Daily devotions

Tuesday

Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

From Wall Street Journal (Eric Metaxas)

The odds of life existing om another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

"...There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.
Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?
Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”
Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

See also the interview in FOX news with Eric Metaxas:

Christmas 2015

A Christmas Greeting


In an old song we sing ”He is coming...”. This is what Advent and Christmas are all about. In the different Bible scriptures of Advent Jesus is coming to us
-  as a small newborn child
-  like a King riding into Jerusalem, worshipped and praised by the crowds
-  as the future King who will once come back

That Jesus will come back is the main theme in the New Testament and Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

While Jesus is preparing heaven for us, our task is to prepare ourselves for heaven.

Jesus left heaven and came to us on earth and it is here and now that we can meet Him.
-  We cannot meet Jesus as he is born as a little child.
-  We cannot meet Jesus as he is riding into Jerusalem.
-  We cannot meet Jesus today as He once will come back.

But, we believe that He is alive and that we can meet him here and now.
He is coming to us in our everyday life and that is where we can receive Him if we have open hearts.


Another year is coming to its end and we thank God for all we have experienced during this year.

We have been travelling a lot throughout the year. Our present ministry is partly to support and coach the new Lieutenants in the Norway, Island and Faroe Island territory. In connection with this, we have also been able to do Bible weekends and series of meetings in many different places; from the Faroe Islands and Island in the West to Vardö/Vatsö/Kirkenes in the East; and from Lyngdal in the South to Vardö/Vatsö/Kirkenes in the North. (Well, these towns are actually both the furthest North and the furthest East in Norway)

We wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015.
Rut and Peter           

 (The picture above is from our balcony an early morning in December)

Thursday

William Booth in Stockholm

Quotes from General William Booth´s speaches to the Swedish Salvation Army Officers during the Congress 1899:

Obviously there were five meetings. The following quotes are from the second meeting, where even Local Officers were invited and the General starts his speech like this:


My dear Comrades! This is a Congress for Staff- and Field Officers. If some of you Local Officers disapprove of the fact that you are not invited to all of the meetings, you should immediately sign up for candidateship! If you say that you are too old, that you are married and that you have settled down, in that case I feel sorry for you that you cannot come, but then we should get your oldest son or daughter instead! However, each Local Officer should regard it as their duty, from this moment on, to become an officer. Either he/she should become a candidate himself or he/she should send someone to replace him. If none of your soldiers can go you must try to get some suitable sinner saved. We must either have you, or someone else as a compensation for you!

After this introduction he is expressing his appreciation for the work of the Local Officers. He is talking about the importance of them using their opportunities to testify about Christ in their everyday life and at work. And then he says:

Our Local Officers have access everywhere (in society) and I wish you would appreciate your opportunities and know your responsibilities. One of the greatest curses that ever came over the Church was the idea that priests and missionaries were more responsible (for the work) than other Christians. Each soldier of Jesus Christ, each Salvation Army soldier is just as responsible as the Commissioners to commit themselves with spirit soul and body, life and all, for the glory of God and bringing salvation to sinners. Local Officers! You have your opportunities! Study them; Give yourselves fully in the hands of God and he will help you turn this country upside down.


Stockholm 2006-05-08

(From Booth, Ädelstenar (Precious Stones), Stockholm 1900)

Monday

Will there be Family Reunions in Heaven? 3/3

From FSAOF blog (fsaof.blogspot.com

Part three  (3/3)


Will there be Family Reunions in Heaven? 


These questions were asked by the Sadducees. They asked if a woman had been married to seven different men, whose wife would she be in the next life.  Jesus’ response was: “When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  The passage ends with an even more baffling statement: “God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living?” What does that mean?  Perhaps the whole thing is a non-answer to the question.  Or if it is an answer, it suggests that the afterlife is very different from the relationships we have in this life.

Paul says about resurrection that there are two kinds of bodies, “a physical and a spiritual body".  One is like a seed the other like a full grown plant.  Think how different the two are from each other. In Romans he assures us that we die into God.  He writes “we do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.  If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”  So, if there is an afterlife, what will it be like?

John Polkinghorne, an Anglican priest and physicist thinks he knows.  In his book the Faith of a Physicist, he writes: “the physical resurrection is a perfectly coherent hope, in which our souls function along the lines of DNA, carrying the unique pattern of each one inside our bodies, and when we die is used by God to create new bodies, in any future world of God’s choosing.”  




