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Volume 25, No. 4

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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Mar 7, 2008

Gen. Shaw Clifton:
Jesus The Healer

The

Healing

Cross

Comm. Max Feener:
The Depths of Sin and Grace


Comm. Feener | Maj. McGee | Maj. Duracher | Ms. Gotrich

Evangelistic outreach into community is winning families at Tulsa Citadel

By Major Frank Duracher Southern Spirit staff

A vibrant gospel arts ministry and a burgeoning music program at the Tulsa, Okla., Citadel Corps are proof that focused discipleship also fosters success in the other three Territorial Priorities (Quality Worship, Effective Prayer and Visitation/Relationships).

“We wanted to build a bridge to reach the children of families staying at our Center of Hope, so we started an eight-week conservatory which is now held every summer,” Captain Michelle Robbins said.

Activities include instruction in brass band, piano, guitar, mime, Singing Company, timbrels and dramatic Scripture portrayals. Corps Sergeant-Major Troy Mitchell, an accomplished musician, teaches several of the classes. As the young adults ministries secretary, Charity Mitchell’s gift is writing and directing the children for worship cameos. . . »Continued

Dorrie Camuti (right) greets fellow worshipper Laurie McDaniel at the Tulsa Citadel Corps.

     

Tulsa Citadel puts strong emphasis on discipleship
Continued from above

Captains John and Michelle Robbins, corps officers, were quick to make the programs part of their weekly schedule year-round.

"In doing that, we've been able to keep some of those kids throughout the year who are now attending similar weekly activities," Captain Michelle Robbins added. "Their families are feeding our corps rolls, and they are bringing others along as well."

Captain John Robbins points to the Sunday night evangelistic rallies as another outreach embraced by the corps council to encourage discipleship. The services are held at the Center of Hope for many of the same families targeted by the music and gospel arts ministries (see related story). The motive embraced by project leader Allen Ricketson is pure: Preach the gospel to individuals and families struggling with homelessness and staying at the Army's shelters housed in the area command complex.

"The underlying hope is that at least a few will connect with the Citadel Corps program after their situations improve," said Ricketson, who also serves as corps treasurer.

Young People's Sergeant-Major Martha Stegall is heavily involved in all aspects of the youth program.

She teaches the middle school teens at the corps and conducts a "Sonday'sCool" class at the West Mabee Boys & Girls Club. Another Army Boys & Girls Club, located in Broken Arrow, will be the venue for beginning typical corps programming by Citadel Corps soldiers soon.

Abraham Garrett is the Community Care Ministries leader. His desire is to not only regularly visit the sick and shut-in, but to connect to the 25 or so men from the Adult Rehabilitation Center who come each Sunday morning for worship.

"All of these outreach ministries are just half of the plan," said Captain John Robbins. "Once we get them into our doors here at the Citadel Corps, we want to keep them."

To do that, the corps officers and their soldiers skillfully plan quality worship services. A heavy emphasis on prayer and visitation is also employed by the corps council.

"Our people come together here as a family," he said. "As a family we pray together, enjoy fellowship and give outward service."

More people are attending worship services nowadays, and many come forward to pray at the altar. But discipleship cannot stop there, Robbins said.

"‘Salvationism 101' courses are taught to keep the discipleship fires growing," he said. These sessions are sometimes informal: meeting in someone's home or one-on-one to accommodate busy work schedules, for instance.

"Our people see the importance of not leaving someone at the altar, but assuming a ‘mentoring mode' as the Lord leads in order to grow disciples," Robbins said.

"There's nothing more important than taking the Word of God to those without it, especially to the children," YPSM Stegall said.

"This is what God wants us to do: be disciples and make disciples!"


By His wounds we are healed

By General Shaw Clifton

Who among us does not need healing? Which of us is perfectly whole? Where is the one with no need of a Savior? The first step toward healing is to recognize our need. Yet how often our pride gets in the way and we struggle on wounded, our vitality quietly seeping away and our effectiveness for the Kingdom compromised.

The Salvation Army consists of soldiers of Christ working tirelessly for God's Kingdom of purity, love and light. The work takes its toll. The fighting can be hard. Inevitably there will be wounds along the way. Many of you reading this are aware of it. You serve well but can grow weary. You work hard but can grow tired. You give of yourself sacrificially for others, but the results can seem small.

God sees it all. More than that, our Savior has experienced it for Himself. In the person of Jesus Christ we find a Savior who is the Wounded Healer. Those resounding, passionate, moving verses found in the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53, speak to us still today: He had no beauty or majesty ... He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering ... and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows ... He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities ... and by his wounds we are healed (vv 2-5).

