a faith thing and isn’t related so much to what has gone before and what is even happening now (as good as that has been and is). There is a little belief that pounds on my heart that won’t go away. I liken it one of my children, sitting in the car, saying, ‘Dad. Dad. Dad… Dad… Dad! Dad. Dad. Daddy. Dad. Dad.’ The little voice is constant. I believe it’s the whisper of the Holy Spirit and the regular reminder in my mind of what the Spirit has said. The best days are still ahead for The Salvation Army. I’ve said that 37 times and I’ll say it again. It’s not that God is not doing great things now. Sure. God is. I love it. I celebrate that. I’ve heard some of the stories. I agree. That’s awesome. Though, imagine the days when the Holy Spirit is spreading through this movement in new and radical ways. Muslims are becoming followers of Jesus by the thousands. Officer numbers are increasing one hundred fold. Corps planting is hard to keep up with. Conferences are jam packed. Homeless shelters are being established like no tomorrow. We are raising up new hospitals, rehabs and communities of faith in low-socio economic areas that makes the past pale in significance.

Call me delusional. Call me crazy. I believe that when the Spirit moves afresh upon us (as we allow Holy Spirit to do that) and when we move from an institution to a movement ethos we will witness global transformation. Sometimes you have to build an Ark in a desert because you know sooner or later God is about the send the rain.  

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 8 –
 We have a radical, sold-out commitment to the last, the lost and the least. Jesus clearly expressed a leaning towards helping the poor, the outcast, the rejected and the seemingly unlovable. His first public speech, as recorded in Luke’s gospel, is one where he quotes Isaiah 61, and he affirms his commitment to preaching good news to the poor, to healing the brokenhearted and to setting the captive free. He then stirs up the crowd and suggests to them that the people of God are sent to be a blessing to more than just the Israelite people, but to even the Gentiles!
I admire employees, Salvationists and volunteers who have laid down their life to serve the most vulnerable of our communities. The stories I hear are of chaplains sitting for copious amounts of time listening and mentoring broken people. They include stories of volunteers giving lifts to people who are stranded and employees going to great lengths to encourage an alcoholic to reform the way they think and behave. The commitment I see in these workers within our movement is inspirational. I’m a Salvationist because I align the call of Jesus to minister to broken people, and see The Salvation Army as an amazing vehicle to fulfil that mission.

Why I’m a Salvationist: Reason 9 – We do stuff. Yes, that’s right. We don’t just sit around in our ecclesiastic structures intellectually debating controversial theological issues. We do something about that which we believe. The pragmatism of The Salvation Army motivates me. Some have critiqued The Salvation Army for not being intellectual enough; for not wrestling enough with theological ideas and concepts. There’s probably truth to that. Those with the gift of teaching should fan their gifts into flame and continue to wrestle with what discipleship looks like in a rapidly changing 21st Century. Though the pragmatic, ‘do something’ kind of culture of The Salvation Army is exciting. Someone is in need and we want to help them. Someone is homeless, we want to house them. Someone is addicted, we want to set them free. We are pragmatic to the core and that’s one reason why I’m a Salvationist.
There is always more to be said. Some of these ideas may inspire you. I hope they do. As we align our hearts with that of God’s, I pray that God truly would grant the desires of our hearts!

This article was also published in Journal of Aggressive Christianity

Pete Blogs Regularly at: www.petebrookshaw.com
Twitter: @petebrookshaw

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Memorable BOUNDLESS Moments - Salvation Army International Congress 2015

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It's time to share some memorable moments from Boundless 2015! Irrespective of whether you were there, you watched online, or you found my blog advertised on a Burger King website, you'll be inspired by these. I can't possibly encapsulate all that God is doing in these moments, but let me give it a crack!