What do you think?  I must confess I don’t have a clue.  But I am confident that the One who raised me up in life will raise me up in death.  We die into God.  What more that means, I do not know, but that is all I need to know.




Dr. John Sullivan
Former Officer Canada
Ordained Minister at The United Church of Canada



Studied Homiletics and Liturgics at Claremont School of Theology
Princeton Theological Seminary and University of TorontoClaremont School of TheologyPrinceton Theological Seminary and University of Toronto
Salvation Army Traing College, Toronto

Will there be Family Reunions in Heaven? 2/2

From FSOF blog (fsaof.blogspot.com):

Part TWO 


The early Christians did not believe that there will be family reunions in heaven?. They believed that at the end of time there would be a general resurrection of the dead and people would then be given their reward or punishment; the Kingdom would appear with the Second Coming, and everyone would be brought back to life, to see and experience it.  


But the question remained, what happened to those who died before the end of the age?  Paul believed that when Christ would return “the dead in Christ would rise first, and the bodies of those still living would become immortal”.  This was also the view of John. He claimed that there would be a future resurrection, and that a New Jerusalem would descend from the sky and it would have gates of pearl and streets of gold; and that the saints would live forever here on earth.

When Jesus didn’t come soon, there began a long process of reinterpretation. The teaching of the resurrection of the body got transmuted into a message that judgment comes at the end of one’s life, with one’s soul going to one place or the other.  In short, the notion of the resurrection of the body became transformed into the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul.  Since then, the afterlife has been so central that it has been the primary motive, along with the fear of Hell, for being a Christian.

So what might we think?  Research on near-death experiences suggests that we do enter another realm at death, the tunnel, the bright light, the experience of leaving the body and seeing things from a vantage point outside the body.  Who knows what it all means?  If there is a blessed afterlife, and I am there, will I know that I am me?  

Will there be family reunions? If so, is this good or bad?


PART TWO (2/3)


Dr. John Sullivan
Former Officer Canada

Will there be Family Reunions in Heaven? 1/3

Listen to this article. Powered by Odiogo.com
As you know, Glad's mum has been near death's door these last 13 days and was this afternoon ushered in to be with Jesus and all the heavenly hosts for all that is eternity. Her Promoted to Glory praise and remembrance  celebration will be conducted at the SA hall, Southport, UK where she was a lifelong soldier and active Christ warrior.

A bit of PTG history - 
Non-salvationists are often intrigued by the use of the term 'promoted to Glory'. The Founder was convinced that the custom, then almost universally followed, of wearing black clothing heavily trimmed with somber crepe as a sign of mourning was opposed to the teaching of Christ. He believed that Christ is in deepest sympathy with our sorrows, but that he desires to make these sorrows stepping-stones to greater faith in a loving heavenly Father and deeper submission to his will. 

In all his arrangements for times of bereavement the Founder aimed to show how sadness could be alleviated and death turned into victory. He introduced the cross-and-crown badge to be worn on the left arm by those bereaved. For those who would otherwise have worn 'mourning' dress, this served as a token of abiding affection for the departed but was also a positive declaration of faith and hope. 

Every Salvation Army funeral is regarded as a valuable opportunity for comforting and strengthening the mourners and for urging the unsaved to seek and find salvation. The first simple edge-stonein Abney Park Cemetery which marked the resting-place of 'Catherine Booth, the Mother of The Salvation Army', asked every passer-by, 'Do you also follow Christ?' This was a model in memorial stones, consistent with the highest teaching of The Salvation Army. 

Memorial services were introduced, specifically to challenge the living with the witness of those who had themselves lived victoriously in Christ. The first of these was held on the first anniversary of Catherine Booth's death, in the Agricultural Hall-then one of London's largest buildings. It was impossible for the speakers to be heard in so large a hall, but each part of the service was indicated by large illuminated signs, so that the audience of some 15,000could join in all the songs and prayers. Scenes from Mrs Booth's life and messages both from her writings and from those of the Founder were displayed on a great lantern screen. A similar service was held in connection with the promotion to Glory of the Founder himself.






