Wednesday, September 2, 2020

An open letter to The Salvation Army

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Dear Salvation Army,

Where's your passion for Jesus? Where has your heart for your first love gone? Is it there, or is it hidden beneath the complexity of organisational life? Have you buried your love for Jesus while you try to build your own path to success? 

I ask you again. Where's your passion for Jesus? Where's your desire to lead people to him, to live out his values of the Kingdom and to transform Australia with the very love that once transformed your life?

I don't want to be the church in Sardis anymore. Have you heard of the one? Jesus writes a letter (as recorded by John) in Revelation chapter 3. It says:

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God."

Is God pruning us, or are we in fact dead? Convince me please that it is the former. Show me your red-hot, Spirit-filled, Holy-Ghost-infused compassion that seeks to live out a vision of finding hardship and injustice and then make choices that live up to those very statements.

We don't need another ecclesiastical corps cumbering the earth, nor do we need another corporate video that includes sound bites of board-room value statements produced in front of green screens and edited until they are flavourless and uninspiring. We don't need another 1 hour meeting, with a 30 second prayer at the start and a 30 second prayer at the end, with 59 minutes of trying to get ourselves out of the feelings of corporate malaise. Try for me, just once, at least... a 1 hour meeting that incorporates 20 minutes of prayer. Test me on this. See if God won't begin to give you insight and wisdom that leads you out of an institutional desert and into hope and life.  

God is calling us to be the people of God, fashioned into the likeness of his son, Jesus Christ. The way we have become is not necessarily who God wants us to be. We must surely die to ourselves, and our organisation and place each at the altar. 

And please don't skip over the importance of that short paragraph. Take a moment now and kneel before the Lord. Tell him you're willing to lay your life down (again) to follow him and his paths for your feet. Repent of the excuse that the complexities of this movement have caused you to lose your focus on Christ. It's no longer an excuse. Repent of making Jesus some sort of after-thought in your mind, when really, without him we are nothing.

I remember when I responded to a call to follow Jesus when I was 18 years old. I cried like a baby at the mercy seat (in fact that happened some weeks/months in a row!) and God was giving me a new life with a calling to serve as a Soldier and then an Officer of The Salvation Army. I am personally challenged by the Holy Spirit in these days, that I need to reaffirm my commitment to reaching for the lost and serving suffering humanity. I am a mission-mobiliser, not a corporate manager. I am a pastoral leader, not a risk management consultant. 

My heart is crying out for the Salvation Army right now. It feels like another critical time in the juncture of this movement. Will we fast and pray for revival to come upon us once again? What's it going to take? You can't do this in your own strength. You've tried, Salvation Army, and been pretty lousy at it. That's because, we were never called to fight a spiritual war, with human-made organisational solutions. We are a spiritual movement, and only God-led, spiritual wisdom will get us through. 

I am reminded recently of when I was invited by a Salvation Army prison chaplain to preach the gospel in the prison for all the inmates who attended to hear. Wow. I had a word on my heart. The word was, 'If you want to walk in freedom, you have to get out of the cage!' I preached up a storm in that little chapel area, with about 40 blokes. I said, you could walk out of this prison today, but if you still live with unforgiveness you'll still be in 'prison'! I called people to respond and an incredible number of men walked forward for prayer. I then called men to follow Jesus, and 18 big, burly blokes put their hands up to choose Jesus. I felt like William Booth at the age of 14, when he said that he had found his destiny. These moments change the course of history! This is the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ at work!

Over the years though, we have moved from a Man to a Movement to a Machine. That seems to happen in the history of the Christian Church. We had William and Catherine Booth who were led by God to ignite a 'Salvation Army' around the world. A movement ensued, and spread across the global landscape. Then we had to deal with organisational complexity and for a myriad of reasons we became a machine. And it's a machine that, if we're honest, not many Salvation Army mechanics want to work on. The engine needs replacing, the spark plugs have died and it's pretty hard to get it moving again. 

The reality is though, if we don't reclaim our first love, Jesus Christ, we won't even exist as a 'Machine' anymore, we'll become a 'Monument'. And let me tell you, there are already many Salvation Army monuments around; closed buildings, memorial photos and plaques that remind us of a by-gone era from leaders we respect and admire. 

But, in the midst of the fog, I see a new day dawning. I see a fresh, vibrant expression of following Jesus rising up among the people. I see renewed discussion occurring about holiness and what that means for The Salvation Army. I see Officers themselves becoming sparks of revival in all their areas of influence. I hear the gospel being preached in new, powerful and authentic ways, in all levels of the movement. I see a movement fixing its gaze upon Christ like it has never done before. 

