Monday, October 31, 2011

Should the Salvation Army be distinctive? Part One of Four

The Salvation Army of today often describes itself as distinctive, and proclaims that this is something to be encouraged and of which to be proud.  Various aspects of the Army’s work and its characteristics are described as distinctive.  It is even seen as a means of Church growth. Recently on the WWW a Google search for “distinctive” and “Salvation Army” produced 955 thousand hits.

When you compare this search with similar searches for other churches what you find is that on a per capita basis the Salvation Army[1] is over 65 times more concerned than Catholics[2] about distinctiveness, 112 times more concerned than Anglicans[3], and 23 times more concerned than Baptists[4].
This concern for distinctiveness raises many questions.  Is it a good thing?  Should we be this concerned about our own distinctiveness?  Are we distinctive in some of the areas we say we are?  Why do we want to be distinctive?  Is it important or should our distinctive characteristics be the result of something else?  What would William Booth think about it and what does the bible say about it?  Another question that comes to mind is whether this is a recent phenomenon.
The answer to that last question is “No” because in 1928 when General Edward Higgins was Chief of the Staff he wrote: “Salvationism is a clear and well-defined quality that represents distinctive features of doctrine and service which distinguish it from all other organizations and makes of it an entity entirely apart, incapable of being blended with any other people. Any attempt to harmonize it with methods employed by other religious bodies destroys its effectiveness and renders it incapable of achieving its purpose or continuing to develop its special characteristics.”[5]
In 1 Cor 12:12-13 Paul says: 12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (NIV)   How can a part of the body of Christ be so distinctive, that it is an entity entirely apart?

Graeme Glenn
Former
Melbourne, Australia

The article was originally written whilst working for the Salvos at a men's hostel (for homeless etc) and attending Frankston Corps



[1]            The Salvation Army has 1.3 million soldiers and adherents (members).
[2]            The same search for the Catholic Church with 1.16 billion members produced 13 million hits.
[3]            The same search for the Anglican Church with 82 million members produced  534 thousand hits.
[4]            The same search for the Baptist church with 100 million members produced 3.12 million hits.
[5]            http://www1.salvationarmy.org/heritage.nsf/
36c107e27b0ba7a98025692e0032abaa/88e29a8652157fd080256a22003781df?OpenDocument

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MORE than 50 church leaders


Sign the new marriage petition before the ALP Conference
Posted by ACL Team on October 18th, 2011

New petition to save marriage
Targets ALP National Conference
Sign today and pass on to your friends


This past weekend ACL held its annual National Conference in Canberra. It was the best we’ve had.

We heard from Australian Labor Party national executive member Joe de Bruyn that the ALP is under enormous pressure both from the Greens and from within the Party to change its marriage policy at its National Conference on December 2. Mr de Bruyn said that the only hope of stopping such a change is to demonstrate that it would be “electoral suicide” to do so – because marriage is so important to average Australians.

That’s why on the Saturday afternoon at our Conference we launched the Australian Marriage Forum petition. With six weeks to go to the ALP Conference, it is vital we send a strong message to the Party that we support marriage between a man and a woman, and that we do not want the ALP to change its policy.

I know many of you signed our recent petition to the Senate, which had great effect. But as Mr de Bruyn said, the battle ground has now shifted to the ALP national Conference

Visit australianmarriage.org.au and sign the petition. Arrange a visit to your local MP. Write an email, or even better, a handwritten letter. Spread the word to your friends and family who care about marriage. Make sure you do this by the end of November, and sign the petition today.


Posted in Australian Christian Lobby

MORE than 50 church leaders have directly appealed to all 226 federal MPs not to change the Marriage Act, kicking off a campaign to defeat moves by Labor and the Greens to allow same-sex marriage.

In defence of marriage being only between a man and a woman, the leaders cite the "high incidence of fatherless youth" in the London riots as an example of the social dangers if governments do not create "a natural and stable environment" for children.
"You will see that despite the incredible claims of a lack of support for the current definition of marriage in the churches . . . we know the support for the current definition of marriage is strongly held by the vast majority of other faiths," the church leaders say. They refer to the importance of marriage as a legal institution to promote and protect "the identity of children and their internationally recognised right to know, have access to and be nurtured by both their mother and father".

