Saying Goodbye

Courtesy of Ministry Toolkit (www.tsamtk.org)

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

My family has recently gone through a process that is familiar is some church traditions and completely alien in others. My wife and I were transferred from one appointment in a city to a new assignment in a completely different city. Fortunately, during this most recent transfer, we did stay in the same state, but it is not unheard of for officer (ministers in The Salvation Army) to be moved to another state during a transfer. While some traditions involve a similar move process, other traditions only have change in leadership through people requesting to move, leaders being removed from service, or retirement for faithful leaders. As a minister and leader in The Salvation Army, this is what we “signed up” for when we were commissioned. We know that any assignment begins a countdown of unknown length when we arrive. Our last appointment or assignment lasted 5 years with a 4 year appointment before this move. But, there are other leaders who experience lengths of stay as short as 6 months to a year depending on the individual situation. Moves are important to the life of The Salvation Army and our local corps (churches). The Army truly believes in the gifting of the Spirit in its’ officers and leaders. Every officer has been gifted in various areas of management, leadership, pastoral skills, teaching, program development, community relations, and the list goes on! Assigning officers to the right location must  be done very carefully through much prayer. Fortunately, I have not been asked to make those decisions, because honestly, I would be lost!

While these transitions can be difficult for the leaders and their families, they are equally as challenging for the local congregations. The local congregations say farewell to officers who have been with them for a certain period of time and the next Sunday, they say welcome to complete strangers. To the credit of most Salvation Army congregations and other congregations like them, they are very warm and friendly. They are very patient and understanding. God has graced our tradition through this process. But, I always wonder when I am going through a situation, “What would the Bible say about this?”

The apostle Paul said goodbye to congregations all over Asia many times. During his travels, he would start a new congregation and then leave to start the work in another place. Paul’s closing words to the Church in Colosse all centered around one idea, TOGETHERNESS. From reconciliation to encouragement to oneness of mind, Paul challenges the church to bind together in love, friendship, and discipleship. We have been blessed during this last transition to welcomed with open arms by our new congregation, community, and employee team. We have been encouraged by the way they have taken us into their collective embrace and made us family.

Saying goodbye is never easy! But, God’s grace is a source of encouragement and support!

Soli Deo Gloria!

On a personal note: Storm and I deeply miss and love our friends and congregation in Albany. They allowed us to grow and learn for the last 5 years. They waited patiently as we made mistake after mistake while we grew into the leaders that we needed to be (of course, we are still learning). While we love those we have moved away from, we have also fallen for our new place of ministry. We are excited by the opportunities for service that Rome has to offer!

Twas The Night Before Moves v.2.0

‘Twas the night before Moves,when all through the Corps
All the people were nervous for what was in store.
The cell phones were plugged in their chargers with care,
In hopes that tomorrow no calls would they bear.

The Off’cers were cowered all stiff in their beds,
While visions of bubble wrap danced in their heads.
And missus in her jammies, and I, sans a snore,
Couldn’t settle our brains for a few hours more.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon, which was glistenin’ on my dew-speckled lawn
Gave the lustre of mid-day in those hours ‘fore dawn.
When, what to my wondering ears now did roar,
But a nice new crown vic with a shield on the door.

When the driver stepped out with a look of pure glee,
I knew in that sec it must be the DC.
He pulled out a clipboard as the car groaned and hissed,
and I guessed right away in his hand was THE LIST!

“Is it Huntsville? Or Tampa? Somewhere in Kentucky?
Or Tulsa? Or Memphis? DHQ, if you’re lucky?
From the west Texas town of El Paso to Wheeling!
Which place will it be? Which one are you feeling?

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
The names of appointments flew through my head in a panic
from Havre de Grace to Atlanta (Hispanic).

He was teasing, just teasing, I thought and I hoped
“Maybe I’m not moving”, were the words that I groped!
A twist of his head; with his eye, gave a wink
Soon told me I had nothing to worry ’bout…I think.

He pulled out his Sharpie and I could not miss
That it looked like a checkmark he placed on his list.
And despite all my pleading, my begging, behooving!
He said, “I still cannot tell you tonight if you’re moving!”

He hopped in his car, to his key gave a turn,
And I can still smell the smoke from the rubber he burned.
But I heard him exclaim, to shout out one last warning ,
“Good luck getting sleep! I might call in the morning!”

by Tom Guilliams, with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

For those who are not familiar with the “moves” system in The Salvation Army, the official “farewell orders” will be handed out tomorrow morning here in the southern 13 states.

On a personal note, my wife and I are not expecting a call, but we are also not expecting not to be called!  We will accept any assignment from our superiors, including a longer stay!

This poem is for entertainment purposes only!

Christian Role-Playing Games

NERD ALERT: Some of the content that you are about to read has a high degree of NERDiness, NERDinity, and NERDerocity!

I engaged in the occasional RPG, for uninitiated – role-playing game. From Dungeons and Dragons to MechWarrior, I was infatuated with the ability to become someone else and to do things I never thought possible. I could have incredible powers or amazing abilities. I would travel with friends who depended on me with their very lives!

I wanted to be this guy, the hero!

As I got older and “more mature”, I moved into computers and video games, but still the attraction of role-playing kept pulling me back! Most RPG’ers will tell you that the most important choice you can make in the whole experience is the type/category/class of your character. You may be the most well-liked 3-foot tall dwarf in the land and think you can take on the world a a warrior on your own, but if you cannot pick up an axe and use it right, you are not going to be around long! In the beginning, there were fighters, magic-users, clerics, thieves, and the like. As the games developed, you could become a fighter-thief. Let’s face it, you may be an all-powerful cleric who is the favorite of your deity, but if you cannot handle yourself in a fight, you are going to be on the menu in the next dungeon!

One day, I want to be able to walk into a room of fellow clergymen, lay leaders, and the business types and decelare in a loud voice:

I am a 9th level Apostle-Teacher with a Cloak of Humility and the Blessed Rod (+3 against unclean things) of Salvation.

Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT says to us, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” God has given us each gifts to work together to build up His church. Simple! Now this does not mean because I have gifts in teaching that cannot work as an evangelist in some capacity. The world is not perfect. We are all called upon to do many different jobs! What the author is saying (author being the Holy Spirit) is that we have been given these gifts in certain areas and we should use them for the glory of God. It also means that we should not become frustrated when some areas come easier to others than to us. I am not a great pastor (trust me, I and my congregation can admit it)! I try to do what I can but it does not come naturally to me. Teaching and sharing does!