Friday, November 28, 2008


So, this weekend is commissioning and the onfire celebrations. This weekend in Melbourne is about celebrating our gifts and then using them for God's glory. Isn't it funny how we've elevated some gifts and not others? Preaching for example (we'll leave Music alone for now although that has to be one of the biggest Christian 'gifts'). But preaching is one of the most over-rated gifts (I think). It is a spectator sport that bears a fraction of the fruit that a relationship does... I mean, name a sermon that changed your life forever.. there are very few that are that impacting. I remember going forward to give my whole life to Jesus at a Sunday night meeting in a Corps in Toronto... I can't even tell you who was preaching or what they preached on. I went forward because of the impact the relationships with other believers had on me... I went forward because of community and service and mercy and compassion and love expressed and prayers/intercession - not because of a sermon. Now, I've heard it said that some officers spend up to 20 hours a week on a sermon. Can I just say that it is possibly the biggest waste of time in terms of fruit from ministry. My greatest fruit has not come from preaching (and I do a lot of it and love it - don't get me wrong!)... but when I've walked alongside people and showed them and told them about Jesus up close and personal... that's the stuff of the Kingdom.
In Acts. the only time they preach is to unbelievers... when did we make preaching about speaking to the body of christ... wierd.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Are you using your gifts for God's glory?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


DEBBIE MESSENGER left this comment and I thought it worthy of a POST... some good questions here... any candidates out there that would like to apply for developing world territories?? This raises not only the 'called' question but also the capacity or 'drain' on developing world for resources... I wonder if host territories would pay the bill for their 'people' to be trained in the places they feel called... that would be even better than a month course on cross cultural mission - to be trained in the same territory as one of the 'cadets' would be a great equipping for a life of service there... hmmmm. any takers??

here's Debbie's comments on WorldWide training options:
I find it intriguing that people would apply where they 'feel called'!

I am currently appointed in the Philippines, I felt I was being called to Africa but God knew better and I LOVE my second home! I doubt many people would want to put their hand up to train here though, not because the training is any less... the OTC is fantastic, intense training from qualified leaders and there are many incredible opportunities for service!

Yet, when Commissioned you would be one of the lucky ones to live on $35 a week, you could possibly be given an appointment where you only receive 50% of that allowance and you could have a home smaller than your current bedroom with no bathroom, electricity or running water... I wonder if anyone is feeling 'called' to study here and become and officer in this country (or many others with similar circumstances)?

I have a question based on your blog entry. What places are people feeling called to train and serve in, if not their own country? Are they the 'comfy' countries where all the grants and allowances are available? I may be totally 'off base', this is purely a question of interest.

I am humbled daily by the sacrifices of my fellow officers, I am challenged over and over by the commitment of those I serve alongside, I don't write these words to lessen the commitment of anyone in ANY country, but just wonder if we are really willing to give up basic needs so we can serve where we 'are called'?


Monday, November 24, 2008

National youth workers conference

So, I'm in Nashville at the national youth workers conference... wow - it's amazing - full of incredibly rich and cool experiences. I went to a Christian comedy show last night... hilarious... there was an image that stuck with me - someone talking about the footsteps poem but how they saw theirs as a set of footprints and then a drag mark behind them.... ;-) funny but oh so true.
I had an opportunity to talk tonight about God's huge plan of salvation - the salvation that busts out of the church and into the world... the gospel as good news to the poor... what does that mean and how often do we need to remember? Jesus exists for something bigger than my own life. It's that simple. I remembered again tonight and pledged anew to be part of the plan God has to bless the whole world. I don't want to grow a church - I want to change the world. Bring it.
And then to top the evening off I got to hang out with some War College grads and good friends with refreshing times of catching up and rejoicing with all that God is doing and has done and will do - can I get a witness??
Oh and did I mention the egg nog lattes?? heellllllooo.
grace to you as you lose your life for something greater!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the road again...

