Daily devotions

Friday

Salvation Army Major gunned down on Christmas Eve in North Little Rock

"A Salvation Army major, Philip Wise, 40, was shot and killed in front of his wife and three small children Christmas Eve as he walked into the organization's North Little Rock headquarters.

North Little Rock police said Wise and his children were approached by two gunmen, both black men dressed in black, who demanded money and then fatally shot the officer.

Police said Wise had money from the day's collections with him when he was attacked.The incident happened around 4:15 p.m. Thursday as Wise, and his three children, ages 4, 6 and 8, were walking into the North Little Rock Community Center at 1505 W. 18th St., where the Salvation Army is also located."

Wednesday

Religious Freedom and Rain in the Sahara

From Mats Tunehag´s blog:
"Both Muslims and Christians can practices their faiths – without being discriminated or persecuted – even if they don’t have a minaret or church tower.
Iran has officially conveyed threats against Switzerland because of the recent referendum. Iran is complaining about lack of religious freedom in Switzerland! What? That’s like hearing Hitler accusing Churchill of not fighting anti-Semitism in Britain.
Any person in Switzerland is free to go to a mosque or a church. An Iranian Muslim is not allowed – by the authorities - to even enter a church building in Iran.
Religious liberty in Iran is like rain in the Sahara: not common, not frequent, not widespread.
"

Read more>>

Monday

Call to Win the World for Jesus

From the blog of the Territorial Commander in the Australian Southern territory.
"We currently have a total of 174 Corps in the Australia Southern Territory, and all our mission centers are doing some great Kingdom work – but God has stirred us to launch a campaign to intentionally and significantly increase this total.
History has shown us and our conviction remains, that starting new corps or local centers for mission is the most effective means of fulfilling the great commission and bringing people to Jesus. Our initiative is called 210 in 2010. By the end of next year we want to have 210 corps.
Divisional Commanders have identified great possibilities for new corps, opportunities for planting and growth across the Territory.
210 is an increase of 36 corps, but the leaders of the Territory, including Divisional Commanders and the Cabinet, have considered the potential of starting one corps each week next year – that’s 52 corps. This will require significant commitment from all of us as we pray, envision, recruit, invest, and support these new initiatives."

Read more>>

Sunday

First soldiers ever enrolled in Seda village (Latvia)

Last Sunday the first three soldiers were enrolled in Seda. Seda is an outpost on its way to become a corps (local church). The hall was full of interested people from the village already forty minutes before the service started.
Picture: The three new soldiers in the middle. The Corps Leaders on the right. On the left the Regional Commanders with their Assistant holding the flag.

Only a couple of weeks earlier a nearby outpost in Drusti enrolled its first soldiers. Drusti is also on its way to become a corps. (See picture below)



Friday

Three reasons not to mess with children

1. A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a
human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was
very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a
human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, 'When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah'.

The teacher asked, 'What if Jonah went to hell?'

The little girl replied, 'Then you ask him'.


2. A Kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while
they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each
child's work.
As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked
what the drawing was.
The girl replied, 'I'm drawing God.'

The teacher paused and said, 'But no one knows what God looks like.'

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl
replied, 'They will in a minute.'


3. A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her
five and six year olds.

After explaining the commandment to 'honour' thy Father and thy
Mother, she asked, 'Is there a commandment that teaches us how to
treat our brothers and sisters?'

Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family)
answered, 'Thou shall not kill.'

Just thinking - THE GHETTO RANT

The web-site of the Former Salvation Army Officers Fellowship have published a series of articles written by Danielle Strickland. The articles deals with womens opportunities to serve in the Salvation Army. Read them! Below you will find links to the different articles.

Just Thinking THE GHETTO RANT

Just Thinking THE GHETTO RANT -2-

Just Thinking THE GHETTO RANT -3-

Just Thinking THE GHETTO RANT -4-

Writer: Capt. Danielle Strickland is currently the Social Justice Director of the Southern Australia Territory. She digs traveling, reading, running, speaking, basketball and movies. Her passion is grace, mercy and justice… and all the stuff in between. Her favourite question is ‘how hard can it be?’ and most of her days are spent answering it. (While waiting to enter Training College as an accepted Candidate, Canada, she helped pioneer the work in Moscow, Russia.)

'FORMERS' DONATE 150 WINTER COATS !

From the web-site of Former Salvation Army officers fellowship:
The SA Sweden (Myrorna) has assumed all costs associated with the coat project (except the transport). As a result we can now begin concentrating on new Latvian projects.
We will deliver 150 children's and some adults' Warm Winter Coats to The SA Latvia in December. All the coats are a gift from our fellowship and demonstrates our commitment to the ongoing, difficult and demanding work in this former Soviet Union country.
Our fellowship has already donated money to provide school lunches in three Latvian villages through May 2010.
Watch for information where your CHRISTmas donation of $10-50.00 may be sent. $1,200.00 HAS BEEN DONATED TO DATE !

Wednesday

Behind Barbed Wire

From Christian History Blog by Collin Hansen.
"The 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall passed with some fanfare on November 9. Speaking as someone born in the 1980s, I admit that it is difficult to remember much about the divided Europe that this wall symbolized. Stories of the oppressive Communist rule in East Germany strike me as far-removed, not the grim reality for millions as recently as 1989. I remember much more clearly the exultant speeches delivered by Western politicians as Communism collapsed elsewhere in the following years. Today, it is easy for all of us to forget that many millions live in worse conditions than even the East Germans endured. Indeed, the totalitarian government of North Korea imprisons an entire nation that once enjoyed the blessing of revival."

Read more>>

Tuesday

The Democracy of the Dead

MatsTunehag writes in his blog:
"I was reminded about GK Chesterton's famous quote: "Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father."
PS. The Church of Sweden, Lutheran and former state church, recently decided to introduce a gay marriage ceremony in the church, thus blatantly ignoring Christian beliefs and traditions held by the Church worldwide for 2000 years. This begs the question: Has the church of Sweden cut itself off from the two axes of the church? Has it given in to “the arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about”?"


Read more>>

Monday

Addicted....to facebook

From Christianity Today:
"A new study suggests negative consequences from the rising social media use on Christian college campuses. - Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

Updating their status. Posting pictures. Checking out the news feeds of their friends. It’s all in a day’s work for today’s college students.
One-third of Christian college students spend 1-2 hours a day on Facebook, according to a
new study from Gordon College professors. Twelve percent use Facebook for 2-4 hours each day, and 2.8 percent report using it from 4-7 hours a day. This is in addition to the time they spend on other forms of electronic media, such as blogs, Twitter, and the internet. And it doesn’t even count the time they spend texting, talking, or using applications on their cell phones.
More than half of the students reported they were “neglecting important areas of their life” because they were spending too much time online. And when given the definition of addiction as “any behavior you cannot stop, regardless of the consequences,” more than 10 percent said they believed they were in fact addicted to some form of electronic activity."


Read more>>

Saturday

Obama says he will fight against traditional marriage

From the blog of Mats Tunehag:
"President Obama has committed himself to the goal that Americans will one day recognise same-sex relationships as “just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman”.
Mr Obama’s “unprecedented” remarks were hailed by his audience at a dinner for a high-profile ‘gay rights’ group in Washington DC.
During his speech Mr Obama criticised defenders of traditional marriage, saying they “hold fast to outworn arguments and old attitudes”.


Read more>>

Wednesday

rupeba.se quoted on international web-site

At the international web-site of FSAOF several articles from rupeba.se have been quoted about the work in Latvia.