There is no one who does not need the Savior. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory God intends for each human being (Romans 3:23). Isaiah 53 says: We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (v 6). This is Jesus, our only Savior. This is the Son of God, born of Mary, raised in Nazareth, the young man who was perfectly filled with the Spirit of God, born to be our Wounded Healer.

Do you know Him? Have you searched Him out? Have you recognized your need of a Savior and turned to Jesus? Countless millions have done so, included among them the world's Salvationists. By His wounds we are healed. Without Him we would be nothing. Only Jesus makes us whole, and we return to Him again and again seeking fresh healing from the hurts and trials of the battle against sin and evil.

How gentle is this Wounded Healer, how understanding of our pain. How gracious He is, how patient with our pride, how tolerant of our foolishnesses. He has walked our way before us and understands. Therefore we can approach Him with confidence, for He knows and sees it all. He is not shocked by our sin, not repelled by our lack of love, not anxious to make us feel small. Instead, He longs for each of us to reach that full height of all we can become in the strength of His power and love as they flood our beings. He has a plan for each of us, and it begins at Calvary's Cross.

See the Wounded Healer there impaled. The nails through His hands and His feet hold Him, but not as firmly as His love for you, not as determinedly as His longing for your healing from sin. How ardently He desires your salvation, how invincibly He loves you. Do you see it? Can you realize it? Your Wounded Healer did it all for you and for me. At Calvary's Cross we find forgiveness for our sins, balm for life's hurts, healing for our wounds, through the only Savior. There is no other.

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version


The Cross: O the depths of sin and grace!

By Commissioner Max Feener

The governor's soldiers, after they had Jesus, sat down and watched Him (Matthew 27:36). They had administered what described as "the cruelest, most hideous of punishments," and then, indifferently, sat beneath the cross gambling for the clothes of Christ. This was a day that would change world forever. But for them it was no different than any other day. Personally, they probably had nothing against Jesus, but they felt nothing for Him, either. As soldiers, they were doing their duty and had grown used to crucifixions.

When we observe Holy Week and, in reading and worship, visit Calvary, it ought to be with disciplined focus, deliberate lingering and deep pondering. There needs to quiet waiting until God comes and speaks afresh. Otherwise, it may just be the repeating of a story that we already know so well; having no more effect than another visit to our favorite shopping center.

What happened at Calvary was bad good. The bad was as dark and deep as itself, and the good was as powerful and glorious as heaven. We need to see both. This is a time to rush. Allowing the crucified Christ to bring about the changes He wants in us crucial exercise.

Consider (we could never fathom) depths of sin that Jesus, the sinless Son of voluntarily experienced. Mark tells us (15:34) that at the sixth hour darkness came the whole land until the ninth hour. And at ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

James S. Stewart made this stark comment: "We may say that here the unspeakable shame and sickening horror of all the sins all the sons of men came down overwhelmingly on Christ's own sinless heart: but ... that not fathom the deeps of his bitter cry. We can only stand afar off and bow our heads, and leave Jesus to traverse that darkness alone."

All the sin of the world was laid upon Jesus.

The nightly news gives reports of armed robberies, kidnappings, rapes, murders and drug seizures. Politicians, business executives, sports celebrities and clergy are dragged before the courts. Embezzlement, money laundering and child abuse are common occurrences. And there is the revolting evil of human trafficking and other global injustices.

We cringe in reading or hearing about the atrocities recorded in every decade of world history, including ours. Lt. General Romeo Dallaire served in Rwanda in 1993 as a United Nations force commander. In his gut-wrenching book, "Shake Hands with the Devil," he tells how he was witness to the ruthless slaying of 800,000 Rwandans - men, women and children - in 100 days. According to the book, General Dallaire returned home to Canada, "broken, disillusioned and suicidal."

Yes, all the sin of the world was laid upon Jesus...

He, who knew no sin, took upon Himself the sins of the world. There was laid on Him every sin - past, present and future - however shameful and disturbing they might be. Jesus visited, and still visits, with full awareness, the evil in the heart and mind of every perpetrator. He felt, and still feels, the agony and pain of every crying victim - men, women and children.

That first Good Friday grace began its work. Though experiencing excruciating pain, Jesus looked down from the cross at those who nailed Him there. And He prayed for them: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Then, one of the criminals, hanging on a cross next to Him, prayed, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom" (v.42). And Jesus replied to him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (v.43).

His grace is for the world.
His grace is for you and me.