Katters brother speaks out

The campaign is partly a response to surveys released by same-sex marriage advocates that suggest 53 per cent of Christians support same-sex marriage, as the Greens campaign to change the Marriage Act and the ALP national conference prepares to debate the issue in November.
The leaders include the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, Lutheran Church president Mike Semmler, Orthodox Archbishop of Australia Paul Sliba, Salvation Army commissioner Raymond Finger and Presbyterian moderator-general David Jones.

Up for debate in the House of Representatives today is a motion from Greens MP Adam Bandt that MPs report to parliament on their consultations with their constituents to gauge support for same-sex marriage.

Last night, 22 MPs were listed to speak on the issue, including Labor backbench campaigner against same-sex marriage John Murphy, who told parliament last week the majority of people in his western Sydney electorate of Reid were against it.

Queensland Liberal-Nationals senator Ron Boswell will release a petition with more than 50,000 signatures supporting traditional marriage.

Some Labor MPs are angry the Greens are forcing an agenda to change the Marriage Act, and that the ALP national conference is being drawn into a controversy damaging to Julia Gillard, who supports traditional marriage.

Before the last election, the Prime Minister promised the government would not change the law to allow same-sex marriage because she appreciated "our heritage as a Christian country" and believed "the Marriage Act has a special status in our culture".

Last night, celebrity doctor and former Australian Medical Association president Kerryn Phelps and her partner, Jackie Stricker-Phelps, met Ms Gillard to put their case for same-sex marriage.
The couple, who have been together for 14 years and have adopted a 12-year-old, say politicians opposing gay marriage are ignoring the 60 per cent of voters and 53 per cent of Christians who support marriage equality.

"We pay our taxes, we've been allowed to adopt a child a heterosexual couple couldn't look after, but we're not allowed to get married," Ms Stricker-Phelps said.

SHARED BY A SALLIE FROM AUSTRALIA (SYDNEY)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

That Annoying Little "Commissioned Minister" Status

October. 2011

In the LCMS, (The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., founded on the teachings of Martin Luther) we've always had a strong doctrine of what it means to be called. It was a term reserved for our clergy, our male clergy (we only have male clergy).

Ministers have certain protections under the tax system. They balance out the additional penalties that Ministers get because they are regarded as self-employed by the Social Security System, and therefore must pay the full 15%, and are regarded as employees by the IRS, and therefore get no tax breaks as self-employed.

Way back, the Synod decided to invoke the title "commissioned minister" upon our male teachers. Since they don't get paid well, and they have families to support, lets extend those benefits to them. Then, of course as female teachers became more prominent and didn't necessarily stop teaching just because they got married, and because it was sexist and the title was meaningless anyway -- it was extended to female teachers as well.

All of this goes against the good sense of reserving the title of Minister for the clergy. It confuses our doctrine. Since this has happened, the Office of the Ministry has lost some of the respect that it once had.

Now, because of the nebulousness of the "commissioned minister" title, an LCMS school teacher has opened the flood gates and given the Obama Administration exactly what they always wanted, the possibility of applying discrimination and employment laws to the Church. She signed a contract when she received a call as a "commissioned minister" but now argues that she really wasn't so that she can win a discrimination suit. I don't envy her health issues, and am not sure why the church school contracted another teacher instead of bringing in a long term substitute -- maybe one wasn't available, but they shouldn't have contracted a teacher to fill her position for the entire year. But the Obama Administration is using this as an opportunity to argue that the nondiscrimination laws are so unbiased that they need to be applied to church situations as well. Here's another story as well.

And...the school is closed down. They've partnered with another church, but these children are not hearing God's Word, and the battle is before the public eye. I'm sure Satan is happy.




The Rebellious Pastor's Wife

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Would You Attend a Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony?

