197: Holy living from 2024 Testify Congress with General Lyndon Buckingham 

197: Holy living from 2024 Testify Congress with General Lyndon Buckingham 

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We’re back with more highlights from the 2024 Testify Congress.

Last month, in Pasadena, California, The Salvation Army from around the Western Territory joined for an event focused on teaching, training and motivating Salvationists to tell the story of Jesus more often and to more people.

And The Salvation Army’s international leaders, General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, traveled from London to be part of it all.

You may remember the General from episode 178, where we chatted about why your testimony matters (and how to use it for good). And in episode 193, we shared his message from the first main session of the Congress with some 3,000 attendees at the Pasadena Convention Center Civic Auditorium.

Today, we bring you his preaching from the third main session, focused on holy living.

Listen in and be encouraged to embrace your identity in Christ.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now. Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

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General Lyndon Buckingham: That was beautiful, USA Western Territory. Let me tell you, Bronwyn and I are so thrilled that we’ve had the privilege of being with you in these beautiful days of celebration and worship. You’ve made us feel so welcome. We feel like we belong to you. It’s such a beautiful thing. We’re so grateful. You introduced me to Vocal Zone.

These things are incredible. I can speak for hours. Commissioner Dusty Hill, he told me it’s gonna be good. And he was right. He was right. It’s been so good. Chiefs are always right, of course.

He’s been right on this occasion too. It’s been such a powerful experience to be fellowshipping with other believers, rubbing shoulders with you, seeing you in action, hearing your songs and your testimonies and getting a sense of God’s desire to do something with you in these days in which we live. In the opening verses of the Scripture, right at the beginning, the Word of God says, now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of the God, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had this sense over these days that the triune God has been hovering over our gathering. Do you sense it? Do you sense?

With each move, with each expression, with each meeting, with each gathering, there is the sense of the presence of God hovering over us. Wow. God of Elijah, hear our cry. Send the fire. Right? It’s fire we want, for fire we plead. Burn up every trace of sin. Send the fire. We don’t want God to be hovering over us today. We want Him to come down. Come down. Come down. Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. Understand our circumstances. The world is crazy right now. The pressures are real. The distractions are at an all-time high. Father, we need a fresh outpouring of your Spirit to help us to be the people you want us to be and to do the work you want us to do and to stand firm and be a beacon of light and hope and truth for the world in which we live. God of Elijah, hear our cry, send the fire.

I love this passage of Scripture that Bronwyn read to us earlier. I think it’s a beautiful passage of Scripture. And I love the descriptions that are said. He says, therefore, to those of you who, you’re chosen, you’re holy, and you’re dearly loved. What a great way to describe ourselves this morning. Holy, chosen, dearly loved.

Understand this morning that as you gather in God’s house, and this is God’s house today, to worship and to praise Him and to present yourselves to Him, you are described in the Scriptures as holy and chosen and dearly loved. Don’t listen to what the world says about you. Don’t listen to what other people call you or what other names they give you. Understand your identity in this. You are chosen. You are holy. And you are dearly loved. Will you receive that this morning? This is who we are. This is who we are in Christ Jesus. The Word of God tells us this is who we are in Christ Jesus. Peter, he described it like this in 1 Peter chapter 2. He says, but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. That’s you. 

Wow, listen to it. Listen to the describers, a royal priesthood. Hello. I’ve always warmed to that with a name like Buckingham. Why would I not kind of warm to the idea of a royal priesthood? It kind of sits on me pretty well. But what a great description. You’re a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. Why? So that you can testify. So that you can bear witness, so that you can give praise and glory to the God of your salvation, so in the midst of all of the noise of the world, they will hear your song, the song of salvation, the song of joy, the song of hope, the song of promise, so they can hear your song, the song of salvation, the song of forgiveness. So they can hear your song, the song of compassion, the song of mercy, the song of healing, the song of welcome, the song of belonging. The world needs to hear the song that is in our heart. The Word of God says that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Also, we gather here this morning. Holy, chosen, dearly loved, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God. Wow. What a powerful group of people in the hands of God.

