Daily devotions



Today, February 29 - About our reputation

 I am right now reading a book by Geoff Ryan: "The Siren Call of a Dangerous God".

In the book I read this quote from William Booth: "You see, we have no reputation to loose".
I do not know where Geoff found this quote, but I think I understand what William Booth is trying to say: The lack of reputation makes us free. People already think we are fools. We dare to speak up against the authorities, we dare to say things that are not politically correct because we have nothing to loose.

I am afraid that we today think in a different way. Don´t we often think and say: "You see, we can not do that, we can loose our reputation.

Later in the book I read another quote from William Booth that nore explains how he was thinking:
"Everybody has settled it that we are fools, if not a great deal worse; therefor we can go into a town and do exactly what we think best, without taking the least notice of what anybody may say or wish. We have only to please God and get the people saved, and that is easily done."

Last week we read something similar in "Simple Musings for Simple Living":
"Göran Skytte is one of the Swedish ”celebrities” who has been converted to the Christian faith recently. Göran Skytte’s book describes his conversion and he told that when it was about to be published he received a lot of advice from people in his circle of acquaintances. Most people advised him to withhold his confession, otherwise he would be declared to be a fool. But Skytte was not afraid of this and he said something like: ”however low you set the standard, there will still be a crowd who believes that you have gone too far

I think that William Booth and Göran Skytte make the same point: You can gain a lot by being declared a fool. Then you have nothing to loose. The you can be radical for Jesus.

/Peter Baronowsky

Salvation Army Granted Church Status in Hungary

Salvation Army Granted Church Status in Hungary
SA international Webpage - "Salvationists in Hungary are celebrating and thanking God for answered prayer after the country's parliament granted The Salvation Army legal recognition as a church on Monday 27 February 2012. "


Early Sunday morning, february 26

The rain is pouring down in Riga melting the snow. Can it be that spring is on its way?
This week we have been visited by a group of girls from Gotland, the Swedish island in the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Latvia. The girls are doing their last year at high school and they are doing a special project. They have started a company selling blankets to earn money to give away to some children ministry.

Our after-school-activity for children became the receiver of this gift.

  The girls from Gotland are listening to information about the Center
  The symbolic cheque is handed over to the director of the center
  The result: 15.000 Swedish Crowns!

Now it is early Sunday morning and in a few hours the morning sevice at Riga 1 will start. And after that: A brand new week!

I pray it will be a blessed week for you.
/Peter Baronowsky


Headlines week 8

Whitney Houston Remembered for Her Faith in Christ
Charisma News - "Whitney Houston was laid to rest on Sunday after a Saturday memorial service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J. Despite her struggles, her family and friends called out her faith in Jesus at the ceremony.
“I don’t care what was going on with her, I don’t care what it was, she stayed grounded in the Word,” Patricia Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law and manager, said at the funeral, according to transcripts of Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN.
“A friend … sent a note reminding us that our dear sister, aunt, mother, friend in Christ has been set free. Free from pain, free from sorrow, free from crying, free from sin, free from death. We will see her again but until then she rests peacefully in the Lord’s presence.” She went on to say that “the legacy that she left was music but what she left for you was her love for God and she had it and she was absolute, she was absolute about that.

German Chancellor: New World Order Has Utterly Failed: Germany Returning To Its Christian Roots!
Political Vel Craft - "Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s declaration that Germany’s attempts to build a multicultural society had “utterly failed” is feeding a growing debate over how to deal with the millions of foreigners who call the country home.
The problem with multiculturalism, as the pope understands, is that it breeds contempt for the moral truths that undergird the Judeo-Christian ethos of Western civilization. Indeed, as the pope has said, it has led to “a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological.”
One major reason why multiculturalism is a failure is its implicit moral relativism: all religions and cultures are seen as equals. But this means that those who adhere to Judeo-Christian values, and those who espouse a preference for Sharia law, are voicing a similar perspective. This is worse than nonsense: the former yields liberty and justice; the latter yields slavery


A comment on a comment

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail making me aware of a blogpost commenting a blogpost I posted on Mackan Andersson´s blog. It is posted by Patrik Olterman and he writes:

