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Confirming the Call

CHARLES WELSEY wrote these words: ‘To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil, O may it all my powers engage to do my Master’s will!’ (SASB 472, verse 2).
Great words – yet sometimes difficult to live up to.
Why do some officers feel unfulfilled? Why does this lack of fulfillment sometimes lead to resignation? Could it be they have lost their sense of ‘calling’? If so, how might they get it back?
Scripture is filled with spectacular examples of God calling individuals to full-time service: think of Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, the 12 disciples and Paul. For many of us, however, our calling probably came from a sense (inspired by the Holy Spirit) that officership was God’s plan for our life.
My call to ministry took place at a Territorial Bible and Leadership Institute when I was 14 years old. I had seen a play entitled Portrait of a Prophet, about the life of Samuel Logan Brengle, and at the end I sensed God’s voice saying, ‘This is what I want for you.’ To which I responded, ‘All that I am is yours, to do your will.’ From that point I never looked back.
However, it’s not enough just to ‘hear a call’ – there also needs to be confirmation that the message is from God and not some personal notion. Our candidates process is helpful, but Scripture can also point us in the right direction. As I read 1 Timothy 3, four aspects come to mind that can assist here: passion, competency, outcomes and confirmation.
Passion
We’ve probably all heard testimonies that began, ‘I believe God called me to be an officer, but it’s the last thing in the world I would ever want to do.’ This may be said because people don’t feel capable or worthy, because they think this type of ministry is beneath their potential, or perhaps because they lack positive role models to inspire them to consider such a commitment.
Whatever the case, those who lack passion for ministry yet choose it for their life’s work are likely to be miserable, and may not last long.
1 Timothy 3:1 says, ‘Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone
sets his heart on being an overseer desires a noble task.’ Here the word ‘overseer’ is speaking of a church official. Some translations use the word ‘bishop’; in our context we would use the word ‘officer’. Interestingly, the word ‘desire’ here is the same as that for ‘passion’.
It’s not enough just to ‘hear a call’. We also need confirmation that the message is from God
We could rewrite this verse to say: ‘Here is an irrefutable saying that you can count on regarding God’s calling on your life: if you eagerly seek by setting your heart on being an officer, your passion for this ministry is an excellent and noble task.’

You might like to reflect on the following:
• What about ministry excites you?
• If you have lost the excitement, what would it take to get it back?
• What does it take to be a positive role model that will inspire others to think about the possibility of officership?

Competency
In addition to having the ‘want to’, taking up a calling requires meeting certain criteria. 1 Timothy 3 points out some necessary abilities and attributes. Verse 2 speaks about character: ‘Now the overseer is to be above reproach.’ It also mentions self-control, respectability and being hospitable. Then there is the ability to teach. Other Scriptures would extend this to include tasks such
as preaching, counseling and pastoral care. Verse 4 mentions the importance of being able ‘to manage’. Specifically it is talking about the family, however other readings point to the importance of managing and leading one’s flock. ‘But wait!’ you say. What about the disciples Jesus called? They did not seem all that competent when they started. This is true. They were, however, ready and willing to be trained. Verse 6 amplifies this thought when it says: ‘He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgement as the devil.’
Competency to serve is an important step in being able to fulfill one’s calling. The book TransforMissional Coaching, by Steve Ogne and Tim Roehl, poses some helpful questions for reflection here:
• What leadership gifts or abilities do you need to develop to fulfill your calling or current assignment?
• How would you describe your current abilities in this area?
• What options do you have to develop your leadership?
• What will you do to develop your leadership?

Outcomes

Another indicator of one’s calling is outcomes. A scriptural term often used is ‘fruitful’. In other words, are you making a difference?
Demonstration of one’s effectiveness is important. Verse 10 reads: ‘They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.’ Is there ever an end to being tested and having to produce? Not for those who are called.

One of the more troubling passages regarding the lack of positive outcomes is found in the parable Jesus told in Luke 13:6-9: ‘A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.’

