Daily devotions


Reality check: Obama’s foreign policy

Mats Tunehag writes in Världen i dag:
"“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

”Time for a reality check! Mort Zuckerman recently wrote an article in which he does an overview of Obama’s foreign policies a year and a half after the above announcement from the Norwegian Nobel Committee."

Salvation Army World Cup Campaign Makes a Big Noise

From the SA international web-site:
"WHILE world audiences focus on a black-and-white football (soccer ball) in the FIFA World Cup, The Salvation Army in South Africa is handing out red cards against human trafficking."

The world is trying it's best to change the face of Christianity

I recieved a mail with a thougt-provoking article:
Are there dangers in being 'spiritual but not religious'?

"I'm spiritual but not religious."
It's a trendy phrase people often use to describe their belief that they don't need organized religion to live a life of faith.
But for Jesuit priest James Martin, the phrase also hints at something else: selfishness.
"Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and self-centeredness," says Martin, an editor at America, a national Catholic magazine based in New York City. "If it's just you and God in your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help the poor?"
Religious debates erupt over everything from doctrine to fashion. Martin has jumped into a running debate over the "I'm spiritual but not religious" phrase.
The "I'm spiritual but not religious" community is growing so much that one pastor compared it to a movement. In a 2009 survey by the research firm LifeWay Christian Resources, 72 percent of millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) said they're "more spiritual than religious." The phrase is now so commonplace that it's spawned its own acronym ("I'm SBNR") and Facebook page: SBNR.org.

But what exactly does being "spiritual but not religious" mean, and could there be hidden dangers in living such a life?

Did you choose "Burger King Spirituality"?
Heather Cariou, a New York City-based author who calls herself spiritual instead of religious, doesn't think so. She's adopted a spirituality that blends Buddhism, Judaism and other beliefs.
"I don't need to define myself to any community by putting myself in a box labeled Baptist, or Catholic, or Muslim," she says. "When I die, I believe all my accounting will be done to God, and that when I enter the eternal realm, I will not walk though a door with a label on it."

BJ Gallagher, a Huffington Post blogger who writes about spirituality, says she's SBNR because organized religion inevitably degenerates into tussles over power, ego and money.
Gallagher tells a parable to illustrate her point:
"God and the devil were walking down a path one day when God spotted something sparkling by the side of the path. He picked it up and held it in the palm of his hand.
"Ah, Truth," he said.
"Here, give it to me," the devil said. "I'll organize it."

Gallagher says there's nothing wrong with people blending insights from different faith traditions to create what she calls a "Burger King Spirituality -- have it your way."
She disputes the notion that spiritual people shun being accountable to a community.
"Twelve-step people have a brilliant spiritual community that avoids all the pitfalls of organized religion," says Gallagher, author of "The Best Way Out is Always Through."
"Each recovering addict has a 'god of our own understanding,' and there are no priests or intermediaries between you and your god. It's a spiritual community that works.''

Nazli Ekim, who works in public relations in New York City, says calling herself spiritual instead of religious is her way of taking responsibility for herself.
Ekim was born in a Muslim family and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She prayed to Allah every night, until she was 13 and had to take religion classes in high school.Then one day, she says she had to take charge of her own beliefs.
"I had this revelation that I bow to no one, and I've been spiritually a much happier person," says Ekim, who describers herself now as a Taoist, a religious practice from ancient China that emphasizes the unity of humanity and the universe.
"I make my own mistakes and take responsibility for them. I've lied, cheated, hurt people -- sometimes on purpose. Did I ever think I will burn in hell for all eternity? I didn't. Did I feel bad and made up for my mistakes? I certainly did, but not out of fear of God."

Going on a spiritual walkabout
The debate over being spiritual rather than religious is not just about semantics. It's about survival.
Numerous surveys show the number of Americans who do not identify themselves as religious has been increasing and likely will continue to grow.

A 2008 survey conducted by Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, dubbed these Americans who don't identify with any religion as "Nones."

Seminaries, churches, mosques and other institutions will struggle for survival if they don't somehow convince future generations that being religious isn't so bad after all, religion scholars warn.

Jennifer Walters, dean of religious life at Smith College in Massachusetts, says there's a lot of good in old-time religion.
Religious communities excel at caring for members in difficult times, encouraging members to serve others and teaching religious practices that have been tested and wrestled with for centuries, Walters says.
"Hymn-singing, forms of prayer and worship, teachings about social justice and forgiveness -- all these things are valuable elements of religious wisdom," Walters says. "Piecing it together by yourself can be done, but with great difficulty."

Being a spiritual Lone Ranger fits the tenor of our times, says June-Ann Greeley, a theology and philosophy professor.
"Religion demands that we accord to human existence some absolutes and eternal truths, and in a post-modern culture, that becomes all but impossible," says Greeley, who teaches at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.
It's much easier for "spiritual" people to go on "spiritual walkabouts," Greeley says.
"People seem not to have the time nor the energy or interest to delve deeply into any one faith or religious tradition," Greeley says. "So they move through, collecting ideas and practices and tenets that most appeal to the self, but making no connections to groups or communities."

Being spiritual instead of religious may sound sophisticated, but the choice may ultimately come down to pettiness, says Martin, the Jesuit priest, who writes about the phrase in his book, "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost Everything)."
"Religion is hard," he says. "Sometimes it's just too much work. People don't feel like it. I have better things to do with my time. It's plain old laziness."

