‘Live like you mean it’

Future Officers Fellowship conference held at Crestmont.

Delegates and candidates’ secretaries at the pre-retreat training prior to the Future Officers Fellowship retreat held recently at Crestmont.

Almost 200 people from diverse backgrounds and representing all divisions in the Western Territory recently converged on the College for Officer Training at Crestmont for this year’s Future Officers Fellowship (FOF) conference, themed “Live like you mean it.” The weekend’s activities, planned by Candidates’ Secretary Major Nancy Dihle, were designed for those considering a lifetime of service to God as officers in The Salvation Army.

Lt. Colonel Debi Bell, territorial secretary for women’s ministries, was keynote speaker. Along with Dihle, other speakers were Major Tim Foley, assistant principal, College for Officer Training; Major Harry Lacey, Phoenix Citadel corps officer; and Major Tom Ford, Southwest divisional secretary for community care and older adult ministries. Territorial Leader Commissioner Philip Swyers delivered the message at Sunday morning’s chapel service. Captain Lisa Smith, assistant territorial youth secretary, led praise and worship, along with the Crestmont worship team. Christian illusionist Toby Travis provided entertainment and commentary.

Major Steve Smith, newly arrived at the college as training principal, commented, “I was thrilled to see so many people interested in officership!” Foley concurred: “It is of great encouragement to see that God is still calling his people to serve and that more and more young people seem to be open to hearing his voice for service in officership. I am greatly encouraged for the future leadership of our territory.”
Living like you mean it

In her opening statement, Dihle shared the inspiration for the theme. While meditating on possible themes at the beach, Dihle observed a small airplane overhead trailing a banner proclaiming, “Live Like You Mean It.” Taking that as a message from above, literally, she decided that was the theme until she later learned it was actually an advertisement for a liquor company. Much prayer and discussion followed. Finally, Foley encouraged her, stating, “Why should the enemy have all the good slogans?” The FOF conference had its theme.

Bell’s keynote speech—“Do You Love Me—Then Live Like You Mean It!”—focused on Jesus’ encounter with Peter in John 21:15-22. She urged delegates to look deep within their hearts, as Peter did, to rediscover the depth of their love for Jesus, and to accept the decree in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Bell issued a challenge: “If you love Jesus, you will live like you mean it. You will obey Jesus’ commands if you love him. If you love Jesus, you will follow him!”

Later, Foley challenged listeners to remember Gideon when questioning their call to officership. God spoke directly to Gideon, who had doubts about his calling. When he completely surrendered to God’s will, though, he was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible. When God says he will be with us, we will be victorious.

A life of holiness

In his remarks, Lacey developed an emphasis on holiness. When our lives are completely yielded to God, holiness becomes a daily decision. Holy living gives us a keen awareness of God, others and evil. We need to rely on the strength God provides to meet the physical and spiritual needs of others while as soldiers we are conquering the ugliness the enemy throws at us.

Ford continued the emphasis on holiness, using Acts 4:32-5:10 to illustrate God’s higher standard for our lives. When God calls us, he asks for everything, with nothing held back. Our public lives must be in line with our spiritual lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. When they are out of alignment, we cannot serve effectively. As Psalm 24:3-4 says, only those with clean hands and a pure heart can ascend to the hill of the Lord.

Surrendering to God

During chapel, Swyers used Isaiah 43:1-7 to encourage the delegates to recognize themselves as kingdom builders in God’s army. As the Scripture states, they belong to God, who has chosen them by name. When others thought the task impossible, God used ordinary people who were willing to give their lives over to the Lord.

At the end of the weekend, the delegates departed for home with a new purpose, committed to living life like they mean it.

One delegate, Matt Jensen (Southern California, Torrance Corps) commented about the advantages of such an event and the opportunity to get to know others considering officership. “We were able to meet a few other people from our 2009 session and get to know them on a more personal level, which was a real blessing. I strongly believe that the conference is invaluable for anyone who feels that God’s leading them towards officership, because it not only offers a great time of fellowship and learning, but also provides encouragement and confirmation to those who truly are called.

“Because the FOF is a powerful medium that God uses to call his soldiers to officership, I encourage all soldiers who feel the gentle tug for a life-time commitment to God through The Salvation Army, to attend next year’s FOF with an open heart and be prepared to go wherever Christ may lead!” said Jensen.

From an article by Gary Dobney

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