Al Mohler clarifies his views on attending same-sex weddings, but more questions arise.
by Url Scaramanga

Last week I wrote a brief report about Al Mohler's dissatisfaction with Joel Osteen's answers during his CNN interview with Piers Morgan. Osteen said that while he would not officiate a same-sex marriage ceremony, he was open to attending one if it involved close friends. Dr. Mohler said Osteen's position was "beyond mere incoherence. It is moral and theological nonsense. More than that, it is a massive statement of ministerial malpractice."

On this blog I asked whether Mohler's objection to attending a same-sex marriage ceremony was held by other Urbanites. And what about other marriage ceremonies that didn't mesh with sound Christian doctrine, like Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist weddings? Could a Christian attend those events?

It seems that Dr. Mohler caught wind of our conversation here on Out of Ur and has written another column to clarify his thinking. But it raises even more questions about what a Christian leader who does not theologically agree with same-sex marriage is allowed or obligated to do about it.

(First of all, in Dr. Mohler's column he mistakenly calls me Uri (U-R-I) Scaramanga rather than Url (U-R-L). A common and innocent mistake, but Uri is my younger brother who stayed in the family circus business while I left the trapeze for seminary. But I digress.)
Mohler clarifies that he does not believe attending a same-sex marriage ceremony is the same as officiating one. However, he does believe it is inconsistent. Why? He appeals to the history and tradition of the Christian marriage ceremony. Essentially, according to Mohler, attending the ceremony is the same as affirming and blessing the marriage. He writes:
The traditional Christian ceremony, as reflected in The Book of Common Prayer, asks if anyone present knows of any reason why the couple should not be joined in holy matrimony. That is not intended as a hypothetical question. It is intended to ensure that no one present knows of any reason that the union should not be solemnized, recognized, and celebrated.... To remain silent at that point is to abdicate theological and biblical responsibility. Even if the question is not formally asked in the ceremony, the issue remains. We cannot celebrate what we know to be wrong.

This argument raises a number of questions for me. First, what if the same-sex marriage ceremony isn't a Christian service? What if it's a civil ceremony not rooted in any Biblical tradition or liturgy?

Second, does this logic mean that every time we are invited to attend a wedding we must investigate the moral and spiritual histories of the couple being married to ensure that we can indeed celebrate their union? Personally, I've been to a few weddings of couples who I felt shouldn't be getting married, or at least who didn't have a good chance of making the marriage last. Was I wrong to attend? Certainly being the same gender isn't the only thing to disqualify a couple from Christian marriage, is it?

Third, does Mohler's reasoning apply to Christians interacting with same-sex couples in other settings? For example, should a Christian tax attorney refuse to help a same-sex couple file a joint return? And should we refuse to work for corporations that offer benefits to same-sex couples because it passively affirms the union?

Finally, what about same-sex divorce? With more states legalizing these marriages, it's only a
matter of time before some of them are dissolved. Is that something Christians should celebrate--the correcting of a theological error? Or is it a case of two wrongs not making things right?
Al Mohler ends his column with a statement I'm guessing we can all affirm: "Given time, no church, no family, and no individual Christian will escape this question. This will lead, unquestionably, to hard decisions and awkward situations. The time to think about this question is now."

Indeed, we do need to think about how to appropriately respond to shifting cultural mores and values. And if a consistent, uncompromising non-affirmation of same-sex marriage is what Mohler advocates, are we ready to fight that everyday on every front: church, business, government, schools, entertainment, and family? Apart from attending a ceremony, what else could be interpreted as affirming or celebrating a same-sex union? Talk about a slippery slope!
Logic may mandate consistency as Dr. Mohler argues. But wisdom may lead us to choose the battles worth fighting.

October 19, 2011



Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A CONCERT PIANIST

Nicolaj Vollburg who recently turned 42, has a solid classical music education from the Malmö Academy of Music behind him. He studied at the Academy for five years and was a fellow student with Daniel Viklund, and they are once again classmates.