‘So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
Affirmation is a key ingredient for one’s calling “Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”

My prayer is, ‘Lord keep me in tune with your plans as I take part in building your Kingdom.’

For reflection:
• How and when has your call to ministry been assured by circumstances or results?

Confirmation
One of the great joys in my life is to watch my grandsons grow up. One of them, William, had been working on a task for a few months. After successfully completing it he ran into the living room where I was busy reading a book. He pulled on my sleeve and in a loud voice said, ‘Grandpa, Grandpa!’ After finally getting my attention he cried out, ‘I DID IT!’
Affirmation is not only important for children, it is a key ingredient for one’s calling. As a candidate you received recommendations to enter the training college from local officers, your corps officers, divisional leaders, the Territorial Candidates Board and ultimately the territorial commander. This process continues throughout officer service. With regard to our calling, the statement we are each looking for is: ‘We believe you can do it!’

1 Timothy 3 is once again helpful. Verse 7 tells us we ‘must also have a good reputation’, and verse 8 says we are able to be ‘worthy of respect’.

For reflection:
• How and when has your call to ministry been affirmed by your leaders and from those to whom you minister?

FINALLY, what can we do to keep our calling fresh – to ‘serve the present age, my calling to fulfil’, as Wesley wrote? 2 Timothy 1:6 says: ‘For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.’

Several helpful thoughts come from this verse:
• Remind yourself of your initial calling and where it has brought you.
• ‘Fan into flame’ your passion, abilities, fruitfulness and constructive interaction with those you serve, serve with, and who serve you.
• Continually acknowledge that your calling is a ‘gift from God’.
Remember – if God has called you, he is able to see you through!
Article taken from The Officer, May 2010
and written by Paul Fleeman, Principal
CFOT Central Territory

The Fine Print

I find advertisements, in any media form, absolutely fascinating. Great advertisements hit you hard with a powerful, colorful, and exciting message that promises a product or experience you cannot live without. Advertisements are designed to capture our attention in an emotionally charged way – a way that makes us temporarily suspend the critical thinking part of our brain. But that’s not all advertisements deliver. If you look closely or listen carefully to any advertisement, you will always find, the fine print. The fine print, otherwise known as the really small part you can hardly see, tells you what you really need to know.

Until now, many of you have been focused on the colorful and exciting image of Salvation Army officership. Many of you have probably been daydreaming about saving twenty-five souls a week, recording over a thousand people in Sunday School attendance, or even being known as the next Brengle. No doubt, this is exciting stuff! It’s the big picture that keeps you motivated. It’s the big picture that kept you moving through all of the paperwork and preparation it took to get you to The School for Officer Training. Don’t lose your excitement, while you are now faced with the fine print of what you have signed up to do.

In the weeks ahead, you will encounter a lot of fine print about all that you will experience in cadet life. You will hear a lot about rules and regulations. You will be given course syllabi that outline assignments and deadlines. Your daily routines will shift and a multitude of demands will be placed on you. Some days the campus will feel like the largest place in the world, while other days it will feel like you can’t find a moment of solitude without bumping into other cadets. Your energy level might drop considerably and physical fatigue might start to feel like a way of life. Essentially, the fine print of being a cadet will tell you, this lifestyle might require more from you than you thought.

Don’t worry, the fine print of your cadet experience doesn’t have to take away from the excitement and fulfillment of the big picture. The fine print simply highlights that being a cadet demands a lot from you spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially. This means, you have to be sure you are paying attention to how you are doing in each of these four areas at all times. Ignoring any one of these areas of your life has the potential to cause problems for you in other areas.

Balancing our lives among these four areas (spiritual, physical, emotional and social) is the key to achieving an overall positive state of health and wellness. Be sure to check in with yourself daily in each area. Spiritual – Maintain your daily prayer and devotion routines. Continue to stretch yourself spiritually, striving to meet any spiritual goals you may have.
Physical – Keep up with, or get in the habit of, a regular exercise program and watch out for foods and drinks that drain more energy than they give. Although it might be tough, try to establish and maintain a regular sleep/wake pattern.

