Friday, July 30, 2010

SWEDISH CHURCH (LUTHERAN) BOWS TO GAY PRIDE

Pride has taken back the streets of Stockholm and the glitz and glamor is promised to all visitors. Yes, of course, and so is love. It's common knowledge that Pride is just a love festival with nothing but glad and happy people. We who do not participate are automatically loveless, prejudiced and reactionary.

Such is the trend today, and woe betide anyone who dares to question it. Sweden's climate debate is so low ceiling that more and more bent their backs and eels themselves up as a reptile of the marsh.


Of course the main reason why the Swedish Church is now on a corner in the general love acid. Completely spineless, and without regard to whether the faith we claim to represent or to the believing man should serve, has embraced the queer movement's moral concepts. Nothing seems more important for the Swedish Church than to bring (embrace) the faith of the secular society - and especially the queer thinking.

The adaptation, however, masked by something that seems true enough Christian and cute. "The greatest thing of all is love," is the motto a few years ago and love - well, it's everything between heaven and earth. The only form of love that is considered somewhat suspect's really the traditional love between man and woman. Mom, Dad, children are something that as far as possible ought to be avoided; few concepts are as offensive as just those! And for the Swedish Church, it is apparently obvious to adapt to the prevailing trend and by the morals and ethics which characterize Pride.

Therefore participating Åke Bonnier, without noticeable hesitation, the Sensus seminar on ethics in relationships outside heterosexual model. "Linked with the church?" We wonder, and continues: "What does the concept of loyalty in the days when fewer and fewer living in lifelong monogamous relationships? What is the basis for a relationship? Can the church accept polyamorösa families, and giving them his blessing? "

For those not fully versed in Pride and the queer movement's new fad, it endorses having a relationship with several partners simultaneously. And in view of the Swedish Church's conduct in all other matters which are operated by Pride and other similar movements - and in view of its management unspeakable cowardice when it comes to protecting the Christian ethic - it will probably not be very long before we get to see the blessed multi-partnerships within Swedish churches around the country. After that, the step is not far to polygamy.

The marriage of the Swedish Church, not so long ago considered ordained for man and woman - of God - has dissolved into a vague concept, which soon could include just about anything. All to fit into the future trend, and be politically correct, Pride Movement to please.

But the church's role is not to adapt to secular trends. The Church's task is to convey the message of Christ and love. A love of responsibility, morality and respect - for fellow human beings as well as for God. For Jesus did not eat with sinners because he liked the sin. He ate with them to lead them away from sin.

It is a shame that the responsible parties in the Swedish Church do not know the difference.

Bitte Assarmo

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Joy of Sex...? etc.


Like most people I have been in situations where when you meet someone for the first time the question is asked “What do you do?” There are times when it is a question that sometimes we ask to put people into a box and with our own internal map of the world, to decide how we relate to them. It was relatively easy in the ‘Army’ because we all had ‘what we did’ emblazoned all over us; you did not need to ask what someone did if they had white epaulettes, we just knew, and if someone had that red velvet, we certainly knew how to treat them.

Over many years I have tried to address my use of this question in various ways with varying degrees of interesting responses. “What keeps you off the street?” when I was being overly bold, or should that be a little overfull of my own importance, “What is your claim to fame?” is one where I have had some very interesting responses from blank stares that spoke volumes to some very good openings to conversations about peoples place in the world and what they see as important. At one stage in my life I would even ask people, often strangers, “What is the meaning of life?” That really starts conversations and the good thing about it is that you do not need to have an answer because you are asking the question. One day I had a proposal to go into a partnership because this person said if you find the answer we will patent it and make a fortune.

When I have been asked the question ‘what do you do?’ I was always proud of what I did and was happy to tell people blandly and possibly brashly at times “I am a Salvation Army Officer”, often I was all dressed up and so too many people it was obvious and to this day I can think of no greater calling; I can remember when I said it with pride and power. Over recent years my life has moved in different directions and when people have asked me over recent years I have responded with “I am a Fundraiser” and one time I remember clearly that the group dispersed almost immediately, possibly because they thought that I was going to ask them for a donation, on the spot so to speak; or it just may have been reaction to me?

