Sunday, June 7, 2015

Never The Same Again - LINDA BOND

From the FSAOF archives - 
The General's Easter Message 2013

Several years ago, when attending a Sunday morning worship service at a Salvation Army corps (church), I heard one of our leaders preach. It was not a typical sermon, in fact it seemed too simple, especially for this seasoned preacher. But his first language was not English so I suppose for this English-speaking congregation, he had to play it safe and not try to be too theological, using words that he was unfamiliar with. He simply told stories about Jesus. It may not have been a sermon that won a best preacher’s award but it was one that moved me to tears and remains an unforgettable experience.

Such stories not only make for powerful sermon material but are at the heart of Christian music. The Salvation Army like most of the Christian churches loves to sing what it believes. Stories about Jesus, put to music, are forever etched in our memories. As we sing them we are called again and again to reflect on him, his life, death, resurrection and what this all means to us today.

One line of an Easter song keeps playing in my mind: ‘Alone on the road, oppressed by my load, Jesus himself drew near and walked with me.’ This line captures the event recorded in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 24) and it also speaks powerfully to us today. The story is of two followers of Jesus returning home after his crucifixion, with their hopes dashed. The horror of the crucifixion was enough to shatter anyone, but when it happened to one you loved, one who was innocent, not only innocent but absolutely perfect in your eyes, then how could you put it all together? Their grief was compounded by the fact that they had believed Jesus was their Messiah, the hope for their world. The light for which they had waited for so long was now snuffed out. Everything was darkness and despair. They were overcome and overwhelmed, blinded by this ghastly and unexpected reversal.

Perhaps for many reading this article, this Christian story does not make sense: God loved us so much that he sent his Son to earth. Jesus comes in flesh as the babe in the manger, lives an exemplary life, healing, preaching, performing miracles. Then he dies the criminal’s death, takes our sin upon him and breaks its power by his sacrifice. Through him a relationship is restored with God and through him we can know forgiveness, freedom and life to the full. And maybe the biggest stretch is this belief that he rose to life again and appeared bodily, to his followers. No ghost or apparition but a real live Jesus! Please don’t dismiss these facts as either fanciful or irrelevant. Just for this moment, hold on to them as truth, real Truth. Not fiction but facts.
Now here in Luke’s story is the Lord, the Saviour of the world, the resurrected Jesus, taking time to walk down a lonely road with two shattered people, to open their eyes, to give them cause to hope again. This same living Jesus spans the ages. 
He walks your path today, hoping only that you will open your eyes to see him, your ears to hear him and your heart to receive him.

That song’s phrase ‘alone on the road, oppressed by my load’ may be describing you today. 
‘Aloneness’ is not numerical. If I am by myself, then I am alone. No, you and I know of times when we were surrounded by people and felt an ‘aloneness’, an emptiness that all the human bodies in the world could not fill. The weight on our shoulders, the burdens we were carrying seemed to separate us from the smiles and light-hearted fellowship experienced by others. Perhaps illness, financial worries, family concerns, addictions, failure, or even limitations imposed by others contributed to dreams unfulfilled. Maybe we have felt deluded by life and by people.

Friend, Easter is about life, life with its tragedies and triumphs. Despair need never be an option. You don’t need to be a theologian to understand Jesus. Let his story be your story, Jesus himself is with you. He draws near as the song says. Not at a distance, shaming you for your depression or your limited expectations. Not at all! He died for you, and believes in you. He wants you to believe in him, to see him as the Constant Companion, your Saviour. Don’t take my word for it. Take his – and life will never be the same again.

Linda Bond, General (Retired)

I set out a pilgrim sad at heart 
To walk a lonely road; 
Doubt had marr’d my simple trusting, 
Doubt a future ill forbode;
And as I pondered o’er my grief,
My shattered hopes and unbelief,
A Stranger to my soul’s relief, 
Drew near and walked with me.

I deign’d not to raise my drooping eyes,
Nor sought to learn His name,
Tho’ His voice, like heav’nly music,
Set this heart of mine aflame.
He seemed to read my every thought,
To know the pain my fears had wrought.
And with His gentle words He brought
An atmosphere of peace.

The shadows of evening fell apace,
New dangers lay ahead;
But, with my Companion walking, 
I no longer felt their dread.
I begged Him ne’er to quit my side,
With me to constantly abide;
In gracious tones my Lord replied 
‘My peace I leave with thee.’

Jesus himself drew near,
When alone on the road,
Oppress’d by my load,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with me.

- Author, Brigadier Arch R. Wiggins


Anonymous said...

