Friday, September 29, 2006

Lord have mercy, I am so blessed...

This has been a great week for me, I have been able to hang out with folks from all different facets of The Salvation Army in Charlotte - DHQ, Area Command, the Corps and our 'hood and it's been great. We're all building the Kingdom together - we're winning the world for Jesus starting in Charlotte, NC.

We've also had many opportunities around our community to help others and encourage them. It's not rocket science, trust me. You can do stuff like this wherever you're at, too. It's like Mother Teresa said:

"If you cannot feed 100 people, then feed just one."

This whole thing started out by taking 4 of our neighbors to a rather impressive buffet back in January in a borrowed van and then following up by inviting people in for tea, offering rides to the grocery store, a loaf of bread to tide folks over until food stamps came around and it has all just evolved from there.

This week, we've had some great experiences. I wish that you could be here to get a taste for how something that really takes such a minor effort on our part makes such an IMPACT on the lives of those around us...

  • Visitation to one of our former neighbours (the first person we met!) with her newborn baby
  • ride to children's emergency for a mom and her kids after one of them busted his front teeth out doing tricks on his bike
  • having a spontaneous ice cream party Sunday afternoon with some kids that were just hanging out over at our house
  • homebaking a humongous cake for our birthday ministry and celebrating a young man's life
  • opening our cupboards and tightening our belts so that our neighbour and her family could eat this week
  • trips to Wal-mart. Many trips to Wal-mart. Still in a borrowed van. haha.
  • opening up the Community House (or the 'funhouse' as it is locally known) so that kids can come and laugh and play and read and talk about their day
  • buying gel shoe inserts for a neighbour who just got a job on an assembly line where she's on her feet on concrete for ten hours a day
  • getting our behinds whipped playing basketball with the kids (!)
  • making a way for one of the kids to use his gift of singing as worship at the corps on Sunday
  • remembering someones name is Nathaniel instead of calling them Fatboy like everyone else
  • visiting lonely people, and bringing homebaked muffins
  • cleaning refuse (human and otherwise) out of the local crackhouses
  • killing bugs found in the shower. oh wait. that's just what I do for Rob. (!)
  • picking kids up. hugging them. using our words to bless them and build them up and give them hope and comfort them in their distress

So for real, it's not rocket science. It's an overflow. This whole love in action thing is pretty easy to do once you get started and then, before you know it, you're looking for opportunities to give your stuff away, and share whatever's left with the people around you.
It's ministry, but there's more to it - we're captivated. We're preoccupied with loving others. We're committed to praying for them and being active in their lives, even when it's messy.

"I will rise now, and go about the city; In the streets and in the squares,I will seek the one I love.” Song of Songs 3:2 KJV

We're searching for Jesus in the face of every snotty-nosed,dirty faced, potty-mouthed, hungry, hurting little kid and adult.
He's here. Come and see for yourself...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last night we had a bunch of folks over at our house to study the Word, hang out and share about how our day went. We were just getting into the groove of things when we heard three shots fired outside. It's been a while since we'd heard any gunfire action, so it caused a bit of a stir among us. Even more so when we realized that Jaime was out there by herself so Travis and I walked over to the cluster of houses to locate Jaime and make sure that she was safe. It was an eerie atmosphere, with people creeping about all over the place, sticking to the shadows or predatorily moving across lawns, passing under the streetlights. Something was going on, somebody was settling up with someone else about who knows what.

I stopped when we got to Jaime and Jesse's house, Travis crossed the road to the community house, to check for Jaime there. When no one answered my knock, I turned around to survey the situation. Next door, the neighbors had had their car windows shot out. The owner of the vehicle was pretty ticked off, he didn't live at the house, his sister and her son did. I heard his sister's voice from within the house, yelling at her son to hurry up and get his shoes on before 'they' come back around. I sat down on the porch to see what would happen next. Four people came bustin' out of the house at a frantic pace. the little boy was hurrying to keep up with his mom and aunties. They were leaving quick, off to find a safer place to pass the night. I asked the woman, Is there anything we can do? Do you need us to take him (the boy) for the night? She said no, that he was fine with his auntie, and that there was nothing we could was a helpless feeling for me indeed.
At that point, Travis returned from the community house where Jaime was - she had assumed that the shots were firecrackers and hadn't paid them no mind.
As Travis and I were standing there, assessing the damage, we heard sirens, and before we could disappear ourselves, two patrol cars came screeching onto the court. One slowed down and began a steady search with the searchlight through the bushes while the other sped to the end of the court to begin his search there. We felt that was a good time to take off, lest we be stopped for questioning...

This morning, on my way to class at the community house, I stopped to get a good look at the shot-out car. Bullets had passed through the side and rear windows of the vehicle. Anyone who had been in the driver's seat or rear of the vehicle would have been hit, likely fatally. I could see where the bullet exited the rear of the vehicle, and, I'm sure if I'd had the time I could've poked around on the ground and found the casings, or maybe even the bullets.

