Saturday, November 25, 2006


I was talking with a couple of friends today about needs and direction. Some of you know that, along with our local ministry, I’m also charged with the duty of equipping, training, supporting, (what have you) other Salvation Army youth work in the London area. Each year that I’ve been here, I’ve had to tweak the previous year’s strategy to meet the current needs of our churches and, by “tweak”, sometimes I mean “radical change in my approach”. I find that weird. In fact, it feels unprofessional. Now maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I’ve been raised in a culture that believes strong leadership means unwavering and inflexible leadership. And maybe I’m dragging that baggage into this ministry with me. But I can’t help but feel like I ought to be able to lay out a basic strategy and be able to stick with that strategy for at least three years. Yet, year after year, I find myself having to change strategy to meet the current needs of our churches.

We had a long discussion about it today, trying to narrow down the problem. One year it seems that we need more divisional programming, the next we need less, the year after that we need more. From year to year it seems that our local churches want less, more, or less responsibility in discipling their own young people. Finally, one of my friends pointed out that it’s an issue of vision. There’s a lack of vision. The amazing thing is that, shortly after this meeting, I spoke with one of our local pastors who shared with me that their strategy was just to take whatever youth ministry opportunities came along. This seems to support this idea of “lack of vision”.

But here’s my question. And I ask it as a sincere question, even though I’ve previously posted my own thoughts on the matter. Is it possible to have long term vision when you have every reason to believe that you’re not going to be there long enough to carry it out or raise up somebody else who can carry it out? By moving our Officers around so much, have we trained them and our congregations to think in short term bursts? And, furthermore, have we contributed to the cynicism that says things like, “yeah, we’ve heard this before.”?

Today I find myself wondering if it’s possible to get people in TSA to think about vision beyond the next year?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

very random thoughts...

A friend once said to me that accountability is when we remind a friend of their own goals, but judgement is when we sentence that person when they don’t reach them.

Even as the world is accusing us all of being hypocrites, they’re also watching as we all sentence Ted Haggard to hell. We talk of grace and forgiveness and guess what? Here’s our chance. Thank GOD CNN hasn’t figured out my private sins and posted them for all the world to see. Leaders will be held to a higher standard, no doubt, but we’ve still got to be there to help them up when they fall. Haggard has confessed his sins and also his addiction. Now is the time to forgive and support. And, on a side note, let this be one more lesson in why we shouldn’t put people on a pedestal. Grace and forgiveness.

I don’t normally take jabs at my liberal friends on here. I think there are enough Christians doing that and, in the end, I agree with some so-called “liberal” takes on politics, and religion, and life in general. For the record, I like to think of those takes as “Christ like”, but whatever. The following has been on my mind this week.

Does anybody else find it mind blowing that the same people who find no worth in an unborn child are often the same people who are against the death penalty because “we might have gotten it wrong”. Hhmm. Again, I think liberals are just as mind numbingly closed minded as conservatives. Maybe the death penalty AND abortion are wrong? Just maybe.

On the topic of “liberals”, something else came up this week. At the risk of starting some sort of a prayer chain on my behalf, I actually have no problem with the theory that God might have, and might still be using evolution to shape and mould His creation. I have no problem with that and it doesn’t shake my faith in the slightest. In fact, I think there are some good arguments and evidence for it. But, for those who believe in straight up evolution with no outside influence whatsoever, I think it’s safe to say that they believe in the most unlikeliest of scenarios that recorded history has ever known. They believe against the greatest odds in all of humanity. In fact, they’re rolling the dice on what odds makers would define as “completely impossible”. So, with that in mind, I find it fascinating that many of these same people believe in the possibility of life on other planets. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in that “possibility” as well, but then, I don’t believe that the most impossible of accidents occurred, ultimately bringing about the universe and life itself. Imagine thinking that yeah, it not only happened once, but multiple times. Wow.

Madonna. Take note of this one, because it’s not very often that I stand up in support of her.

I can’t get my mind around how anybody can condemn the woman for adopting a baby. ??? True, she could do more than just adopting one baby. And my understanding is that she is. In fact, my understanding is that she was in Africa funding and helping to set up an orphanage and, while there, met this little baby who tugged at her heart strings. This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, I have two friends who went on “mission trips” to Africa and had their heart strings tugged on by a local child. One of those friends adopted the child and brought him back to the U.S., and the other friend, upon being denied the opportunity to adopt, quit his job and began the task of building AIDS orphanages in Africa. In my mind this may be the most human thing Madonna has ever done.

And as far as her “jumping on the bandwagon”, better late than never, right? I mean, what would we have to say about her if, this late in her career, and with the amount of money she has made, if she didn’t get involved in some sort of charitable work or philanthropy? While I recognize that social action has become very sheik and has, therefore, led many people to pretend they’re involved by wearing white bracelets, I also recognize that many celebrities are sincerely being challenged to make their lives matter. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. And we have Bono and Angelina Jolie (the woman I’m seeing on the side) to thank for that!

And finally, I noticed in the news this morning, that Senator Lincoln Chafee has decided that he will join Democrats in blocking the nomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the U.N. This one stands out to me because, upon nomination by the President earlier this year, several of Bolton’s subordinates testified that Bolton had a reputation of bullying his colleagues. And I’m always happy to see one more bully bite the dust.

Staying on topic, I’m still keeping up with the Chick Yuel situation. For those Salvationists who aren’t, welcome to the fish farm. And on that note, a friend said something to me this week that I’ll leave with you; “Discontent is rooted in the hope that things can be better.”

I’m hoping that things can be better.

Incidentally, can anybody explain the above picture???