I know Sven posted this comment, and I know Peter's response is to Mackan Andersson, and i know that there is little or no chance that Peter will see this.
Nevertheless I need to state:
A) I do not think the Bible is unambiguous about homosexuality, the texts Peter refer to may address what we know as homosexuality OR may be talking about heterosexual men engaging in homosexual practices.
B) Jesus return is FAR FROM the most common topic of the bible old or new testament. The Kingdom of God may be and that is not the same. However I would say that almost every sermon should be about the kingdom of god as this is number one on Jesus' agenda.
C) There are many lobby organisations that preach greed as virtue, it is of course disguised with the word blessing or prosperity.
D) The last point while fantastic in theory, that our situation and family relations should not interfere with our reading of scripture or our theology, it is simply not true. Our context will always influence our reading and our theology.
Furthermore, I think that god changes how and what he speaks to us according to our situation and relation to him. In that sense theology is and must be relational.
Peter, your theology is for example extremely influenced by your army experience and by your upbringing in a modern society. There are many theological views you hold that would be foreign to the ancient mind (or the post-modern for that matter). We always read from our context because as humans we are not able to transcend our context.”
I am not sure if Patrik will read this, but here are my comments:
A/ Patrik writes “the Bible is unambiguous about homosexuality, the texts Peter refer to may address what we know as homosexuality OR may be talking about heterosexual men engaging in homosexual practices”
I say Yes, who has said anything else? The Bible condemns homosexual practice.
B/ Patrik writes: Jesus return is FAR FROM the most common topic of the bible old or new testament
I say: you are wrong. The end times and the second coming of Jesus is one of the most frequent topics in the New Testament. Please check again! Jesus is having some of his longest speeches about that and in some books in the New Testament this is the main theme.

C/ Patrik writes: There are many lobby organisations that preach greed as virtue
I say: I do not think that greed and thankfulness for blessings are the same things.

D/ Patrik writes: Our context will always influence our reading and our theology.
I say: I agree. But all contextual interpretations cannot be equally right.
Finally Patrik writes that my theology is influenced by my army experience.
I say: I think you are right. And isn´t this what you just wrote that any theology must be influenced by the context.

So our main concern should then be what contexts we allow forming our theology.
I do not think it is a fruitful way of discussing trying to say that somebody else´s theology is not right since it is influenced by that and that.
If I should use the same method discussing Patrik´s theology I could say that Patrik´s way of making theology is blinded by the postmodern thinking of our days. Postmodern, relativistic thinking is not good theology or what the Bible teaches. But since I do not think this is a fruitful way discussing I will not say this.
/Peter Baronowsky

Soldiers enrolment in Liepa

Sunday February 19, we had a soldiers enrolment at the corps in Liepa.

  The Hall was filled long before the meeting started
  Four new soldiers
  The new soldiers with the articles of war
After the enrolment the soldiers were greeted with flowers...
...amd after the meeting coffee, of course



TSA Advisory Board in Latvia

Stockholm School of Economics in Riga reports that their Senior Vice President, Gunnar Ljungdahl, now is a member of The Salvation Army Advisory Board in Latvia.

Read more about the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and Salvation Army Advisory Board in Latvia


Early Sunday morning in Riga, February 19

Another early Sunday morning in Riga. The extreme cold weather has left Riga for a while.

We have spent a lot of time this week in the car. Two days we have been driving up to Skangale for different meetings and one day we have been driving to Bauska.

Of course we have also used some time for preparations for our Latvian Congress in Riga in June this summer.

The theme for the Congress is Meeting Point Riga 2012 and we have borrowed the symbol from the Meeting Point signs you can see at most airports. We expect many visitors from abroad. Will you be one of them?

Now it is Sunday morning and time for another road trip. Today we are driving up to Liepa and a Soldiers enrolment at the corps. Today it will be four new soldiers in Liepa. After the service we will have information about the Salvation Army and give opprtunities for questions. We have these informtion meetings in all corps we visit and we call the "Open Microphone".

The second years cadets will come with us to the Liepa and I think it is the first time visiting Liepa for them.

So it will be a full day trip today and when we come home a new week will be around the corner. I pray it will be a blessed week for you.

Peter Baronowsky


Today February 18

Today is an important day for Latvia. Today is the referendum and the question is if Latvia will accept Russian as the second official language in the country or not.

Latvia is a small country and Latvian is a language spoken of few people, but the language is closely linked to the history and the national identity. The former president, Zatlers, asks the Russian speaking population not to vote for the Russian language, refering to all former conflicts in the country. He writes:

"We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. We will all still be living in this country in ten and twenty years. Today, the future of our country rests on our shoulders''

The picture: ex-president Zatlers together with TSA leaders in Latvia

Tonight we will know the result of the referendum...


Headlines week 7

Swedish Homeschoolers Cry for Help
Christian News Wire - "One homeschool family, the Himmelstrands, chose to homeschool their three children for years before they were denied permission from their municipality in 2008. Now the Himmelstrands face fines in excess of $26,000 (US).
Jonas Himmelstrand, president of the Swedish Association for Home Education, appealed yesterday to the supporters in the United States and around the world, "We ask our fellow home educators to email the Swedish authorities on a mass scale about the situation in Sweden.  We want to let Swedish officials know that their actions have drawn international attention.  Please write to the Swedish Embassy in your country on our behalf."
Although it is likely that there are fewer than 100 homeschoolers in the country of 9 million, Jonas says the persecution "is against all international conventions on human rights."

