Sunday, May 31, 2015

To Abort or Not to Abort?

A woman is raped.

It’s horrible.

It gets worse, she’s pregnant from her rapist.

Here is the life-altering question: to abort or not to abort?

A website called Life Dynamics (Life Dynamicsaddresses the issue and reveals a viewpoint the mainstream media never covers: women who were raped, who gave birth, and were glad they chose life.

The site gives a voice to women who were conceived through rape and who thank their mothers for allowing them to live. You can watch a quick clip above and follow the link to hear more.

I met a woman who faced this decision and decided to give birth to the child of her rapist. Even more, she raised him. She asserts that “surveys” reveal counter-intuitive results, namely, that rape victims who bear the child of their rapist are glad they did; but that women who abort regret it.

I wrote about this awhile back, and a Quiner’s Diner reader pressed me for corroborration.

I did a little digging. The source for this finding comes from a book called Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, edited by Dr. David C. Reardon, Julie Makimaa and Amy Sobie.

They surveyed rape victims to accumulate some raw data. But even more, far more, they listened to their stories.

I didn’t expect these results. Here’s what Dr. Reardon learned:
“Many of the women in our sample aborted only because they were pressured to do so, and most reported that the abortion only increased their experience of grief and trauma. In contrast, none of the women who carried to term said they wished they had not given birth or that they had chosen abortion instead. Many of these women said that their children had brought peace and healing to their lives.”

Irrational, isn’t it? A baby should be a symbol of hate, not love, for victims of rape. That is what our intuition says. That is what our culture says. The Democratic Party bases their human abortion platform on this premise.

Dr. Reardon learned from victims themselves that the opposite was true:
“Abortion increases the woman’s sense of isolation and shame by allowing others to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. By getting rid of the pregnancy, which is a reminder of the sexual assault, it allows other people to ignore the woman’s need for understanding and honest exploration and resolution of what she has been through.”

Here’s what hits me like a ton of bricks. Advocates of abortion “rights” club us over the head with the need for abortion on behalf of victims of rape and incest. Dr. Reardon’s research reveals that they’re just plain wrong.

By the way, his study includes victims of incest.
Somehow, love for human life is ultimately more therapeutic, more powerful, than hate for the rapist.
Love trumps hate, something Jesus always said.
Dr. Reardon gives us a cautionary warning:
“Population controllers have exploited people’s compassion for rape and incest victims to weaken abortion laws and gain acceptance for abortion on demand. It’s time to give these women a chance to speak out for themselves and let the truth be known.”
To the victims of rape and incest, I can simply say I’m so very sorry for your pain.
I hope this post serves a purpose.

By Tom Quiner

Концерт хора "STAINES SONGSTERS" RIGA II CORPS UKRAINE "Рига-2". Часть 2я.

STAINES CORPS, UK visit to Riga II Corps - a familiar FSAOF mission project stop-

Salvation Army - Songs Of Praise from 1999 (pt1)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The King's Gifts and Emperor's Clothes

The King's Gifts and Emperor's Clothes
from JAC Issue #11
by Captain Stephen Court

"Eagerly desire the greater gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31). This culminated his discussion of apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helps, administration, tongues, and interpretation of tongues (14:27-30). These are some of the King's gifts.

The Salvation Army is a holiness movement. Holiness is essential to our success. Holiness presumes implicit obedience to God. If, at any point, we are disobedient, then we are no longer holy.

Inasmuch as we do not eagerly desire these gifts, to that extent we are disobedient and have ruptured fellowship with God. Insofar as we deny the King's gifts, to that degree we are wearing the emperor's clothes, we're naked and we're fooling ourselves that we're clothed in the righteousness that characterizes The Salvation Army.

Gifts represent the power of God. Frequently a manifestation of the power of God has effected opposition. Gifts represent the presence of God. Sometimes the presence of God is uncontrollable and so has provoked fear. Gifts represent the grace of God. Occasionally this is bastardized such that it spawns pride. In our concern to avoid these human responses, opposition, fear, and pride, The Salvation Army has retreated from obedience to God's command. It has bullied us into rupturing our fellowship with God, into forfeiting our holiness. In denying the King's gifts, we've put on the emperor's clothes.

We desire unity. Inauspiciously, unity is often won at the lowest common denominator. So as not to exclude the 'weaker comrades' we compromise on the gifts of God. To desire unity is good, but not at the expense of desiring gifts.

Some time after General William Booth walked the earth spiritual authority somehow underwent declension to a spirit of control. A spirit of control is offended when gifts evincing the presence of God take matters out of our hands.

Opposition, fear, pride, unity, and control take their places in battle array against healing, helps, administration, tongues, and interpretation of tongues primed for an engagement that will determine the Army's destiny.

