The Founder on 'former' Salvation Army officers -

The Founder on 'former' Salvation Army officers -

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CONTAGIOUS JOY

I don't think I've ever done this before. While reading Will You Choose Joy?, by Normajean Honsberger, I caught myself smiling. Repeatedly. Actually, almost constantly.

Now, this may be because I knew and loved the author, before her body succumbed to cancer at the age of forty. She was a delightful, humble, beautiful, loving servant of God. But I think, even if I had not known Normajean (and her husband Al, who also died of cancer, five years before her), I still would have smiled through much of the book.

This is because Will You Choose Joy? is as delightful as its author. Its subtitle, "Reflections on Philippians," hardly does it justice. It is a thorough and tremendously insightful exposition of Paul's letter to the first-century church at Philippi, in which his theme was joy. And it is also a reflection on the topic of joy, an instruction manual on living a joyful lifestyle. But it is even more than that. It is a depiction of joy, a powerful testimony to the reality of a joy that not only survives sorrow and pain, but is actually nourished and strengthened by such difficulties. And it is a vehicle of joy, as I'm confident that any reader will, like me, inhale the joy this book not only encourages, but exudes.

Will You Choose Joy? retails for $14.95 (ISBN 978-0-89216-115-7) but is available for $9.99 from The Salvation Army. The book can be ordered by calling toll free (888) 488–4882 or via e–mail at use.trade@use.salvationarmy.org. It should also be available soon in stores, and online via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Bob Hostetler
Former
NHQ USA

84 comments:

Sven Ljungholm said...

Both Al and Normajean were officer colleagues, fellow bandsmen and dear friends. If ever Saints were taken 'home' too early, they were; perhaps God saw them as we did, a 'couple' and thought, even though only in their 40s, they ought to continue side by side...

Bob Deidrick said...

Al and Normajean were in the session ahead of us while we were at training at Suffern, New York.
They both set good examples and were helpful to my wife and I when we needed advice.When I think of them , I think of joy. You could not keep a sad face around them and their laughter was contagious.

I look forward to thanking them again when I see them in eternity.

Bob Deidrick , former

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to the book's arrival at SP&S. Sounds like it can be used for a series of messages on joy !

Active
USA

Anonymous said...

BSt About Death and Heaven

I came across a review of a recently published book that was written by an author who died some time ago. Since I haven’t read the book, I can’t comment on it. What really caught my interest, and is the subject of this post, is the first comment that was left in the comment thread:

Both Al and Normajean were officer colleagues, fellow bandsmen and dear friends. If ever Saints were taken ‘home’ too early, they were; perhaps God saw them as we did, a ‘couple’ and thought, even though only in their 40s, they ought to continue side by side….

What utter BS! The only thing this commenter wrote that I agree with is that Al and Normajean died far too young.

“Perhaps God saw them as we did, a ‘couple’…” That’s insulting to both of them. They were complete people in their own rights, not just X or Y’s “significant other.” Moreover, I was always taught that God saw people as individuals: each of us individually must stand before God’s Throne of Judgment, etc. So, which is it? Am I an individual in God’s eyes, or just the deacon’s significant other?

This leads to the second annoying idea, which is, “they ought to continue side by side…” This contradicts Jesus’ alleged teaching that “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” So, which is it? Is there marriage in heaven? Or, is this statement the result of someone trying to make sense of two tragic deaths? This question brings me to my last thought.

There is no good reason to believe that Al and Normajean were saints who were ‘taken home’ too early. There is no evidence that there is any god at all, let alone the Christian Bible-god, let alone a heaven in which God, Jesus, Al and Normajean are all enjoying “happily ever after” while the rest of us await our turns to do the same. It’s a nice thought, but nothing more than that.

I honestly don’t mean to be callous – I hope I’m not being so – but I can’t see anything more than pathetic wishful thinking throughout this person’s comment. Two people died too young and someone wants to make sense of it. Since this person’s comment contradicts at least two points of traditional Christian teaching (individual identity and responsibility before God, and no marriage in heaven), it looks as if, contrary to what Christians often say about the consolations of religion, this person’s theology fell far short of providing either consolation or a satisfactory rationale for these deaths. In the absence of both of those things that he expected from his religion, and in the apparent absence of willingness to probe those shortcomings and their possible implications, this comment writer resorted to what must have seemed like the next best thing – he made up s.... Oh, it’s a nice story, very appealing – Al and Normajan together in heaven, just as they were on earth. But, it’s not congruent with either the empirical evidence available to us thus far, nor with the traditional teachings of his religion. In short, it’s all BS. BS masked with a nice sentimental scent, but BS nonetheless.

– the chaplain

Anonymous said...

Chaplain- with respect, I didn't read anywhere in the post to which you refer that Sven suggests that Al and NJ will be married, only that they will be together. However, perhaps they'll be married; you ought not argue from the Bible's silence nor Sven's..

To be clear, Jesus' remarks were addressed to a people who didn't believe in an after-life, and who asked the question mockingly... His response can, in general, be used to pain many who share bits and pieces of scripture, and then simply shoot from the him- or as in your case BS.