Emotional – Recognize you are not alone in this major transition. Ask for support and encouragement from other cadets, the staff, and your friends and family back home. Consider getting involved in one of the many cadet-led accountability groups on campus. Social – Take advantage of leisure opportunities including athletics, off-campus shopping trips and movie nights. Try and maintain contact by phone and email with friends and family back home.

Your future as a Salvation Army officer can be everything you thought it would be. By paying attention to the fine print, and working to achieve balance in your life, you will learn that it can also be so much more.

Lost In Tradition

In 2003 there was a movie released called “Lost in Translation.” The plot involved the unlikely meeting of two lost, lonely American souls in Tokyo and the development of their friendship as they try to understand their surroundings and a language they do not understand. Their confusion, frustration and anxiety could be likened to your first days on campus. We have our own lingo here, a schedule that looks like a Skittles rainbow, rules and expectations left and right…….it can be a bit overwhelming. You may feel “Lost in Transition.”

Transition; the movement or passage from one position, state, or subject to another is an inevitable part of life. Moving your family from one place to another is a huge transition and you may feel overcome with all the changes taking place. Your children might be exhibiting behaviors you haven’t seen in awhile (regressing) or acting out in ways that are not usual for them. As a parent you may feel helpless about what to do.

Let me reassure you, everything that you and your family are feeling is NORMAL, whether it’s going well or you feel like its falling apart. Your challenge in these coming weeks is to help your family adjust in healthy ways. This is the first of many moves in your life and it is possible to maintain normalcy and happiness when everything around you is different and changing.
I am a “child of the regiment” which means I am an officer’s child. I grew up in a 15 passenger van helping with tavern runs (we don’t do these any more so, you know how old I am), sorting Christmas gifts, leading songs in the Holiness Meeting………and I felt like I had a very normal childhood. Sure, I had friends who thought I lived at the Thrift Store and had parents who worked for an airline (weird uniforms), but I grew up with a very real sense that our family mattered to my parents and to God. To this day I am amazed and thankful at how well my parents accomplished that. This summer I asked them what their magic formula was and they laughed at me. Of course, they followed up with lots of good advice that can be summed up in the following suggestions for being “Found in Transition.”

1. Remember that your time here is a “season” in your family’s life. Your two years here at “1032” will be like no other. You will make many significant memories here. The schedule may present some unique challenges to the time you spend together as a family. Have a positive outlook with your children encouraging them to see what unique blessings God has in store for them here. Create special memories as a family; outings, family night at home, devotions, etc.. You know your kids best. Play to their strengths and consider that you may have to be creative to meet your family’s needs. When days are difficult, hang on to each other and remember this too shall pass.

2. Enjoy the blessing of community. Living, eating, studying, learning, and serving together is a very unique element of EBC life. Your family may dive right in to this social circle with ease and energy. Some of you might feel overwhelmed and, at times, suffocated. Don’t feel guilty if you want to have a night at home with no interruptions. Put a “stop” sign on your door and close out the rest of the world. If you love having your door wide open (literally) with kids in and out, go for it. Establish what your boundaries are as a family and make sure everyone knows why and how to communicate that to others. Your kids might need some help doing this, but if you think about it ahead of time and anticipate what you know will work best for you, it can help to curtail stress.

3. Keep Jesus at the center of your home. This is an obvious one, but in the busyness of our days we will be tempted let our family time with Jesus go. It’s too easy to make excuses and Satan will
use our lack of time in God’s Word to get in the middle of our God-ordained families and calling. The more chaotic family structure is, the weaker and more ineffectual our families become and the more Satan has control of our lives. Schedule family time in the Word. Mom and Dad, it’s not going to work without you writing it down in a place where everyone sees it and has to be accountable.
This also shows your children how important your family’s relationship is to Jesus. Spend this time in ways that are appropriate for the ages and spiritual needs of your children. Then sit back and see what God does for you!