This is the first question most Salvationists ask when confronted with something outside their experience. Despite what our more recent history of excommunicating officers with more visible gifts and forbidding the use of some gifts in public meetings might suggest, these more 'outstanding' gifts are certainly Army. General William Booth explains:
"For this reason they were important to the world, and their possession today might be a great blessing to mankind. There is not a word in the Bible which proves that we might not have them at the present time, and there is nothing in experience to show they would not be as useful today as in any previous period of the Church's history. No man, therefore, can be condemned for desiring them, and the recent remarkable signs and wonders wrought amongst us not only demand, but shall have our most profound and sympathetic consideration" (GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, in the WAR CRY. March 14th, 1885).

I know several people in my Corps who are looking for work. One is particularly eager to find a job. He has more than 50 resumes out and calls on prospective employers weekly. He eagerly desires work. John Wesley comments on the gifts: "they are all worth your pursuit" (on 1 Corinthians 12:31, NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY- THE SALVATION ARMY Edition).

According to Wesley, pursuit is eager desire with legs on. If we eagerly desire something we will pursue it. We will continue to call on the prospective employer to ask for a job. We will continually call on the King to ask for His gifts. If we don't eagerly desire the gifts, then we act in disobedience to God, and break fellowship, waiving holiness.

General Clarence Wiseman argues that we must not seek personal aggrandizement from gifts (LIVING AND WALKING IN THE SPIRIT. p5). This is definitely a real temptation. But such a truth, used at the service of arguing against tongues, is no more a reason to forbid its exercise than to note that excellent musicianship also brings with it the temptation to personal aggrandizement and so conclude that cornet solos should be forbidden in public meetings.

Wiseman admits, "Not a few Christians have found release from personal inhibitions and new freedom and joy in the Lord through the exercise of the gift of tongues, and no one would wish to deny them this liberating experience" (LIVING AND WALKING IN THE SPIRIT. p8). In 1907, General Booth noted, "It appears that two or three corps are divided on this question of tongues and it will be a good thing if abiding evil does not ensue" (in Wiseman, LIVING AND WALKING IN THE SPIRIT. p6).Agreed. What is abiding evil in this case? Surely it is that these corps shut out the Holy Spirit so that they can maintain a fleshy unity. On the gift of healing, General Bramwell Booth explains:
"For we have not merely recognized that the healing of the sick by the power of God has from the beginning been associated with the office of prophets, priests, teachers, and apostles, but it has always seemed to us in perfect harmony with the views and experience of the Army itself that God should heal the sick after this fashion... We have insisted that in fact God does raise up the sick in answer to our prayers; and numerous instances... of this healing ministry have occurred throughout our history" (ECHOES AND MEMORIES. p71).
Turning specifically to tongues, he continues: "We have to be suspicious of any voices or gifts which make men indisposed to bear the Cross or to seek the salvation of others; and although some of our people have received what is spoken of as the gift of tongues, we have almost invariably found that one of the consequences has been a disposition to withdraw from hard work... I believe that these things, as I have witnessed them, are divine in their origin" (ECHOES AND MEMORIES. p71, 72).General Bramwell Booth's handling of the issue is a model for us today. First, he recognizes that the gift of tongues is from God. Second, he only disciplines those who slack in their duty. The discipline itself has nothing to do with the tongues; it has everything to do with those who are slack in their duty. Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle takes a different approach to Wiseman and Booth. He argues that the gift of tongues is the seventh of nine gifts mentioned and that it will eventually cease (RESURRECTION LIFE AND POWER. p180. He intimates on page 183 that prophecy and tongues may already have ceased. This is not an official Salvation Army position). Brengle mentions the order to suggest that it is not important. However, its importance results not from its priority in Paul's list but in the fact that it is a gift of God. And while it is true that tongues will cease, it is also true that prophecy will cease, and every other gift of God- but not until Jesus comes back.

General Wiseman asks, "What should be the Army's attitude toward the gift of tongues? Surely the answer is that it should be the attitude of Paul" (LIVING AND WALKING IN THE SPIRIT, p6). Tongues have their place in the Bible and therefore should not be ignored. Wiseman reminds us that Paul said, "Forbid not the speaking of tongues," adding the cautionary word, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1Corinthians 14:39, 40). The arguments of Generals Booth, Booth, and Wiseman, and of Commissioner Brengle, if not their final decisions, lead consensually to the conclusion that we are for the exercise of all the gifts.

And finally, Brengle falls into the same trap that the Army has been stuck in on the issue of sacraments, answering a question no one is asking, defending a position that no one is challenging. For sacraments the mistake is that the Army argues that it is not necessary for salvation. The vast majority of Christians will grant this point. On tongues, Brengle argues that it is love that is important, not tongues. Of course, no Christian is going to argue that the gift of tongues is important and that love is not important!

