Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh dear! I'm in the Daily Mail


Posted by Chick at 06:08 PM on September 27, 2009

I was intending to tell you about my retreat in Madrid. It certainly was an interesting time. Three things stand out: we had hours of great theological conversation sat in street cafes drinking coffee in brilliant sunshine we did the tour of the Bernabeu Stadium - home of Real Madrid - and even got to sit in the home team dug-out we got thrown out of a monastery when my mobile went off! But I'll have to return to that later, because something very surprising has happened. I've got a mention in the Daily Mail! (For those readers who are not familiar with English tabloid newspapers, the Daily Mail is - well, it's the Daily Mail. It's pretty far to the right of centre, it's not the most reliable source of news in the UK, and if you're ever seen with a copy you lose a lot of credibility with a lot of your friends!)

Quentin Lett's political column in the issue of the paper for 26th September, '09 has picked up on the fact that I've been invited to be the speaker at the service to mark the opening of the Conservative Party Conference which is due to be held in Manchester next week. The headline for the article gives a fair idea of the standard of penetrating journalism that follows:

Holy moly, the Tories have gone all happy-clappy

The happy-clappy thing is bad enough in itself. But the article gets worse. The bit that refers to me reads as follows:

The preacher will be a shavenheaded, ex-Salvation Army stalwart, Chick Yuill (his books include And God Created Sex).

As everyone who knows me is aware, I've long since lost my hair, and what's left I keep fairly short. But to describe me as 'shaven-headed' makes me sound like some kind of skinhead! He probably thinks I'm a soccer hooligan. And the reference to the fact that I've written 'And God Created Sex...' says everything about the kind of stories in which this newspaper delights.

But the bit that really annoyed me was the reference to Hannah Atkins, an intelligent and gifted young musician and social activist, who is taking part in the service: Worshippers will be helped towards prayer by a 'social justice artist' called Hannah Atkins. Blonde cutie Hannah specialises in folktronica music, 'achingly simple and never easy to describe'

I'm tempted to ask when this sad man last visited planet earth! What kind of journalist writes sexist garbage like that and what kind of responsible newspaper would publish an article that describes a woman as a 'blonde cutie'? The bit about me makes me laugh. The bit about Hannah is just downright insulting and makes me plain mad.

(If you want to check out the whole article just Google Daily Mail Chick Yuill)

But here's the point of telling you this. The article says so much about how some people view the Christian Church. So I'd value your prayers that at the service I will speak courteously but courageously about the responsbility of the church in a democracy and about the relationship between the gospel and politics.

I'll let you know what happens.

And, as always - if you have been, thanks for reading this.

Chick Yuill

Monday, September 28, 2009

ON SAYING FAREWELL...

The ritual of saying good-bye to someone we love, generally known as a funeral, has once again caught our public attention as Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was mourned and buried. I was in elementary school when his brother John was assassinated, and I remember through the eyes of a child the days of shock and grief sweeping across our country. The continuous news coverage filled all of the channels on the television, and we watched the pomp and ceremony as a nation bid farewell to her president.

Those of us who remember JFK’s funeral procession as well as the subsequent deaths of Martin Luther King Junior and Robert F. Kennedy couldn’t help but think of those days as Teddy’s flag-draped casket peeked out of the rear window of the hearse as it made its way through the neighborhoods of Boston and on to Washington, D.C. Public leaders such as Kennedy belong to the people of America in both life and in death, as apparent by the hundreds of people who stood for so long to say their own farewells.

I told myself that I was watching the coverage of the funeral procession out of respect to Senator Kennedy and his place in our nation’s history. Yet as the family began to gather at the gravesite, I wondered if we should be willing to give these grieving people a private moment to make their final good-bye to husband, father, and patriarch.

While the media plan was to cover the internment to the final playing of Taps, a glitch of sorts occurred that gave an ironic twist to the night. The plan had been to arrive at Arlington about 5:30 p.m., but the procession was running late, so late that the sun was setting as the graveside service began. By the time the priest intoned the familiar words, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the television screen focused on the flickering of the perpetual flame, as the cameras couldn’t pick up any other image in the dark. Perhaps unbeknownst to the family, the little ones were able to express their final good-bye to grandpa without the invading eyes of the nation.