I was in a group recently when a fellow fundraiser and long time associate told us how she responded to the ubiquitous question she said “I work with some of the most important people in the world and I teach them the Joy of Giving”. She is a Bequest/Legacy/Planned Giving Fundraiser for a large International Charity and I was really impressed by her response. It takes the ordinary response into a realm where we can associate it with something else that has all sorts of elements in it. Like the title of this little narrative which I guarantee made you want to read on....

Recently I was talking to a Board of Directors and trying to get them to support their organisation with a donation that would be an indication that they are relatively serious about encouraging others to support, and in general all they saw was me asking for money. I failed dramatically in getting my message across that this was not about the money that the organisation was hoping to raise for various programs, but that it was about them and what their gift said about them.

The Scriptures has never, in my reading been big on the ‘Joy of Sex’ but it says so much more about the ‘Joy of Giving’ and I need to delve deeper into the importance of the gifting process of my own money, which for so many people in pews, benches, plush seats and trains seats often see giving money away as something that diminishes a person rather than magnifies them. You do, as Winston Churchill said, literally ‘..Make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give’. And I am not just talking about the ‘Time’ that people give to organisation, or the ‘Talent’ that they possibly volunteer for organisations, but how much ‘Treasure’ do you give and how do you feel about it.

Yesterday I had lunch with one of my old DC’s and yes we talked about the old days and our take on where the Army is at this moment, in our humble opinions of course. Both being ‘Formers’ there was a some unspoken pride in what we possibly could have achieved had we stayed, but it was fleeting because although he has passed his four score and ten, he still has the enthusiasm of a man with only a couple of decades under his belt and he has so much to give to the kingdom. This lunch that we shared will be entrenched in my thinking for many years. I occasionally get asked to speak on Leadership and he has always been my hero and I have talked about him often. When I talk about what is a good leader there are many qualities one could talk about but I have this guy’s name in mind and for me he was ‘leadership’ personified.

What do I do? Yes I am a fundraiser and from past experience teaching people the ‘joy of giving’ has been a highlight; however I am so much more. When I was an Officer I was also a leader simply because of the red epaulettes, but it had to filter through to my involvement and I had to accept that leadership role. So what I also did was try and be a leader to those who I had responsibility for. No matter what else I get involved in I have to be a leader and show the way to those who are following. How much more also needs to be reflected in everything else that I do and so I have to be an authentic human being and that is something that is always in progress; however I have a very powerful drive to be that for anyone out there whether I know them or not who ‘set their clock by my time’.

You will have different answers to the question ‘what do you do’, but be assured people are watching us as formers and everything we do and say has an influence in the world in some way either positive or negative.
Robert Fulghum is one of my favourite inspirational writers and he once wrote:
“You and I we are large, infinite, living beings, Children of God and the everlasting universe .... That’s what we do.”
May that echo in our experience?

Sorry about the title but maybe we could explore it later.....

Fletch

Peter Fletcher
Former
AUSTRALIA

article updates

Due some internet access issues the blog articles will not be updated until August 1. Sorry, but Scottish techs work at a less feeverish pace than those elsewhere in the world...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DEPENDENT ON CHEMICALS?

After normal niceties our phone conversation transitioned to the soft but urgent noise of tears and moans. The caller from the east coast whispered, “I drink myself to sleep every night.” I could feel the seriousness of his tone and the strength of his agony. The only hope I could sense through the fiber optic lines was not felt but known from the evidence. The fact was he had enough hope to call. Otherwise it clearly felt like he had no confidence he might get better. His world was too dark. His addiction to alcohol too powerful. For some time every night of his life had become disgracefully ugly. He gave in to the urging of the bottle and the seduction of his shame. His life, not just his sleep was dependent on the chemicals.

He was obviously a very articulate person, his rich voice was winsome. He emoted leadership presence. He was the Senior Minister of a large congregation. He was anything but a bum in a cardboard box under the freeway but his control over alcohol was nonexistent. He was broken. He was powerless. He was finally reaching for help. There was, however, a huge obstacle.
He was a pastor. Pastors are not supposed to be alcoholics. They know better and they should do better. He knew no one would understand. He knew no one would ever knowingly follow an alcoholic pastor and he knew if he kept doing what he was doing he was going to die a drunk. To get the help he needed someone had to know his truth. If the wrong someone knew his truth he was done as a pastor. If he lost his high profile ministry job he would loose the insurance which could pay for treatment. He was caught between getting the help he needed and loosing everything. Actually it felt to him like he was caught between loosing everything and loosing everything that mattered.