“Directly following graduation from college, I began freelancing as a concert pianist and conductor”, says Nicolai, and says that “there were many trips within Sweden and beyond. - You have to build a network if you are a freelancer”, says Nicolai, who adds that he is Sweden Director of Crescendo, a network of classically trained Christian musicians.

“Actually, I have lived with a pastor's vocation for many years, a vocation which I suppressed, but now, God spoke in 2008 directly to me and my family. The message was clear that we would move to the Mälardalen region of Sweden. There, I thought about continuing my music career, but God spoke again to us, and I realized that it was in the Salvation Army, that I would serve and that my calling was specifically, to proclaim salvation as an officer.


Nicolai and his wife Helen became soldiers in Västerås Corps and “the decision to enter the officer school felt just right”, says Nicolai. He is passionate about preaching the word and is no stranger to working as an evangelist in the Salvation Army; to travel combining music and preaching, but he adds that, “God will put him where he is most needed.”

(FA Sweden Wbsite: translation Sven Ljungholm)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Salvation Army's School for Officers - SWEDEN

Part One

This year, four men and one woman who affirmed the call to be full time Servants of God in the Salvation Army have chosen to leave their previous professions to study at the officers' school to become Salvation Army officers. Waiting for the five new cadets are two years of intensive study at the School for Officer Training, which include distance learning at home, regular ‘on-campus seminars’ and field training at a corps or department.


“For me, humor is a language to reach people”

Marcus Andersson, 36, was one of the young people who planted a new SA corps in Vårby, a suburb south of Stockholm, 1994-1995.
“Yes, we were five pioneers”, Marcus says, and shares that one of the four was a SA officer, and who is the Training school's current headmaster, Mattias Nordenberg. The other were Veronica Wahlstrom and Johan Grahn both currently officers and serve in the officers' school, and Anna Byberg.

Marcus is married to Rosmarie, working as a instructor/ leader of a Swedish Lutheran Church congregation and they have two boys who are 5 and 1 year. The family lives in Malmo, in the southern part of Sweden with Copenhagen, Denmark as their nearest large city neighbour just 35 minutes across the waters on one of Europe’s longest spanning bridges. Following his employment at Telia (Swedish Telephone Company) Marcus worked as a successful stand-up comedian and has studied theology in Malmö / Copenhagen and the nearby university town of Lund.

“There are too few humorists who engage in theology and also too few theologians who engage in humor”, says Macus with a laugh.

“For me, humor is a language to reach people, and when I complete my training to be a SA officer, I can return to the pub, an environment in which salvation officers were often active during the pioneering days, a tradition that I now want to continue”.

Words spoken and sung are my passion

Daniel Viklund, a renowned singer who last Christmas released his latest CD, was born in 1969 in Vansbro (in Sweden’s fabled Dalarna Province), where the Salvation Army at one time had one of their strongholds.

The SA’s ministry and mission are not new to Daniel, “I actually have links to the Salvation Army in the past”, says Daniel, adding that; my father's cousin Sven-Erik Power, was a SA officer and evangelist”.

Daniel recalls growing up in the Vanbro corps and even as a teenager wanted be a officer and belonged to the group; SAY (SA Youth) which spoke of ministry calling issues. Almost thirty years later Daniel affirms the calling of the officers' commission and becomes a cadet in the Salvation Army.

His musical education brought Daniel to southern Sweden, to the Malmö Academy of Music and the Opera School in Copenhagen. While studying inMalmo Daniel served as Bandmaster of the Malmo SA Corps. After a year as a musician Daniel knew that God called him, and which led him to serve for nine years as Pastor of a free church near his home in western Dalarna.

He had previously been a salvation soldier, but parted from TSA in 1994, sensing that God called him to work within the free churchs’ movement. However, since 2009 he again wears a SA soldier's uniform, and now with a cadet’s distinctive trim.

“When I realized that God wanted me to become part of the Salvation Army again, he opened new doors”, says Daniel, who lives in Västerås and does his field work experience in the Corps.