Christian Guesthouse Owners Fined in Same-Sex Couple Complaint
Charisma News - "Christian guesthouse owners on Friday lost an appeal on a 2011 ruling that fined them £3,600 (about $5,670) for refusing to let same-sex couples rent double rooms.
Last year, Peter and Hazelmary Bull were found guilty of discrimination after denying a double room to a same-sex couple in 2008. The Bulls’ policy is to only rent double rooms to heterosexual married couples.
The Bulls appealed the decision, claiming that they had always restricted double rooms to married couples in accordance with their Christian beliefs."


Early Sunday morning in Riga February 12

It is cold in Riga just now. Last Sunday when we were driving to the north eastern corner of Latvia it was minus 31 degrees. We really had to work hard and use assistance to start the car that morning. Here you can see some pictures from the meetings in Seda.

This winter it is not the amount of snow but the cold weather that causes problems for our houses. The heating system stopped to work in the house where we are living in the middle of the week. The headquarters and Riga first corps are also situated in the same building. In the School for Officers training one frozen water pipe broke and the water was flooding into the building.

This week I have been working a lot with planning our Latvian Congress in Riga, June 15-17 this summer. We hope to have many visitors from abroad. Do you plan to come? The languages used during the congress will be English and Latvian. Two Brass Bands from Sweden will join us on their own expenses.  The Brass Bands are from the Temple corps in Stockholm and from Västerås. Information about the Congress will be found in our webpage: www.pestisanasarmija.lv.

Today we will travel down to the corps in Bauska for the Sunday morning service. At the same time our Territorial Commander, Marie Willermark, will lead a "Spiritual Day" at the School for Officers meeting in Riga. And then another week....

I pray that it will be a blessed week for you
Peter Baronwosky


Final Reply to Exchange with Mackan Andersson on homosexuality and the Bible

First and foremost Mackan, you wrote suggesting my response to your last comment reflected certain disrespect. If you see me as disrespectful I apologize. It's certainly not my intention.

As I pointed out earlier, I have the utmost respect for you. But I have no respect for the way in which you interpret the Bible. It is quite impossible to translate a text from one language to another without losing some meanings and adding some new ones. If one reads the Bible with this as the premise, one cannot be certain of anything. There are alternative ways of translating every single verse in the Bible, and there is not a single expression in the Bible that one cannot assert as having a slightly different connotation in the original (foundational) text.

 You write that in many Bible translations when writing about homosexuality it's not at all certain that homosexuality is the intended subject. You write; ‘the word is not in the original text.

It may be a completely accurate proposition. However, the reason that many leading Bible translations, both Swedish and international, stand (hold to the word) on homosexuality, is that the linguists who translated the Bible consider that it is clearly the most reasonable interpretation. And why should one try to find less reasonable interpretations when there are more reasonable alternatives.

In the Swedish Bible 2000 the word homosexuality isn’t found. Instead they have chosen to translate it with the words, "men who ‘sleep’ with other men" (I Corinthians 6:9) and "men laying with men" (I Timothy 1:10). Even if one does not use the word homosexuality, they surely say the same thing but with different words.

I can, of course, be totally wrong, but I get the impression every time I read those bible interpretations that their interpretation stems from (builds) from what they feel the Bible ought to say, and trying to find justification for the position to make the message of the Bible a little more politically correct.

Incidentally, I still have respect for you and wish you every blessing in your important mission to proclaim the Word.

Peter Baronowsky, Lt.

Regional Commander
SA Latvia


Homosexuality and the Bible

I wrote some time ago a comment on Mackan Andersson's post about the Salvation Army and the GLBT issues. My comments have been translated into English by Sven Ljungholm and published as separate comments to Patrick Olterman’s blog series on the same topic at www.fsaof.blogspot.com. Here is my comment:

Mackan subsequently shared a comment relative to my comment. First of all, thank you Mackan for the nature of the tone you use in your comment. I'm don’t feel at all spoiled by being treated respectfully recognizing that my comments are not politically correct.

Here are some brief comments addressed to Mackan. Last time we discussed this issue, you and I, was over an ice cream on a hot summer morning in Almedalsveckan (Christian conference – Almedals Week) quite a few years ago.

We are clearly agreed that a reasonable starting point for biblical interpretation is to read as it is written. I would perhaps say that number two is the question whether the Bible offers up an unambiguous message or if it appears to point in different directions. When the Bible offers up different messages on the same subject one ought to be a bit more careful in maintaining one’s absolute certainty about what the Bible really means. For example, the question of whether a woman ought to speak or not speak in church. Here is the case of a message pointing in different directions. In the New Testament we meet female prophetesses (who are presumably offering up their messages in the church by speaking), while we face restrictions concerning woman's right to speak.