This absence of light at the end of a sorrowful day reminded me of an idea that Joan Chittister poses in her spiritual memoir, Called to Question. She suggests that life made more sense before the invention of the lightbulb. “Without lightbulbs there were only so many things you could do in a day and for only so much time. When night came . . . you had to stop, take stock, sit in front of the fire, or sleep until the light returned.”

Oh. There was a time, even in my lifetime, when the natural rhythms of life as defined by the sun and moon regulated our day, whether on the farm or in the suburb. There also was a time, not so long ago, when the natural rhythms of life and death allowed for a sense of privacy both in the joy of birth and in the anguish of bereavement. While there were funerals and the accompanying culturally-defined wake, they were for family and friends, not the curious spectator intruding during a time of great sorrow.

Times have changed, and our claims upon those in show business, professional sports or politics have stripped away a level of privacy and consideration that all people are owed in times of overwhelming sorrow. How I wished that Michael Jackson’s children had been able to say good-bye to their father out of the public glare of the camera. Can it be possible that even in this world of mega-information, there are simply some things that are none of my (our) business?
Perhaps it was fitting that the shadows of dusk finally gave the Kennedy family the cover of privacy that they had relinquished so many years ago. Finally, in that darkening evening, there was an overdue moment of covering for Jackie, Caroline and John-John, for Coretta Scott King, and for every mother, famous or not, whose grief has been exploited by the flash of a camera. May you and those you love rest in peace.

JoAnn Shade

Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has contributed to this blog since its inception.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Learning to Lead ?

Maybe I'm learning to lead.

Maybe not.

In recent weeks, God has been teaching me things I thought I knew. But guess I didn't. He's been impressing (sometimes impaling) me with his truth about what it means to lead the flock of God. It's a demanding role, but even more so because to lead in the church means servanthood. The last shall be first. Yeah, yeah, everybody knows that. I certainly thought I did. But God has lately been demanding a new level (depth?) of servanthood from me. He has been teaching me that:

the leader must be first to humble himself (or herself);
the leader must be first to empty himself (or herself);
the first to swallow his pride,
the first to admit wrong,
the first to confess,
the first to surrender his rights,
the first to let go of the need to be right,
the first to wash feet,
the first to forgive,
the first to take the log out of his own eye,
the first to initiate,
the first to be poured out,
the first to suffer,
the first to be crucified,
the first to lay down his life for the sheep.

Of course, in none of these areas are we ever actually FIRST. Jesus was first. First in loving us. First in serving. First in all of it.

It's fairly easy to be humble when you might be praised for it (oh, don't worry, I get the irony). But it's hard to humble yourself with little or no expectation of reciprocity from others. But that's what the Christ-ian leader is called to. It's what I am called to. If you're a pastor, it's what you are called to.



Bob Hostetler
Former USA NHQ

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Latvia Update

Latvia's people need your help...

On several fronts in the 'western' world one sees signs that we are on our way out of the economic crises. But, not in Latvia. Unemployment grows daily, schools and hospitals close on the grounds that there is no more money available.

In many of our corps they've had to double their efforts in providing meals, even though the government fiscal support of Salvation Army has been sharply curtailed. One fears what the winter will bring.
However, it's not a hopeless situation. Many have been in touch with us asking how they might help. And all can assist in helping us; even small gifts provides great help.

The Salvation Army operates 17 different programs in Latvia; corps, social work institutions and childrens homes.The Commanding Officers of the Riga II (in photo on right), Russian speaking Corps, Captains Andrej & Rina Konovalov (left).

In the preceding article you'll find a description of the project the FSAOF has committed to support fully.

Bank account information:

R/O Pestisanas armija
Bruninieku 10a, LV-1001, Riga
Office phone: +371 67310037
Reg. Nr.90000158170

Account: LV31NDEA0000080011705
Bank code: NDEALV2X

Lts. Rut och Peter Baronowsky, Regional Commanders

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

HUNGER COMES IN MANY FORMS...

Glad and I visited The SA Commanders in Riga, Latvia last week, long time SA colleagues and recently commissioned Lieutenants (at age 55+), Peter and Rut Baronowsky.

Our hosts drove us through Latvia's capital city, Riga. It's a city of stark contrasts; soaring contemporary architecture mixed with a charming old town, and block after block of Stalin era apartment buildings still hiding the reality of poverty and ethnic tensions between Latvians and their former captors, the Russians, thousands of them born in Latvia and knowing no other home. Our all-too-brief visit opened our eyes and hearts to a number of immediate needs.

