We Believe: Day 1 – Who Are You Listening To?

If you have not heard this awesome album, you can listen to it here, or at http://transmission.virb.com/webelieve.

Have you ever ridden on public transportation before? Or attended a sports game? Or visited an elementary school? If you have, what do all of these venues have in common?

Did you guess it? Noise, sound, voices…

We Believe (album cover)Like each of those locations, our world is full of competing voices. Brands shouting their messaging at you. The media trying to fit you into one mold or the other. People over you trying to make you into them. It is deafening, confusing, maddening, overwhelming… it is…

There are times when I need to see a clear vision. I need to hear a defined voice. I want to follow reliable direction. I crave guidance from a trusted source.

It’s how we hear Your voice, when the world’s so crazy loud
It’s how we make the choice, to seek You above the crowd

Doctrine #1 of The Salvation Army is the inspiration of the track “The Word.” The doctrine says simply that the Word of God is the place where we should find our start. It should provide the clear vision. God’s Word has a defined voice. The Scriptures give reliable direction.

The Bible can give us the guidance we so desperately need!

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalms 119:105 NIV)

In addition to the Word of God, where are other places we can go for help?

Soli Deo Gloria!

This devotional material is based on the album, We Believe, by Atlanta-based band, transMission. This material is being presented as additional throughout-provoking material. It is not meant to be doctrinal material. Quoting from the band itself: “Instead think of these songs as the frame which supports the art itself. The illustration to the sermon. “We Believe” is the illustration. The Doctrines are the sermon.” If you would like to listen to the tracks, they are found here, http://transmission.virb.com/webelieve.
Thanks for reading!

Thoughts from Oklahoma: Day 11-Army of the One

My time in Oklahoma is winding down.

One thing this experience has taught me is how proud I am of the work and ministry

of The Salvation Army. SPOILER ALERT: If you do not like The Salvation Army, then this blog post will not be something you want to continue reading.


I love The Salvation Army! We are the Army of the One!

My Army feeds people.

My Army helps people.

My Army talks to people.

My Army prays with people.

My Army loves people.

My Army cares about people.

My Army works for people.

My Army serves people.

My Army witnesses to people.

My Army prays for people.

My Army stays with people.

My Army holds people.

My Army stands up for people.

My Army is an Army of the One!

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of Gods grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).

I love my Army!

I love the people of my Army!

I love the Head of my Army!

“And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18 NIV, parentheses added mine).

Soli Deo Gloria!

Consider donating to The Salvation Army Oklahoma Disaster Relief Fund!

I can tell you I have seen first-hand where it has gone and still needs to go!

Spread too thin

brick wall
Courtesy of CreationSwap.com

For many months, and in some cases years, I have bemoaned and complained about my lack of focus and drive and productivity. I can feel the push to create and share but at times, it seems stifled. What is causing this blockage, this breakdown, in the flow of my mind and heart?

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I thinking I am spreading myself too thin, because I am jumping from thing to thing to thing…looking for what I want, or in an extremely self-delusional way, what I think I need. I am going to spend this next year in a journey of self-discovery. I am not looking for what I want or need. I am going to look for what God wants and, without the added sense of ego what needs from me.

I have been called “according to His purpose” (emphasis and edit mine) and not my own. It should be about Him and not about me. It is my calling, but it is not my message. We confuse the fact that because the message is shared with us that we think we own it. It is simply not true. The message, the truth, the calling, the vision, the direction, they all belong to God and He through His grace shares it with us.

God, make me into what you want me to be!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Encouragement Through Discipline (New Year’s Resolutions)

Hebrews 12:4-13 

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Children need guidance (12:7-9)

The point of parenting is to teach our children how to make the best choices. Children need rules. They need limitations. They need boundaries. We love our children by not allowing them to hurt themselves. Verse 8 says that we are not legitimate if we have not undergone discipline. Verse 9 says that we learn to respect from discipline.

We need guidance (12:10-11)

We receive discipline and guidance because it is leading us to what is good.  We will receive a share in his holiness. Discipline is never meant to be easy or pleasant. The short term is not the goal. We are in this for the long haul. Verse 11 tells us that we can know righteousness and peace because we have been trained for it.