I can hear the sound of a roar coming from the heavens. It's loud and note-worthy. It's like the very fear of God is coming upon The Salvation Army. And I don't say that lightly. It's the presence of God calling us to love Jesus afresh, and be filled once more to overflowing, with the presence of the Holy Spirit. It's a mighty call back to our first love.

I don't want to be part of a Salvation Army that dies. I don't want to serve my days as part of some sort of bureaucracy that used to have an incredible historical legacy of world-changing dynamism. 

We must wake up! Strengthen what remains and get ready to follow Jesus into the unknowns of the rest of this year and beyond.

If you've hidden your talents, get them back out again. If you've lost your first love, then fire it up once more. This, my friends, will be the difference between The Salvation Army either dying, surviving or thriving.

Yours in Christ,

Captain Pete Brookshaw

 

Monday, June 29, 2020

You Can't Handle the Truth!

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We live in a post-truth world. And the crazy part is, what I just said doesn’t need to be true, you just need to believe it. 
Consider any arguments about racism, sexuality, social security payments, character assessments of rich people, taxing the billionaires, and educational strategies for local schools… If the rhetoric is persuasive enough, we don’t care if it’s true, we’ll run with it.
I’m not going to try to convince you what I’m saying right now is objectively true. Consider the facts for yourself.
Can you handle the truth?
In the 1992 film A Few Good Men, Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), a US military lawyer, seeks to defend two US marines from being charged with murdering another marine. There’s that powerful scene where the colonel (Jack Nicholson) is being drilled in the courtroom by the young lawyer on whether he ordered the code red. The lawyer says forthrightly, ‘It’s the truth!’ The colonel bellows out with anger, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’
I think Jack Nicholson is right. We can’t handle the truth. Picture yourself on social media making an angry assertion about something, and then someone provides some evidence for you that shows that you were wrong. Tell me right now - do you back down straight away and admit you were wrong? Most social media engagement I’ve seen says that your pride is more important than the truth.
We’d prefer to hold on to what we now know is false, than admit we were wrong.
We can’t handle the truth.
The truth can cause a shake-up of what we think is right. Our pride can take a beating, and we’re not often willing to humbly admit we got the facts wrong.
Take for example someone who says, ‘Jesus Christ is just a fairy-tale, an absolute fairy-tale. What a load of rubbish!’ Then someone replies with, ‘But, Jesus Christ did in fact walk the earth. He’s not a fairy-tale. You might not agree that he is who he says he is, but he did in fact live and breathe on earth.’ Do you think that person is going to alter their thoughts? Maybe. We can remain hopeful. I suggest this person prefers to live in a post-truth bubble than confront the inadequacies of their own thought processes.
How do I look?
Let me give you a scenario. You and your partner are about to head off to an incredible evening of fine-dining for the annual regional business function. After some time of waiting, your partner walks into the lounge room and asks, ‘Do I look good in this dress?’ If it’s the wife and she looks stunning, you simply reply with, ‘You look amazing, darling.’ Though, what if the wife just doesn’t look great in that dress…?
Be prepared
I’m a firm believer in truth. If I didn’t steal the cookie from the cookie jar, I don’t like to be accused that I did. The struggle I have, is living in a world where there seems to be an inclination to simply find thoughts/ideas/statements that perpetuate someone’s own preconceived ideas without a willingness to be challenged by alternate views. This post-truth world is difficult to navigate through when ideas are held up as true if someone says it passionately enough.
Give someone a megaphone for long enough and you’re bound to find someone begin to follow.
For the Christian, we hold to the truth we understand about Christ and who he is and what he’s done for humanity. These words from 2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 2-5 highlight the point,
‘Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound  doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.’
This post-truth world means we will need to have great patience. We will need to humble ourselves, deal with our pride and learn to use careful instruction. We must keep our head in all situations. 
Because the reality is…
We think we have the truth. We think we know the right path. And granted, some times we might. But in this season, quite often I fear that some who think they have all their opinions down-pat, are actually unable to see beyond their own rigid ideological positions. 
How about we stop for a minute and consider... the other side might just have something worth listening to.
* This article was originally posted at Christian Today Online 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast - Episode #2 - The crisis that shaped the world

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Easter has come and gone, and we are still navigating our way through multiple crises; a health crisis and an economic crisis.

