Thursday, November 28, 2013

I Am A Soldier!

I'm not sure of the original source of this powerful statement about being a Christian soldier in God's army, but it provides an extraordinary description that could/should be aligned with what it means to be a Soldier in The Salvation Army:

I am a soldier in the army of my God. The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer. The Holy Scripture is my code of conduct. Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare. I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity. I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out. I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable. If my God needs me, I am there. I am a soldier. I am not a baby. I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up. I am a soldier. No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me or lure me. I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name and building His kingdom! No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards or candy, or give me handouts. I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered to. I am committed. I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around. I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside. I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

When Jesus called me into this army, I had nothing. If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead. I will win. My God has and will continue to supply all of my need. I am more than a conqueror. I will always triumph. I can do all things through Christ. The devil cannot defeat me. People cannot disillusion me. Weather cannot weary me. Sickness cannot stop me. Battles cannot beat me. Money cannot buy me. Governments cannot silence me, and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier. Even death cannot destroy me. For when my Commander calls me from His battlefield, He will promote me to captain and then allow me to rule with Him. I am a soldier in the army, and I’m marching claiming victory. I will not give up. I will not turn around.

I am a soldier, marching heaven-bound. Here I Stand! Will you stand with me? 

Imagine the impact of an Army filled with such soldiers!  

Imagine an Army that took spiritual warfare seriously, fighting from a position of victory in Jesus!

Imagine a Spirit filled Army, empowered and equipped to defeat the forces of darkness in this world!

Imagine a Salvation war where people were being saved and restored to right relationship with their Creator!

I am a soldier in The Salvation Army and I dare to imagine and engage in this audacious mission to win the world for Jesus Christ, whatever the cost!

Do Not Be Afraid

A Christmas meditation based on Luke 2:10-11, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:30-33...

Do not be afraid…when you are disillusioned by our political system, 
For to us a child is born and the government will be on his shoulders. 

Do not be afraid…when you feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety,   
For to us a child is born and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor. 

Do not be afraid…when you feel powerless or out of control, 
For to us a child is born and he will be called Mighty God. 

Do not be afraid…when you are isolated and alone, 
For to us a child is born and he will be called Everlasting Father. 

Do not be afraid…when you face conflict and hardship, 
For to us a child is born and he will be called Prince of Peace. 

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people! 
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. 

His name is Jesus!  
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end. 

Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Share Their Stories...Chapter 2

Stories are powerful!  They transcend statistics, providing an insight into the hearts and minds of people, inviting us to look beyond the numbers as they reveal a part of people's lives.  When I wrote Share Their Stories I sought to "stop the dehumanizing of people seeking the same basic human rights that we celebrate and share in this country."  I continue to share these stories to the same ends:

Aziz & Masuda arrived in Australia from Afghanistan with their children Ali and Nargis, on a boat via Indonesia, after selling everything they had to escape the violent threats of the Taliban.  The Taliban threatened to kill Aziz’s family in front of him if he didn’t give up his older brother who had previously held a government position in Kabul before fleeing Afghanistan.

Mohommad & Marium also escaped from Afghanistan on the same boat as his brother’s family.  Marium is 8 months pregnant and has struggled to attend night time hospital appointments via public transport.  She has recently been supported by a couple of our church families who have assisted with transport and other practical needs.

Mohommad (aka Sam) & Jamila have come from the Middle East and connected with our church a number of years ago.  They have found a real sense of community through Sam’s volunteer work and Jamila through her involvement with Playgroup where their English skills have greatly developed.

Christine is from Sri Lanka and recently came to us for assistance because she had been taken advantage of by a second hand car dealership.  We are currently advocating for her through Consumer Affairs and Legal Aid, because of the questionable contract that has crippled her financially.

Greg is a volunteer with our Community Support Services who has a heart and a passion to support the most vulnerable people in our community.  He has been partnering with our church to create community and engage socially with the asylum seekers we are supporting.  Two weeks ago we took a group of asylum seekers to Phillip Island for a day out and to visit the famous Penguin Parade, which Greg organised with the support of funding from the local council.   It was such a joy to see the excitement and appreciation of these families as we did life together!  We laughed, we played, we ate together and we listened to heart breaking stories that affirmed the resilience of human beings facing overwhelming challenges.