Lieutenants Peter and Rut Baronowsky, Latvia Regional Commanders, are seen together here with the Commanding Officers of the Riga II, Russian speaking Corps, Captains Andrej & Rina Konovalov. Showers, food and clothing are provided free to all nearby residents and the homeless (see in background - newly constructed shower, washer/dryer buildings on left).

Six soldiers were recently enrolled with more recruits soon to join the ranks. "The two Cadets currently in training, and two of next year's accepted Candidates, came from Riga's homeless population. Having served in very similar circumstances in Russia and Ukraine I recognized many programs / projects needing immediate and urgent support. Following several hours of fact sharing by them I learned of a need to which we immediately sensed the Spirit leading us to commit personal resources and possibly those represented by those in our fellowship, the FSAOF. Here’s a portion of what they shared with us in a recent e-mail…

“A new Sunday morning in Riga, Latvia. The autumn’s arrival is evident; darkness comes earlier as we near summer’s end. The sun no longer brings the same warmth… we will soon embark on our first winter as Regional Commanders in one of Europe’s poorest and coldest countries.

Many of our soldiers, and most of our clients, live in circumstances where water, heat, electricity and toilet facilities are non-functioning or non-existent. We visited among others, the corps' leaders in Liepa, a small town near Skangal, an estate which was given to the Army by the family of the late Prime Minister of Sweden, Olav Palme. The social work of the Liepa Corps includes a 'soup kitchen' and clothing distribution. The Corps feeds 80 persons twice weekly. Asked who feeds them on the remaining days of the week - the Corps leaders responded with some amazement at our naivety, 'there are no others helping them at all; The SA is their salvation '! There is no organized sponsorship in this part of Latvia aside from ours'. Swedish Officers and volunteers began working here just a few years ago. At our SA property Skangal, once a headquarters for the Russian army, the buildings have been restored and converted into a modern residential school and home for 20 deprived children. The farmland is once again yielding a good harvest, some of which is sold and some of which is used at Army centers in other parts of the country. The renovated property also serves as a camp / conference center. All SA work is supported from abroad and rarely sufficient, with word from THQ in Sweden that financial support will soon be further reduced. "
--------------------------------
THE FSAOF's role

Near Skangal lies the village of Sarkani, consisting of two apartment buildings. where, during Soviet occupation years, the military lived there. Today the buildings are abandoned and most apartments lack water, plumbing and electricity. It's in this environment that many families end up. No one would willingly seek to live in such depressing circumstance; they have no other choice. In Sarkani there are no shops and no food to purchase. The only thing available to buy is when a man in one of the apartments sells alcohol. Many of the adults (parents) are alcoholics and children are left to fend for themselves. Included in the number of children are 18 school age children.

The SA provides programs several times a week for both children and adults. In the summer of 2009 the children spent their holiday at the Army's childrens camp at Skangal; "we think we've arrived in heaven", was the immediate comment on arrival. The rapid changes that many developing countries experience can affect children more than most, as they have virtually no means to effect positively on their circumstances. Children need security, care and education in order to develop and be able to make use of their natural abilities. Unfortunately, all too many children live in dreadful poverty in Latvia and in reprehensible conditions.


We all receive many solicitations asking us to become sponsors of this sponsored charity for children or that, many of them affiliated with Christian groups, and no doubt doing admirable work. However, we don't always have or make the time necessary to examine closely the effectiveness of their work, both as it relates to the distribution of resources and the practical needs actually being met.

The FSAOF feeding program will be officially coordinated by The SA with oversight by the locally appointed officers. The project will be the sole (soul) responsibility of the FSAOF, meaning that the quality of the education and physical well being of the school children will have a direct correlation to our giving and God's blessings. In addition the children are fed spiritually in a weekly Sunday School and through after-school activities.

A recent unannounced visit to Sarkani on the Officers’ free day found them not spending quality private time, but instead providing quality time with the children of the village playing in the fresh air and sharing Bible stories followed by a nourishing snack - feeding indeed! Here is an opportunity for us to contribute directly to a project that we know in our hearts, from experience, provides solid, admirable work, with no hidden or added overheads. All monies donated will be earmarked specifically for the SA work in Sarkani and will be distributed and accounted for directly by the Regional Commanders, Latvia.

In brief, the project seeks to support school lunches for 18 children who currently attend school, but are not provided any lunch, and often no breakfast. Instead they sit and watch other children eat – are children of alcoholics and rarely have meals provided even at home - meals come in the form of leftovers found in garbage bags / cans.