Alcoholism, dependency on prescription drugs and the use of illicit drugs by otherwise wonderful pastors is not as uncommon as each person using chemicals wishes. Alcoholics want to be free. Running from doctor to doctor to obtain bogus prescriptions to abuse medication is a nerve racking exercise in futility. Meeting the wrong person, in the wrong place for the wrong reason, at the wrong time surely does not build one’s self image. The cover up, the coerced enabling of a spouse, the lies and the downward spiral of building tolerance and destroying body functions is not a pretty picture. Certainly not one you want to hang in the church vestibule.

This pastor told the truth, went to treatment, ultimately chose to tell his congregation and is delivering powerful sober sermons from a sober life. Some disappointed people rejected him and left the church. Others went to treatment to deal with their own chemical dependency. No, he did not live happily ever after but sobriety is producing a kind of calm and strength only the Lord brings. If you struggle with chemical dependency your story may be different. You may binge. You may snort. You may smoke. But, no matter how hopeless you feel, you can find a way to be free.

Some pastors believe and teach alcoholism is not a disease and is just sin. Whatever your belief, if you are controlled by it you need help. A pastor who believes it is just sin and is struggling to maintain a sobriety record for which he may be grateful cannot be comfortable allowing sin to have so much power over him. You need not solve this theological/medical issue to get the help you need. You have to reach for help. There is hope. Click here for direction regarding confidential help.

Not convinced you have a problem? If you are uncertain whether you are an alcoholic with a progressive disease or a sinner hooked by sin’s progressive enslavement please click and follow the link (see below) to a screening test which will help you understand the seriousness of your drinking. Counseling Resources has a quality alchohol screening test to help.

If the chemical dependency issue which haunts you is the abuse of prescription drugs or illicit drugs the state of your use can be objectively tested by the screening test Counseling Resources provides. At CRN we urge you to seek the confidential help which will provide you with clearer diagnosis, quality help and the freedom for which you long. You deserve to be sober. Grace is available. We urge you to take this issue more seriously than you think necessary. It is easy to be deceived into deeper levels of pain and addiction. All you have to do is keep doing what you are doing. Stop. Make hopeful contact today. Go to the Finding Help page and begin a life you can respect and enjoy. You deserve it. You are worth it.

Dale O. Wolery


Dale O. Wolery
Executive Director

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RESPECT OUR PRIVACY, PLEASE!

Dr. Sven Ljungholm asked me to discuss a special little corner of Facebook reserved for a unique group of people. These people responded to a call to serve God at one point in their lives through the ministry of The Salvation Army via the mode of officership. At another point in their lives, they departed this same ministry. The Former Salvation Army Officer Fellowship on Facebook is a safe place; a harbor of sorts for those people who have a common experience of leaving Salvation Army officership.>

A question has arisen from time to time of who should be granted membership to this group. The name of the group is implicit in that it states that it is a fellowship for former officers. This creates an exclusive inclusive group. It is exclusive because it is limited to those who have previously served as Salvation Army officers. It is inclusive because it is the one place in the world (albeit the cyber world) where people with this shared experience can come together. However, there are different opinions on who should be granted a “key” to enter the fellowship. Does this include officers who were once former officers but have been restored to ordained ministry? Should it include those who have done ministry with The Salvation Army but were not officers? Should it include retired officers? My answer to this is no. If someone has reentered officership, they likely no longer have the same needs as those who are formers. I liken this to a group that I belonged to called No Kidding. It is a social group for people who do not have children. When someone gave birth or adopted a child, they no longer were child free. When someone reenters officership, they are no longer a former. God bless them on their journey but it is no longer an appropriate group. Retired officers are still officers. While retirement brings significant changes to life, there are groups for retired officers to fellowship within where they will find people who have similar life challenges and joys. Salvation Army employees are just that. A custodian, youth pastor, addictions counselor, teacher, and etc. are all wonderful additions to the ministry of The Salvation Army but they are not former officers. I was an employee in ministry before entering training but an employee is quite different than an officer and the life of a former employee is very different than the life of a former officer

It is important to address two issues that have been a part of the conversation on this topic. First is that of confidentiality. This is the Internet my friends. There is no confidentiality and in reality, anyone can join the group by just stating that they are a former officer. While I have nothing to hide about my time as an officer or since, if one feels hesitation to share information, this is not the place to do so. The world can see what you do on the Internet (on the FSAOF Facebook group or elsewhere). Confidentiality should not be a part of the discussion because it is not possible to maintain confidence online.