With humility, we have to recognize that our heroes didn't have the complete understanding of everything Christian. That goes for two of my heroes, Brengle and Wesley. Wesley can only guess at what the word of knowledge is: "perhaps an extraordinary ability to understand and explain the Old Testaments types and prophecies" (THE NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY- THE SALVATION ARMY EDITION, 1 Corinthians 12:8). BY ALL MEANS, TO SAVE SOME

Wesley does agree with Scripture that tongues are for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22), "to engage their attention, and convince them the message is of God." One of the difficulties in the Army's more recent tradition is that we cannot engage sinners' attention and convince them the message is of God through the use of tongues in public meetings if we cannot use tongues in public meetings. Now, in my experience, seeing people saved is hard enough as it is. But to limit us from exercising a God-given gift for the purpose of publicly convincing sinners is to handcuff our soldiers in their battle with satan. No wonder he has the upper hand.

Tragically, since Scripture is not received by Salvationists on this issue, General William Booth leaves us with this exhortation:
"By all means let us aspire after higher gifts. Far be it, my comrades, from me to say one word that would stay the longing of any heart for the extraordinary gifts already mentioned. I long for them myself. I believe in their necessity, and I believe they are already amongst us. By all means let us have the perfection of the Divine method of working. The poor infidel world should be made to see all of God that is possible, in order that it may believe" (GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, in the War Cry. March 14th, 1885). 

If we do not accept the King's gifts, we are stuck wearing the emperor's clothes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

It's Thursday Number 24 28th May, 2015


'Now Jacob loved Joseph more than all his sons,....' Genesis 37:3 One would think that Jacob would have learnt something about the trouble and dissension caused to a family where parents favour one of their children more than another, for he had experienced it first hand, (Genesis 25:28). It was clearly evident to his other sons that Jacob loved Joseph more than they. The result was that they hated Joseph and couldn't speak a kind word to him,(v4).

Although Joseph never asked to be his father's favourite he suffered his brother's anger because of it. Sometimes we can suffer the resentment of others through no fault of our own. Sometimes we might not be able to think of a conceivable reason why someone should treat us with the disdain with which they do. Any attempt on our part to placate the person is met with rejection or contempt and no explanation for their attitude. We might well say 'Amen' to Christ's words, 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you,' (Luke 6:27). But it's a very different thing to live it when you live in an environment where you are hated, cursed and ill-treated.

Having said all that, Joseph didn't help himself. Firstly, when he got back from tending his father's flocks with his brothers, he told tales on them, (v 2) and secondly he told his brothers about the dreams he had where his brothers bowed down to him. What he dreamed as a young teenager would one day prove to be prophetic, but there are times when God would have us keep to ourselves our observations and his very personal revelations, lest they be misunderstood by those we might be inclined to share them with. In Luke 2, vs 19 we are told how Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasured what she observed and heard and pondered them in her heart. Sadly, immature Joseph seems to have been incapable of keeping what he had experienced to himself, and his brothers hated him all the more for it. 

God bless you all.

Vatican says Ireland gay marriage vote is 'defeat for humanity'

A Vatican diplomat seen as second only to the pope insists Saturday’s referendum result shows ‘the church must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation’

The remarks by the Vatican’s top diplomat represent the most damning assessment of the Irish gay marriage vote by a senior church official to date. Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
Tuesday 26 May 2015

A senior Vatican official has attacked the legalisation of gay marriage in Ireland. The referendum that overwhelmingly backed marriage equality last weekend was a “defeat for humanity”, he claimed.
“I was deeply saddened by the result,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said at a conference in Rome on Tuesday night. “The church must take account of this reality, but in the sense that it must strengthen its commitment to evangelisation. I think that you cannot just talk of a defeat for Christian principles, but of a defeat for humanity.”

‘Ireland might just have become a great little country in which to be gay’

The remarks by the Vatican’s top diplomat, who is seen as second only to the pope in the church’s hierarchy, represent the most damning assessment of the Irish vote by a senior church official to date.
It was a far more critical response than the circumspect reaction offered by archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who said: “It is very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people … [then the church needs] a reality check.”
Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by popular vote after a referendum found that 62% of voters were in favour of changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
While the results were celebrated by advocates of gay rights in Ireland and around the world, it was also seen as a stark symbol of how wide the chasm has grown between young people in what has traditionally been a staunchly Catholic country and the church itself, which says that homosexual acts are a sin and vehemently opposes gay marriage.