In order to ensure the immediate effectiveness of this project, donations are being processed. Our current funds allow us to provide meals for up to 20 weeks. We need an additional $4000.00 to cover all costs through the spring of 2010. All donations are welcome and will be acknowledged. No donations are insignificant and all are gratefully received. AN ANNOUNCEMENT DETAILING WHERE AND TO WHOM THE CHECKS ARE TO BE MADE OUT WILL FOLLOW SHORTLY.

Some of you have asked what else can be done to assist. How about FSAOF PROJECT 2010? We are researching the possibility of a FSAOF mission trip project during the summer of 2010. To date we have no set itinerary / duration or project in mind. However, we expect it might include re-furbishing / painting SA property, camp / retreat work and leadership seminars. To that end please share in a private e-mail to me at selmoscow@aol.com your interest, possible availability, and those areas where you believe you might be most effective. It is expected that any participation will largely be at your own expense; details will follow.

You can read about the many activities at the Latvian SA's website in Latvian, Russian or English.   Bank account information: R/O Pestisanas armija Bruninieku 10a, LV-1001, Riga Office phone: +371 67310037 Reg. Nr.90000158170 Account LV31NDEA0000080011705 Bank code: NDEALV2X

Grace, Major Glad and Dr. Sven Ljungholm
Active and Former serving in the Exeter Temple Corps, UKT

Monday, September 21, 2009

PRECIOUS LORD, TAKE MY HAND...


Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, I had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back.

I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.
The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with asp; Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED.

People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home.

All I could hear on the other end was 'Nettie is dead, Nettie is dead.'

When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that same night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart.

For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve Him anymore or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well. But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis . Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died.
From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him. But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially one friend. The following Saturday evening he took me up to Madame Malone's Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows.

I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys. Something happened to me then. I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, once into my head they just seemed to fall into place: "Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home."

The Lord gave me these words and melody, He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power.

And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.
-Tommy A. Dorsey-

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was a black gospel songwriter. He had been a blues band leader until after he became a Christian. This story has long been circulated incorrectly as a tribute to Tommy Dorsey, the swing band leader of the same time period. He was also the writer of "Peace in the Valley" along with many other gospel songs.

What a wonderful story of how God CAN heal the brokenhearted!
Beautiful, isn't it? I thought so anyway.

Phillippian Jailer blog...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harry Potter, Hogwarts and The Salvation Army -Part Two-

I have just re read Robert Johnson’s brief treatise on Your Shadow Self’. Coming from Jungian philosophy he outlines that each of us has a ‘better self’ and a ‘shadow self’, and within us all is the constant battle between good and evil. Now in conservative Christian theology we tend to focus on all of us being really ‘good’ people ‘in whom there is no guile’, but an alternative is that within us all is the shadow trying to take over and the good needing an external focus, be it morals, faith or whatever, to overcome and be a really ‘nice person’. Like being a student at Hogwarts where there is such a focus on the combat with the ‘Dark Forces’, and let’s face we have all been in a situation at the training college where little education was given about how to combat the dark forces that we might encounter in our leadership years within the Army. Many of my memories of training college life are a little bit hazy but there was nothing of an educational nature that addressed my shadow side. It was almost a conspiracy of ‘if we ignore it; it will go away’, or if we train you to be the total goody, goody then you will be protected by some ‘magical power’.

Johnson and Jung of course, make the argument that there are a lot of good things that come from our 'shadow side'. Creativity is one and the argument is that in some faith traditions that just being ‘right’ or ‘good’ has stifled discussion and argument to a degree that its expression of its faith is no different now than when it was formed hundreds of years previously; and then there are faith, and non-faith groups, that have changed to reflect the world they live in. Maintained their standards and moral fibre but have put it into a new context. Now this shadow side that we all have, and if you assert that you haven’t got one, it could be said that it is beginning to take over, will often be something that we can spend a lot of spiritual and emotional energy to combat and try and eradicate, when it might be a better use of that energy to simply acknowledge it as something we can keep under control because we know it is there. If we fail to acknowledge that shadow side, then in times of stress, it can express itself in a very powerful way that can be very damaging to us and those around us. Someone once said that “we always attack in others what we subconsciously recognise as our own weakness”, and when we look at the way in the church and the army, the amount of energy that goes into addressing sin in other people it makes me want to ask why?