Keep sharing their stories and change the conversation about asylum seekers...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Advance Australia Where?

While singing our national anthem at a recent commemorative event, I was deeply grieved by another reminder of the incongruence between the words we sing and the behaviour we display as a nation towards asylum seekers and refugees:

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free;

It is ironic that a country settled on the backs of convict labour by people transported to this land on boats can be so judgmental of people who seek the same freedom that we rejoice.  It is hypocritical for us to label new boat arrivals exercising their rights as global citizens as illegal when the first boat arrivals who were granted citizenship in this country were convicted criminals.  And there is a disturbing consistency in how we as a nation treated the aborigines when we forced our way in, robbing them of their freedom, compared to how we now treat the asylum seekers whom we are forcing out, denying them of their freedom!

We've golden soil and wealth for toil; our home is girt by sea; our land abounds in nature's gifts; of beauty rich and rare;

The richness and beauty of this land is a gift that comes from the Creator God to be enjoyed by all His creation.  Our abundance is not a blessing to be selfishly hoarded when many in the two thirds world are subjected to extreme poverty and injustice.  Whose land is it?  It is God's land!  The waters surrounding His land do not absolve us from our humanitarian responsibility to be generous stewards of what has been entrusted to us.

In history's page, let every stage Advance Australia Fair.

History will judge this nation by the values we advance to the most vulnerable people in our world!  Our perception of what is fair and just in our society ought to be proportional to the prosperity and peace we experience as the 7th most prosperous country in the world.  This would certainly change the conversation about fair treatment of asylum seekers.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross we'll toil with hearts and hands; to make this Commonwealth of ours renowned of all the lands;

The reputation of Australia is being seriously damaged by our current policies on asylum seekers which are denying basic human rights to some of the most vulnerable people on earth.  Denying people "the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution" despite their passage, "the right to work" and "the right to freedom of movement and residence" is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Our Commonwealth is becoming renowned for all the wrong reasons.

For those who've come across the seas we've boundless plains to share;

One doesn't have to travel too far beyond our shores to right size the perception that we are being overrun by refugees.  The vastness of our country and our comparative population density to the rest of the world debunks this myth.  It is obscene that Australia is pursuing offshore processing of asylum seekers and resettlement of refugees in neighbouring countries that have way less to share than the boundless plains of Australia.

With courage let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.

We need courageous leaders to put aside party politics and fight for a fair and just Australia.
We need courageous citizens to change the conversation to soften the hearts of Australians.
We need courageous churches to stand in the gap between the two and reestablish kingdom values to really Advance Australia Fair!

If we are not willing to change the conversation about asylum seekers in this country, maybe we need to change our national anthem, which confronts every Australian with a significant gap between our stated values and actual values.  Advance Australia where?  We have certainly wandered far from being "Fair"!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Divine Conversations #4

Lord God, may a “holy discontent” burn deep within the hearts of your children as we are confronted with poverty and injustice in this broken world.  Let us no longer look upon the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters with a passive indifference.  Let us no longer accept a future for your children that is less than your redemptive plan for all of humankind.  May this “holy discontent” lead to a call to action within the Body of Christ to incarnate your transforming power, as we “offer ourselves as living sacrifices”.  May the presence of your church be a living representation of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, shining light in the darkest places bringing…

“Good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, release for the oppressed, proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favour.”  (Luke 4:18-19)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Army On Its Knees

While reading Army On Its Knees by Janet Munn and Stephen Court this week my passion for prayer was given a fresh infusion of Holy Spirit fire!  The call to prayer as an inseparable and integral part of our mission is what fueled my vision to establish the 24/7 Prayer Room at Noarlunga Corps in Adelaide several years ago, leading to the publication of Divine Conversations.  And it continues to fuel my vision to expand 24/7 prayer into my present location at Cranbourne Corps in Melbourne.

This passion for prayer that is stirring right across The Salvation Army globally, will be the catalyst for revival in our movement as we advance God's Great Commission on our knees!