Now, none of this is news to me. I get that bullets are fired, stuff gets hit, damage is done. And yet, for some reason, the reality of the situation hit home to me. The gunman had to have been standing in the shadows between the two houses because of the bullet's angles of entry and exit through the vehicle. He wouldn't have hit anyone in the house, but he could've hit either of the neighbor's houses.
We have all sorts of kids wandering around in little packs throughout the neighborhood after dark - anywhere from age 8-15. He could've hit kids. I've often heard of kids being victims of drive-by shootings, gang warfare, etc. but never really understood how a kid would get in the way of live gunfire. After giving the events of last night some thought, I realized that the kid doesn't even have to be IN the way, because people shoot guns off in all sorts of random directions.
It makes me really really angry. One of my little friends shot at,injured, killed over drugs, territory, cheating spouses, less little face at the corps on Sunday. One less little face asking for a freezie or jumping up for a hug.
Not only that, but when I think about the little boy, 8 years old, in his pyjamas hurrying away from his house at 8:30 at night, fleeing in the dark because someone is shooting at them, i could go right off the chain - because that same little boy should be in bed. He should feel safe. He should be getting rested up for school tomorrow. But he's not. Yet this morning he was still expected to be at school like the other kids, focused like the other kids, prepared like the other kids. But how can he?
How does he stand a chance at having a normal, healthy life when he's never experienced anything remotely like that?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Yesterday at church the Lord gave me a very special gift.

You see, we've had the opportunity to bring young people (2yrs-15yrs) to one of the corps here for youth church every Sunday morning. Yesterday we arrived a bit early, and the kids got to play outside on the practically brand new superduper playground next to building. This was a really big deal, because in our neighborhood, there are no parks, no climbers, no swings or anywhere that's designed just for kids to play safely.

ANYways, the most popular playground piece was the monkeybar climber, and there was a long line of kids wating for their turn to swing from rung to rung. It's fun to watch each one maneouvre across, but the blessing was in Geoffrey. He started at the far end, but, obviously only a novice to monkeybar climber immediately committed monkeybar climber suicide - he stopped on his second rung in and just hung there. Now, anyone who has ever attempted this gymnastic feat KNOWS that as soon as you stop, all the strength seeps from your arms, your body feels like it weighs a ton and your hands get all sweaty and threaten to let go. The probability of starting up again from that point and completing the event sways devastatingly low. Geoffrey hung in the balance.
All of his peers were watching him, ready to judge his coolness and acceptance based on this performance.

His face fell.

Then, someone from the crowd yelled out

"c'mon Geoffrey! You can do it!"
Others followed with similar cheers, and before I knew it, Geoffrey, buoyed by the cries from his friends kicked back into gear. He made it two rings further when his endurance began to flag. His inital standstill had taken its toll and his face showed the strain and the anguish. Travis came up behind him and began to speak words of confidence and perspective
"You're almost there! You're so close, keep going Geoffrey!"
His face was actually contorted now. Travis had two arms around his legs absorbing some of his body weight, sharing his burden in order that he might attain his goal. The crowd was absolutely frenetic at this point - was he going to make it? Would he give up and let go?

He didn't let go. He made it. There was wild laughter, and much rejoicing as Geoffrey's cheerleaders celebrated his victory.
As for Geoffrey, the face that had worn discouragement, dejection, exertion and hopefullness all within two minutes now shone with euphoria. You would've thought he'd won the lottery - or better yet, a gold medal the way he was beaming. He had done it. He had made it across the monkey bars. All was right with the world in that perfect moment.

As for me? I was overcome by it all. I wept with joy, because Geoffrey had made it to the end. He had a drive to succeed and desire to win, but realized pretty quick that he couldn't do it on his own strength or will alone. To achieve his goal, he relied heavily on the encouragement of others, the wisdom of those who had a greater perspective than him, and the strength and presence of one who could lift him up and whom he could depend on, even if he couldn't see him.

Is there a moral to this story? I believe there is...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who is this Christ?

Teach Us To Build Your Kingdom...
Born of a Hebrew Mother
Exiled to live with the Egyptians
Rejoicing in the faith of a Syrian Woman
And a Roman Soldier
Calling both a Greek and Jew to discipleship
Allowing an African to carry your cross
A Roman woman to bathe your face
A stranger-thief to join You in heaven
Christ of all, teach us to build the Kingdom for
All Your people.

~Barbara D'arcy

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Check out

They are focusing on The invisible Children this month. They are a group of young people from around the Salvation Army world who have resolved to push against injustice, lets push with them.

In recent days we are seeing peace and reconciliation prevail more than ever in North Uganda and Sudan. We must press in and pray. God surely does not require our prayers but he will use them. In Uganda the LRA ( Lords Resistance Army ) has kidnapped 20,000 children who face an initiation of murdering their parents and then going to war. Their sisters are brought along as sex slaves and when they are considered undesirable then they are given guns to fight too. It is not possible to be there in the physical right now but if you pray for the children of Uganda every day some will be saved from death and rape.

Go to and do something.