What is possibly a need for the times is to focus on recognising our own shadow instead of focusing on other people’s shadow. This does not mean that we need to do bad things but simply to acknowledge it in some symbolic manner and thus not allow it to become the focus of our living and relations with other people in our lives and communities.

At Hogwarts they focus on all sorts of dark expressions of the self and there are magical potions and spells to combat the ‘Dark Forces that would like to destroy us’; but we are not at Hogwarts and we do not have Harry Potter to champion our cause. But there may be a way to include in the TC curriculum some more practical issues about how we, as leaders within our respective communities of faith, can be aware and ready for the times when those dark forces unite to do us in, without us even recognising them. May be there is a need for an abridged book of spells and potions to simply make us aware of the times when these dark forces might be around us. Although I fancy seeing Sven dressed up in the outfit of ‘Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore’ Headmaster of the new Salvation Army Hogwarts Training College.

Fletch
Peter Fletcher
Former
Australia

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harry Potter, Hogwarts and The Salvation Army -Part One-

(This will possibly be meaningless to many people because I realise that there are those within our number who may not be in the front of the queue to see the latest Harry Potter movie, or even relish the thought that there might be a connection. Some may smile, some will want to send me scriptural quotations to correct my wayward thoughts and there may be some who want to punch the air and say YES! in bold capital letters. Please restrain yourself and if you are offended, or likely to be, give this a miss and wait for the next post.)

In the Salvation Army we have a very rich and colourful history; who we are today is made up of all the things that we have been involved in and done in the past. No one could argue that it has not been an interesting journey and although some would argue that it has not been a perfect journey it has been an interesting one and it is a long way from reaching its destination. There was the Salvation Navy and the stories around that when its only boat became grounded because there were too many people on board; the stories from The Old Corps by Edward Joy; the start of the Army in so many countries really makes exciting reading and we rarely give credence to the bravery of effort and even naivety that was involved. There are so many others, mythical and real all recorded in our annals; we are what all the years have made us. It would be a very jaundiced person to say that it was not interesting and the result of an unseen guiding hand.

Yes! The Salvation Army has a rich History.

Hogwarts, the school that the mythical (but very real to many people) Harry Potter attended school could have been based on The Salvation Army. It is almost like an intensified version of Edward Joys ‘The Old Corps’. It’s been around a long time and has all sorts of traditions and there are the various characters that make it what it is. I have to confess; I am a fan. A few years ago I had cause to see all the HP movies that had been made to that time; I also read quite a few of the books that have been written about the HP phenomenon. Did you know that there are books written about all the spells used; and the game of Quidditch reads like a history of major league baseball? There is all the detail about things that happen behind the scenes and even the relationships between the various characters that are always a part of organisational life in an organisation of this kind. The gatherings in the Great Hall always seem to me to be reminiscent of Spiritual days in the Training College. Strange I know but I do have a vivid imagination and with age it’s getting more vivid.
Yes! Hogwarts School of Magic also has a rich History.

But is that where it ends?

An organisation is not an organisation without its rich cast of characters. If you are so inclined have a look at Hogwarts characters on Wikipedia; there are literally hundreds of characters all woven in to this magnificently crafted tale and it would do us benefit to actually see what they can teach us. Of course there are the main characters, Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron; and the Hogwarts Houses; Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytheryn, all with wonderful histories and traditions and the professors and teachers at this college, like Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore – ‘Headmaster’, Minerva McGonnal – ‘Headmistress’, Rubeus Hagrid – ‘Keeper of the Keys and the Grounds’, Alastor ‘Mad eye’ Moody – ‘Defence against the Dark Arts Professor’, and Severis Snape – ‘Head of Slytherin House’, and so many others. I have in my thinking people who match up with many of these characters from my own experience of life and I guess that you do also. Did you really have an elderly Brigadier in College who could have had the title ‘Defence against the Dark Arts’? In my TC we did actually have a Keeper of the Keys, however there was a rogue key to the side gate (men’s side of course) that was handed down from the holder when the Cadet was commissioned. There was even a little ceremony before we all left to go to commissioning; I was the recipient one year and the ‘passer-on’ was commissioned as the new Lieut on the TC Staff and he did become the subject of the Dark Arts for me throughout the next year. Let’s not get too carried away with all this but I am sure there are similarities with all our combined experiences as we compare the TC and Hogwarts.