“I love the Salvation Army's history”, continues Daniel and uses the expression "the redhot idealism" of the Salvation Army's involvement. It suits an artist's soul like me, who requires a passionate commitment, according to Daniel and says there is room for that in the Salvation Army.

Daniel is reticent when speaking of the future, but suggests that he would be very willing to work as an evangelist.

“Words, sung and spoken are my passion”, he concludes.

(from TSA Sweden Website: translation- Sven Ljungholm)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

THE UNIFORM DEFINES MY VOCATION Part One


Why should we wear uniforms?

I am constantly challenged to answer the question why we (Salvationists) should wear uniforms. Some say; “I can be just as good a Christian out of uniform as in!” And of course they’re right, one can. But I still maintain there are some very valid arguments for wearing a SA uniform. I will share just a few…

The vast majority of religious communities have some sort of priestly garb. They vary and can look very different one church to the next, but the notion that the priest has some form of distinguishing clothing has been with us since Old Testament times. In the larger denominations they even have uniquely decorated garments based on hierarchy; one’s status in the religious order. But the one commonality is that they have a need and intent to distinguish who is a ‘priest’ from those who are "regular" members.

The Salvation Army is different. The uniform is a testimony that we believe in the common priesthood of all believers. All members / soldiers are active workers. In many religious communities one is considered an active member by attending church services regularly and listening to the priest or Pastor each Sunday. However, being a SA soldier in uniform testifies to the significance that I belong to and am in God’s service. It signifies that all members of Christ's body are functionally responsible and not simply passive spectators.

Peter Baronowsky
Lieutenant
Regional Commander, Latvia

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The best laugh I've had in a while came from one of our pastors who wanted to resign and the Lord put a stop to it. He sat in my office this week and told us what happened.
Under the stress of the church situation -- every church has its situation -- the pastor felt he had taken all he could stand. So, he sat down and wrote a letter to every member of his congregation. He didn't exactly resign, but came close to it. "Perhaps my work here is finished," he confessed.

He printed out the letter and, against her better judgement, his wife helped him stuff the envelopes and apply the stamps. He dropped them off at the post office and drove home.
Now, we old-timers could have told him not to act rashly, that these things often look different after a good night's sleep, and that at the very least he should have let that letter "set" overnight and read it more dispassionately the next morning. But, he had done it and that was that.

Or so he thought.

The next day, every single one of those letters was back in his mail box. The cost of postage
had gone up that week and he had not put enough stamps on them.

The pastor stood there glaring at all those returned letters and recognized God had sent him a message. "It ain't funny, Lord," he called out, just before breaking into laughter.

This is probably a good place to drop in a few words of counsel we give pastors in stressful, high-pressure situations who are thinking of throwing in the towel.

1) Stay on your knees. Get alone with the Lord and don't leave until you've said everything on
your mind and have remained in that position long enough to hear everything the Lord has to say.
Tell him something like this: "Lord, you brought me here. You knew about this church. You knew these leaders. And yet you chose me and sent me here. But it's now out of my hands, Father. If you want it fixed, you're going to have to do it because I can't."

The next Sunday my pastor friend--who had spent much of that week on his knees in prayer--stood in the pulpit and reaffirmed to the congregation that God had brought him there as pastor and he was committed to staying until He said otherwise. "You're stuck with me," he said to the joy of some and the befuddlement of some others.
I was been in that very situation just a dozen years ago. When you make that announcement to the congregation, your supporters rejoice, the nay-sayers become angry, the devil rages, and the Lord Jesus Christ who alone is the Head of the Church is blessed and honored.

2) "It's not about you, pastor," is the second bit of counsel we pass along. "I know you think they're not following you and that feels like you have failed. But keep saying to yourself, 'It's not about me. It's about the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only.'" In the words of John the Baptist: "He must increase; I must decrease."

Your career and how this will look on your resume' are irrelevant. You should have dealt with that a long time ago.