We become good examples for others (12:12-13)

We are being trained for a purpose. We should “strengthen” our arms and knees to support others. When you lift something up, you use your arms and knees. As we are lifted up, we should lift up others! We undergo training and discipline to strengthen us to be strong for others!

Graphic from the Ministry Toolkit and Lindsey Fleeman 

God-pleasers

Galatians 1:10 NLT – “Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

God-pleasers

Although Paul does not come right out and say it, this is a warning to teachers and preachers of God’s Truth.  Before this verse, there is a passage about a curse upon people who incorrectly teach or represent the Good News.

I suppose that there is a trap for ministers to tell people only what they want to hear or only what we think will not upset them.  With increased attention on the size of congregations and the amount of offerings, an unhappy parallel can begin to form.  If we tell people what they do not want to hear, then they stop coming to church, we have lost another member of our congregation.  I do not see the position of a minister as one of only challenging the wrongs of others.  But, truth is truth.  We can speak the truth in love for the building up of God’s Kingdom.

For the sake of Christ and the Good News, we must be willing to say what God lays on our hearts, no matter whether people approve of us or not.

If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Soli Deo Gloria!

anacrusis (god.notes)

Today, we are going to talk about what an anacrusis is and what it does.  Just in case you were wondering, anacrusis is not the name of a city in Southern California.

The pick-up note

An anacrusis is a pick-up note.  There are instances in music and poetry when, to complete or start a musical phrase, it is essential to begin before the downbeat.  Wikipedia also reminds us that “a piece of music beginning with an anacrusis will also end before the last beat of the last bar, in order to keep the number of bars in the entire piece at a whole number.”

Joshua 1:8 NLT says “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.”

God’s word says that we should start and end with His instruction every day, and all the times in between.  We should “pick-up” each day with the Father and also have Him to balance out the other side.  This is not just good advice, but a completely different way of living.  How many times do we wake up with our problems or go to sleep with out worries?  God wants us to make Him and His word our priority.

Some questions for you today:

  1. How do I “lead into” my day?
  2. What is or about whom am I thinking in the morning and evening?
  3. How does God create balance in my life?
  4. What do I need to get rid and  have God lead off my life?

Dear God, may you be my first thought and my last thought each and every day.  May you be the “pick-up” in my life that sets the tone for the rest of my day.  Amen

At the end of every god.notes is a handout that you can use to share this with OTHERS!

anacrusis (god.notes) handout

anacrusis teaching doc

Seven Simple Truths

This is the fifth sermon in the series – CREST: An Army Standard.  This series is a group of teaching sermons that go through the biblical foundation for the parts of The Salvation Army crest.

This sermon deals with the seven gospel shots.

Truth #1: The existence of a holy God.
Romans 1:20 – For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

There is a God.  I am not Him, and neither are you.  We have a loving Creator who is outside of ourselves.

Truth #2: The evils of sin are against God and man.
1 John 3:6 – Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Sin is not of God.  Sin is the opposite of God.  Sin is not of God.

Truth #3: There will be punishment for sin that is fair and everlasting.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you cannot follow the rules, then you have to pay the penalty.  The only free thing in life is the love of God.  Even salvation, which others think is free, cost the life of Jesus to balance.

Truth #4: Jesus dies on the cross for the human race.
Matthew 20:28 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus gave His life for us.  The love of God, God’s economy, is always about others.

Truth #5: Salvation is for all mankind and is free to all who accept Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 – For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

There is no limitation to the scope of God’s salvation.  There is no one beyond the love of God, unless we, personally, choose to be outside of the love of God.

Truth #6: It is the responsibility of every Christian to do whatever they can do to spread the gospel.
Matthew 9:37-38 – He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

The love of God is too great not to share.  It is too big not to give away.

Truth #7: God rewards those who are faithful with eternal life in heaven with Him.
John 14:1-3 – “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Not only is there a God, but He has a place prepared for those who follow Him.