Why is it then that the Scriptures encourage us, beyond encourage, demand of us, inspire us, call us into deeper and deeper intimacy with Christ and deeper and deeper levels of holiness? It’s because of who we are. It’s because of who we are in Christ Jesus. You know, Bronwyn read the beautiful verses in Colossians for us, and they are beautiful verses.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness and humility and gentleness and patience. Clothe yourselves with the fruit of the Spirit. Now, it’s interesting, before these beautiful verses, there is some hard stuff, right? There’s some truth. And he says, because you belong to Christ,

Because you’re part of the family, because you’re part of the chosen, the holy and the dearly loved. Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature, whatever is not Christ-like, whatever is not godly, whatever is not consistent with being part of the royal priesthood, not consistent with being part of the holy nation, not consistent with being chosen, not consistent with being dearly loved by the Creator of the universe. Your response to those overtures of his grace, of his patience, of his perseverance with you is a willingness on your part to say, I will have none of anything that displeases my Heavenly Father or brings discredit to the holy nation or the royal priesthood or a people collectively and individually who belong to God. So He says, put it to death.

Whatever is there, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, which is idolatry. You used to walk in these ways, but now you’ve got to get rid of this stuff. This stuff’s holding you back. This stuff’s hindering you. This stuff is ruining your testimony. It’s destroying the story. It’s removing from us our effectiveness in singing the song of salvation. You used to walk in these ways, but now get rid of it.

Get rid of it. Get rid of things like anger, rage, malice, slander. Don’t lie to each other. You’ve taken off your old self and you’ve embraced the new reality that because of his grace and his love and his mercy in the saving power of Jesus Christ, you’ve been born into a new kingdom. You’re a transformed person. You’re a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. And the Word of God says to us this morning, you are, not you can be or you will be, you are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, live and act like it on the planet. And it becomes a testimony and it becomes a witness and it becomes a powerful tool in the hands of God, bringing light, bringing hope, right? Bringing forgiveness, bringing compassion into incredibly dark places.

This is our testimony. This is our witness. This is our purpose on the planet until the good Lord calls us home.

So I have found, my brothers and sisters, that in my own pursuit, in my pursuit of increased intimacy with Christ, in my pursuit of maintaining in a space of freedom and peace and joy and spiritual energy and purpose in my living. There are things I have to lay down. There are options and choices that I have to say no to. And I need help. In my own strength, I am weak and susceptible. I need help. God of Elijah, hear my cry. Send the fire. And this is what I’ve discovered in my own walk, that when I pursue the things of the Spirit. When I go after the things written in this third chapter, put these things on. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, grace, love. When I pursue these things, when I make these things the focus of my life, two things happen. I find that the dear Lord above grants me increased energy, divine energy to pursue those things. And in the wake, in the wake, the things that would hold me back, the things that would weigh me down, the things that would destroy my testimony, they just simply lose their power. They lose their edge. They lose their control. They lose their interest when I give myself fully to the things that actually reflect and resemble the nature and the character of Christ Himself.

The writer to the Hebrews. I was going to say he, but I don’t know. The writer to the Hebrews wrote this: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off, hear it now, anything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us.’

I love this verse. Will you hear it this morning? Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, of course, in Hebrews chapter 11, there’s this hall of fame. We know the hall of fame. All of these people who remain faithful in the midst of difficulty, in the midst of trial, are simple folk, many of them, but they were so convinced about the power of God in their lives, that they stood firm and they stand as a witness and a testimony to us. You and I are marching on the shoulders of men and women who have been faithful in the past, both to the Lord and to the mission of the movement. They stand as witnesses to us. But in our day, we are the witnesses. We’re the witnesses. We’re surrounded by each other. What huge encouragement we received last night by hearing the testimony, the story.

