Unity is a gift: General Linda Bond

Just recently we held a Zonal Conference in New Zealand for Army leaders in the South Pacific and East Asia area. The most internationally diverse of all the zones, I looked out on officers representing Salvationists in Korea, Japan, The Philippines, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Mongolia, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Macau.

Yet we have to see this international Army with our spiritual sight. We talked a lot about our different cultures, wore different uniforms, needed translation to understand and to be understood, and gave witness to our own unique backgrounds. Yet here we were, Salvationists from all over the world, proclaiming the name of Jesus, kneeling together in prayer, serving with hearts for the lost, desiring to be the people God raised us up to be and committed to fulfilling his mission. We were one.

I have no idea of the particular situation of everyone who receives this letter and I certainly don’t have personal knowledge of where you worship. But I know I am writing to a majority of Salvationists. When I share this global vision, I am conscious that it must also work on a personal and local level. Diversity is great. Division is tragic. Uniformity is impossible. Unity is a gift.

So wherever you find yourself today, may your eyes be wide open to what you, and your corps, can do when we move forward together into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means, with the transforming message of Jesus, bringing freedom, hope and life.

God bless you richly,

Linda Bond
General


The Mission is everywhere

For many years there has been this misconception that missions is “out there”. Typically this meant if you wanted to engage in missions work you had to travel overseas. Related to this misconception was another: mission work was really only for the super-spiritual or super-Christian. There weren’t many missionaries because it involved going long distances away from your family and making sure you were perfect.

Oh how wrong we have been. It’s time we cleared things up.

Mission work is everywhere. It’s not limited to only places in Africa or Asia. God never limited the extent of his work, but we have. The mission field is exactly where you are. Many people do not know about Christ’s love or choose not to believe it in this country.In fact, this country is becoming increasingly secular where in the “typical” mission field of Africa Christianity is growing at a tremendous rate. We might need more missionaries than they do.

Proclaiming the truth and being a missionary isn’t only for a super-spiritual few. God has called all of us to be missionaries wherever we are. God has been sending and engaging people since Genesis. We’ve at time made missions so mysterious and out of our reach that we take ourselves out of one of the main ways God works and engages this world: through us.

All of us are missionaries. You may be in Chicago, Omaha, Newton, or Hammond. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to travel thousands of miles to reach people for Christ.

Just walk across the street.


A bigger imagination

I was reminded a few weeks ago how easy it is to get trapped into one way of thinking and miss out on some big, transformative ideas. I was in a room with a number of other officers discussing a theme and structure for a conference. My brain immediately went to what I know and am comfortable with. I proclaimed my ideas that were nicely wrapped in a box of things we have always done. Nothing new or extraordinary. Simply, the same.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to dream big. My own experiences and personality limit how big I dream. I like routine and things that are familiar and with which I am comfortable.

Taking risks is not a normal part of my personality. I like things to stay the same. Normally, I don’t rock the boat. For years in elementary school I ate the same lunch: Salami sandwich, yogurt, and chips. Now if that isn’t indicative of my personality I don’t know what is.

But the more I get to thinking, the more I think we need to open up our minds to what God wants. We tend to limit God’s dreams based on what we think we can do or things with which we are familiar. How often have we not done something because we didn’t think we were capable?

Here is a gut check question: How often have we limited or impeded God’s plans because of our inability to fully conceive of God’s dreams or plans?

I pray that God enlarges our vision to get in line to his.

 


A tough couple of months

My wife is probably the toughest person I know. I can’t imagine what she has had to go through because of this pregnancy. We are excited about having a baby, but at time same time this pregnancy has been the most challenging of all of our kids. Sickness was constant and just watching what she had to go through was difficult for me. It’s hard to see someone you love suffer; especially when there isn’t much you can do about it.

One thing we tried to do every night was to pray. I would gather my kids around my wife and each of my children would take turns praying for their mommy. My son would pray that his mommy would feel better and my daughter would pray for her to have more energy. My kids know that if someone needs help, they should pray. That’s one of the first things my son suggested after he saw his mommy sick for so long.

There was no doubt that God was listening and in my son’s mind it just made sense to talk to him. Whenever my kids pray I always think about what Jesus said about having faith like a child. I don’t think that’s a negative thing at all. Their utter confidence in their prayers and God’s intervention is amazing.

Although the last couple of months have been rough especially for my wife, God has shown himself to be faithful (as if there was any doubt). Heather has gotten better and even though there still are rough days the power of prayer is evident.

My kids have seen this firsthand.


A Missionary God

The concept of God sending people to others did not begin with the Great Commission in Matthew 28. In reality, it has been present since Genesis. In these early accounts you get a picture of a God who has always been concerned about the world. When he calls Abraham from his own land and tells him that his descendants will be a blessing to the entire world, it’s a clear missionary focus to all people. Later, when the Israelites leave Egypt, the book of Exodus reports that there were other people that left with them. They weren’t all Hebrew and God allowed them to come along.

I don’t believe there was a focus on only reaching a certain group of people; God always had the bigger picture in mind and that was to bless the entire world.

Now, if God was concerned about reaching and blessing everyone, why do we say (or perhaps hint at) that we should only reach out and include people in our Corps that are just like us?

Why do we assume that just because we can grow a church faster with a homogenous group that this is what God wants?

God has always been missionary focused.

So should we; to all people. Like him.


Opening Salvo 2012

I got this from Commissioner Joe Noland’s blog here. I recommend that everyone subscribes to his blog.

The Salvation Army has issued an order: “Courageously Experiment!”