Read more at:

http://www.fsaof.blogspot.com/

and

Latvia update


Saturday

Pray for Latvia

Do you want to take part in a prayer chain for Latvia? Many things are happening in Latvia now. Both in the nation and in the Salvation Army. We need prayer support.

If you want to join in the prayer for Latvia, please send an e-mail with the text "Prayer for Latvia" to info@rupeba.se and we will put you on our sending-list for our monthly prayer letter starting in October. We need your prayer support!

Wednesday

Barack Obama gives a nod to same-sex couples in his Family Day proclamation

From Los Angeles Times:
"In an official proclamation this afternoon, President Obama declared today Family Day 2009.What is significant is the way he defined "family."
The president gave a nod to the gay community when he praised all families, "whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian." (Emphasis ours.)
His shout-out to same-sex couples is sure to draw heat from some social conservatives. Interestingly, it has been met with some hostility from gay rights activists too. "

Read more>>

Monday

Wish somebody had told me

From the FSAOF-blog:
Perry Noble is one of my favorite (perhaps THE favorite) pastors who blogs, and it's because of posts like this:From time to time a church planter will ask me, “what do you wish someone would have told you before you began?” Here’s a list of fifteen things I came up with…

#1 – Everyone Will Not Understand You…SO Stop Trying To Explain Yourself. Cast Vision…And MOVE Forward!

#2 – Everyone Will Not Like You…So STOP Trying To Be Popular.

#3 – You Don’t Have To Be The Person Who Actually Solves Every Problem….Admit You Are Not The Smartest Person and Let Your Experts Be Your Experts.

#4 – Spend WAY More Time Talking About Who You Are Rather Than Who You Are Not.

#5 – A Leader Is Always An Easy Target Because They Are…A Leader. So, Get Over Yourself And Get On With What God Called You To Do!

#6 – When The Holy Spirit Presses Something Into Your Heart…Don’t Ignore Him.

#7 – Do NOT Expect God’s Next Step To Make Sense.

#8 – You Can’t Plan A Move Of God…But You Must Be Prepared For One!

#9 – Do Not Resist Something Just Because You Do Not Understand It!

#10 – People Who Claim You “Are Not Deep Enough” Are Obsessed With Information But Have No Desire To Live Out Transformation.

#11 – You Don’t Need To Listen To Everybody…But You Had Better Be Listening To Somebody Because God Didn’t Ask You To Take This Journey Alone.

#12 – Never Apologize For Asking People To Commit To Something…Jesus Didn’t!

#13 – The Church Has Been Underachieving For Way Too Long…So Dream BIG And Don’t Apologize For It.

#14 – There Will Be Days When You Want To Quit…Don’t…Jesus Didn’t! (Remember…DON’T GIVE UP…if you are discouraged, take a second and read this!)

#15 – The Gospel Changes Lives…PREACH Every Sermon Like It’s Your Last!!!

FROM BOB HOSTETLER Former USA East

Monday

"God's verdict" more important to Canadian PM than historians'

From Christian Telegraph:
"In a notably personal interview in Quebec City, Prime Minister Stephen Harper explained that God's judgement on his life was more important to him than the judgement of history. The story will be published in the September edition of Prestige magazine, reports Patrick B. Craine, LifeSiteNews.com.
His comment came while speaking about his family, saying that his relationships with his wife and two children are more important to him than political accomplishments. "The important thing, for me, is to preserve family ties," he said. "I can win elections, but if I lose my family, it's a disaster."
"To be honest with you," he continued with a laugh, "I am a lot more concerned by God's verdict regarding my life than the one of historians."

Read more>>

Tuesday

Confident Islam conquers relativistic Europe?

From Mats Tunehag´s blog:
Europe is no match for Islamic self-confidence: "When an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter."

Read more>>

Sunday

To lead is to make decisions

From FSAOF blog:
Someone said once, that the one thing all leaders have in common is that they have followers. True. But they also have enemies.

A friend recently defined leadership for me this way:
“Leadership is disappointing people at a pace they can tolerate.”

That makes more sense, in a real, down to earth type of church setting. It reminds me of a quote I read recently in a Teddy Roosevelt biography, which I adapted to:
To lead is to make decisions. To make decisions is to alienate some.
I wish it weren't so, but it is. Every time a leader makes a decision, someone is going to disagree--perhaps strongly--with that decision. But it is the leader's task to decide, and whenever possible to communicate the reasons for a decision as effectively as possible, so that (it is hoped) the majority of folks who might have an opinion are helped toward acceptance and even support of the decision. But every decision will engender disagreement, and the harder the decision, the more likely the disagreement will be both sharp and broad.

Some leaders, wounded by this reality, turn to a modus operandi of trying never again to make an unpopular decision (which, of course, makes them more followers of the crowd than leaders of the flock). Others of us try to survive by shutting down or shutting out all criticism because it's just too painful, demotivating, and even demobilizing to hear a constant thrumming of negative reaction. I hope to become a leader who can do neither. I hope to get better at facing the reality that decisions invite disagreement. But with THAT reality comes another: every disagreement presents an opportunity for a new decision, to fight, to flee, or (the choice I hope to take), to acknowledge the leader's role, responsibility...and respect for those who disagree.

Tom Wood (from Bob Hostetler's blog)

Saturday

New soldiers at Riga 2 corps

For the second time this year there was a soldiers enrolment service at Riga 2. Most people coming to the corps are homeless people. Also the soldiers. After the meetings at Sundays and Wednesdays a full dinner is served to the people coming to the service.
See more pictures from the service>>

Friday

Hanks: Life in Latvia

From Statesman.com:
RIGA, LATVIA — Not every American who travels abroad visits this tiny capital, much less gets here two summers in a row. Yet having briefly worked for a newspaper in the region — and having friends in the area — I've somehow ended up here more often than expected.

Read more>>

Tuesday

Using Common Sense to Debunk Evolution - CBN.com

Pat Robertson interviews evangelist and author Ray Comfort about how Christians can use logic to point Darwin followers to God.

Wednesday

UN Chief’s warning – the end of the world is nigh!

Nile Gardiner wites in Telegraph.co.uk:
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has such a low profile on the world stage that he’s referred to as
“the invisible man”. Perhaps in an effort to boost his press coverage he’s given a speech in Incheon, South Korea (hat tip: Drudge), that can only be described as a bizarre PR stunt, with the sort of cataclysmic environmental statements doled out in scientifically dodgy disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow or the forthcoming 2012.
In his address to the Global Environment Forum this week (read talking shop for unelected, overpaid bureaucrats), Ban warned of impending “droughts, floods and other natural disasters”, as well as mass social unrest and violence – “the human suffering will be incalculable” - if the world’s leaders did not “seal a deal” on climate change at a summit in Copenhagen in December. In the Secretary General’s ominous words:
“We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet.”


Read more>>

President Obama: Don’t become too Swedish!