I was particularly inspired by the inclusion of retired General Paul Radar's passionate call to every Salvationist to fully engage in prayer and mission at Westminster Central Hall in London, November 1994:

A Call to Prayer and Mission

God is calling our Army to prayer!  He is calling us to urgent, prevailing prayer for the renewal of our love for Christ, a recommitment to our spiritual priorities in mission, and a clearer vision of his purpose for the Army as we approach the year 2000.

The Salvation war in which we are engaged is real.  The enemy against whom we fight is powerful.  But he is not invincible.  Indeed, he was defeated at the Cross and exposed to open shame.  Still, the battle rages on.  Never has the conflict been more intense.  Never has there been a greater need for prayer.

We rejoice in every evidence of a revival of prayer in our ranks - and beyond: prayer fellowship, prayer vigils, prayer marches, prayer support teams for musical sections, schools of prayer, nights of prayer, concerts of prayer and much more.  In 100 countries around our globe the voices of Salvationists in prayer ascend to the throne of grace every hour, day and night.  We are a praying Army.  But let us confess that for all too many of us, prayer may quickly become a lifeless routine, an empty and powerless ritual, if it is not neglected altogether.

Let every Salvationist take a personal inventory of the place, priority and power of prayer in his or her own life.  Do I have a regular time for personal and family worship and prayer?  What is the place of prayer in our planning and programmes at our corps and centres?  When do we pray?  Who prays?  With what expectation?  With what result?  Is God calling some of us to a specific ministry of intercession or spiritual warfare through prayer?

As General of The Salvation Army, I am asking that every Salvationist and every centre of Army activity consider making a specific commitment to prayer for the next 12 months.  The nature of that commitment should be negotiated with the Holy Spirit.  I seek a commitment beyond our present routines.  Let prayer be more disciplined, more specific, more consistent...

...On our knees, let us look again at our own homes, our communities, and our world, careering out of control toward the next century.  If you believe with me that God is calling his Army to prayer, then decide now to do something about it - and do it now, for Jesus' sake, and for the salvation of the world for which he died.  Let us go forward - on our knees! - General Paul A. Radar, Westminster Central Hall, London, November 1994

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


While leadership that is bound by routine can be draining or even depressing, leadership that breaks out of the ordinary can be energizing and empowering, no matter how challenging the context.
While leadership that is bound by routine can be draining or even depressing, leadership that breaks out of the ordinary can be energizing and empowering, no matter how  challenging the context. - See more at:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Change Or Not To Change

Everything involves change!  

Our entrance into life takes us from the security of the womb to the uncertainty of the world; our early childhood development transitions us from the nurture of the home to the culture of the school yard; our teenage years substitutes the instruction of our parents for the influence of our peers; adulthood expects us to convert an education into a career; marriage replaces our individuality with a partnership; and so, the pattern of change continues throughout every stage of life.

Resistance to change or rebellion against change in the natural rhythms of life may frustrate the process but cannot stop the paradigm.  Ultimately, change is not a choice but an inevitable characteristic of life.

As a Christian leader who is passionate about Christ followers and the Church fulfilling their redemptive potential and purpose, I fully embrace the necessity for change in both the physical and spiritual realms.  In his book Leadership On The Axis Of Change, Chick Yuill affirms the necessity for change as the primary role of the church, “God has brought His church into existence to be the supreme agent of change. Its mission is not to stop the future but to shape it.”  Yet, often the church puts up some of the greatest resistance to change and abdicates its prophetic role to shape the future by reliving the past!  It is for this reason that I cannot accept the status quo and will do whatever it takes to facilitate the change necessary to be the church God has called us to be.

Recently, while implementing necessary changes in my ministry context, I was confronted by strong resistance and rebellion.  My response, while maybe a little direct, expressed a determination not to be deterred by the naysayers.  After connecting the proposed changes to God's vision for our church, I declared to those refusing to let go of the way things were, "I'm not here to make you happy, but to make this work and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen.  But here is the tradeoff.  When this works, you will be happy!"  I am not sure how my response aligns with conventional change management practices, but it does express the degree of my "holy discontent" with opposition to change.

A healthy attitude towards change unleashes all sorts of possibilities for the church to be a transforming movement towards what could be rather than a monument to what once was.