Update - General Linda Bond is living in retirement in Canada and is active in the North York Temple Corps where she teaches a Bible class and does corps visitation among seniors. And, of course, a fair amount of speculating. God bless the retired General!

Former - UK

Anonymous said...

Well-stated article. We share Jesus by emulating Him. People aren't so impressed with our theology as they are with observing our lives to determine if we practice what we preach. God Bless General Linda Bond.

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Officer, Canada

Daniel Matthew Gjelstad said...

God bless our former General!

Bernard Martin said...

Many thanks for sharing the song by Chelmsford Songsters. Great words and great truths.

Regards. Bernard Martin. Former UK.

david march said...

david march said...
My wife was the first SSO to be appointed,2002, she was told to stand down after I resigned, she sand no I'm an officer in my own right, and want a new appointment. She received one within six weeks. I was asked to pay rent to live in the quarters, I refused, and went to the local council for housing benefit and was refused when they found I lived in a manse.
My wife died five years latter, and I was given six weeks to leave the quarters. Ex officer
Friday, 22 May, 2015

Anonymous said...

well !!!
just how lucky can a corps get ?
What an honor to have retired General Linda Bond to stand behind their pulpit!

Anonymous said...

Not in the pulpis- 2nd row right hand side-

Anonymous said...

.....What an honor to have retired General Linda Bond to stand behind their pulpit......
Would this be the same Linda Bond who left office under mysterious circumstances which have never actually been revealed, only speculated upon? How honourable is that!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yep, the same Linda Bond
pay special attention to Ecclesiastes 3:8
How would it help you to know the specifics about her departure from the office of General? Would you life or faith be changed in any way?

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear Retired General Linda Bond preach behind the pulpit again.
Does anyone out there know of any special meetings where she will be the special speaker?

Anonymous said...

No, knowing the details of her departure would not change my life or my personal faith in any way, but I remember that her departure was sudden and under something of a cloud, and people were left hurt and bewildered, especially those who loved her and held her in high esteem. And in leaving the highest position in TSA it's my opinion that the troops deserved more of an explanation than they got - which was none. As an almost lifelong salvationist, my confidence in the movement took a hit that I have not recovered from. I no longer regard it with such fondness and with my rose-tinted glasses. The members of the movement, the day-to-day salvationists who keep the show on the road with their personal commitment and their financial donations, deserved to know why she left. Speculation has been rife, and that's when the devil gets more of a foothold. Much better to be open and honest from the off - if it was something awful, whatever it was would be a nine-day wonder, as scandals come and go, and the air would have been cleared, human frailties (if any) would have been prayed for, and God would have been honoured. I saw nothing honourable in what took place, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I've lost the thread of these postings. Ecclesiastes 3 verse 8 says: 'a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace'. What's that got to do with anything said previously?

Anonymous said...

Maybe that is the problem
Holding people in such high esteem just because they hold an important high position
Myself Also being an almost lifelong salvationist I learned that lesson a long time ago. It is very sad if the removal of Linda Bond as acting General left such a negative feeling with you
God knows what is best and there is a seaon for everything
Sometimes not knowing is the best
Ecclesiastes 3:8

Anonymous said...

My bad
Ecclesiastes 3:7

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure she was held in high esteem because of her 'important high position' - many people felt she was doing God's work, and they felt she was an inspired speaker, appointed through the Holy Spirit's guidance to lead this movement. Having listened carefully to her messages, I didn't always share that feeling. But no, the actual removal of Linda Bond didn't cause my feelings of negativity towards TSA - it was the shabby and unchristian way it happened, with an obvious, badly-conceived and cynical cover-up by the Army's leaders, at exactly the same time that there were shocking and callous shenanigans going on in Africa at the Howard hospital. Treating the soldiery as if they are of no consequence is no way to run a spiritual concern. As members of the Christian family we are meant to share our troubles and pray for one another. It was the absence of this spiritual leadership and guidance which created in me a sense of exclusion from the heart of TSA, and I have lost my 'connection' with its soul. Yes, I still belong, and yes, I am still active in service, but for how much longer I really don't know.

Anonymous said...

Well said, final June 11 poster - I feel exactly the same way. The upcoming congress will present the ideal opportunity for the General to seek repentance and offer reparation on behalf of the SA - but I'm not holding my breathe.

Anonymous said...

looking forward to hearing retired General Linda Bond speak at the International congress

Anonymous said...

Well, did retired General Linda Bond make her grand appearance in London during the International congress ?

Anonymous said...

Not unless she did it out of the view of live streaming.
You never know what goes on behind close doors and no recording.