First Twenty-five Soldiers Enrolled in Sierra Leone

From the SA internation web-site:
"ONLY four months after The Salvation Army officially began work in Sierra Leone its first 25 soldiers were enrolled in a meeting featured live on national radio. Captains John and Rosaline Bundu left Liberia in December 2009 to begin Salvation Army ministry in their home country of Sierra Leone. The work was officially recognised on 1 January 2010."



This is the 19th in a series of Pastoral Letters from the General to every Salvationist across the world.

The Pastoral Letters are intended to be distributed unchanged and entire to all Salvationists and may be shared also with others interested in the sacred purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army.

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ.
This comes to all Salvationists with my strong, ongoing affection in Christ for you, and with my prayers for your effectiveness in the sacred calling that God, in his supreme wisdom, has placed upon the peoples known as Salvationists.
It has been laid upon my heart that I am to take a step of obedience under God by reaching out to you all through Pastoral Letters written from time to time. I write therefore in order to obey the One who has created us all, and with a longing that what is written will affirm, encourage and inspire you.
The themes for these occasional Pastoral Letters continue to be the themes God reveals. His holy will is made known in many ways. I pledge myself to be mindful that his will is often revealed through interaction with members of the Body and not only or always in the seclusion of the place of prayer.
It is my deep hope that each Pastoral Letter will be read wherever Salvationists are to be found, whether in private or in public settings. The chosen themes may prompt discussion, prayer and – as appropriate – action.
Shaw Clifton

Dear Fellow Salvationists,
This 19th Pastoral Letter comes to each of you with warmest good wishes and greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I prepare this letter in an upstairs room in my home in London, England, I look out to see the green and blossoming evidence of late spring. The trees are suddenly abundant in leaf. The sky is lighter and the days grow longer. We discern the hand of God in nature once again and we are filled with gratitude.
Readers in the southern hemisphere are in autumn, waiting for the darker nights and colder temperatures of winter to arrive. The seasons march on with seemingly inexorable pace. We feel our smallness, our creatureliness, and we sense too the overarching mind of the Creator in it all.
Little wonder then that we can burst into song to declare: ‘How great Thou art!’ We offer praise amid the awe. We bring to God our smallness, ready for him to help us rise in Christ to all the fullness of what we can be.
It is God’s plan that each one of us should be all we can be. You matter, you count. Tell yourself out loud: ‘I matter! I count in the eyes of Almighty God!’
Now suddenly my mind is racing off in another direction as I see the word ‘count’ appear in my script. The Bible tells us that even the number of hairs upon our heads has been counted and is known to God in Heaven. This is a powerful reminder of God’s intimate knowledge of us. I find it enormously comforting, but many find the thought menacing. Not everyone wants a Creator God who interacts with us. Instead they seek freedom to wander, licence to please themselves, falsely supposing this to be freedom.
Our God is a counting God. We see this in Jesus who spoke about a flock of sheep numbering 100, but one was lost thus reducing the flock to only 99. The shepherd would not rest until the lost one had been found. That lost one is you. It is also me. We are ‘Sheep Number 100’! How good that we have a God who can count and who searches tirelessly for us when we go missing. This divine attribute is ever before us when we do the sacredly routine work of counting how many folk are in a worship meeting, or how many have used the Mercy Seat, or how many names appear on the soldiers’ roll and other rolls.
If our Creator is by nature a God who counts, then we in turn must expect also to be like him. We can count our blessings, we can count the days he has allotted to us and give thanks for each one of them.
God stands alongside us as we count. He knows how many Army soldiers and junior soldiers there are in the world, and how many there are in your local corps. He knows the number of Army officers in the world and the number of cadets in our training colleges. He loves to see these numbers grow. He knows too that we are at work now in 121 countries of the world. Best of all he knows personally and in detail every individual soldier, junior soldier, officer and cadet. He knows those who are his.
We bask in this knowledge.
Commissioner Helen Clifton joins me in greeting each of you in the precious Name of Jesus.
Please continue to pray for us.
I commend each one of you to the grace of Christ.
Sincerely in him,
Shaw Clifton

From the Salvation Army Inrernational web-site


Forgiveness - The Possible Impossibility

In connection with the Cape Town Congress 2010, the Lausanne movement invites to a global conversation about different topics. Here is one of the papers. You are invited to take part in the conversation.
"Biblical forgiveness is largely overlooked in teaching the basics of faith and life application, yet forgiveness is foundational to spiritual life and witness. Forgiveness - The Possible Impossibility reveals truth, unmasks distortions, and presents application of biblical forgiveness that brings glory to God and spiritual growth to disciples of Christ"
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The New Atheism and the Christian Mind - Global Conversation 1

In connection with the Cape Town Congress 2010, the Lausanne movement invites to a global conversation about different topics. Here is one of the papers. You are invited to take part in the conversation.
The New Atheism and the Christian Mind
God is a delusion – a ‘psychotic delinquent; invented by mad, deluded people.”
  So believes Dr. Richard Dawkins.  On the BBC radio, speaking of God he said, “This infantile explanation belongs to an earlier, superstitious era in the history of humanity.  We’ve outgrown it.”    Dr. Dawkins believes that Christian belief is “a persistently false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” These are strong statements and they are public.  The New Atheists, and those influenced by them are secular missionaries.  They are sincere, they are motivated, and in many cases, they are passionate.  The trickle down effect of their ideas, books, blogs and influence are seen in movies, TV, and are picked up anecdotally by any who need a convenient excuse to avoid what Socrates called “the examined life”.  How to respond?

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