“If we motivate enough people to invest in a changing church, we may well see a world that is radically changed for the better.” (Chick Yuill, Leadership On The Axis Of Change)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Keep An Open Mind

There is an email floating around at the moment entitled - Reasons To Keep An Open Mind: 

"Man will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific advances."  
Dr. Lee DeForest, "Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television."

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives."
Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957  

"But what is it good for?"  
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, 
commenting on the microchip.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, 1981

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us,"
Western Union internal memo, 1876.  

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' 
the idea must be feasible,"
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper,"
Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make,"  
Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound and guitar music is on the way out,"
Decca Recording Co. Rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible,"
Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895. 

 "If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this,"
Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy,"
Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value,"
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented,"
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

"The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required."
Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

"I don't know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself."  
The head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the
 intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon,"
Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." 
Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

When it comes to faith in God there is no shortage of closed mindedness by those who deny His existence and those who claim to believe in Him, but deny His power.  As illustrated by the above examples, imagine the impact on your life and this world if you opened your mind and dared to believe in what you thought was impossible - a Divine Being who created the universe, a man who really did rise from the dead for the salvation of the whole world, the reality of life after death, the possibility of miracles! 

Entertaining the idea that there really is a God who loves all humankind and desires for His creation to spend eternity with Him would have to rank far above all other "reasons to keep an open mind."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

N.O. = Next Opportunity!

There is a great a scene from the movie 'Cool Runnings' that describes the sort of spirit evident in the never give up attitude of four-time Emmy Award winner and Producer Mark Burnett:

IrvDo the words give up mean anything to you?
Derice:  Not a thing.

Mark Burnett spoke passionately at the 2013 Global Leadership Summit in an interview with Pastor Bill Hybels about his faith, career and leadership.  In the interview he said about his career, "People kept saying no, but all I could hear is next opportunity."

It takes a clear vision and resolute will not to allow the opposition of others to discourage you from fulfilling your purpose.  Seeing NO as an invitation to explore the NEXT OPPORTUNITY rather than as a statement of defeat is often the difference between finding a way to fulfill your purpose and giving up on your dreams!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Tale Of Two Leaders

What do you do when someone under your leadership or on your team is more popular or successful than you because of their achievements?  Do you celebrate and embrace their success?  Do you view their success as a valuable contribution to your team or as a threat?  Are you comfortable leading people who may be more talented than you?  Are you willing to share authority with them or do you try and contain or control them?

These are challenging questions that inevitably reveals the true character of a leader.  Secure and empowering leaders will go out of their way to ensure talented and successful people are given responsibility and authority to flourish by exercising theirs gifts.  However, positional and insecure leaders will go out of their way to restrict or remove people who are better than themselves.

At the recent Global Leadership Summit Chris Brown, Senior Pastor of North Coast Church, presented a session entitled "Right Title...Wrong Kingdom."  In this session he made an interesting comparison between two leaders.  He spoke of Saul, Israel's King, who faced overwhelming odds from his enemies and how the young shepherd boy David led the nation to victory and received enormous acclaim for his successes.  Instead of embracing David's victory as his victory, Saul viewed David as a threat and pursued him with the intent to end his life.  In contrast, Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, embraced the gifts and abilities of a Hebrew slave named Joseph and put him in charge of all of his kingdom, second only to himself.  

What was interesting about this comparison was that God's anointed leader of Israel was threatened by anybody better than himself and was unable and unwilling to recognise God's anointing upon another.  Whereas, the pagan leader of Egypt was not only intuitive enough to see beyond the cultural barriers of a person's religious and social status but willing to embrace and empower an outsider to advance his kingdom.

There are so many powerful lessons to be drawn from this tale of two leaders!  But the question asked by Chris Brown drawing from these lessons that should challenge any leader in any context is, "Can we empower someone to the point of taking some of our power?"  Your answer to that question will have a significant impact upon the success of your leadership!

Leadership author and speaker John C. Maxwell declares his answer to such a question in his book The 360 Degree Leader, "Good leaders give their power away. They look for good people, and they invest in them to the point where they can be released and empowered to perform."

What is your answer?