Mats Tunehag writes in his blog:
Every country, culture and political systems has flaws. We are after all fallible human beings, thus nothing we do will ever be absolutely perfect. Some Swedes tend to believe that Sweden is the "best of all possible worlds". (BTW: Candide, by Voltaire, should be required reading for everyone)
For some Americans Sweden is pseudo-communist, for others it provides the model to follow. But which Sweden are we talking about? Sweden has changed significantly in the last few decades. Sweden has fallen on an international welfare scale; its GDP per capita today is only 80 percent of that of the United States.
Richard W. Rahn has written a thought provoking article and comparative analysis of Sweden and the USA. He is questioning President Obama’s policies and the Democratic Congress which seem to be following the road travelled by Sweden: “Those who wish to chase the Swedish model need first to decide which model they seek: The high-growth, pre-1960 model; the low-growth model of the 1970s and 1980s; or the reformist, welfare-state model of recent years. The irony is that the current Democratic Congress and administration are rapidly emulating the parts of the Swedish model that proved disastrous and rejecting those parts that are proving to be successful.”


Read more>>

Tuesday

BRIAN MCLAREN OF EMERGING CHURCH TO CELEBRATE RAMADAN

From Michaels blogg:
"Apprising Ministries asks if you might remember Anne Holmes Redding, who claims to be both a Muslim and Christian simultaneously, and whom we discussed in An Emerging Christian Muslim Priestess For Allah Says, “Jesus Led Me Into Islam.”
Well, the Global Family takes another step forward; we just couldn’t make this kind of stuff up as, at his website Brian McLaren, unquestionably a leader in the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—morphing into Emergence Christianity (EC)—tells us in Ramadan 2009: Part 1 What’s going on?:
Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. It commemorates the month during which Muslims believe Mohammed received the Quran through divine revelation, and it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor, diligent reading of the Quran, and intensified prayer.
This year, I, along with a few Christian friends (and perhaps others currently unknown to us will want to join in) will be joining Muslim friends in the fast which begins August 21. We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them… (
Online source)
However lovely the sentiment, God has clearly told us not to do what McLaren and the “Christians” committing this violation of Scripture with him are about to do because those in the false religion of Islam:
sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons… Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, NASB)
And yet, as we see in
Ramadan 2009: Part 2 Why is a committed Christian joining faithful Muslims in observing Ramadan?, McLaren is the type of teacher the supposedly evangelical Rob Bell is allowing in his church. It’s time to wake-up to the fact that these men are developing a whole other quasi-Christian religion based on their synthetic reality skewed by their Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism."

Monday

The Lies Called "Post-Modernism"/Relativism and Tolerance

Is there a truth? Or can any thruth be the truth? This video (14 minutes) deals with Bible Interpretation, Relativism, Tolerance and the post-modern Church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjPMX4TlDZc

Thursday

Emerging Church

“For the emerging churches, (church is) not a place, it’s a people,” [Fuller Seminary’s Eddie] Gibbs said. “It’s not a weekly gathering; it’s a seven-day-a-week community. And you don’t go to church; you are the church.”

From Getreligion.org

Tuesday

JOHN MACARTHUR: SEEKER-FRIENDLY MOVEMENT IS THE NEW LIBERALISM

John MacArthur answers a question about "Emerging Church" and "seeker-friendly" - movements.
"Absolutely. It is the new liberalism. It is the new liberalism! It’s no different than the old liberalism, which was a social gospel. That’s what this is, only it’s not a social gospel, because it doesn’t reach out to the poor. It’s not the down-and-outers; it’s the up-and-inners. It’s a psychological gospel. So, the psychological feel-good gospel is the new liberalism. Nobody’s going to say that they deny the Word of God; it’s just not “relevant.” It’s just not relevant."

Read more>>

To be or not to be offended - that's the question

Mats Tunehag writes in his blog:
"Alberth Mohler writes about the “hate speech” concept in the article The Culture of Offendedness?. He rightly points out that you cannot have a free and democratic society and at the same time have guarantees that no-one should ever be offended by other people’s expressed opinions. Or as Salman Rusdhie puts it: “Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation.”

“Hate speech” is built on a flawed concept, contrary to fundamental rule-of-law principles, moving from freedom of speech to freedom from hearing (things you don’t like). Thus it is both sad and worrying that President Obama is working hard to get a hate speech law to be passed by the US Congress. "


Read more>>

Church of England and new gay marriage moves

From Telegraph.co.uk:
Senior bishops have warned that new plans to allow homosexual marriages could destroy the "fragile unity" of the global Anglican Communion.

The Church of England leaders fear that the controversial move would go against traditional biblical teaching and have "immediate and negative consequences" for relationships with other provinces around the world, as well as the central position of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In an official letter they also urge clergy to "maintain a critical distance" from governments and resist any moves they make to allow "gender neutral" weddings.

Their strongly-worded letter - made public on the first day of a meeting of the Church of England's governing body, the General Synod in York - comes just days after a new traditionalist group was formed to oppose the liberal direction of Anglicanism.
It highlights once again the threat to the unity of the 80 million-strong Communion posed by conflicting attitudes to homosexuality.

The latest fears have been raised over plans by the Church of Sweden, which is formally linked to the Church of England through an agreement called the Porvoo Declaration, to make its marriage liturgy "gender neutral" so that same-sex couples can have traditional wedding services for the first time.

Read more>>

Sunday

Knowledge of Bible ‘In Decline’ Among Youths

From The Christian Post
Knowledge of the Bible and its stories is declining among people in the UK, according to a survey by Durham University; it was sponsored by Church related organizations.


Researchers at the survey, funded by a consortium of national churches, charitable trusts and Bible agencies said that their findings showed the Church and Christians could no longer make assumptions about people's knowledge of the Bible, especially those under 45s which is in decline.
It says, half of under 45s failed to accurately recount information about Samson and Delilah, while a third were clueless when quizzed about the Feeding of the 5,000.
It also revealed that 40 percent did not know that the tradition of giving Christmas gifts came from the story of the Wise Men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus.
One respondent said David and Goliath was the name of a ship, while another thought Daniel - who survived being thrown into the lions' den - was the Lion King.

Read more>>

Wednesday

The Church of England writes to the Church of Sweden

The Archbishop´s Council of the Church of England writes a letter to the Archbishop of the Swedish Church. The letter expresses worries about the development within the Swedish Church.

The two Bishops signing the letter write:

"We must however say that already, from the viewpoint of the Church of England, the existing practice in the Church of Sweden of blessing same-sex relationships was problematic....

If we understand the situation in the Church of Sweden correctly, what is now proposed appears to be a fundemental re-definition of the Christian doctrine of marriage and of basic Christian anthropology."


Read the complete letter here>>

Friday

Congress-time

Reflections on the Norwegian Congress from Jostein Nielsen
It is congress-time for Salvationists and friends in Norway. It is good to be part of it. Like at most congresses in our territory over the passed 20 years I am “heavily” involved. Ever since my first personal experiences with congress in the early teens, I have both heard and verbalized comments about the event. In many ways there are parallels to the European Song Contest – “everyone” has a meaning about it. With regard to the latter, even those who seem to be indifferent to it still follow the program.

For a long time I was critical to the concept of congress. It was simply not spiritual enough. Then I realized that the congress is not merely a spiritual event, even though it intends to be such as well. It is created to meet a series of needs, and I believe it does.It is:

* a place for old and new “friends”
* a place for musical inspiration
* a place for the whole family
* a place for laughter
* a place for tears
* a place for contemplation
* a place for a good, and sometimes even deep conversation
* a place for information
* a place for encouragement
* a place for good preaching
* a place for prayer

It is our movement’s super-market. I realize that what I once criticized was the fact that I thought I had come to a store which specialized in my particular needs and interests. When I arrived to a congress with such an attitude I left disappointed. At the supermarket, I can go to the sections to find the goods I need. I do that this year as well, but I am thrilled to see the shelves with all the goods the “congress-market” has to offer.