Check out this link from BBCWorldservice on Night Commuters,

who the Church calls invisable Children

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why The War College Charlotte

Our first two War College students have arrived and are acclamating well. Many ask, " what is The War College about? "

You may have heard of The Salvation Army's bold foray into radical battle schooling. The War College has been created to train this generation's warriors to win the world for Jesus. Why should you invest a year of your life at The War College, in Charlotte, North Carolina? Reasons abound:

Teaching. You will learn from some of the best leaders in The Salvation Army. People like General Eva Burrows, Michael Collins, Captain Danielle Strickland, Colonel Earl Robinson and Major Jamie Braund bring proven expertise to Salvation Army warfare.

Content. You will be immersed in essential subjects for warfare success, such as extreme holiness, warfare operations, spiritual disciplines, extreme prophetic, spiritual accountability, social justice, and apostolic leadership. You will receive the course content required for success in the future wars to which God appoints you.

Training. You will be trained by successful Salvation Army leaders in evangelism, discipleship, intercession, the prophetic and other spiritual gifts, servanthood, cell multiplication, preaching, warfare worship and more. You will find yourself in the thick of the fight, right on front lines. You will also be deployed for four months to another Salvation Army unit for further experience.

Community. You will live in close quarters with other slum brothers and sisters (the noble calling of many early Salvationists), manifesting a righteous standard and authentic Christian community to a hungry neighbourhood. This experience will prove to be a sanctifying process.

Location. Charlotte, is one of the world's most liveable cities. North Carolina's beauty is renowned.But that's not all. You will live in Charlotte's poorest zip code, right in the thick of the fight. This is our best answer to General Booth's dream of hanging cadets over hell for a fortnight.

Win The World. God is raising up The War College to train this generation's warriors to win the world for Jesus. The spiritual synergy of the experience will spin off dynamic ministries and warfare on fronts around the world. Warfare that will transform cities and people groups and nations. Compare that to your alternative of post-bachelor degree, entry-level office work or your fourth year undergrad.

Wagner Affiliation. The War College is affiliated with the Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI) and phase 2 students can qualify for post-secondary diplomas. This is a bonus to students wanting to continue their study beyond The War College toward associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees.

Calling. God's call on your life is the best reason. Maybe you hear Him specifically calling you to come. Maybe you're not sure but you figure that you'll need some of this stuff for the calling you know He has given you. Check out pages for more information and an online application.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

On Sunday we brought back some kids to find that their Mother was not in yet so decided to take them for the drive to return a 15 passenger van that we use on Sundays. On our way home we decided to stop at our local Pilot truck stop for a slurpee. I went in with two young kids and we grabbed our treats and went to cash out. While we were paying the cashier asked if I had adopted these little kids, obviously I wasn't their natural father due to skin colour, and one of the little boys said " nope, he's The Salvation Army, you know our pastor." The lady responded by mentioning how nice it was that I came and spent time with these kids here in this neighborhood. I did not respond with the whole explanation of incarnational ministry and how my wife and I actually live next door to these kids ect. I had my own personal blessing though, knowing that I was not going to just go drop off these kids, San Quan, Aleah and Cameron and go home but we were going home together.

Back in the 80's it was real popular to do " Parachute Ministry " where you would go drop in on a poor part of town and hang out for a little while, there just was not a big emphasis on staying. Jesus clearly models the "no ditch" rule, in fact he models the " ditch the rich " rule. He had no problem going for diner at a rich guys house, or sitting next to the Jones' at church, but he had it right see he would parachute in on the well off and then go home to his friends. Often he would recruit there, or teach and love, but we all know his explanation on how he did not come for those who were well etcetera.

Moral of the story. Kids love slurpie's.
Oh and don't sell everything you own and give the money to the poor; pack it up and move in with them.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Justice and Emotion

Doing Justice don't always feel good.

The Judges that God appointed to rule over the Israelites really were protectors and shepherds with a great deal of responsibility. They took their job personally, they did not separate themselves from their mission. Seriously think of Deborah going to war or Gideon deciding to take on the Midianites after receiving confirmation through a dream. God actually commanded Gideon to cut back his troops to 300 (Judges 7) imagine 300 guys against an army of thousands. God told Gideon he did not want the men to take credit for the victory, God wanted the Glory. Hallelujah !

I wonder if we can apply this to our current situations, maybe God is asking us to take on the enemy even though we seemingly don't have enough resources to win. Maybe he wants it that way so that when victory comes we can only point to him as the reason for our accomplishments.

It is so easy to hold back with so many reasons ...

Not enough money.
Not enough soldiers.
Not enough volunteers.

But I wonder what God could do if we just stepped out even when it seems hopeless in the physical relying totally on the supernatural.

Now there is a key here. IM not saying to just run into everything ill prepared, the key is listening and discerning Gods timing. See Gideons victory was not just in stepping out in faith but doing so in the fullness of Gods timing. If he had of went too soon or too late he may have suffered a grave defeat. Gideon had ears to hear what " The Spirit " was saying. The other key was that he acted on it. He did not put the decision to a committee vote, he acted on Gods charge.

How do we hear God in these days ?
Are we open to hearing God through dreams and visions ?
Will you act on Gods charge even against natural opposition ?