I don't know about you, but I find that the challenge is to learn how to live through a crisis and as leaders, know how to help others sift their way through the minefield of doubt and uncertainty.

I want to share with you in this episode about 'CRISIS'. How do we move forward in a crisis? How do we cope? What can we learn as leaders to help our people through a crisis?

I'm believing you'll find this episode helpful as I share with you, 'The crisis that shaped the world'. 


SHOWNOTES of EPISODE #2 - The crisis that shaped the world



In Jared Diamond’s 2019 book, ‘Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change' he writes about personal crises.

Jared Diamond’s wife is a crisis therapist, and from her field he borrows a list of factors related to the outcomes of personal crises:

  1. Acknowledgment that one is in crisis
  2. Acceptance of one’s personal responsibility to do something
  3. Building a fence, to delineate one’s individual problems needing to be solved
  4. Getting material and emotional help from other individuals and groups
  5. Using other individuals as models of how to solve problems (He writes, ‘It’s a big advantage if you know someone who has weathered a similar crisis, and who constitutes a model of successful coping skills that you can try to imitate.
  6. Ego strength 
  7. Honest self-appraisal
  8. Experience of previous personal crises
  9. Patience
  10. Flexible personality
  11. Individual core values
  12. Freedom from personal constraints

Pete's 4 concepts to embrace in a crisis:

1. Adaptability
2. A strong foundation of what you believe
3. Clarity of direction for those around you
4. Creativity


The 5 Stages of Grief:

- Denial
- Anger
- Bargaining
- Sadness
- Acceptance

These are the days where we need to know how to navigate our way through a crisis. I hope you've found this Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast Episode helpful for you.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know, 'How do you lead in a time of crisis?'

Peace in the Pandemic

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*This article was originally posted by Christiantoday.com.au

There is so much uncertainty in the world. Borders are closed. Shops are vacant. Toilet paper is like liquid gold. Chemists are scrambling to stock hand sanitiser. People are anxious. Unemployment services are overrun. Government websites are crashing.

A friend told me recently, that he works in an industry that simply does not have job security. People are concerned about keeping their jobs, and they're worried about having enough food to put on the table, and having the ability to pay their mortgage. He mentioned that he’s not an Australian citizen, and so while the Australian government are providing a couple of stimulus packages to Australians doing it tough, his circumstances are such that he won’t be the recipient of any of those funds.

None of it.

So let me spell it out. There is just so much uncertainty.

And it feels like that uncertainty is not going away any time soon.
_______________________________

Don't forget to tune in to EPISODE 1 of the Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast
_______________________________

So what now?

So the question then is how can we live in such times? How do we learn to reorient ourselves in a world fundamentally different from a week ago?

I wrote an article over a month ago saying that the greatest threat to Australian culture was disunity, and that we needed to move from polarisation to reconciliation. A global health crisis hits, and suddenly Labor State Governments are working with a Liberal Federal Government, and the Greens are helping to pass legislation and the last sitting of Parliament was the most maturity I have ever witnessed in question time.

And so for the most part, polarisation (while it still has its pockets), isn’t what Australians are talking about. We’re talking about keeping our jobs. We’re talking about sustaining small business. We’re talking about how we can possibly visit our relatives interstate. We’re talking about how we find innovative ways for the church to gather online.

We’re looking for new ways to reimagine the world we live in. We’re searching for peace in the pandemic. We’re looking for a way to hold all the moving parts together and find some solace in the process.

A little whisper

The anxiety levels have definitely risen across our land. There is definitely people crying out for wisdom and help in their times of trouble. My heart goes out to each of you.

As I consider the angst and the worry that many Australians have right now, I heard a little whisper that I want to share with you.

God wants to give you peace in the pandemic. God wants you to know of his love for you; that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you (Matthew chapter 28, verse 20).

I hope and pray you’ll find peace in the pandemic. That while the world swirls around you and the rain comes down, the stream rise, and the wind blows, that you’ll be able to stand strong with a foundation of faith in Christ.

Of one thing I am certain

In the midst of uncertainty, there is certainty.

There is certainty in the love of God toward you.

There is certainty in the salvation and hope found in God’s son, Jesus Christ.

There is certainty in the resurrection of Jesus. Amid all the confusion and heartbreak, there is certainty that Jesus has risen from the dead and that one day, those who believe in him, will be resurrected with him (See 1Corinthians chapter 15).