Thank you Lord for this opportunity!

Tuesday

Blood and Fire. Do We Really Have Both?

From Journal of Aggressive Christianity (JAC)
As the Assistant Corps Officer at The Atlanta Temple Corps, Lieutenant Jimmy Taylor leads Light on the Hill, a contemporary expression of Salvation Army worship. We sing the song and pray the prayer; Jimmy imagines what it would be like if it happened.
----------------------------------------------------
Emblazoned on our flag are the words “Blood and Fire.” The blood of Jesus frees us and the fire of the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. But is it truly happening? Is the fire of the Spirit present in the Army today? Maybe at your corps you can say, “Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt,” but what about the corps around the corner and the one in the adjacent city and the one on the other side of the world. If we are going to be so bold as to stitch it on our standard shouldn’t it ring true throughout the ranks? So I ask what would happen to The Salvation Army as a whole; our corps; the communities that we live and work in, if God really did send His Spirit’s fire? This is a question that I have asked myself a lot recently. How would our ministry and mission change; or would it? Would our Army change or would it continue in the vein that it has for decades?

The Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost as a rushing wind that exploded into tongues of fire. It filled the disciples and everyone else in the room. It filled them so intensely that they couldn’t hold it in. They had to tell someone. This drove them into streets where they proclaimed the Gospel to anyone that would listen. Wow, what an amazing experience! But, if the same Holy Spirit is here with us today and the same fire fills us, are we seeing the same results? Are we content sitting in our pews, reading our Bibles, singing our hymns and remaining virtually unchanged and uncharged? Do we have the same burning in our gut that the disciples had that Pentecost morning? If the Spirit’s fire fell on us right now or entered a room in which we were gathered for worship would it make a bit of difference? Would we even notice or care? As at Pentecost, would we run to the streets and tell people about our experience? How would the communities that we live and work in change if we became so consumed by this holy fire that we could not stay silent?

I have been to corps where when you walk in there just seems to be something missing and I have been to corps that have been set ablaze. Which one is your’s? Does your corps burn with the Blood and Fire spirit we are to be charged up with? Are your services bland and your soldiers lifeless? Perhaps the Holy Spirit is chomping at the bit waiting for you to allow Him to wreck your service in a holy, chaotic blitz. Again this is not every corps, officer or soldier in the Salvation Army world. However, if we are all going to say we are one Army then we need to think as one army, for armies are only as strong as their most vulnerable soldier, which brings me to our personal lives.

What if the Holy Spirit’s fire REALLY ignited the lives of our officers and soldiers? What if Salvationists lived lives that were so blazingly passionate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that everything else was consumed by its flame?

In far too many places, in my opinion, we have lost our mission and drive to serve those hurting both physically and spiritually. I believe this grieves the Spirit. When we do not carry out the mission that we have been tasked with both spiritually and socially, we little by little begin to extinguish the fire that the Spirit has ignited.

Imagine what God could do with this Army if we allowed the Holy Spirit to take over. Imagine the lives that could be changed. Imagine how our corps would explode with people with an unquenchable fervor for the cause of reaching the least, the last and the lost. In places where complacency had once reigned, Christ would rule. Our Officers whose hearts may have cooled would burn with a passion to save souls and grow them spiritually. Our buildings would become places of spiritual refuge. Our uniforms would be recognized as symbols of hope. Our congregations would become unified. Our people would love without discrimination. The possibilities are limitless!

The Holy Spirit must take hold of us and thrust us into the fray. We are an Army and armies fight. The Holy Spirit, according to our doctrine, regenerates us into new creations. Oh, Holy Spirit come. Regenerate this Army into the fighting force that You raised us up to be. Renew us and fill Your people, Your soldiers and Your officers. Reclaim us for Your purposes. Remove our contentment for the status quo. Restore to us the Fire of Your Holy Spirit. Inspire us to reach out beyond our walls. Inspire us to intervene in people’s lives. Cause us to hurt for those who are hurting; weep with those in mourning; and fight for those who can not defend themselves. Holy Spirit come and renew Your Salvation Army. May our motto of “Blood and Fire” become something we truly possess and are willing to fight and die for. Consider the words of our founder:Send the FireGen. William BoothThou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Send the fire!Thy blood - bought gift today we claim, Send the fire!Look down and see this waiting host, Give us the promised Holy Ghost,We want another Pentecost,Send the Fire!God of Elijah hear our cry: Send the fire!To make us fit to live or die, Send the fire!To burn up every trace of sin, to bring the light and glory in,The revolution now begin, Send the fire! ‘Tis fire we want, for fire we plead, Send the fire!The fire will meet our every need, Send the fire!For strength to ever do the right, For grace to conquer in the fight,For power to walk this world in white, Send the Fire!To make our weak hearts strong and brave, Send the fire!To live a dying world to save, Send the fire!Oh see us on Thy altar layOur lives, our all, this very day,To crown the offering now we pray, Send the fire!General William BoothSend the FireSend the FireEmblazoned on our flag are the words “Blood and Fire.” The blood of Jesus frees us and the fire of the Holy Spirit sanctifies us. But is it truly happening? Is the fire of the Spirit present in the Army today? Maybe at your corps you can say, “Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt,” but what about the corps around the corner and the one in the adjacent city and the one on the other side of the world. If we are going to be so bold as to stitch it on our standard shouldn’t it ring true throughout the ranks? So I ask what would happen to The Salvation Army as a whole; our corps; the communities that we live and work in, if God really did send His Spirit’s fire? This is a question that I have asked myself a lot recently. How would our ministry and mission change; or would it? Would our Army change or would it continue in the vein that it has for decades? The Holy Spirit arrived at Pentecost as a rushing wind that exploded into tongues of fire. It filled the disciples and everyone else in the room. It filled them so intensely that they couldn’t hold it in. They had to tell someone. This drove them into streets where they proclaimed the Gospel to anyone that would listen. Wow, what an amazing experience! But, if the same Holy Spirit is here with us today and the same fire fills us, are we seeing the same results? Are we content sitting in our pews, reading our Bibles, singing our hymns and remaining virtually unchanged and uncharged? Do we have the same burning in our gut that the disciples had that Pentecost morning? If the Spirit’s fire fell on us right now or entered a room in which we were gathered for worship would it make a bit of difference? Would we even notice or care? As at Pentecost, would we run to the streets and tell people about our experience? How would the communities that we live and work in change if we became so consumed by this holy fire that we could not stay silent? I have been to corps where when you walk in there just seems to be something missing and I have been to corps that have been set ablaze. Which one is your’s? Does your corps burn with the Blood and Fire spirit we are to be charged up with? Are your services bland and your soldiers lifeless? Perhaps the Holy Spirit is chomping at the bit waiting for you to allow Him to wreck your service in a holy, chaotic blitz. Again this is not every corps, officer or soldier in the Salvation Army world. However, if we are all going to say we are one Army then we need to think as one army, for armies are only as strong as their most vulnerable soldier, which brings me to our personal lives. What if the Holy Spirit’s fire REALLY ignited the lives of our officers and soldiers? What if Salvationists lived lives that were so blazingly passionate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ that everything else was consumed by its flame? In far too many places, in my opinion, we have lost our mission and drive to serve those hurting both physically and spiritually. I believe this grieves the Spirit. When we do not carry out the mission that we have been tasked with both spiritually and socially, we little by little begin to extinguish the fire that the Spirit has ignited. Imagine what God could do with this Army if we allowed the Holy Spirit to take over. Imagine the lives that could be changed. Imagine how our corps would explode with people with an unquenchable fervor for the cause of reaching the least, the last and the lost. In places where complacency had once reigned, Christ would rule. Our Officers whose hearts may have cooled would burn with a passion to save souls and grow them spiritually. Our buildings would become places of spiritual refuge. Our uniforms would be recognized as symbols of hope. Our congregations would become unified. Our people would love without discrimination. The possibilities are limitless!The Holy Spirit must take hold of us and thrust us into the fray. We are an Army and armies fight. The Holy Spirit, according to our doctrine, regenerates us into new creations. Oh, Holy Spirit come. Regenerate this Army into the fighting force that You raised us up to be. Renew us and fill Your people, Your soldiers and Your officers. Reclaim us for Your purposes. Remove our contentment for the status quo. Restore to us the Fire of Your Holy Spirit. Inspire us to reach out beyond our walls. Inspire us to intervene in people’s lives. Cause us to hurt for those who are hurting; weep with those in mourning; and fight for those who can not defend themselves. Holy Spirit come and renew Your Salvation Army. May our motto of “Blood and Fire” become something we truly possess and are willing to fight and die for.