Mark 12:18-24
Now at this point a couple of things are helpful to know. 1) Jesus was being asked this question in a common rabbinic way meant to bring out the absurdity of the position of one's opponent. 2) The question is referring to the practice in the Ancient Near East known as "levirate marriage", and discussed in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Levirate marriage was the practice whereby if a man died without having produced a family heir, his brother was expected to try to impregnate his widow in order to provide her with an heir and continue the family line and inheritance. 3) The question is not about life immediately after death. Rather, it is about life after the Resurrection--what N.T. Wright has dubbed "life AFTER life after death."

Some have taken Jesus words to mean that when people die they become angels (this is behind the pop notion of people "getting their wings", having halos, etc.). But Jesus doesn't say that at all. What He says is with respect to "marrying" and "being given in marriage", people will be LIKE the angels. But what does this mean? New Testament scholar Ben Witherington puts it this way:

Jesus stresses that in the age to come people will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Notice what Jesus does not say. He does not say there will be no marriage in the age to come. The use of the terms "γαμουσιν" (gamousin) and "γαμιζονται" (gamizontai) is important, for these terms refer to the gender-specific roles played in early Jewish society by the man and the woman in the process of getting married. The men, being the initiators of the process in such a strongly patriarchal culture, “marry,” while the women are “given in marriage” by their father or another older family member. Thus Mark has Jesus saying that no new marriages will be initiated in the eschatological [resurrection] state. This is surely not the same as claiming that all existing marriages will disappear in the eschatological state. Jesus, then, would seem to be arguing against a specific view held by the Sadducees about the continuity between this life and the life to come, a view involving the ongoing practice of levirate marriage. In the eschatological state we have resurrected beings who are no longer able to die. Levirate marriage existed precisely because of the reality of death. When death ceases to happen, the rationale for levirate marriage falls to the ground as well.

When Jesus says...that people will be like the angels in heaven in the life to come, he does not mean they will live a sexless identity (early Jews did not think angels were sexless in any case; cf. Gen. 6:1–4!), but rather that they will be like angels in that they are unable to die. Thus the question of the Sadducees is inappropriate to the conditions of the eschatological state...In Mark 10 Jesus grounded normal marriage in the creation order, not in the order of the fall, which is the case with levirate marriage (instituted because of death and childlessness and the need to preserve the family name and line). Thus Jesus is intending to deny about the eschatological state “that there will be any natural relation out of which the difficulty of the Sadducees could arise.”

Former officer
UK

Sven Ljungholm said...

I received a private message suggesting it be made clear to non-army blog visitors why I used the term 'couple', rather than referring to two unique servants of the Gospel; Al and Normajean. I believe those persons familiar with the army and our traditions in ministry would agree that it's quite common to 'connect' individuals as a servant couple. No doubt our 145 tradition of appointing individuals (clergy) married to each other to the same function and responsibility does much to lessen the uniqueness of each officer's profile.

The policy relating to SA officer (clergy) marriage is almost as old as the army itself, and it is still practice and policy, except in a very few of the 115 countries where we serve, that officer marry officer, thereby fostering the singular focus of officer couples, each with the same calling to ministry and working together for the same purpose, 'directly contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of service'.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Exeter UK

Bob Deidrick said...

I have read some comments on the Apostates
Chapel. I probably was wasting my time. I feel I probably will be called a fool because I left some comments and asked questions. I think some here would agree that they have been fools for Jesus as is described in the Bible. Some of the comments were ( In my humble opinion )a little too much and caused some nausea. Look out for mockery and sarcasm that is beyond compare at times. I was amazed at some that had faith for years and then lost it. "Interesting" to say the least and the thought of many more comments.

I do have fond memories of our friends Al and Normajean and faith that was evident in their lives and in their walk into eternity.

What a stirring this will bring to your soul when you know what you know and people by their very statements and confession cut off the very way to salvation and the love of the Savior.
I hope that there may be a change of heart with some. While there is breath there is hope. I trust my soul to Jesus until my last breath.

RJD Eastern Territory-former officer

Deborah said...

What began as a sweet and heartfelt tribute to deceased friends and colleagues sure did get the wind knocked from those sails. In spite of that, thank you Bob for remembering and sharing the JOY. As you always do.

Anonymous said...

Chaplain ? What's missing in his/her comment?

"Chaplains are ministers who perform pastoral tasks in specialized settings. They must love people and be capable of providing specialized ministry in a wide variety of settings, often with non-traditional methods within religiously pluralistic environments." (Methodist Church; USA)

OK, got it- not really a Chaplain !

Ret. Chaplain USAF

lynelljohnson said...

This is from the editor (Linda Johnson) of the editor (Lois Rader). All the argument about Normajean and Al and whether they are together in heaven misses the point! This book is about joy that is possible in the here and now, for all of us. Normajean makes that case in the midst of great suffering and grief--and makes it convincingly. I urge all of you to buy a copy of the book to see what I mean. Blessings to all of you.

Anonymous said...

What is the editor of the editor? And from which journal ór book ?

A response to the rude BS comments is hardly nmissing bthe point ! Thank you both for making clear The SA's position.

Active
UKT

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