That’s why I’m not buying into the panic and hoarding all my flour and sugar. That’s why I’m not stockpiling toilet paper like it’s a going out of fashion.

I will find peace in the pandemic.

Of that you can be certain.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast - Episode #1 - I'm Still Standing

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Friends,

It's exciting to be launching off the newest podcast found on the internet! In the Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast I'll be exploring many different aspects of leadership and life with the aim to encourage you as you embark on making a difference in the world.

One day I heard a whisper in my mind and it said, "I want you to mobilise an Army to change the world." And so, here we are. A podcast. An opportunity. An attempt to equip you and challenge you and inspire you.

We live in unprecedented times. Our world looks fundamentally different than what it did only two weeks ago. So, how do we navigate our way through this minefield of uncertainty?

In Episode #1, I'm talking about building a firm foundation. Standing strong as a leader.

So, do me a favour, go on and have a listen now, to Episode #1 of the Pete Brookshaw Leadership Podcast.


SHOWNOTES of EPISODE #1 - I'm Still Standing
Leaders build a strong foundation in their circles of influence

Christian leaders build their house upon the rock. They model their behaviour on the very teachings of Jesus, as found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are...

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(See Matthew 5:3-10)

Leaders are generous and hospitable. Leaders turn the other cheek. Leaders don't say, "An eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth," they love their enemies, and pray for those who do wrong against them.

We are challenged to build our house upon the rock...

The rain will fall.The stream will rise.The winds will blow.

And your ability to stand strong in the midst of all this, will be based on whether you heard the words of Jesus, and not only that, but chose to put those words into practice.

I encourage you to stand strong in the midst of the shaking. I encourage you to be courageous, focused and intentional about choosing to build a solid foundation that puts you in good stead as the challenges come before you.

I'm praying for you right now. God bless you.

~ Captain Pete Brookshaw.

Monday, February 17, 2020

One of the greatest threats on Australian Culture in the next decade

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*This article first appeared at Christiantoday.com.au

When unprecedented bushfires ravaged the Australian landscape, I didn’t expect what happened next. Social media went into meltdown. The Prime Minister was excommunicated for having a holiday and not showing ‘real leadership’ in a time of crisis. The Greens were lambasted for not allowing enough controlled burning. The gloves were out. We needed someone to blame. We were angry. We are frustrated.

One journalist called it, ‘The fires dividing the nation’.

Some shouted so loud about climate change, that I think extra carbon emissions were unintentionally spread into the atmosphere. On the other hand, others dug their heels in; they denied a link between climate change and bushfires. They wanted people to cut the Prime Minister some slack. Some felt their buttons pushed and went into defence mode, simply perpetuating their climate-denying rhetoric, but this time with irrational memes and a little added aggression than normal.

Wow.

Just wow.

I didn’t think 2020 would start like I was in the middle of a boxing match between the left and right of an opinionated Australia.

I wasn’t intending to even be in the ring, but it looks like I got a couple of left and right hooks to the cheek nonetheless.  

If Madonna wrote a song today

If Madonna re-wrote her 1984 classic, Material Girl, I think she would write, ‘We are living in a polarised world, and I am a polarised girl.’ While materialism, capitalism, communism and all those –isms still rock our society today, I can’t help but think, that within the next decade, above many other things, one of the greatest threats on Australian culture will be polarisation.

We are living in a polarised world. And I am a polarised man. The forces of polarisation are forcing me into a corner.

Pete, what’s your view on same-sex marriage?
Pete, what’s your thoughts about climate change?
Pete, do you watch the ABC, or do you have Sky News?
Pete, do you read Rubert Murdoch or Fairfax?
Are you AFL or NRL?
Are you Labor or Liberal? Or do you vote for a minor party? Tell me, tell me, tell me.

You cannot help but feel the forces of polarisation!

It’s everywhere

Glance beyond Australia and you hear the trade tensions between the United States and China. You hear about the possibility of a new Cold War emerging between Russia and the United States.  
You wake up one morning and you see Boris Johnson elected with a thumping majority, knowing he’ll finally, ‘Get Brexit Done!’ You wonder what world you now live in. This whole Brexit thing may be in full swing, but then the Scottish people will have their say. The Scots don’t want to leave the EU. And so the perpetual cycle of polarisation continues.

Take a look at the British Royal Family. Meghan and Harry announce their split from the Royals, and the Brits are more divided now than before the Brexit referendum. ‘They’re a bunch of spoilt brats!’ one keyboard warrior writes. 