When people respond enthusiastically to your ministry, quieten your ego, pastor; it's not about you. And when they reject your ministry, when they criticize your preaching and undermine your staff and ignore your programs, it's not you they are rejecting. You will recall God telling Samuel when Israel was clamoring for a king: "They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me." (I Samuel 8:7)

We Americans tend to think everything has to be done democratically. Furthermore, as Baptists who treasure our traditions of everyone having a voice and a vote, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture: the Church belongs to Christ, not to any man. Not to the pastor, of course, but neither to the deacons nor to the biggest contributors and not even to the congregation as a whole. "The church of God which He purchased with His own blood," it's called in Acts 20:28. It's His church. He died for it. He is its Head. He calls the shots.

The only question for a church member or a minister is the same prayer Saul voiced from the dust outside Damascus long ago, "What wilt thou have me do?" (Acts 22:10)

3) It's all about obedience, pastor. And that's the most important word of all.
Jesus had something critical to say for His followers who were feeling unappreciated and considering quitting. "When a servant comes in from the field," He said, "the master does not say to him, 'Now, you poor thing. You've worked so hard. Go and get yourself something to eat and then you can take care of me.' No, the master says to the servant, 'Get cleaned up, put on some proper clothes, and prepare my evening meal. Then you can take care of yourself.' In fact, the master doesn't even thank the slave."

Jesus looked at His disciples and made the application: "That's how it will be with you. When you have done your job, say to yourself, 'I am only an unworthy servant; I have simply done my duty.'" (My paraphrase of Luke 17:7-10)

Now, it's important to point out that our Lord did not say this is how the Heavenly Father feels about us and our service, and it's not how He feels. It's how we should feel toward ourselves. To see what the Father thinks of our faithful service, check out Luke 19:17.

Basic Christian discipleship is all about obeying the Lord who assigned you to this position. Once you understand that, you can set about helping the congregation to understand it, too.

A cartoon shows the pastor addressing a committee of disgruntled church leaders who have surrounded his desk. He says, "I'm sorry the church is unhappy with me. But the Lord did not send me to make the church happy. He sent me to make it healthy and Him happy." Big distinction.

Pastor, in our system of church government, any church can fire you whenever they choose. But the question of when to take the initiative and resign and walk away from the church is not yours, but the Lord who called you into this work and who presumably assigned you to that church. You're there until He says otherwise.

As I understand the call of God, you signed on for the duration.


Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mt.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elegant Reflections on an Elegant Ministry: John Stott, 1921-2011



Several members of the BibleMesh project have posted meaningful reflections on the life and career of Anglican expositor John Stott, who just went home to glory.  I commend them all to you.  Below are two that speak to a personal connection with the man, who influenced generations of Christians.
—————————-
One of Dr. Stott’s many initiatives was to establish the London Lectures focusing on Christian engagement with the  wider world. I delivered the London Lectures in 2003, on the topic “Can Christianity and Islam co-exist in the 21st century?” Dr Stott attended the series and was inspirational by his presence, by his insightful questions and comments, and by his words of encouragement. I was humbled by his presence and felt that I should have been sitting at his feet, rather than him sitting in the front row of my lectures. The series was held at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, which serves as an enduring legacy of Dr Stott’s energy and vision.
Peter Riddell
Dean of the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths
Melbourne School of Theology, Australia
—————————-
I can still feel the silence in St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, when John Stott neared the end of his exposition of Philippians 2:5-11. With his characteristic clarity he impressed upon our hearts that every knee will bow before the Lord Jesus: every Christian knee, every Muslim knee, every Hindu knee—every knee will bow before him. I remember buying two of his commentaries for the first time—Ephesians and 2 Timothy—and buying The Cross of Christ at the Oxford Christian Union. I’ve read all his works more than once—some many times—and been inspired by the story of life. The risen Lord Jesus gave us John R.W. Stott as a gracious gift and to God be the Glory!
Michael McClenahan
Irish Presbyterian minister

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sunday is Pastor Appreciation Day

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 4 NIV)

Sunday is Pastor Appreciation Day (October 9). Let me take this opportunity to encourage you to pray for your Officer, and then on Sunday, affirm them. 