From FSAOF blog (fsaof.blogspot.com):

PROMOTED TO GLORY


Non-salvationists are often intrigued by the Army's use of the term 'promoted to Glory'. The Founder, William Booth, was convinced that the custom, then almost universally followed, of wearing black clothing heavily trimmed with somber crepe as a sign of mourning was opposed to the teaching of Christ. He believed that Christ is in deepest sympathy with our sorrows, but that he desires to make these sorrows stepping-stones to greater faith in a loving heavenly Father and deeper submission to his will.

In all his arrangements for times of bereavement the Founder aimed to show how sadness could be alleviated and death turned into victory. He introduced the cross-and-crown badge to be worn on the left arm by those bereaved.
For those who would otherwise have worn 'mourning' dress, this served as a token of abiding affection for the departed but was also a positive declaration of faith and hope. 

Every Salvation Army funeral is regarded as a valuable opportunity for comforting and strengthening the mourners and for urging the unsaved to seek and find salvation. The first simple edge-stonein Abney Park Cemetery which marked the resting-place of 'Catherine Booth, the Mother of The Salvation Army', asked every passer-by, 'Do you also follow Christ?' This was a model in memorial stones, consistent with the highest teaching of The Salvation Army. 
Memorial services were introduced, specifically to challenge the living with the witness of those who had themselves lived victoriously in Christ. The first of these was held on the first anniversary of Catherine Booth's death, in the Agricultural Hall-then one of London's largest buildings. It was impossible for the speakers to be heard in so large a hall, but each part of the service was indicated by large illuminated signs, so that the audience of some 15,000 could join in all the songs and prayers. Scenes from Mrs Booth's life and messages both from her writings and from those of the Founder were displayed on a great lantern screen. A similar service was held in connection with the promotion to Glory of the Founder himself.


"Will there be any stars in that crown I receive when I leave my earthly shroud behind?" (Swedish SA Songbook) 


Painting by Swedish artist and family friend Bengt Engman. 

The Salvationist asks that he be allowed to wear his red guernsey as his robes of white are presented in preparation for him to meet Jesus, family and friends.
The original painting hangs in the SA corps hall in the village of Vansbro, Sweden, the home town of the artist and where he was a Junior Soldier.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Former Officer
USA, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova
Birkenhead Corps, UK
_______________________________________

The concept of a bodily resurrection is one of the reasons some people do not become Christians.  In their minds it means that someday all the bodies of people who have ever lived will be reassembled.  For others, it means that what makes one unique will survive. Others believe that the moment one dies, one’s soul is translated into the joys of heaven, or assigned to the pains of hell.  

PART ONE (1/3)
Dr. John Sullivan
Former Officer Canada & Bermuda

Ordained Minister The United Church of Canada   

Studied Homiletics and Liturgics at Claremont School of Theology 
Princeton Theological Seminary
University of Toronto
Salvation Army Training College, Canada

Tuesday

16 Dangers of the 'Positive Christianity' Movement

- John Burton in Charisma News - "False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally
come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step—not a casual one. It's when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn't sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, "How can I benefit from salvation." It has to be, "Is God worthy of my surrendering all I value to Him?" When we truly know Him in His fullness, in His grace and wrath, in His mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, "You, Lord are worthy of my entire life."

Sunday

Bill Maher absolutely crushes Charlie Rose from comparing Islam to Christianity


                                             Listen and watch the discussion Here...

Friday

Prayers can be answered

Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store.
She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries.
She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food.
John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store at once.
Visualizing the family needs, she said: 'Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can.'
John told her he could not give her credit, since she did not have a charge account at his store.
Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocer that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family. The grocer said in a very reluctant voice, 'Do you have a grocery list?'
Louise replied, 'Yes sir.' 'O.K' he said, 'put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries.'
Louise hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it.  She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed.
The eyes of the grocer and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down..
The grocer, staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, 'I can't believe it.'
The customer smiled and the grocer started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more.
The grocer stood there in utter disgust. Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement.
It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer, which said:
'Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands.'
The grocer gave her the groceries that he had gathered and stood in stunned silence.
Louise thanked him and left the store. The other customer handed a hundred-dollar bill to the grocer and said; 'It was worth every penny of it. Only God knows how much a prayer weighs.'

Monday

CNS news best 4 minutes speech ever

CNS News panel asked by an American Muslim why the Western media shows the bad part of the Islam.

Saturday

I’m thinking...

From Jim Knaggs´ blog

I’m thinking of the essentials, not the habits or inconsequentials.