Said the famous German theologian, Dr. Karl Barth, "The most important truth I have learned is this: ‘Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so...'"

The grace of Jesus is available to all. Jesus died on the cross, rose again; and the Holy Spirit came, so that, having His power, we might be victorious over sin - no longer yielding to the ways of the devil. By His grace, we may experience God's complete cleansing and healing, and each day joyfully "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

As we contemplate His sufferings ... as we come again to the cross, may the prayer of our hearts be:

If on my soul a trace of sin remaineth,
If on my hands a stain may yet be seen;
If one dark thought a wearied mind retaineth,
O wash me, Lord, till every part be clean.
For I would live that men may see thyself in me,
I would in faith ascend thy holy hill,
And with my thoughts in tune with thy divinity,
Would learn how best to do thy holy will.
(Chorus 72 - S.A. Song Book)

Go deeper with God: Into His will

Jesus said to His disciples, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" (John 4:32). He explained: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (v.34).

Charles Wesley exclaimed:
"O may it all my powers engage, To do my Master's will!"

Going deeper into doing God's will requires two things: listening and following. The wise person, said Jesus, is one who hears his words and puts them into practice (Matthew 7:24).

We hear many voices in our world. Sadly, some Christians, to their spiritual failure or death, have followed wrong voices. Jesus said in John 10 that just as sheep, knowing the true shepherd's voice, will not follow a stranger, so it can be for us who follow Him. We can learn to always recognize the voice of our good Shepherd.

There were voices that tried to persuade Jesus not to follow the right path. When He told His disciples that He would, in Jerusalem, suffer many things and be killed, Peter argued with Him: "Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" (Matthew 16: 22). Jesus replied (v.23), "Out of my sight, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." This harsh response made clear that Jesus would allow nothing and no one (not even one of His disciples) to distract Him from obeying His Father's will. He knew His Father's voice and followed it daily, all the way to the cross.

We might say it was easier for Jesus. But we are not called to follow in our own wisdom or strength. God has provided help.

Jesus made certain promises to His followers regarding this (John 14-16). He said, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you, forever - the Spirit of truth" (14:16). He continued, "...the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (14:26). Then Jesus said (16:13), "...when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth."

Brother Lawrence claimed that "those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep."

Let me encourage all of us to "Go Deeper with God"... to get to know His will for our lives!


Nothing but the blood

There was a sharp-sounding crack and suddenly a spray of blood seemed to be everywhere.

It started off simple enough: Sunday afternoon, get my mom from the house and take her to her favorite lunch place. Mom mentioned at lunch that her prescriptions were ready at the pharmacy and we needed to pick them up. That seemed easy enough. Our three boys were having a low-grade squabble over a pair of 99 cent swimming goggles, but an afternoon nap would solve that argument.

Donna got in the driver's seat while Mom took her customary co-pilot seat - I got the lovely job of managing the ongoing fight in the back seat. Two of the boys were engaged in a tug of war. The goggles suddenly snapped in two. Like a slingshot, one end whirled around and impaled Caleb in the head.

Blood spurted everywhere, and with such volume that it was hard to tell where the goggles had hit. I thought, "Dear God, dear God, not his eye, not his eye." I pulled the goggle out of his head to see if my worse fear was confirmed and was rewarded with a spurt of blood in my face. There are few advantages to being fat; however, when you need a big compress for a wound, a fat hand is better than a thin hand. I pressed the palm of my hand onto the wound and stopped the flow of blood. While Donna drove like a crazed woman to the hospital, I was finally able to determine that the puncture was right above Caleb's eyebrow and that his eye was all right.

The visit to the emergency room was almost anticlimatic. Donna went with Caleb while I parked and got Mom into her wheelchair and brought her into the waiting room. I asked the two older boys if they would watch Grandma while I went to find Caleb. I was asked to fill out the paperwork, and by the time I finished, Donna and Caleb had come out. They had applied antibiotic and had actually used a super glue to suture his wounds.

Caleb thought it had been a grand adventure and immediately went to playing when we got home. After sitting down for a few moments, Mom asked me if I was going to get her prescriptions. Well, so much for that break. I drove down to the pharmacy.

At the pharmacy, strange things started to happen - a person rushed ahead of me in the parking lot to open the door for me. Going through the doors, two people jerked back and let me through. I got to the pickup line of the pharmacy, it had three people ahead of me, I thought "Great, just great, another 30 minutes in my life wasted."

The man ahead of me turned around, got a frozen look on his face and said that I could go ahead. Immediately the other two turned around looked at me and said, "Yes, you go right ahead."