Sitting in the Melbourne Airport waiting for my flight, I was thinking today about the incredible realities of travel. How the world is shrinking in this generation. Word has it that young people called to Officership in The Salvation Army are applying all around the world.. trying to pick the country that they feel 'called to'. It's evidence of a new generation meeting an older system when the current structure doesn't really know how to process or how to attract in this way. I know it challenges some of our existing processes - but I think it could be an amazing opportunity. It could help us use the existing 'smallness' of the world to spread the gospel, train up a generation of globe trotting leaders and advance God's Kingdom on earth.
It would force us to abandon the 'territory' model that insists on direct benefit or no deposit.. it would widen our scope to be thinking about World impact rather than plugging holes in an existing system. I don't know - I'm just thinking here... but what would be the possibilities of a global training system - connected virtually and physically by the 'pilgrim generation'... ?? nice to dream about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Demand the Brand

check out this website SLAVEFREE... it's very COOL.
I think we ought to set up something just like it in Aus. If you are in America please participate... a great idea to create consumer pressure to producers! Help change the world.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open handed

I was reminded today of the importance of being open handed with our stuff... our things are simply filler in our life. The substance is our relationships, particularly with God and then flowing to others. The way things have a habit of nestling their way into our influence and heart... when they really don't belong there. This reminds me of course of buy nothing day coming up quickly (check out the website)... it's worth keeping a close eye on your heart during this season - guard it from the assault of things - a culture obsessed with ownership and consumption - the insatiable appetite of greed. May God help us to be completely free from stuff and totally His.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FORGE and chaos

so last weekend I was in Sydney speaking at a Forge Intensive. The subject was on leadership and it was a great opportunity to dive back into the territory of Chaotic Order. This is the idea that Chaos is a tool God often uses to overthrow our own human systems and structures in order to establish His order... a Divine order. Using Genesis 1-3 as a model we can figure out what Divine order looks like:
pre-condition: Chaos (God starts with Chaos... so if you find yourself in a chaotic place don't run - hover there with the Holy Spirit and take a look at what God is going to do).
1. Light (Revelation is the sign of God's creation.... it starts with light... look for Divine revelation)
2. Expanse (God created the sky... he wants to deepen our experience right from the beginning... are you going deeper?)
3. Land (but not like a building foundation - vegetation and living land... alive with creative energy... a living foundation)
4. Seasons (God builds in consistent change... he is constantly at work... the seasons are gifts... change is a part of His order)
5. Birds and the Fish (The most complex and the most simple creation on the same day.... it's not always about linear order it's about the simple and the deep at the same time... )
6. Humans and Animals (most notably God invited us through reproduction to be co-creators - not content to hog or hide his power he shared it... are you sharing power?)
7. Rest. Part of the order... the people of God have always entered God's rest... rest didn't enter them they had to chose it.

So, it was a very healthy and timely reminder for me to look for what God is doing and join Him - not in some humanly designed system but in God's great chaotic order. Bring it on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Buy Nothing Christmas

Check out the BUY NOTHING AT ALL song and the website buynothingchristmas for more resources to fight off a commercial robbing of the meaning of Christmas this year.
While you are at it - why not give someone a gift that keeps on giving at (the justgifts campaign aims to help us celebrate the real spirit of giving - it is of the course the greater gift!).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Up close and personal

At Maclead youth meeting last night we took a quick look at Jacob in Gen. And the progression of his experience with God. His first encounter of course is in the wilderness while he runs away thinking he 'stole' the blessing from his brother. While sleeping he is visited in a dream by God and reminded of the activity of something bigger... something otherworldly and the promise of his heritage. He named that place the house of God.
I'm praying for a generation to wake up to the heritage God has promised. To be children of the blessing is to understand that salvation is so much larger than our own little lives. I wish we'd stop stealing it, tucking it away and treating it like something to be 'had' and we'd get a glimpse of the boundlessness of it - and lose our lives in it... like a boundless sea (sound familiar?).
Jacob comes to recognize God's presence but not until years later does he have a personal encounter that moves him from bethel (house) to peniel (face). This encounter costs him. But it's this ecounter that solidifies him into the generational blessing of the Covenant... it will be through Jacob that the whole world is blessed. wow.
Do you see the progression?
House of God. Recognize the presence of God and the promise is for YOU.
Face of God. Costly. Recognize that through you the world is to be blessed.

I'm praying for a journey from bethel to peniel in many lives today. God grant it not that we should give a gift that costs us nothing. (King David).

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mandela to Obama

Text of Nelson Mandela’s Letter to Senator Obama

Published: November 5, 2008
5 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama,


Dear Senator Obama,

We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-Elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.

We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your Presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere.

We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.


N R Mandela

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prayer for the Congo

With all the hype about the US Elections it is easy to skip over the realities facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Please take some time to read over and pray for them with this dispatch from Commissioners Mungates on the front lines:

Dear Friends:
Thank you for the double assurance of prayerful support. The DRC needs
that every minute.

