Monday, March 7, 2016

What is God whispering to The Salvation Army?


What is God saying in these days to The Salvation Army? What is the Holy Spirit whispering to this movement in the early parts of 2016?

I think this is critical to consider. Like Moses once said, 'If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here' (Exodus 33:15). We want to embrace all that God is saying to us and apply all that we discern is being revealed to us.

Let me stop there for a moment. As Salvationists, we become so pragmatic in our service to God, we can neglect listening to God. I make a general statement here, though I have seen it time and time again. We run around like Martha, trying to prepare a meal for Jesus, yet Mary was the one who had done what Jesus desired. She had sat at his feet, to learn from him and to hear from him.
 
So with that in mind, What is God saying?

If you permit me, I want to offer my thoughts as I have been praying. They're far from conclusive, and you might want to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

I hesitate to start with something from Revelation, because you probably think I'm about to predict the day and time of the return of Jesus. But have a read of this, that John wrote to the church in Ephesus:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:2-5)

Pastor Jim Cymbala, a few years ago, gave this word to The Salvation Army:

'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.' (Isaiah 51:1)

I constantly think of a similar word; that God is calling us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Simple. Yet if we fail, we lose the entire foundation on which The Salvation Army was built.

We must look to Jesus. We cannot look to large, growing churches in affluent communities for tips on future methodology. We cannot merely look at our current practices, shine them up a little and expect different results. We must look to Jesus.

I consider my local context in recent days. Two of us praying every week for God to touch our community. Two people. Consistent prayer. Week in, week out. Would God every grow this little prayer meeting?! We believe God for breakthrough. In recent days there were six of us praying. Sunday morning we had thirteen people gathered around before the meeting to pray. God teach us to fix our eyes upon Jesus!

I sense that God is doing a new thing in our movement. Can you perceive it? And further to the preceding comments, the words in the gospel of John, chapter 15, ring true to many: You will bear fruit, fruit that will last. And that word about fruit, is related to remaining IN Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on him.

God is pleased that we now squabble less about meaningless, frivolous matters. The mission of God is being revealed to us in such a fresh way, that the concerns and desires of our heart is to partner with God in fulfilling that mission.

Though let me ask you this: If God is doing a new thing... then who are we to hold on to the old? That's a loaded question right there, but one that the Spirit of God would surely have us consider. In moving forward, what stays and what goes? It's critical to discern in coming months and years the right answer to such a question. If we get it right, then we fully pursue the purposes for which God raised us up. If we get it wrong, we may end up perpetuating practices and procedures that no longer work in our time.

So be reminded of this: God is doing a new thing, can you not perceive it?


* These are Pete Brookshaw's thoughts and ideas and do not necessarily represent the official position of The Salvation Army.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome post, Pete. I have a new book (foreword by Major Stephen Court) tells about the "new thing" that God has been doing for the past 8 years at The Salvation Army Berry Street Corps in Nashville, where ordinary people, based on 1 Corinthians 14:26, show and tell what God has done. Check it out on Amazon @ http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Church-Lost-Bible-Ekklesia/dp/1518744567/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid&sr

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  2. Here are some thoughts for a "future" Army:

    • An Army that aligns itself firstly to the teachings & person of Jesus
    • An Army that looks outwards as much as inwards, forwards as much as backwards
    • An Army reconnected with the marginalized; not just as a service provider to them, but also as integral part of our worshipping communities
    • An Army that revels in - and celebrates - it’s ethnic & cultural diversity
    • An Army with a more cohesive, consistent and connected global vision
    • An Army brave enough to allow & empower the young – and women – to lead
    • An Army that was less legalistic & dogmatic, but more compassionate & kind
    • An Army that was administratively lean & operationally nimble

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