Being an Officer is one of the toughest jobs on the planet, but the Apostle John says it can also be the most joyful: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4 NIV).

Spiritual leaders must correctly teach God’s Word … confront false teaching before it spreads … proclaim the Gospel to non-believers …pray for all people, and train and appoint leaders. They must do this all while serving as examples of what it looks like when you’re maturing in Christ-likeness (see 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus).

Accordingly, the Apostle Paul says we should respect our spiritual leaders, overwhelming them with appreciation: “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).

You can see the enormous responsibility an Officer has to stay in sync with God and to encourage others to stay in sync also. Your Officer is human and every bit as capable as you or me of making mistakes or slipping into sin.  Pray that your Officer will stay focused on Jesus and that your Officers ministry will flow from that intimacy. There is nothing the enemy wants more than to distract your Officer from their purpose by getting them distracted.

Pray for your Officers protection, because the attack they feel from the enemy comes in strong every time your Officer proclaims God’s truth.  It gets even stronger the closer they get to Christ.

Pray that your Officer will know deep within their soul that “not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, ?hostile? powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39 HCSB). And then let your Officer know that your love will never cease, that you are committed to loving your Officer with the love of Jesus Christ.

Now think of some practical bit of service you can do for your Officer, and do it this coming week.

Adapted from Jon Walker  & Rick Warren’s Daily Devotionals. © 2011 Jon Walker. Used by permission.



Major Glad Ljungholm
DHQ
Liverpool, UKT

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Salvation Army has lost a visionary


Steve Jobs, the visionary "geek" who changed the way the world looked at technology, has died.   This is the news I woke up to this morning. 


STEVE JOBS
 1955-2011


 




The father of four started Apple Computer with high school friend Steve Wozniak in his garage in 1976 but was forced out a decade later. He returned in the mid-1990s and transformed Apple into one of the world's most powerful companies.

Despite resigning as chief executive due to his health, Mr Jobs said he would continue to play a leadership role. He was replaced by Apple's chief operating officer, Tim Cook, and took the role of Chairman of the company's board.

The pioneering businessman, who was the mind behind the revolutionary iPhone and iPad devices, had been fighting pancreatic cancer and underwent a liver transplant in 2009.

Apple's board said in a statement: "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor," Mr Cook wrote in an email to Apple's employees. "Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

The news Apple fans and shareholders had been dreading came the day after Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, a device that got a lukewarm reception. Perhaps, there would have been more excitement had Mr Jobs been well enough to show it off with his trademark theatrics.

A statement released by Mr Jobs' family said: "In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve's illness."


What a man … what amazing tributes to one individual.  Reading these comments made me think of a phrase I often quote when conducting funeral services and I found myself praying it again today in response to a man I have never met, but in response to a man whose life has touched and influenced mine as I sit here typing on my Apple Mac laptop.

‘May his dying challenge my living’

Who of us wouldn’t want to hear said of us at the end of our earthly lives: "Glad's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enriched and improved all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Glad."

  … ‘The Salvation Army has lost a visionary and creative genius’ …
"Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Glad have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor,"

 "In her public life, Glad was known as a visionary; in her private life, she cherished her family.”

I don’t for one moment imagine any or many of these things would be said of me but as I read of this ‘driven’ man I found myself driven to my knees again and praying:

‘All my days and all my hours
All my will and all my powers
All the passion of my soul
Not a fragment but the whole
Shall be Thine Dear Lord
Shall be Thine Dear Lord’

Rick Warren at the beginning of his book:  ‘Purpose Driven Life’ asks the question:  ‘What on earth am I here for?’ … life’s most important question.  Answer that question he says and you will understand the ‘big picture’ how all the various pieces of our lives fit together.

