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Sep14WedGod's grace offers us the opportunity to start afresh September 14, 2011 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
See, I am doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).
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I have always been a fan of new beginnings. In a world where “starts” and “stops” are commonplace, the reality of a fresh start may have lost its place. We are now at a point where the economy experiences both upturns and downturns, vocations begin and end, working people engage with change daily and relationships ebb and flow. How convinced are we of the possibility that by God's grace we can begin again?
While serving in the New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga Territory, I picked up a particular phrase that I've applied to my evaluative and thinking process: “You can always walk away from yesterday.” I can hear the skeptic saying, “Yes, but there are always consequences from today.” I agree, but the age of grace in which we live presents us with possibilities that far outweigh any legacy from the past. I pray for a spirit, an attitude that permits me to view circumstances, situations and people clearly. That helps me see the possibilities, potential and the positive working of the Holy Spirit in everyone.
My initial involvement with the Army as a teenager came as a result of a penitent heart, which led to a new beginning. Our services target the addicted, the broken, the wayward, the offender and the lost—all who need a helping hand. This is based on our conviction about new beginnings. I have been fascinated by the recently launched Dignity Project. It is very fitting that The Salvation Army be a champion for dignity for all. It challenges us to believe in each other and reminds us that we are God's treasured possession. It is my hope that all Salvationists will breathe in a new sense of confidence and hope based on God's promise: “See, I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19).
I find myself in a place of new beginnings—a new neighbourhood, home and appointment that involves leading the Canada and Bermuda Territory. While I gladly stand, with appreciation, on the shoulders of those who have gone before me, I embrace the days ahead with confidence in the fact that God has gone before us. His mission and ministry in this territory now require faithfulness and continued obedience.
Over these next months, travelling the territory will provide an opportunity to listen to officers and Salvationists and catch up with the territorial story. My wife and I value that privilege. Having noted our respect for the past, we see a future that includes:
A territory in celebration—While we give thanks for past blessings, we also anticipate “what's next,” by God's design.
A territory with confidence—I want us to understand our “raised up” place in the body of Christ. God has begun a good work; may it grow as a result of our obedient faith.
A territory committed to a cause—“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). For me this is an anchor that is steadfast. We must never forget the primary focus of God's mission in the world.
A territory that is creative—I want us to find solutions, challenge the status quo, engage the enemy with new spiritual weaponry, and stand in the gap and fight where injustice reigns. May it never be said that The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda missed the mark.
A territory that is called—A song by Charles Wesley says we are “called to serve the present age.” We are also called to be comfortable in our biblical theology, proven distinctives, strong social care conscience, cutting edge mission initiatives and culture of being “saved to serve.”
September has always meant new beginnings. Summer sunsets fade, regular routines quickly capture us and corps activities begin again. As our programs recommence and we welcome people back from holidays, may we have a renewed sense that God is poised and ready to do a new thing.
I pray that Salvationists will embrace God's mission in our corps and centres with an outcome that makes the impossible possible. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.