Consider the words of our founder:
Send the Fire
Gen. William Booth

Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Send the fire!
Thy blood - bought gift today we claim, Send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host, Give us the promised Holy Ghost,
We want another Pentecost,Send the Fire!
God of Elijah hear our cry: Send the fire!To make us fit to live or die, Send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin, to bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin, Send the fire! ‘Tis fire we want, for fire we plead, Send the fire!
The fire will meet our every need, Send the fire!
For strength to ever do the right, For grace to conquer in the fight,
For power to walk this world in white, Send the Fire!
To make our weak hearts strong and brave, Send the fire!
To live a dying world to save, Send the fire!
Oh see us on Thy altar layOur lives, our all, this very day,
To crown the offering now we pray, Send the fire!

General William Booth
Send the Fire

Send the Fire

Sunday

"I am not interested in interfaith dialogue but interfaith projects"

From The Washington Times:
The Rev. Rick Warren, one of America's best-known evangelical Protestant pastors, pleaded with about 8,000 Muslim listeners on Saturday night to work together to solve the world's greatest problems by cooperating in a series of interfaith projects.

"Muslims and Christians can work together for the common good without compromising my convictions or your convictions," Mr. Warren said during an evening session of the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) at the Washington Convention Center.

"I am not interested in interfaith dialogue but interfaith projects," said the pastor of the 24,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., who is widely known for his bestseller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

Read more>>

Thursday

Iran 1979-2009

From Mats Tunehag´s blog:
The Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic revolution in Iran. It was promised – and most people believed – that if the country was governed by the Koran and the Sharia law, a good and just society would emerge. In 1979 Iran started to be ruled by Islam through Islamic leaders.
What has been the result of 30 years of Islamic rule? Let me mention just 10 things:

1. Iran has become an active supporter of terrorism around the world, like Hezbollah and Hamas.
2. Iran has perhaps the highest proportion of drug users in the world.
3. Due to economic failures and Islamic laws of “temporary marriages” hundreds of thousands of women have been forced into prostitution.
4. Iran is one of the worst Human Trafficking countries in the world. (
www.state.gov/g/tip)
5. Iran is among the biggest threats to world peace: nuclear weapons and Shia beliefs in the 12th Imam is really a bad and dangerous synergy.
6. Mullahs are detested and people have turned against Islam.
7. Hundreds of thousands have left Islam and have become followers of Isa / Jesus.
8. Christians are being persecuted.
9. Women are being treated as 2nd class citizens.
10. Iran is a world leader when it comes violating human
rights

Read more>>

Wednesday

The Salvation Army expands its work to 118 countries

From The Salvation Army international web-site:
International Headquarters is pleased to announce that the General has given his approval to the official opening of The Salvation Army in Nepal. Majors Lalsangliana and Lalnunsangi of India Eastern Territory are appointed Extension Officer and Associate Extension Officer, effective from 15 April 2009. Nepal is one of the Himalayan Kingdoms and has recently become a democracy.

The question of whether The Salvation Army could become established in Nepal has been under serious scrutiny since 2005 and India Eastern Territory has been sending officers and soldiers to explore this possibility for the past few years.

In 2007 Captain Richard Vanlalnghaka and his wife were appointed to carry out further exploration and remained in the country for one year. As a result of this appointment a Salvation Army fellowship, comprising around 20 members, is meeting regularly under the Army flag.

During the same year Commissioner Lalkiamlova and Colonel Dick Krommenhoek visited Nepal and were convinced that it would be possible to commence work in the not too distant future. In 2008 Commissioners Lalkiamlova and Lalhlimpuii, together with a delegation from India Eastern Territory headed by the Chief Secretary, again visited the country, which ultimately resulted in Commissioner Lalkiamlova recommending to the General that the Army should become officially established as soon as possible.

Majors Lalsangliana and Lalnunsangi will be stationed in Khatmandu, which is the capital city of Nepal. Their quarters and Fellowship Hall will be at Lalitpur, Bagdone 4, Kathmandu.

Although a separate country, Nepal will initially remain an official part of the India Eastern Territory.

Friday

God does exist – the humanists just dont seem to know it – yet!

From Korslind´s blog:
"Okay, so the Swedish humanist society is on the go once again. This time with a campaign that resembles a lot of a campaign in England. The other evening, as I was getting on the subway, I saw this big advertisement saying “God probably does not exist”.

It’s almost amusing (deliberate?) that the humanist society of Sweden writes that God probably does not exist. Are they getting second thoughts.

In the poster they invite people to go to a website to do a test. It turns out that this test is everything but open-minded. The same kind of advertisement has been appearing in some of the major newspapers the last couple of days."


Read more>>

Monday

Never give up - part 6

Guest blogger: Sven Ljungholm. Meet Sven Ljungholm in a series of articles. This is the sixth and the last part.
Sven was leading an air company many years before he became a Salvation Army officer. He served in USA, Sweden and as one of the pioneers when the Salvation Army restarted its work in Eastern Europe.

The Pillars of St Paul is where Paul was flogged and had 39 lashes by the governor of Paphos because of Paul believing in, and following Christ. The governor later relented and became a Christian himself!

I visited Cyprus 11 times during my last 4 years living in Russia. And, the pillars of St. Paul became a special and holy place to meditate for me. I was often the only visitor. My spirit sought to grasp and emulate that which enabled Paul to press on; to never give up. Undoubtedly it was a trial that, by living through it, made Paul even stronger and prepared his mind for the next onslaught.

You have heard it said, and experienced it, as I have. In seeking to identify some year of the past that might qualify as the best I believe we'd discover that the best years were those in which we learned to lean on God, seeking His strength in our resolve to never give up. It was in the pressing on that we grew.

St. Paul gives us many assurances, promises we and other Christ followers have taken to heart for almost 2,000 years, a favourite being. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind”. It is in the present passive infinitive, which from the Greek translates, “Go on being renewed every day,” and since it’s in the passive, it’s something that’s done to us rather than something we achieve.

How do we combine these two faculties then — the spirit and the mind? Many new and even more mature believers wonder what is the spirit of the mind? A favourite preacher some years ago (Lloyd Ogilvie) defined it this way; "Well, if the mind is the seat of the intelligence, the thinking brain, and if the spirit is the point of contact of the spirit of God with our spirit, then the spirit of the mind is the way the Living Christ enters into and channels His power in the thinking process of our life." That’s why I say we can have a new mind every morning.