The Salvation Army has regulated you to: “Be willing to be dedicated to failure!” In other words, be willing to take a risk now and then.
Don’t take my word, read it for yourself:
…he will not only make use of the Army’s time-honored methods of evangelism, adapting them in the most effective way possible to the needs of the hour, but he will courageously experiment with new ways of making Jesus known as Savior of men. In other words, he will be willing to be dedicated to failure. In the divine economy this could be the way to God-glorifying success.  (pp 18) Orders and Regulations.
My opening salvo on the cusp of 2012.

JN


Turbulence

Flying is not one of my favorite activities, but sadly today, I will have to fly back home to Chicago. Although I prefer not to fly, it sure beats driving the 16+ hours it would have taken to get to Rapid City, SD where my wife’s parents are.

One of my worst flying experiences happened after attending the National Seminar on Evangelism in Colorado Springs. Because there were no direct flights from Colorado Springs to Chicago, we had to take a quick flight to Denver and from there board another plane to Chicago. The flight would last a total of about 20 minutes and because the flight was so short, the plane did not have to go very high in the air.

Little did I realize how much of a problem this would be.

Since the plane didn’t have to fly high we were right in the middle of all of the turbulence for the full 20 minute ride. I was sitting by the wing and remember seeing it bounce up and down the entire time. I’ve never been so nervous. That was the most intense prayer time I had ever experienced. I was almost sure that this was going to be my last plane ride.

As we were traveling in heavy turbulence, my mind had a moment of clarity. I began to think about certain truths regarding air travel.

1. It’s more dangerous to drive in a car

2. It is the safest form of travel. Plane crashes hardly ever happen.

The lady sitting next to me must have thought I was crazy as I mumbled to myself, “safest form of travel, safest form of travel, safest form of travel.”  Those simple truths helped me calm down and gave me a peace about the whole situation.

In our lives, we’re guaranteed to go through periods of turbulence. There might be periods of doubt, trouble in relationships, a death in the family, a question of your calling, and problems in your marriage.

Certain truths about God found in Psalm 18 can give you peace and steady you in the midst of the storm.

1. God is unchanging, steady-Everpresent.

2. God will always be there for us.

3. God can deliver us and give us strength.

When the turbulence of life comes, these things can steady our souls, minds and give us the hope we need to keep going.


Where do you get your news?

Recently, there has been some controversy regarding a series of articles about the Salvation Army and its position on a controversial subject. I don’t want to address that subject here, but I feel there is something else that needs to be addressed.

I believe one of the issues that we are neglecting in this entire situation is a thoughtful discussion on where people receive their information from and how they use that information to form opinions. It’s clear that certain news organizations and websites have a bias. I believe some try to be less biased than others, but there are a few news outlets (on TV and on Radio) that have a very clear perspective.

The article that was written about the Salvation Army had clear biases in my opinion and wanted to get a point of view across. They knew what headlines to write that would create waves and created a story that was more inflammatory and biased than trying to inform people of the issue. It seems like many within the Salvation Army and those outside of it read those headlines and got understandably upset. Many people would get upset reading that story at face value.

What many people fail to realize is that this “news” source is not one that provides a completely objective opinion. I think we need to educate our Soldiers and our donors to be careful of what they read on the internet and not to accept everything that is read without gathering more information, especially on this particular topic. When topics are particularly heated and passion inducing, we need to make sure we don’t immediately react to what we are reading or listening, but instead we need to take caution and make sure our opinions are well informed.

Let’s not rush to judgement after reading one article. Let’s slowly gather the facts, understand the background, and find the truth.


A leader’s temptation

Being in charge at a Corps is quite a responsibility. You might have the smallest Corps in the Territory but you’d still be in charge of more money, people, and property than you have probably ever been in your entire life. It was a humbling thing to know how much of an impact my wife and I could have in the community we used to live in. It’s still hard to believe at times how God can use someone like me.

Although I was privileged and honored to be used by God as a leader in that community, I was keenly aware that positions of responsibility also come with trial and temptation. It is one thing to understand intellectually that you’ll have trials and temptations, but its quite another thing to go through them.

One of the biggest things I struggled with, and an issue I believe many leaders and officers also struggle with, is the temptation to be recognized. It feels good when someone says that you’ve done a good job or praises you for an accomplishment. I don’t think there is anyone that hates to receive positive feedback.

The problem is when we come to expect it and begin to desire to seek it out in some ways. At times we might feel hurt when someone doesn’t tell us we’ve done a good job or when someone else gets an opportunity that we feel we’ve deserved because we “earned” it.

I believe this issue is rooted in Pride. Pride is probably the greatest temptation for a leader and can affect our ministry and our lives at home. We need to be so careful that it doesn’t creep into our lives in subtle ways. It can especially creep in with our desire to be recognized.

Although positive reinforcement is a good thing, and I try to reinforce people positively often, it should not be our major source of motivation and self-confidence. The very nature of our work as officer’s means we will not be thanked, recognized, or reinforced as often as we might like. Some of the most effective things that we do as Officers no one will see or get noticed by someone at DHQ. The greatest impact we might have on a person will probably never show up on a stat line.

We need to be ok with that. I know I didn’t enter this ministry so other people could tell me about all of the great things I’ve done. I accepted this call because that’s what God wanted me to do.

Let’s keep our focus and not get distracted or too discouraged by the “need” to be recognized by other people.

Ultimately, God’s praise is what I’m really looking for. And I already received that being his child and being obedient and faithful to what he wanted me to do.


Called

This poster is for the Mission and Purpose Weekend Conference that happened in October. It speaks volumes using only one word.


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