Are you still with me?

Hogwarts, in fantasy and The Salvation Army in reality is made up of characters from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of skills and abilities and give all sorts of impressions to those that look on from the outside. It is not unknown in the whole narrative of Harry Potter that we are almost encouraged to contrast the ‘good’ Harry against the ‘bad’ characters that give us its totally absorbing and engaging sense of adventure. I find it absolutely fascinating but that is not where it ends. Within the Salvation Army we have been educated like most of the traditional conservative church to focus on being good and to ‘root out the sin within’ however, there is possibly another way that we could look at it.

-Part One-

Fletch
Peter Fletcher
Former
Australia

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wish Someone Had Told Me


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

See link to Bob's 3 blog sites by clicking on the title to this article...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

BETRAYAL AND FOREGIVENESS -2-

But how?

Much has been written about forgiveness in recent years. Everett Worthington Jr.’s pyramid of forgiveness (Spirituality and Health, Winter 1999) teaches that we can climb the pyramid of forgiveness by recalling the hurt, empathizing, offering the altruistic gift of forgiveness, committing to forgive, and holding onto forgiveness. Paul Coleman’s offers five phases of forgiveness: identifying the hurt, confronting the hurt, having the dialogue to understand, forgiving and letting go. As Coleman tells us, “Forgiveness comes first as a decision to act lovingly, even though you are justified to withhold your love” (Exploring Forgiveness, Enright and Frost, ed., 79). It is necessary to make the decision to move toward forgiveness, often on an hour-by-hour basis, and these models can prove helpful for specific ways to do that.

But there remains a sense in these deep, deep areas of betrayal that forgiveness is beyond our power. Jesus experienced this from the cross. He didn’t say, “I forgive you for betraying me and for killing me.” No, even Christ had to draw upon the forgiveness of the Father; “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). In our absolute hopelessness of ever being able to forgive, we can learn from Hagar’s response, for she too finds herself with no hope (Genesis 21:15-19). It is doubtful that she is thinking about forgiving Abraham and Sarah as she sits waiting for her son to die. She is desperate simply to survive. In her desperation, she comes to the realization that she can do absolutely nothing to change the situation. She has no food, no water, and her son will die (as will she). Yet in the midst of her extreme helplessness, waiting for the death of her child (a direct result of the betrayal she has suffered), God shows up.

He hears. The narrative doesn’t indicate that Hagar called the Lord; in fact, the angel of God tells her, “God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.” It is as though God has heard the pain that resulted from the betrayal, and he responds to it. God then opened Hagar’s eyes. It is amazing how much an act of betrayal can blind us to what we know about God and his kingdom. When we are in the midst of it, we just cannot see. And so God must come and open our eyes to the path he has for us through the desert of betrayal. And when he does open Hagar’s eyes, she realizes that he has provided the water that she needs.

Was the well there all along? Quite possibly. In the pain of our betrayal, God’s provision may be difficult to see, but it is there. His presence, his word and his people are ours when we can begin to look around to see and receive them. And ultimately his justice will prevail, as the familiar hymn reminds us:
This is my Father’s world,
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
(Maltbie Davenport Babcock)

Yet it is still up to Hagar to move. She must get up, lift up the boy, and drink. And so it is for the Harriets of the church world. Grieve this loss. Name it for what it is. Do what you must do to keep this from happening to another. But don’t stop there. Get up, lift up what you have birthed, and drink. At first, it will be a cup of sustenance, but in time, will also be the cup of forgiveness through the precious blood of Jesus. If you are faithful in the drinking of the cup, a time will come when you will have forgiven. Coleman’s words describe the experience: “When you forgive, you do not forget the season of cold completely, but neither do you shiver in its memory” (Coleman, in Enright and Frost, 79).

You are my servant.
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
Do not fear, for I am with you
Do not be afraid, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:9-10

Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has contributed to this blog since its inception.

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2005 issue of Mutuality, a publication of Christians for Biblical Equality.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

BETRAYAL AND FOREGIVENESS -1-

Harriet had served the ministry’s leaders faithfully for a quarter of a century. They were a godly couple, stepping out in faith in powerful ways. A model of a faithful marriage, they were seen as blessed by God. Working for them had not always been easy, but she was deeply committed to the ministry. She had left once, but God had made it clear to her that she was to return, and had promised her that he understood, and that he would allow her to birth a project of her own that would be of value to the Kingdom. Not flashy or world-known, Harriet’s network of care to women in ministry gave both financial and spiritual support to isolated women around the world. Reverend Smith had given his blessing to her work, as long as it didn’t interfere with her job as his wife’s administrative assistant, and Harriet found great joy in those contacts made in the hours she spent weaving her web of connection among these amazing women.