 I shared another favourite in an earlier blog article, also from the Apostle Paul said, “Have in you this mind which was in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2::5. And in Romans 12, he writes (Christians/Saints) Do not be conformed into this world’s ideas, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. We all know the old adage, 'you become what you think about most of the time'. (R W Emerson)

I'm convinced that by allowing Christ to transform our minds we can control both present and future circumstances; it’s the spirit of the mind. “ ... the spirit of the mind,” is that the character of Jesus Christ can be transformed in us. I have experienced this transformation especially these last few months; a peace and acceptance. "You will keep whoever's mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you", Isaiah 26:3, words very familiar to, and taken to heart by Paul.

More of Paul’s teaching is found in Ephesians chapter 4, the 23rd verse, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind,” is nestled in between two other admonitions that happen to be in the past, the aorist tense. “Take off the old and put on the new,” — These words of Paul were written when he was well immersed in Chri st- his Christology was entering a fourth decade. Paul speaks from experience when he says, “take off the old nature” and begin the new life. I liken it to the Jungian theory of projection; the Holy Spirit projecting and empowering us to become more like Him. The only way we do that is one day at a time making the day, week, month and year ahead the best one yet.

I pray with Wilberforce:

For tomorrow and its needs,
I do not pray.
But keep me, guide me, love me, Lord,
Just for today.

And the answer to that prayer is the transformation of my nature into the nature of Christ.

Our SA doctrine declares that in Christ Jesus of Nazareth, there was the human dimension, and the divine, perfectly blended together in the incarnation. Paul in the 13th verse of this 4th chapter says that we can grow to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. An aging Saint said; 'Holiness can't be rushed', and to which I would add, 'I'm not what I was yesterday, and far short of what I seek to become in my tomorrows...'

GUIDE MY MIND AND THINKING OH THOU GREAT JEHOVAH, THIS AND EVERY DAY…

Sven Ljungholm
Former officer active soldier
Exeter Temple Corps
UK

Saturday

Underground Church Growing in Muslim-Dominated Indonesia

From Charisma Magazine:
Pentecostals on the tsunami-ravaged coast of Indonesia are experiencing a wave of conversions and healings.


In the strongly Muslim Aceh province of northern Sumatra—where 167,000 people died in the 2004 tsunami—the underground church movement is growing, with Pentecostal congregations thriving.

Indonesia has an official policy of religious tolerance, but in Muslim-dominated areas Christians face open hostility and persecution. In Aceh province, churches must register with the authorities and are not permitted to evangelize. Many Christians choose to meet in unregistered—or underground—churches.

Read more>>

Sunday

Sasha, a Faithful Servant - Never Give Up -5

Guest blogger: Sven Ljungholm. Meet Sven Ljungholm in a series of articles. Sven was leading an air company many years before he became a Salvation Army officer. He served in USA, Sweden and as one of the pioneers when the Salvation Army restarted its work in Eastern Europe.

Russia’s “Golden Autumn” in Leningrad, 1991, was all too brief, those few short weeks between summer and seven months of bitter cold and snow. The view from my 2nd story office reminded me that Russia’s road to freedom was still blocked on many fronts. We had arrived only a few months earlier, six ex-patriots charged to “open holy fire”.

Armed tanks were stationed on the outskirts of the city, a signal that Russia’s coup had reached Leningrad, and below my office window I saw the street barricaded with throngs moving noisily across the now silent streetcar tracks, carrying Soviet style banners. None who were not a party to the demonstrators dared move about on the streets, except one. 



Sasha was easy to spot; he dragged his legs behind him and swung them forward in a practiced cadence as he planted his crutches firmly in the freshly fallen snow. Until now, cripples had been hidden away from mainstream society for more than five decades, unwanted reminders o f a system that failed to care for the very least. The crowd begrudgingly made way for him and Sasha purposely, and no doubt somewhat painfully, made his way to the doorstep. There he had to maneuver his bulky coat and cruthches through double doors, down the long corridor, hoping that this day the elevator was working...

His 2-hour journey from and to his home, to his volunteer position with The Salvation Army, included the Metro (subway) and two connecting trams. There were no elevators or escalators on the two Metro stations he transited, so the stairs were the means to reach the street. For decades the Party’s city planners had no reason to include the likes of Sasha, or for that matter anyone on crutches or wheelchair bound. 

Sasha was one of many who attended our Sunday meetings (worship services). He had read about this Salvation Army, an international religious movement and knew well of the need for volunteers. He became one of the very first.

When we first met he shared that he’d like to deliver meals to the elderly, “those unable like myself to get out and about!” I struggled to find something less daunting for him to do, and asked my translator for suggestions and was told, “Sasha is firm in what he wants to do; God gave him this assignment!” And so it was…



During our service in Leningrad Sasha became a fixture. His routine typically began in the early morning as he selected a list of recipients from the office files. He’d pick up satchels of food, somehow balance the 6-8 dangling bags while clutching his crutches, and off he’d go. He never shared how many Metro stations or trams he had to traverse on his missions of mercy. He’d return around noon for another batch of deliveries, and again around 3:00pm, for yet one more tour of duty before heading home… I witnessed this joyful, deliberate act of discipleship until our transfer to Moscow some months later. 



Those working with volunteers know that many come and some soon depart never to return… Sasha came, and remained faithful. If for some reason he’s not alive these 16 years later, still serving those he was commanded to care for, it’s because he walked his way to glory and there, surrendered his crutches to the great Physician for all eternity!

Never give up !

Former officer USA/Sweden/Russia/Ukraine
Dr. Sven Ljungholm

Thursday

Obama: Homosexuality & Islam good for America

Mats Tunehag writes in his blogg:
President Obama has declared June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month”.

In a difficult-to-find declaration posted on the White House Web site on June 1, Obama praised LGBT Americans for their continual “great and lasting contributions” that “strengthen the fabric of American society.”

Earlier this year Obama praised Islam’s contribution in shaping USA:
“We will convey,” said Barack Obama to the Turkish Parliament, “our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.”

I can’t help but wonder what planet Mr. Obama is from.

Wednesday

Never give up - 4

Guest blogger: Sven Ljungholm. Meet Sven Ljungholm in a series of articles. Sven was leading an air company many years before he became a Salvation Army officer. He served in USA, Sweden and as one of the pioneers when the Salvation Army restarted its work in Eastern Europe.

Our Moscow offices were located in a building that was part of the immense Russian Kremlin complex. It was two doors from the impressive suite of offices that housed the Minister of Social Protection, Madame Ella Pomfilova. She was a regular un-announced drop-in to our office and twice brought a very special visitor, President Boris Yeltsin's wife, Naina. Our discussions centered on the social service needs of the Russian people, partnering with local educational institutions in the training of social service professionals, and establishing a daily feeding program to Moscow's 80,000 elderly, poor population.

The need for volunteers in Moscow was no different than what we experienced in St. Petersburg (the city of Leningrad's name had changed during the course of the preceding 12 months).

Among the many students, government employees and professional social workers who came to our aid was Igor. Igor was a man in his late 30s, one of our first recruits and sworn in as a soldier by General Eva Burrows. He walked with the aid of crutches, wore large, thick-lens spectacles, and often appeared to be teetering, off balance, perhaps due to his rather large head and upper torso. He had though a gentle and endearing manner; he seemed particularly well suited to act as our uniformed volunteer receptionist and telephone operator. His appointment to that position ensured that he would not be required to move about the offices too much, and afforded him a necessary and respected role.