-Raising your children?
-Making your marriage work?
-Purpose of your life?
-Job performance?
-Future plans?
-With these very important matters on the altar, why would you give them less than your best attention, and why would you think that you’re as good as can be? No room for improvement, study, or realignment?

Read More Here...

Friday

'Religion of Peace'?



I have recently received two different mails with these pictures. The senders say these are pictures of Muslims marching through the streeets of London during their recent 'Religion of Peace' demonstration.





Tuesday

Distortions of Christian Leadership 4 (4)

Harold Hill Speaks about Leadership - From FSAOF

"But of course the Wesleyan “experience” in discernment does not mean just anything one happens to have experienced. It is about how the Spirit enables us to reflect upon and utilize our life experience in decision-making – like the Quakers’ Inner Light. Jackie Leach Scully, a Quaker and biomedical ethicist, speaks of “pay[ing] attention to intuition and gut feelings, not holding that they are always right but believing that they can be pointing towards something I’m aware of at some level but overlooking.”[1] Our own experience may also set us up for mistakes. The Talmud allegedly says, “We don’t see the things the way they are. We see things the way WE are.”  Scully goes on to say that she also seeks collective discernment for weightier matters."

Read more Here...

Monday

Distortions of Christian Leadership 3 (4)

From FSAOF blogg

Major Dr Harold Hill, teaching at Wellington Theological Consortium Colloquim. 

"Another contemporary guru is Daniel Goleman, originator of the concept of emotional intelligence, or EQ. His research shows that leaders’ EQ is twice as important as their cognitive skills for the success of commercial enterprises – a scientific measurement befitting the appeal to Reason. According to Goleman, the ingredients of EQ are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.[3] All of these, beginning with that self-awareness or sōphronein enjoined by St Paul  in Romans 12:3, are Christian virtues highly desirable in leadership. Their absence makes more likely the abuse of power and the distortion of Christian leadership."

Read more HERE..

Wednesday

Distortions of Christian Leadership 2 (4)

Major Dr Harold Hill, teaching at Wellington Theological Consortium Colloquim.
From FSAOF blog.

 
"An early Salvationist saint, George Scott Railton, was ambivalent about the establishment of a hierarchy, particularly the appointment of Divisional Officers (creating episcopal oversight) in 1880. After a year he wrote that he’d been wrong and that the “officers and people evidently love and delight in their Majors!”[3] Bramwell Booth had second thoughts. In 1894 he complained that “the [Divisional Officers] are often much more separate from their [Field Officers] than they ought to be. Class and caste grows with the growth of the military idea. Needs watching.”[4] Thirty years later he was still watching, concerned that Divisional and Territorial leaders “are open to special dangers in that they rise and grow powerful and sink into a kind of opulence…”[5]"

Read mor Here...

Monday

Distortions of Christian Leadership Part 1(4)

Major Dr Harold Hill, teaching at Wellington Theological Consortium Colloquim.
From FSAOF blog.

"Firstly, all leadership may be distorted because leadership involves the exercise of power and, as Lord Acton so famously wrote, all power corrupts. And he might have added, even nice people! Power is like steroids taken by an athlete; it may enhance performance in the short term but exacts a long term cost.
So is Christian leadership the same as any other kind of leadership or is there distinctively “Christian” stuff involved? And will there be some particularly Christian flavour to its distortion?
The standard analysis asks who benefits from power and who suffers from it, but I’ll take another tack.  All leadership requires discernment, so I’ll invoke the process for discernment through Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience, known as the “Wesleyan quadrilateral” – Salvationists being Wesleyan. I acknowledge that for Anglicans the fourth element is not Experience but Episcopacy, which for Catholics is inseparable from Tradition anyway, but please bear with me. I’ll use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral simply as a framework upon which to hang some cautionary anecdotes."

Read more HERE...