Welcome to your new home. We are very glad you’re here. Remember that “God, who makes everything work together, will work (in your family) the most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:9 MSG.

Let’s Get Physical…

Let’s Get Physical…

by Kevin Chamlee

Physical Health and Wellness
In 2005 the United States spent about $507 billion on the war on terrorism, and the price tag by 2015 will be about $808 billion. Sounds like a lot of money, so let us compare this to the price tag of healthcare in the U.S. The United States spent $2 trillion on healthcare in 2005, and by 2015 it is expected to rise to $4 trillion. By then, for every $5 that consumers spend, $1 will go to paying for healthcare costs.
The deadly triad of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, makes up 75% of the cost of healthcare in America. The bottom line is if we as a nation do not change the way we manage our “health,” then healthcare as we know it will become unaffordable for individuals and corporations. By developing a healthy lifestyle and becoming more physically active, we as a nation will be able to bring these astronomical costs down.

Developing a Healthy Lifestyle
The importance of lifestyle on health and longevity is clearly illustrated. People who are physically active and live healthy lifestyles are biologically younger by 10 years than those who don’t. It all starts with getting the right amount of sleep, which is between 6 and 8 hours a night. The next step to a healthy lifestyle is eating breakfast. By consuming calories in the morning, an individual will be able to jump start their metabolism and increase their cognitive functioning. By the way, a cup of “Joe” doesn’t count as breakfast. Please try not to skip breakfast; even if you don’t have the best options, just eat something.

Another way to develop a healthy lifestyle is by keeping your Body Mass Index (BMI) below 30. A BMI above 30 increases the risk of heart disease by 70 % and the chances for cancer by 40%. When wondering how much weight you should lose, a great rule of thumb is to lose 10% of your totalbody weight.

Parking further out when going to the grocery store will allow for more activity during the day. Usually, people end up stressing out trying to get the front parking space. During lunch break many people are waiting in line to receive their lunch. Here is an idea: why don’t you just take ten minutes and walk on the treadmill? By doing this you will allow the line to die down, and doing physical activity prior to eating will suppress your appetite.

Becoming more Physically Active
What is the definition of physical activity? Physical activity is body movement that develops and maintains physical fitness and overall health. The three components of physical activity are aerobic activity, resistance training, and flexibility exercises. Examples of these are walking, weight-lifting, and stretching, respectively.

Everyone should strive for at least 90 minutes a week of aerobic activity, which could include playing with your children. Research has shown that just 90 minutes a week can lower cholesterol, drop blood pressure, and prevent heart attacks. For those individuals who would like to lose 10% of their body weight, 150 minutes a week would be more appropriate. The bottom line is the more calories burned and the fewer calories consumed, the quicker the fat will diminish.

Along with aerobic activity, think about including some type of resistance training into the weekly exercise regiment. A good rule of thumb to follow in regard to weight training is never exercise the same muscle group back to back. For instance, an individual should work the chest muscles one day then the next day exercise the back muscles.
Last but not least, let’s look at flexibility. Stretching should be done prior to and after both of the aforementioned activities. Stretching will help warm-up the muscles and allow for more range-of-motion. Time is a commodity that is in short supply, so if a priority must be placed on cardiovascular (aerobic) activity or resistance training, then aerobic activity would take priority because it will yield more calories burned.

Conclusion
The amount of calories that we intake is the key to fighting the war on obesity. We generally “put away” more calories than we burn off through daily activity and exercise. A survey taken by International Food Information Council Foundation has found that 44% of those surveyed didn’t balance what they ate with the amount of calories they burned during the day. Our Christian lives are all about balance. William Booth said, “Go for souls and go for the worst.” Even if we successfully achieve a clear mind, clean heart, and balanced schedule, we can sabotage our opportunity to be all God intends for us because of ill-health resulting from poor choices. When that happens, we are unable to be used by God and “Go for souls.”