But when it comes to homosexuality, the Bible offers up an unambiguous message in the few passages in which the subject is addressed: Homosexual acts are wrong.

You also mentioned that there are (in fact) so few Bible passages that speak about homosexuality and therefore ‘it’ is incidental (peripheral). Patrik goes even further and shows how many times greed is mentioned and that therefore we ought not worry about homosexuality as it is mentioned (in comparison) so very few times.

If frequency were the cornerstone of our preaching virtually all sermons would be about Jesus' return. There is nothing that is spoken of as much in the New Testament as about Jesus' return. But I rarely hear a sermon preached about Jesus' return. However, I have heard a thing or two about greed from the pulpit. But I do not think I've heard anyone preach against homosexuality.

To my best knowledge there is no lobby group that argues that greed is virtuous. There is no association or fellowship of greedy Christians who want to protect their right to be greedy. If such an organization should be created, you can probably expect a few motions in the debate arguing against the notion that greed is good.

Last and in conclusion Mackan, you sign off your arguments referencing your family where there are different sexual orientations. I have great empathy for the dilemma this creates for you, but biblical interpretation can hardly be steered or directed by whom we know or to who we are related.

With all due respect to you, Mackan, although I strongly dispute your position on the issue.

Peter Baronowsky

TSA News


TSA world wide prayer meeting

Prayer letters and topics
Topics for The Salvation Army World Wide Prayer Meeting

ONE ARMY: We see a God-raised, Spirit-filled Army for the 21st century - convinced of our calling, moving forward together
We will...
deepen our spiritual life
unite in prayer
identify and develop leaders
increase self-support and self-denial

ONE MISSION: Into the world of the hurting, broken, lonely, dispossessed and lost, reaching them in love by all means
We will...
emphasise our integrated ministry
reach and involve youth and children
stand for and serve the marginalised
encourage innovation in mission

ONE MESSAGE: With the transforming message of Jesus, bringing freedom, hope and life
We will...
communicate Christ unashamedly
reaffi rm our belief in transformation
evangelise and disciple eff ectively
provide quality teaching resources


Early Sunday morning in Riga - February 5

Now the cold weather has reached Riga. 29 degrees below zero! It is cold!!

Last Sunday we had a soldiers enrolment at the corps in Iecava. It was many years since that corps enroled soldiers last time. So this Sunday was a great event for the corps.
 Soldiers enrolment in Iecava. Se more pictures here

Most of the past week we have spent on different meetings in Stockholm. Two nights we have spent on the ferry to and from Stockholm.

When we finally got a day in the office on Friday it felt like Monday because it was the first day in the office this week. But now I have adjusted and now I know that it is Sunday today.

Today we will travel to the outpost in Seda for the morning service. After the service and dinner we have invited all soldiers, adherents and other interested people to an "Open Microphone", an informal gathering where we will inform about what is happening in the Salvation Army in Latvia and also to answer questions and have a dialogue with the people in Seda.

On our trip to Seda we will also bring the first year cadets, One of the cadets will be our interpreter into Russian.

I just hope that the car will start early Sunday morning. We will pick up the cadets at the Training School at nine and then we have a two hours drive to Seda.

The Hall in Seda

When we come back to Riga it will be Sunday evening and then a new intensive week will soon start.

Have a blessed week!
Peter Baronowsky


Salvation Army Today

Words of William Booth 3

A new translation of the Bible

William Booth commenting a new translation of the Bible:

If the Revision throws any new light upon the precious volume – the Book of Books – I shall accept it gratefully. Meanwhile…I want to see a new translation of the Bible into the hearts and conduct of living men and women…It is no use making correct translations of words if we cannot get the words translated into life.

From "Words of William Booth" by Cyril Barnes.


Headlines week 5

Marilyn Hickey Shows God’s Healing Power in Pakistan
Charisma News - "Eighty-year-old Marilyn Hickey preached the gospel to hundreds of thousands of people in Karachi, where the lame walked and the blind saw."

Blind See, Deaf Hear at Bonnke Meeting in Africa
Charisma News - "The Holy Spirit has swept across Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, last week.
Evangelists Reinhard Bonnke and Daniel Kolenda wrapped up the fourth night of Christ for All Nations' Gospel Campaign there and are reporting an outpouring.
“The Holy Spirit was poured out on the multitude in a mass baptism of fire! Dramatic signs and wonders accompanied the preaching of gospel,” Kolenda wrote in an update to partners.