There was constant traffic in and out of our offices. Visitors included government officials from many nations; Ambassadors, a delegation from the Vatican, and countless NGOs, all seeking information on how best to aid in the distribution of medical equipment, medicine, food and other urgently needed supplies. The country was bankrupt and without even the most basic social services structure.

Igor worked feverishly to answer the telephone and to coordinate the visit of the many who came to us for information. We had become the unofficial representative of the Russian government in disseminating, coordinating, and establishing the necessary roles of many foreign NGOs. However, there was also a personal area of very real concern... Igor. His daunting and ever increasing responsibilities seemed to wear on him. When there was a lull in telephone calls or slowing of traffic entering the offices’ double-doors, Igor would place his large head on the desk and simply doze off. Whenever necessary, a gentle prod brought Igor back to reality, and for the next few minutes he was again wide-awake and active. As the weeks and month wore on, it became clear however, that Igor's strength was waning. But who could possible deny a man of such gracious spirit and dedication his appointed role?



It was spring, 1993, and Igor was at his desk, putting his head on the desk between telephone calls. This day though was different. The telephone rang, and visitors came calling, but by late morning Igor wasn't responsive. No degree of trying to rouse Igor brought any sign of life. The local medical team, with a clinic in our building, was called and subsequent to examining Igor announced to a stunned group of his colleagues that he was dead. We later learned that Igor was well aware that his time in this world was limited, and even more so if he took on any strenuous activities. Igor had been warned that the simple act of leaving his apartment might be too strenuous and deemed a health risk.
 Although no one ever alerted us to his delicate medical conditions there were many days when I thought seriously of asking Igor to resign his role as the unpaid, official "office coordinator". The daily demands on Igor seemed to be taking its toll on him. Thinking back I now know why I didn't do so. His appointment to that highly visible position wasn't really made by me, it had been made by a much higher authority.

Igor worked in one of the nation's most respected, historical and honored buildings, not at the direction of his government or me; he was appointed by the King! Igor worked and died in Royal service and now wears the Crown of Life.

Friday

Never give up! - 3

Guest blogger: Sven Ljungholm. Meet Sven Ljungholm in a series of articles. Sven was leading an air company many years before he became a Salvation Army officer. He served in USA, Sweden and as one of the pioneers when the Salvation Army restarted its work in Eastern Europe.

To my mind one of the saddest portions of the New Testament is the 4th chapter of 2 Timothy. In re-reading it this last week Paul’s very last words ever written leaves us asking, did Timothy make an effort to “come before winter” and see his mentor? Did he risk traveling on the autumn seas to one last time see Paul before he was led outside the gates of Rome and beheaded as the sun rose over the Roman hillside? We don’t know the answer, however, it’s a challenge we’ve all faced, and it's repeated again each year. In our case it’s the personal investments we are asked to make as we sow seeds each autumn in accordance with what the Lord requests of us. For us it’s the resource of time and talent to be planted for eventual harvesting some months later; the type of investment made by others that brought and kept you and me in the fold. Perhaps young Timothy said to himself, ‘Paul should know that I have my hands full… how can he assume I can drop it all and run errands for him?! I’m already busy tending to the many requests and expectations he’s placed on me!” Do you remember the unfulfilled promises made last autumn or the year before? I'm certain we all can...

Aren’t we all very much the same? How can my corps officer, Pastor or church leader possibly expect more from me? I’m carrying a full load and doing more than most!

Some things must be done “before winter” or they will not and cannot be done at all. There are doors of witness and ministry that open before us, individually and as a Christian body, and if we do not act on them, will be forever shut by springtime. Sometimes we must respond and act now. As this new worship season of service begins, in what area of your life is God calling you and me to act…to come before winter?

The story is told of the famous conductor George Solti rehearsing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in the 1812 Overture. He was asking repeatedly, as they rehearsed the Finale, to ‘play it as loud as you can!’ But it wasn’t enough and he asked again, ‘play it as loud as you can – please, play it as loud as you can!’ When they finally reached the top of an incredibly loud crescendo he said, ‘now play it louder still!!’

Never give up!

Yes, I know- I’ve been there often in life and have said in my mind, please don’t add any more to my plate, only to reevaluate both the need and the resources and in the process recalling that great truth that we have His eternal presence.

Thomas Merton said: “A true encounter with Christ liberates something in us. A power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life; a resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation.”

Do you recall that holy moment when you were sworn in as a SA soldier? Chances are that the scripture read was the end of Paul’s masterful and edifying letter to the Ephesians where he concludes with this most important exhortation: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power." It is this instruction that precedes his famous words about the whole armour of God.

The SA used to be immersed in the language of warfare. We can garner much by studying and learning from our roots; to fit ourselves for battle! Paul told the Ephesians that, as believers in Christ, they were engage d in a cosmic battle. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. The battle can’t be put on hold…

For the clock of life is wound but once.
And no one has the power,
To tell just when the hand will stop,
At late or early hour.
Now is the time we have.
Live, love, toil, work with a will,
Do not wait for tomorrow,
For the clock may then be still.


Pray, asking for His eternal presence to guide you as you deliberate where you will give more time and support this season…

Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Never give up, and for the sake of our gospel, come before winter!
Sven Ljungholm

Read also:
Never give up!
Never give up! - 2

Thursday

Reflections on spiritual life - 2

Guest blogger: Harry Brocksieck
Harry and Barbara Brosckieck are retired Salvation Army officers from the Central Territory in the USA. They have also served at the Eastern European Training College in Finland.


Reflections of an old codger on developing the spiritual life.

6. Living in the present:
Present : noun - the here and now - the current time or moment

The NCCA is looking for its champions in basketball (go Michigan State and for the women anyone but UCon). I am blessed that Barbara enjoys sports as much as I do so we have watched many basketball games .The commentators have observed the following a number of times:
· "The coach is telling him to forget what just happened and get into the game.’" Or
· "He has to forget what just happened and get on with playing the game."
These comments are said after:
1) A player has just missed his 3 rd three point shot but he is a good 3 point shooter and the team needs him to keep shooting 3 pointers. OR
2) A player has made a terrific play and is still focusing on his wonderful achievement when the play is now at the other end of the court and he needs to get on the defense.
Both need to play the game now - not even the game that was 10 seconds ago!
Get into it! Be in the present!!

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...." Philippians 3:13

Colonel Pepper, one Saturday morning, asked Barbara the question, "Barbara, do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband... for better, for worse?" (Barbara did not realize how bad the ‘worse’ could be.) Over these 44 years hurts gathered and piled up would make a barrier too high for us to climb over and too thick to burrow through but living in the moment with its possibilities, opportunities and rewards makes the ‘now’ rich and full and the ‘better’ he promised her.

Soon after we retired we had officer friends visiting when they received a call from an officer relative. Our friend said, "We are visiting the Brocksiecks, they live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains." I could hear the response from the phone, "Tell him to enjoy the mountains, it is the closest he is going to get to heaven." He was obviously less impressed by where he had been appointed.