Memorable BOUNDLESS Moments:
  1. The story of a Nazi soldier becoming a follower of Jesus and Salvationist.
  2. A Pakistani woman preaching the Gospel to a large Salvation Army crowd. Think on the significance of that for a moment.
  3. The privilege of praying with a Salvation Army officer couple. God released their burdens and hurts after a surreal moment of prayer.
  4. Young people kneeling at the mercy seat. You could sense God was moving powerfully.
  5. Silvie Paladino singing it out for Jesus. Tears in her eyes. Tears in our eyes.
  6. The General publicly declaring, "If your corps does not have a program to nurture and train youth into leadership - then shame on you!"
  7. An open air meeting outside the arena, with two ukuleles, and two guitars, singing, 'This little light of mine.' I shouted out a preach. I lost my voice. 
  8. African worship just springing up in random places. Can you dance like the Africans? Some of us have tried. Be it Zimbabwe, South Africa, or Nigeria, they have danced and praised God. I can't help but think the tremendous growth of The Salvation Army in African Countries is directly proportionate to the desire to passionately worship God and acknowledge God in all things.
  9. Boys from the Korean Boys Home playing the drums with gusto.
  10. We have spoken many times about bringing justice to the oppressed; hope for the hopeless and care and support for the needy. Help us God in days ahead.
  11. The International Social Justice Commission shared that tens of millions of children in our world do not get a proper education. #upforschool - Stand up for education here.
  12. One young lady shared to a packed stadium, that God healed her from cancer. A powerful testimony. A tough, and long journey, but she is alive to share the story.
  13. Everytime I walk past an African, I salute and say, 'Hallelujah!' In a deep African accent, the reply is immediate. The salute happens and they declare, 'Hallelujah!'
  14. The drama teams scattered throughout the United States are impressive.
  15. 'How Great is our God' in a Spirit-filled auditorium. That's awesome.
  16. Lunch at the Blind Beggar Pub, with a group of world-changers - Phil Wall, Danielle Strickland, Ian Mayhew and Stephen Court launching a way of life - INFINITUM
  17. About a dozen different times people stopped me and mentioned they were inspired by my blogging and social media work. To every social media guru, blogger and writer, understand that you are most likely having an influence well beyond the borders of your own community!
  18. "If you want to better the future, you have to disturb the present!" - Catherine Booth.
  19.  The unveiling of the Catherine Booth Statue, located in Mile End, London.
  20. Random coffee chats with other like-minded people.
  21. Praying for a elderly man in Nandos, who began a conversation because he liked my wife Jo's high-neck uniform!
  22. Praying for healing for a mate of mine outside the O2 arena.
  23. Brass bands and Timbrelists giving God praise.
  24. Unexpected conversations with people of all cultures.
  25. Five Generals in one room at once. I thought that was intriguing. General Larsson, General Clifton, General Cox, General Bond and my mate who's a General nuisance. (Shaun Featherson!)
  26. #Boundless2015 hitting 10 million hashtags of #Boundless2015! Wow! 
  27. New facebook friends, some with pages in other languages.
  28. The challenge to 'Stand up for Christ!' and to 'Call people to Salvation!'
  29. Andrew Bale shared the story - Young adult Salvationists who were sitting in late at Starbucks, and mopped and cleaned the floors for the staff at closing time, while the staff relaxed! 
  30. Numerous people from the general public asking what in the world is going on in The Salvation Army! 
  31. My wife playing the Ukulele on the porch the other night, and we end up having a prayer meeting with three people walking by (not Salvos).
  32. Australia Southern Territory people: Walking through London, looking to and fro and calling out, "Floyd, Floyd, Floyd, Floyd, Floyd!" (our TC).  
  33. The General acknowledging publicly (in a smaller gathering), that the Army needs to be in the political space, speaking up for issues of justice, informed by the Word of God and led by the Spirit. Human rights!
  34. I was personally inspired by having informal chats with people 'in leadership' (for lack of a better description), for who they are in Christ, their integrity and what they have spoken into my life this week. Thanks for the encouragement.
  35. In the women's ministry session, bracelets were given out that were made in third world countries (mudlove.com) and women prayed for each other, from different nationalities.Every product purchased from the website, provides one week of clean water for someone in need.
  36. Walking up to an African man, with a straight face and then pointing to his shirt, highlighting the food on his shirt (that of course wasn't there). Then he looked. 'Got ya!' Then he cracked up laughing. The same joke works in every culture!! #dadjokesrule
  37. The best days are still ahead for The Salvation Army. I think the General said that. Some people believe that. I do. 
Feel free to share your memorable BOUNDLESS moments!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guess what happened at Salvation Army Boundless 2015?

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I have heard the chit-chat and the small talk. I have overheard some powerful times of prayer. The Salvation Army Boundless experience in London is well underway. The International Congress, celebrating 150 years, is buzzing. Though, for those who are not there, you may want to hear what has already been happening. Let me offer you some insider information, hot off the press!  

Allow me to start with this: You can change the world, but the fact is, you need to first believe you can. Actually, let me take a step back. Before you even believe you CAN change the world, you need to believe it needs changing. Maybe that goes without saying. One look at the National News and you should have that box ticked off. Though, implicit by the little action of some Christians presupposes an inherent belief that the world is just fine the way it is. Well let me suggest, that the WORLD NEEDS CHANGING.

Followers of Jesus are called to reconcile the world back to Christ. Some Salvationist friends bellow out the words, 'Win the World for Jesus.' These words, in the midst of post-Christian, secular societies are confrontational and create unease, but does that make them any less relevant and poignant? To reconcile creation, to the fullness of God's plan for it, is exciting, bold and absolutely a cause worthy of a whole-life commitment.

So let me say, as I wander through the hustle and bustle of The Salvation Army Boundless International Congress 2015, let me highlight some Spirit-led moments and bit-sized thoughts for you:

  1. If we do not disturb the present, we cannot reshape the future.
  2. We commemorate the past, but we do not idolize it. 
  3. An officer tried to lead a security guard to follow Christ. Maybe tomorrow will be more successful.
  4. We must be willing to take a risk in the present. Innovation is not optional, it is mandatory.
  5. Worship in a Salvation Army context, was historically described as 'raucous' (Dr. Roger Green).
  6. Confession followed by repentance. I think we need some of that. Don't entertain me, challenge me. Don't tickle my ears but make them burn with the sounds of salvation.
  7. Coffee is not necessary for salvation, but necessary for holiness. (Yes, I just wrote that. That's unofficial theology).
  8. Random prayer meetings of 3-4 people are happening within the O2 Arena and foyer. Very surreal.
  9. God can do immeasurably more than anything we ask or imagine. True. Though listen to the whole thing: 'God can do immeasurably more than anything we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us... to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen!' (Ephesians 3:20-21). God can do amazing things, through his POWER within US! We are God's chosen vessel to DO the amazing things! Wow! Think on that for a moment.
  10. I am inspired by the energy, the love, the dynamism, the faith and the authenticity of Salvationists I meet.
  11. From the Philippines, to Scotland, to the U.S.A. to the Africas... God is stirring up The Salvation Army.
  12. The Salvation Army has a destiny.
  13. Jesus is coming back soon.
#boundless2015
#salvationarmy
 

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