Second, the adjective bitter is oft used when referring to former Salvation Army Officers. This is hurtful and often inaccurate. While we all (both formers and active) have had good experiences and negative experiences, many left officership for reasons that have little or nothing to do with a bad experience. If someone is bitter (there are those who are) then reinforcing negativity will not bring those people to a place of healing and restoration but will only continue to alienate

Having stated the above, I encourage different fellowship groups for people who find themselves in various places in their relationship with The Salvation Army and its ministry.

Dr. Patti Hunter Williams
Crusader for Christ, USA Western



Dr. Patti Hunter Williams
Crusader for Christ, USA Western



From Major Stephen Court’s “Army Barmy” Site:


“In some parts of the world cadets are covenanting up to live to win souls through repentance and faith as officers for life in The Salvation Army. If I may take the liberty to throw out some hints and reminders for you:…….. God takes covenant seriously. Whether you do or not, He 'hates divorce', drops a three-year famine on Israel for breaking, a generation earlier, a stupidly-made centuries-old covenant that an ancestor entered. Don't sign up if you even think for a milli-second that there could conceivably be ANY circumstances that could justify you deserting the flag and breaking covenant. Don't do it;”

So: do all the bad things that happen to us Formers happen because we broke our Covenants?  Sometimes I am tempted to think that, but that must be the voice of the Devil as the Great Deceiver, because surely our God is not like that?  And I’m sure that for most of us we never thought “even  for a milli-second that there could conceivably be ANY circumstances that could justify  deserting the flag and breaking covenant.”  Also, breaking the Covenant doesn’t mean deserting the flag, & vice versa; & there was for many of us an element of the Army breaking covenant with us. 

Oh the arrogance & judgement that’s possible when you’re not in that place where you feel you have no alternative but to leave.  I must confess that I was guilty of it myself as a new, young-ish Officer.  How about the old saying of walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you pass judgement on them?  And also, nobody knows what may happen in the future – how about “there but for the grace of God go I?”

Major Court does have some good things to say, and certainly food for thought, most of the time – but it’s a good thing that our Saviour is more forgiving!  (The writer was recently Training Principal, Australia, too.)

 Former, UKT – thanks.


Latvia- Step One
















Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday was Riga Day !

On Wednesday we ventured into the capital of Latvia, Riga, an ancient city dating back to to the Hanseatic League era. Lutheran spires prick the sky, with the gold domed onion spires of the Russian Orthodox cathedral and smaller churches sparkling in the sunlight. In the shadows of the religious worship houses sit the beggars, hands outstretched ready to bless each giver of a coin or morsel to eat. And not too far from the centre is the Riga II Corps and the exuberant Russian speaking couple, Andrej and Irina where the team participated in song and word. An inspired congregation applauded each of our contributions... the service ended 2 1/2 hours after it began with the Mercy Seat lined while others queueing to take their turn to kneel.
















































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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LATVIA- 3 days to go...


Sue and Glad place floor cloths out to dry after a good wash


Lewis and Glad unload floor moulding


Entrance area- to do list for Thursday!


Stairway prepped and ready for paint


shopping at farmers' market


Taste testing strawberries, cloudberries and red currants... a very long process; someone's got to do it!!!


Loading floor panels- Our treat (another expense surprise!)





Thank you Crown Paint Ltd. Next year's supply/donation already in hand!

Monday, July 12, 2010

MONDAY JULY 12 AND MUCH PROGRESS MADE...







































































SAVE ME FROM THIS DEAR LORD! I SAID I WAS AN ARTISTE, NOT A PAINTER!







AT THE END OF DAY...


















HOT DOG ROAST... 








PHIL HOLDS CCCOURT !










"I CAN'T TIL THEY FINISH- AND MY FAVOURITE COLOUR, PINK! SUCH NICE PEOPLE GOD HAS SENT US..."


Wait we're painting ourselves into a corner???"