We were encouraged, we were strengthened when we heard stories of God’s transformational power. And we started to understand again the power of testimony, the power of witness in the world to bring about transformation. But we are also surrounded by people who are witnessing us. You understand what I’m saying? I’m telling you brother, there’s a move. Brothers and sisters, there’s a move.

In the midst of all of this desperation, people are looking back to the church. They are. They’re seeking as to whether or not there’s something powerful in a faith relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Hey, let’s not be asleep while it’s happening. Come on team, come on team, it’s time for us to hit the reset button individually and corporately and get on with the business. It’s time. It’s time. Lord, I don’t want it to be said that on our watch, while the world was looking for the answer, we were too busy arguing with each other, disputing with each other, polarizing each other over issues, and missing the opportunity to present the risen Christ to the world. Hello!

So the writer says, come on team, throw off whatever is hindering you. Brothers and sisters, if there’s something hindering you, a distraction, an attitude, a past hurt, a frustration with the movement, if there’s something hindering you, today’s the day team, come on. Today is the day. It’s only a decision away.

Put it at the foot of the cross, for goodness sake. Lay it down. Get some freedom back. Get some joy back. Get some focus back. Get some purpose back. Lay it down. Lay it down. Let it go. Reclaim your identity. Chosen, holy, dearly loved are people belonging to God’s. God of Elijah, hear my cry. Send the fire.

The Scripture says, throw off anything that’s hindering you and the sin that might be entangling you and run with perseverance, run with perseverance the race marked out for you.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, who is both the author and the completer of our faith. Friends, let’s make sure in this movement we don’t relegate Him to the sidelines. Let’s keep Him in the center. Not present, not prominent, but preeminent. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the hope of glory, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Our Savior, our Redeemer, the hope of the world, front and center. Keep your eyes on Him. Keep your eyes on Him. He will only lead you in righteous paths. He will only lead you in truth. He will only lead you to the way of life. You can trust Him. You can depend on Him. You can put your hope and your faith in Him. All will be well. God of Elijah, hear our cry.

Send the fire. Send the fire. Burn up every trace of sin. Let the light of glory in. Heavenly Father, we need it. You and I have to play our part. We have to turn away from that stuff we know is holding us back, dragging us down, robbing us of grace, robbing us of our freedom, robbing us of joy. We have to just say today, no more. And we have to turn, we have to face, we have to look our eyes up to Jesus, and we have to pursue the things of the kingdom, which are listed here for us. Compassion, kindness, love, gentleness, self-control, the things of the Spirit. And our Father is a good Father. Will He not give good gifts to those who ask Him? And that’s exactly what we’re going to do this morning.

No more delay, no more excuses, no more missed opportunities, no more doubts, fears and hesitations. Today is the acceptable day. And I’m encouraging you unashamedly and without apology to get yourself up out of your chair, get yourself into the presence of the King, lay at his feet whatever’s holding you back. Whatever is hindering you, whatever has entangled you, say today, Lord, I seek the power of God the Almighty to release me and to empower me to reach my full potential in Christ so that my witness and my testimony is consistent with who you have made me in Christ as a chosen, dearly loved, holy child of God. Today is the day. Now I don’t know how it’s going to work in this place, but God does because man, He is ready to meet you. So wherever you are in the building this morning, here’s the invitation. Here it is. God of Elijah, send the fire, He’s here. He’s here to minister his grace. He’s here to bring healing. He’s here to set captives free. He’s here to pour out his Holy Spirit. He’s here to reignite the mission and the movement of The Salvation Army. Don’t miss out, folks. Don’t be a spectator in this. Be a participant.

Let his love fill your heart. Let his grace overwhelm you. Let his renewing power touch your soul. And do it now.

Additional resources:

  • Get inside the Caring Magazine Scripture Study Collection and find a suite of free, downloadable Bible studies to guide you through topics from New Beginnings Through Forgiveness, to Understanding our Imago Dei or Life Hacks From David.

Listen and subscribe to the Do Gooders Podcast now.

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