The clerk promptly took my money and gave me the prescriptions. Heading out the door, someone moved quickly ahead of me to open the door. I thought, "I need to come more often on Sunday afternoons, people sure are accommodating." Driving home, looking at myself in the car's mirror, I saw that my face and my white shirt were completely covered in blood. It was no wonder that people were so accommodating to me in the store. My blood-covered body had made a way.

We need to remember this Easter that the blood of Jesus makes a way for us to the throne of God.

Hebrews 10:19-20 says, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.


Jumper

There's a sci-fi movie just out that has leading characters jumping from one part of the world to another at will. Supposedly someone could slip from one exotic port to another, simply ignoring mortal-bound physics of time and space.

For you and me, of course, this is impossible and nonsensical. If you want to dine atop the Sphinx, you need to travel the conventional way to Egypt - by plane or ship. But once you arrive, I don't think the authorities in Cairo allow anyone up there.

Oddly enough, the Bible does present a few nontraditional modes of getting from here to wherever. Consider Philip, who was suddenly and mysteriously plucked away by the Holy Spirit after sharing the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch in the desert. Or how about Enoch and Elijah, of whom the Bible describes as being "translated."

The most intriguing to me is found in the temptations of Christ. I like Matthew's account best. The first temptation is tame in comparison - it happened right there in the wilderness and no traveling was needed. But in the second temptation we read: Then the devil took Him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple (Matthew 4:5 - NLT). It happens again in verse 8, only this time the destination was on top of a high mountain. We do not know how they got to these places. It is doubtful that they just walked. Weak from hunger, the distances Jesus needed to cover before the 40-days finale make mere walking unlikely.

Just something to ponder. And while we're at it, born-again Christians, let's ponder this: Someday we will soar through the air, heaven bound.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye - we shall be changed! Are you ready?


Into the depths

Like many children at camp, I learned how to swim, and after we had mastered the basics we were brought to the deep end of the pool. We had been taught what we needed to know, but those skills were of little use without jumping into the deep end and swimming in water over our heads. I needed to trust that all these things would work according to plan. Frankly, though, going to the deep end scared me.

Another picture of deep water is found in Luke 5. Jesus is teaching an enormous crowd and finds it necessary to get into a boat and speak to the people from that vantage point. After speaking to the crowd, He talks more intimately with those in the boat and gives an object lesson. He tells Simon Peter to "put out into the deep water."

What is Jesus saying to Simon Peter? What exactly does it mean to "put out into the deep water?" I believe Jesus is asking for trust from Peter because He already knows the outcome of the deep.

What would it mean if Christ were to say to me, "Put out into the deep water, Jude"? I believe He would be asking me to leave the shallow places in my life and explore the depths He has prepared for me. He says to me, "Trust and see what happens."

Like Simon Peter, we are sometimes reluctant to leave the familiar and comfortable because that means things will change - and you know how we all feel about change. But when the shallow places are behind us and we simply respond, "Well Lord, if you say so," and we go into the deep waters, it is then that we find abundance. We are called into the depths of our own life in Christ, into a deeper relationship with one who holds us up in the deep end.

So how dare we go into the deep with a Holy God? He invites us through prayer, and Jesus, again, articulates that intimacy, with His Holy Father.

Prayer communicates with the holiness of God, and this might seem to be an unfathomable feat as we are unworthy, only striving to be holy vessels in His presence. Yet, He has made us for the purpose of this conversational relationship because He desires us to be intimate family members of His house. From the starting point of love, Jesus addresses intimacy within the first two words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father," and establishes the celestial DNA of God's family. Jesus teaches us to approach God as "Father." In the Old Testament, God is not often spoken of as "Father": in fact, it occurs in only 14 places. God is the awesome Creator - there is little indication that the Israelites ever addressed Him as Father. But Christ speaks to God as Father 170 times in the gospels. Only once did Christ relinquish such intimacy as "My Father" - when He cried from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Therefore, Jesus clearly encourages a relationship with a Holy God and at its deepest, most intimate level.

A great aid to this new depth of intimacy with God is by prayer and fasting. In May we will launch a territory-wide prayer and fasting event called Into the Depths. We are calling the territory to prayer and fasting inside a week's time. You will be encouraged to sign up for a period of fasting on a website designed for this purpose. With this intense prayer across the Southland we will pull down spiritual strongholds as we prepare for the Holiness Congress - Going Deeper with God being held in Atlanta.

Christ says to us, "put out into the deep" and, as we fast and pray, we will catch His abundance, leaving shallowness behind and plunging ‘neath the waters that roll over you and me!

 

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