Somehow, the local religion editor heard about Harriet’s ministry, and she did a sensitive feature for the Sunday paper about the ways in which Harriet’s work had impacted women. Harriet read the article with a hesitant pride, realizing how God had used her, through his promise, to bless others. She was so grateful that her small idea had reached so many, enriching her life as well.

When Reverend and Mrs. Smith asked to see her on Monday morning, she entered the office basking in the reporter’s glowing words. Indeed, her ministry-child was flourishing, even if it paled in comparison to what God was doing in the world-wide ministry of the Smiths. She was blind-sided by the attack. “How could you draw attention to yourself in such a way? You are a traitor to our ministry. You’ve compromised what we’ve worked so hard for by your underhanded actions. You must leave. We’ll ship your personal items to your apartment this afternoon. Go – now.” Mrs. Smith did the talking, while Reverend Smith sat stone-faced at her side. Harriet turned to him to save her. “You knew I was involved in this – in fact, you were the one who gave me the courage and inspiration to begin in the first place.” Sheepishly, he turned to Harriet and said, “I’m sorry – it must be as my wife has spoken. We will give you two weeks salary, but you must go now.”

Betrayal. The slang tells the tale: Harriet had been stabbed in the back, sold down the river over another’s envy. Does it happen? Harriet’s story is more common than we’d like to admit. (See Hagar’s story in Genesis 21 for an ancient version of Harriet’s tale). It takes many forms: A trusted assistant begins a new church in the next town, and takes half the congregation with her. The denomination announces the pastor’s next assignment, and everybody knows that it’s payback for standing up to the bishop. A pastor’s wife sacrifices for many years for her husband’s ministry, and then is abandoned for a woman who understands his needs better (and who is ten years younger).

The pain from such a betrayal throbs late into the night. This slap in the face has left its ugly handprint indelibly seared on the cheek of the one who has been betrayed. And it seemingly was done in the name of God. It is a grief deeper than the ocean. At first, you can’t believe that it has happened, and you know that God will surely have to step in and right the wrong that has been done in his name. Yet nothing happens. The betrayer gets away with the Judas kiss. You vacillate between an anger that seethes from your bones over the injustice that has been done, and an ache so raw that it can’t stand to be touched. This hurts like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

It helps to read the Psalms and realize that David had experienced similar emotions.

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people;
from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?
Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?
(Psalm 43:1-2, NRSV)
You keep reading: “O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling” (43:3). Yes, God, this is what I want – your light and truth –bring me to a holy response to what has been done to me.

And then you turn to the pages of the gospels in your morning reading, and the words of Jesus leap off the page:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
Yes, that’s the way it should be – she deserves to suffer just as I have.
“But I say to you, Do not resist an evil-doer.
But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other cheek . . .
You have heard that it was said,
‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be children of your Father in heaven . . .”

(Matthew 5:38-39, 43-45).

Then Peter came and said to him [Jesus], “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
(Mt. 18:21-22)

I can’t. I cannot do this. I cannot forgive this betrayal. And that is true. You can’t forgive this. Not yet. Not fully. Not on your own. But if we are to be serious about the instruction of the scripture, we must move in the direction of forgiveness. For forgiveness is much more a process than one specific action. We stand at the place of the offense and we have a choice. We can move in the direction of mercy, or we can move in the direction of bitterness. Each step we take away from the place of offense leads us in one direction or the other. We can choose the way of Christ, or not.

But his love is greater than all our hate, and he will not rest until Judas has turned to him, until Satan has turned to him until the dark has turned to him; until we can all, all of us, without exception, freely return his look of love with love in our own eyes and hearts. And then, healed, whole, complete but not finished, we will know the joy of being co-creators with the one to whom we call. (Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season, 215)

Major JoAnn Shade ministers with her husband Larry as the corps officers and Directors of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. She received a B.A. in sociology from S.U.N.Y. at Binghamton, a M.A. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in June, 2006. She is a prolific writer, lecturer, and busy counselor and has contributed to this blog since its inception.

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2005 issue of Mutuality, a publication of Christians for Biblical Equality.