Sunday

Sacraments

From an article in Former Salvation Army Officers Fellowship by major Harold Hill

The monopoly of the sacramental function became the distinctive mark of the emergence of priesthood in Christianity.  The Christian Mission and, until 1883, the Salvation Army, practised infant baptism and celebrated the Lord’s Supper, and it is apparent that officials of the mission led these rites. The discontinuance of the practice could also have implications for the “clerical” role of officers. Booth’s explanation in The War Cry simply said that (1) sacraments were not essential for salvation; (2) that if he insisted on having them there would be “grave dissensions” within the Army; (3) that the Army was not a church; and (4) that the question could be left until we shall have more light on the subject. 
Harold Hill
(5) In the meanwhile Salvationists were free to take the sacrament at other churches, and (6) should feed on Jesus continually and ensure they had been baptised with the Holy Ghost. (7) Finally, having warned against dependence upon mere forms, he announced a form of service for the dedication of children.[12] Additional reasons subsequently offered, in addition to the dangers of formalism and contentious Biblical hermeneutic, have included the danger of strong drink to people converted from drunkenness, avoidance of controversial subjects, resistance to women administering the sacraments, the avoidance of anything smacking of a separate priesthood and the value of a distinctive non-sacramental witness.

David Rightmire’s study goes behind these presenting arguments and places the Army’s early theology in the context of Victorian society, the Wesleyan revival and the nineteenth century holiness movement. He makes the point that by the mid-19th century Wesleyanism had lost touch with its founder’s sacramental theology, maintaining the forms but subordinating other means of grace to the Word. The American holiness revival teaching of Caughey, Finney and Phoebe Palmer, already mentioned, also “emphasised a pneumatological ecclesiology that needed little continuity with historical institutions.” Rightmire’s argument is that once the Booths’ “Holiness” or “Second Blessing” theology was fully developed, it provided a spiritualised substitute for sacramental theology.[13]

It is interesting to compare the course of The Salvation Army’s relationship with the Church of England with that of its Wesleyan original. Methodism grew out of the established Church and the question was whether it could be contained.  Salvationism was an independent entity and would have had to be grafted on to the Anglican stock – a more difficult exercise.  With Methodism, the preachers, who had not hitherto been permitted to officiate at the sacraments, assumed this role. Salvation Army evangelists and officers, who had enjoyed this privilege, relinquished it.

The history of the Salvation Army also illustrates the maxim that if the sacraments did not exist it would be necessary to invent them, to adapt Voltaire. Forms and ceremonies have been substituted. The Directory or catechism for children in 1900 set out “The Army’s Five Ordinances” as (1) The Dedication of Children, (2) The Mercy Seat,[14] (3) Enrolment under the Army Flag, (4)  Commissioning of Officers and (5) Marriage according to Army rules.”[15] To these might be added the uniform (surely “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”, as well as the nearest the Army comes to a medium for excommunication), and the recent practice of “installing” officers in certain commands.

All of this also indicates that although sacramental observances are usually taken as the initial catalyst for the process of clericalisation in the Church, the Army’s clericalisation gathered momentum after their abandonment (apart from the substitute sacraments described above), suggesting that clericalisation is a sociological process independent of a theological base.

Tuesday

What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church

Kenda Creasy Dean in Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telliing the American Church (2010):

"The problem does not seem to be that churches are teaching young people badly, but that we are doing an exceedingly good job of teaching youth what we really believe; namely, that Christianity is not a big deal, that God requires little, and the church is a helpful social institution filled with nice people focused primarily on ”folks like us” – which, of course, begs the question of whether we are really the church at all.

What if the blasé religiosity of most American teenagers is not the result of poor communication but the result of excellent communication of a watered-down gospel so devoid of God’s self-giving love in Jesus Christ, so immune to the sending love of the Holy Spirit that it might not be Christianity at all?

What if the church models a way of life that asks, not passionate surrender but ho-hum assent? What if we are preaching moral affirmation, a feel-better faith, and a hands-off God instead of the decisively involved, impossibly loving, radically sending God of Abraham and Mary, who desired us enough to enter creation in Jesus Christ and whose Spirit is active in the church and in the world today." (p. 12)

Monday

Media War: Where Are All the Hamas Fighters?

- CBN News - "In all of the disturbing and emotional images coming out of the Gaza fighting, one major issue that no major media outlet asks about is missing: Where are those fighting for Hamas?
For more than a month, Israel's efforts to stop Gaza rocket fire and destroy Hamas tunnels has made headlines and led newscasts around the world.
Two images dominate the war between Israel and Hamas. One side is Israel's military actions, like airstrikes, artillery, and ground troops. On the other side, video of Palestinians suffering, wounded, or killed in those military actions.
But according to CBN News Senior International Correspondent George Thomas, the Hamas fighters are noticeably absent."