We have a wonderful alcove of Aspens in our back yard. I made a sandbox for Devyn and Dylan, our grandchildren, there. I have started building a swing Barbara wants in this lovely setting. I was talking with my friend Dallas about building projects. I said to him, "I get about 2/3 finished with a project and I don’t want to complete it. It is a real chore to finish the projects I start." As I contemplated this it dawned on me why this was so, so I said to him, "I think I don’t want to complete projects because I don’t want to be embarrassed by the results." Wisely Dallas suggested that this probably comes from my father when I was growing up. "Your dad would look at things you had done and he would want to encourage you to do the best possible - no doubt thinking that someday you would be on the job and your boss would expect high quality work " so your dad is encouraging you to do better work. However, the way you received it was, "your work is not very good, thus you don’t want to finish these projects because you don’t want to be criticized." So as I work on these projects I am still affected by the ‘encouragement’ of 50 years ago. I wonder what Steve and Kevin have to overcome as a result of my parenting.

I am teaching Recruit’s classes at our corps. When we got to the doctrines on sin and salvation it is wonderful to be able to share after discussing the terrible results of sin in our lives the wonderful solution God gave us in Christ. However, the question comes up several times, "God forgives but how do I forget?" My answer is that the Holy Spirit often brings to our minds the sins we have committed until we learn the lesson He wants us to learn as a result of that sin. When we have learned the correct lesson the Spirit will help us remember the lesson and not the sin. So if you continue to be reminded of your sin ask the Spirit what lesson He wants you to learn. Learn it, apply it, and practice it until both you and the Spirit rejoice at the applied lesson that has helped you grow. Sins forgiven but remembered are devastating until they are transformed by the Spirit into lessons that help us grow.

One of the dangers of reflecting is to dwell on the past - some memory banks dwell mostly on the negative. Others may dwell on successes but I expect that is usually somewhat distorted.
You may see my accomplishments as a father, husband, friend, CO, DYS, DS, CC, TP, S/P, differently than I so I won’t give you the very long list of wonderful things I did. But to equally remember them and focus on them will also lead to some exaggerated implications.

In reality I have not had a problem of living in the past. I have not been caught up in reviewing and reliving events of the past - good or bad (at least not yet). My problem is living in the future. I used to revel in the magazine ‘the Futurist’ I wanted to be the first SA officer in space. I wanted to use technology to get us into the future. I lay awake thinking about want I was going to do, what projects to undertake, how to do them, the reactions of those who would benefit from the future. I still have to work hard at living in the present.

I did not make any New Year’s resolutions this year. An article in the War Cry by Whitney Hopler caught my attention. The by-line is :' God is always up to something new - and He wants you to join Him.’ She lists the following :
· Avoid nostalgia
· Don’t linger in any place God is calling you to leave
· Practice centering prayer to direct your attention toward God in the present moment
· Don’t limit God. Nothing is impossible with Him.
· Be willing to take risks.

Her thoughts help me to focus on living in the present. Each moment is full of opportunity. God wants to do a new thing and it is in this moment. My relationships are much more exciting when I live in the moment. By taking advantage of the new opportunities with friends as we share this moment together - not the past or the future but the present.

Living in the present: Living , plural noun - quality of life, emphasizing how real, intense or thorough the moment is

Reflections on spiritual life - 1

Guest blogger: Harry Brocksieck
Harry and Barbara Brosckieck are retired Salvation Army officers from the Central Territory in the USA. They have also served at the Eastern European Training College in Finland.

Drama of God: Drama - a real life event or situation that is particularly exciting or emotionally involving.
Daily at 5 PM the hermit celebrates the Eucharist. As we talked about this - he knowing that we do not celebrate the Eucharist as he does - I asked, "What does this do for you? If you had to put it in other words how would you describe this event for you?" His response was, "It gives me a daily dose of the full salvation story - repentance, acceptance by God, holiness, being in God. It is God in the whole for me and for the whole world. It is the drama of God!

A. When preaching every Sunday this was easier to experience - Wednesdays from 6 - noon was spent preparing next Sunday’s sermon. The text chosen was part of that drama with the challenge to help people see how it fit into the whole and into their lives. The challenge of presenting the drama of God to the congregation was a great burden that was both refreshing and fulfilling.

B. It has been a joy to present the drama of God to the Recruits class this spring.

C. Sunday morning worship in our corps can explore the drama of God:
· Our corps music director is a gifted musician - school music teacher, professional pianist and becoming in his godly character. The music group of 8-10 he leads as part of the worship often reaches this great idea of God through the words of God, salvation and the Kingdom. Some of the ‘praise and worship’ choruses talk of the transcendence of God - God is big, powerful, but out there. We don’t often get the whole drama of God - the personal opportunity to share in His majesty and holiness. The song 'The long black train’ was a bit of a stretch but the drama was there and they enjoyed singing it. We get a better dose of the drama of God, I think, when he uses the music he has written or the songs from the songbook.
· The person who introduces the songs during worship sometimes grasps the drama of God in a few words.
· The corps officer opens the Scripture and presents at least part of that drama. We sometimes have an altar call and in those moments of silence or movement we usher in the greatest drama as God comes to a person. That coming infuses the whole congregation.
· Our Sergeant Major is a wonderful godly man who often summerises the drama of God by his closing remarks.

D. Barbara and I have our devotions separately first in the morning. Then we have breakfast and this year for our shared devotions we are using the SA songbook. We purchased the CDs of the Chicago Staff Band and the Norridge Citadel Band so we have accompaniment. The words of the songs in the SA Songbook give us a rich picture of the great drama of God.
A mighty fortress is our God.
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood,
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe…
Jesus came down my ransom to be; O it was wonderful love!
Clear to faith’s vision the cross reveals beautiful actions of love;
And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me who caused his pain… (John 19:28-9)
Emptied himself of all but love (Philippians 2:7)
My chains fell off, my heart was free (Acts 12:7)
Alive in him, my living head (Romans 6:11)
Bold I approach the eternal throne and claim the cross, through Christ, my own. (Hebrews 4:16)
Years ago my friend Wally shared his research with me connecting the phrases in the songs to Scripture (note above) .

E. Prayer at meals always starts with Steve, Kevin, Kristin, Devyn and Dylan then others that are on our minds and hearts. As we think of each one we don’t know which part of the drama of God they need today - prevenient grace, saving faith, repentance, forgiveness of sins, justification, reconciliation, adoption, growth in Christ, restoration from backsliding, holiness of life, freedom from original sin, healing, blessings from God. However, God knows and we trust Him to apply our prayers to your lives.

Drama of God? Exciting, tense, and gripping events and actions in a real-life situation.

Blessings Harry

Other blogpost from Harry Brocksieck
Reflections of an old Codger
Reflections on Creativity
Reflections on physical exercise

Wednesday

The most important minutes in a Christian´s life

I believe that the most important minutes you spend as a Christian, are the minutes you set apart to be together with the Lord: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Mt 6:6 NIV).

Why do we so often forget to find time for the quite time with Jesus, while we find time for so many other things? Perhaps because it is so easy to transform the living meeting with God to a have-to-do-activity like brushing your teeth.

This article by Pam Farrel from Discipleship Journal wants to help us to revive our quite time with God.
"20 Ways To Wake Up Your Quiet Time
Behind closed doors, many of us yawn through our quiet times. Somehow, our routine time with god slowly and quietly degenerates into a boring, predictable rut. As spiritual cataracts grow over our sleepy eyes, we may grow disinterested and frustrated. Such seasons demand a fresh view of the creator. Like any good relationship, quiet times with god need a little variety. Instead of rolling over and hitting the snooze button, try one of these ideas for your next quiet time."

Read more>>