The Apostle Paul had no doubt at all about the purpose of his life or that of the Thessalonian believers.  They were created for relationship with God.  This purpose, this holy purpose was constantly the focus of Paul’s prayers on their behalf.  In 2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12 we read:  ‘We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the Name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’

In His earlier letter Paul had urged them to ‘live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His Kingdom and Glory.’  (1 Thess. 2:12)

Our true value, our great worth, our high calling is emphasised in Ephesians 2: 10 we are:  ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works’.

In his sermon, ‘The Drum Major Instinct’ Martin Luther King Jr asked not to be remembered for his Nobel Peace Prize, his numerous awards or where he went to school.  He asked rather to be remembered as someone who ‘tried to love and serve humanity’.

Our names may never be famous, it is very unlikely for most of us that we will be world renowned and on the day of our death it is very doubtful that such breaking news will hit the world press as has Steve Jobs’. But, may his dying challenge our living and may we be reminded of the high calling that is ours and the purpose for which we were created.

Major Glad Ljungholm
1963 - Eternity

Monday, October 3, 2011

SS0 - PART ONE



Nearly four years ago my life took a very different and unexpected turn.  Up until that point I was single, happily single, fulfilled in ministry, fulfilled in life, fulfilled in myself as a person and was not looking for or expecting anything else.  I loved my then appointment as Corps Officer at Exeter Temple and was thoroughly enjoying being able to put everything I could into it.  Then, right out of the blue I met a man and fell in love.  If anyone had told me I would have met my future husband on Facebook I would have laughed at them in total disbelief.  If it had been suggested to me I would marry a divorced man my response would have been, ‘Never in a million years’.  If someone then added this man would have been in the USA and me in the UK I would have been absolutely convinced this was not me they were talking about and had got it completely wrong.  And yet, I found myself in all of those settings that were totally foreign to anything I would ever have imagined of me.   



Initially Sven and I had hoped and planned to be involved in ministry together as Salvation Army Officers, Sven was a former officer and had served in 4 countries. He is also a highly respected professor having been voted among the top three faculty members out of a total 1,200 professors at a USA state university. He earned his PhD in Moscow, Russia.

There was a slight issue of age as he is 19 years older than me, but initially that did not appear to be a huge problem.  And so we hoped, and planned and prayed about what we imagined our future life together to look like.  How wrong we were.  

Sven and I got engaged on the 15th April, 2008 and on the 22nd he had a massive stroke that has now left him disabled and life has turned out to be very different to what we had expected.  Fortunately Sven is stubborn and determined and hasn’t allowed this to get him down and although the hospital told us he would never walk again, his response was:  ‘watch me’! And now three and a half years later he continues to push himself as far as possible, physically, mentally and spiritually.  

Today one of Sven’s main thrusts of ministry is through a blog he writes and keeps for former Officers in a bid to support and encourage them, and I now find myself as a ‘single spouse’  Officer and a fulltime carer.  This is something else I had never envisioned for me.  Previously I had thought single spouse was a great concept for others, but not for me.  I could never have imagined myself not being married to anyone who was not an Officer and not a 100% committed to the same thing I am committed to.  However, I am learning God ‘laughs at impossibilities, and says, ‘It shall be done’. 

Throughout twenty seven years of Officership my ministry has taken me into England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  It has been vast and varied with much of it spent in Corps appointments and seven years on the youth department.  Our marriage though has taken me/us into Eastern Europe, particularly Latvia where we have conducted mission trips for the last three years and I have had my eyes opened to the plight of those in some of these hard and struggling countries.  

Sven, very much has a passion and a heart for Eastern Europe after having pioneered the work of The Salvation Army in Russia, Ukraine and Moldova and his Grandparents before him, initially taking the work into Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and literally risking their lives to do so. 

It was with this knowledge and some of Sven’s life stories and Grandparents’ stories having deeply moved me and ringing in my ears that we married.  When eventually Sven was due to move to the UK I recall him asking me what I wanted him to bring with him for ‘our’ home.  There was no hesitation in my response as immediately I said:  ‘Your spear … ‘the’ rug … and yourself.   


Will tell you why in part two…

Major Glad Ljungholm
DHQ Liverpool