Please, pray for:

1. Laurent Nkunda to respect human life and stop waging war against
innocence women and children
2. Pray that Rwanda should stop sponsoring and supporting an unjust war
3. Pray that the voice of the Church leaders be heard and listened to by
the rebels, Rwandese, Ugandans and Congolese armies
4. Pray for the Salvationists in the villages and corps that are caught
up between cross fires
5. Pray for our Corps Officers that are counselling and comforting
6. Pray for the many women and children starving for food since they
left their homes and long disturbed from subsistence farming

We are in the rainy season and people just sleep in the open with their few
belongings and children as you might have seen on the news.

Thank you for your love and support. We are over 2,000kms away from Goma
but in touch with our officers everyday. 80% of the stone the world needs
for the mobile phone is found in Goma including other precious minerals
hunted for by many powerful countries of the world. That is why the DRC is
in trouble. A blessing has become a curse for the country.

The Lord bless you.

Yours truly in Christ

Stuart & Hope

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Brand New Day

Without choosing sides in the American polarized and popular election let me just say that the election of Barack Obama is amazing. It's not amazing because of the republican versus democratic stuff, the money spent, the other running mates, the speeches, the colossal waste of time etc... it's amazing because less than 50 years ago it was impossible to imagine. It was.
Only a generation ago it was impossible to imagine a black president in America. Martin Luther King Jr. was shooting for equal votes and integrated schools. While he was shooting for measurables goals someone was shooting for him....and now... Now, it's in front of us in living colour... in a beautiful new suit - with a smooth voice and a rhetoric about dreaming... it's here. Isn't it amazing? A Brand New Day.
And so I'm somehow bolstered in my spirit - for that which we can only barely hope or imagine can stand in front of us one day... right in front of us. Jesus said don't buy it when people say the kingdom is over there or over there... because the Kingdom is right here... in you and in me. Here it is - the Kingdom of God. What are you dreaming for... let today be a witness that you should let your dreams soar and then work like made and die as seed to let those dreams live... A Brand New Day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Idea of Prostitution

I've been reading a great book by Sheila Jeffreys, 'The Idea of Prostitution' that outlines the history of feminists opinions on prostitution and the connection between human trafficking. Very enlightening. The state of victoria (where I live in Australia) decided to legalize prostitution fourteen years ago - I think in the hope that it would 'liberate women'. The reality of course is a harsh one... fourteen years later:
- more men go to more and bigger brothels
- each week 60,000 men spend $7 million on prostitution
- the number of illegal brothels is 4 times more than legals ones (400 vs 100) 2002
- legalization makes men more demanding of practices which women do not like - and makes women more powerless to resist them because of greater competition and gives more power to the brothel owners
- 80% of street prostituted women are drug users and 85-90% are homeless
- legalisation and decriminalisation lead to the growth of the industry of prostitution. The traffic in women to supply the legal and illegal brothels is an inevitable result
- trafficked women are placed in both illegal and legal brothels.. women are sold to both for $15,000 each. Police suspect they are forced to have sex with 800 men to pay off debts to the traffickers before they receive ay money (Murphy 2002)
- legalisation creates a culture where men's prostitution behaviour is normalised and takes an ordinary everyday place in the culture
- brothel owners are welcome in the Rotary Club and are profiled as role models in respectable newspapers - brothels are even listed on the stock exchange

I'm wondering how many more years will pass before we decide to treat Australian women with some dignity and stand up for their real rights by offering them meaningful work! check out this site for more info: CATW

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adelaide and Social Justice

I've been at the One Mission conference in Adelaide this weekend.
Some very helpful things happening... with exciting reports of social justice initiatives from all different demographics and in a myriad of colourful ways! Exciting stuff really.
It's amazing the things God will do through us if we will spend ourselves on behalf of justice (check out Isaiah 58 for more details). We were talking today about the barriers to moving towards lives that are about the deeper things of the kingdom... and I had just finished some research on Elizabeth Fry who wrote 'I fear that my life is slipping away to little purpose' in her diary just two days before being invited into a women's prison which sparked the future direction of her life... it's like that isn't it - the will of God will not be forced upon us... it is as we go that we will find the sweet spirit whispering amen as we extend God's kingdom on earth. I wonder how many of us are tempted to sit inside and reflect as we write in our diaries that our lives have no purpose... all the while there are thousands of people - all around us, everyday who need to know the reality of God's Kingdom come.
Jesus said it this way, 'the spirit of the Lord is on me to preach good news to the poor...' - now that sounds like a purpose worth living for to me!