I think someone wrote that under the pseudonym:‘The Queen’.   

Polarisation is everywhere. It divides. It can hurt. It separates. It corners people. It creates boxes of exclusion.

Moving on from polarisation

As I reflect on this global phenomenon, I am drawn to a different way of thinking. What if polarisation wasn’t the only way? What if we didn’t have to simply divide and conquer all the time?

Let me persuade you to move towards a view expressed in the Bible in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 18, namely that Christ has given us a ministry of reconciliation.

That’s right: Reconciliation.

That’s huge. Let’s make reconciliation great again. That’s my new political slogan.

A move from polarisation to reconciliation is critical in this next season of our lives. When our first response is anger and disbelief, we take a deep breath.

We ask ourselves: How can I bring reconciliation into this discussion? How would I behave right now, if I was intent on reconciling the brokenness, rather than pressing buttons that ignite backlash? How would Jesus respond right now? What’s the best response that brings peace and love into this situation?

Reconciliation brings healing. And it’s worth the effort.

It was the vision of people like Martin Luther King Jr. He longed for reconciliation in a society that was racially divided. In his I have a Dream speech, he bellowed out, ‘I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.’

Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is still unrealised.

The call of God to work for peace in this world is still there for the taking.

One last word

Friends, we’re living in a polarised world. There’s no escaping that. And the polarisation existed well before fires raged across the Australian landscape.
I just hope we can all choose to have a little more patience and a little more grace as we aim to be ministers of reconciliation.

* Pete Brookshaw, along with his wife Jo, are the  Corps Officers (Senior Ministers) of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at http://www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Get ready for what God has in store...

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As we move into a new year, I feel a renewed sense of the presence of God. I'm ready for all that God has in store.

2020 is moving fast and I'm getting on board!

I'm ready to be used by God to make a difference in the world. I'm ready to stand tall and partner with others, to transform our local communities.

Just like Joshua, after he took over the leadership from Moses (as recorded in Joshua chapter 1), God said to Joshua, 'Get ready...' Get ready to enter the Promised Land. Get ready for a new adventure. Brace yourself for a journey that will take you where you've never been before! Joshua then calls the Israelites to get ready and pack their supplies, because they're about to cross the river Jordan.

Pause for a moment. I want to say sorry. I haven't blogged at petebrookshaw.com for quite a while. I've been busy serving my local Salvation Army Corps in Craigieburn, VIC, Australia. Though, I feel God is saying, 'Get ready to speak into the lives of others a little more this year.' So I thought it's time to break the drought. I have been writing articles regularly at christiantoday.com.au, but I'm back at my site where I've been writing thoughts and articles since 2006.

Get ready.

Join with me this year, and let's go to another level; another level in our prayers, in our commitment, in our giving, in our serving and in our loving of others.

It's like God is staring at you right now, and saying, 'Are you ready?'

Are you ready for what I have in store? But firstly, are you ready to experience the love of Christ, like you never have before?

Have you experienced the love of Christ?

Have a read of this testimony: Samuel Logan Brengle once wrote these words:

Just as I got out of bed, and was reading some of the words of Jesus, He gave me such a blessing as I never had dreamed a man could have this side of Heaven. It was a Heaven of love that came into my heart. In that hour, I knew Jesus and I loved Him until it seemed my heart would break with love. I loved the sparrows, I loved the dogs, I loved the horses, I loved the little urchins on the street, I loved the strangers who hurried past me, I loved the heathen, I loved the whole world.
You want to know what Holiness is? It is pure love. You want to know what the baptism of the Holy Ghost is? It is not a mere sentiment. It is not a happy sensation that passes away in the night. It is a baptism of love that brings every thought into captivity to the Lord Jesus, that casts out all fear, that burns up doubt and unbelief as fire burns coal, that makes one meek, and lowly in heart.

How about that? You have an encounter with God, and you just walk down the street and you 'love everything!' I want to live like that, especially when the driver in front of me is 20 clicks  below the speed limit.
Brengle isn't the only one that has had that encounter with the love of Christ. Many have over the years: Mother Theresa, Wesley, that person in your church that smiles a lot... 

Open you heart to what God has in store. Get ready. And get ready to transform your world one life at a time with the love of Jesus.

Feel free to make a quick comment and let's encourage each other in the year ahead.
Get ready for what God has in store.
God bless.

Pete.

I've been blessed in recent days by this book (featured on left). Written by the amazing Stephen Court and Olivia Munn:

Grab it at Amazon here:


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