Parolin’s comments are sure to revive the debate about the church’s attitude to gay rights and equality under the papacy of Pope Francis, who once famously said “who am I to judge?” when asked about the existence of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican. That remark spurred hope among progressive Catholics that the church was entering a new era of tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality.
For some, that hope has been dashed by an ongoing controversy involving a French diplomat and practising Catholic named Laurent Stefanini, who is gay. The Vatican has refused to accept Stefanini’s nomination as France’s ambassador to the Holy See because of his sexual orientation, according to media reports in France and Italy.
The Vatican has declined to comment on the matter, but there has been speculation in recent weeks that the pope could make an abrupt change and accept the nomination, after all. The Vatican recently told the Guardian that any news on the appointment would be made available on the Vatican’s bulletin, where such appointments are usually publicised.
On Tuesday night, Parolin said the dialogue between the Vatican and France was continuing in regard to the controversial nomination, and that he hoped it would come to a conclusion in a “positive manner”.
Parolin’s remarks on the Irish vote are significant given the broader role Parolin plays in crafting the church’s message on major diplomatic and social issues.
At the time of his appointment in 2013, veteran Vatican reporter John Allen wrote in the National Catholic Reporter that Parolin had been “on the frontlines of shaping the Vatican’s response to virtually every geopolitical challenge of the past two decades”.
Among other issues, the Italian cardinal has been an outspoken advocate for action to combat global warming. In recent remarks, he denounced the “globalisation of indifference and the economy of exclusion” that has put the planet in peril.
He has also been the public face of Francis’s diplomatic efforts, including the church’s role in helping Cuba and the US restore diplomatic ties.

But on Tuesday, with his choice of words, Parolin differed from the pope in one respect: the Argentinian pontiff has also used the phrase “defeat for humanity”, but he was talking about war, not the legalisation of gay marriage.

Monday, May 25, 2015


My introduction to The Salvation Army in Tallinn was; being met off our cruise ship by a radiant Salvation Army Officer, Yulia, whose radiance was much, much more than just an outward appearance.  She really is someone very special which was clearly seen in the way she relates to people and the way they respond to her. 
With Yulia were two residents from The Salvation Army mens’ rehabilitation centre, who very graciously taxied us and took care of our every need, pushing Sven in his wheelchair, lifting it in and out of the mini bus and driving us around to places they thought significant to the FSAOF in assessing potential future mission support: we had a full 6 hours in Tallinn. One of the men had been in the rehab centre for two years, and the other, the driver, for just two months and the progress in their lives was evident. The driver, a man in his early thirties, was well groomed, smartly dressed and appeared proud of the responsibility and freedom this new life offered. However, as the day warmed and sleeves rolled up the tracks on his arm were evidence of his earlier life-style.

Initially they took us to the corps in the centre of the city. Soldiers and volunteers were already working hard in preparation for the distribution of food parcels for people who come for the three-times weekly free parcels.  They also have a feeding programme for the homeless, serving 120 persons three times a week. On the Army’s off days some of the churches take their turn.

We were also able to off-load the gifts donated by FSAOF. We had anticipated problems as we disembarked from the ship suitcase in hand; “Are you leaving us here in Estonia?” Sven mumbled something in Russian and we were waved through… I asked him what he’d said and he told me it was the same line he’d used countless of times before when bringing goods across the borders to Russia, Ukraine and Georgia: I showed them my passport with dozens of Russian visa stamps and said, “I’m Salvation Army soldier S E Ljungholm delivering aid to our corps and humanitarian aid center”! “Very well – carry on straight through, and thank you!”

The suitcase held beautiful, brand new-with-tags red uniform jumpers from Scotland for children, (22.00 Pounds – $33.50  each - The cost to the FSAOF just $7.50!) 10 long length microphone cables, that had been requested for the corps’ P&W group, and a sizeable monetary donation to support the on-going work of both the Corps and the rehab centre, who specifically needed new shoes for 26 men and pillow cases, things we take so easily for granted.
As more needs were shared, Sven’s hand went into his right hand pocket again and again – Sven knew from experience how support sometimes slows to a trickle; tears were shed as God’s love was shared.

Lt.Colonel Arja Laukkenen, a pioneer in re-opening the SA work in Estonia shared that sometime ago the Corps had made some renovation work and a non-Christian architect had a strong influence in the design.  A non-believer who obviously caught hold of the ethos of the ministry of The Salvation Army and what the Corps was setting out to do.  The entrance hall was quite large and on the ground was a labyrinth that encourages people to work and pray through some of their issues; there was no pressure just an opportunity to walk through the maze of their lives.  The end of the labyrinth leads you to a straight path taking you up to the mercy seat (The Salvation Army place of prayer).  At the front of the worship hall is a large white screen, and at the top of it the shape of the cross is cut out and behind it is a cross a sort of three dimensional display, however, wherever you stand in the hall, frustratingly the cross is never in full view, it is always just off centre from the cut out.  However, I soon discovered that if you stood on the straight path you had perfect vision of the cross and the path, through the mercy seat would lead you directly to the cross. 
Arja Laukkenen is assisting from Finland for five
weeks - retired but active beyond words!
What a powerful message and image, walking and praying through the labyrinth, maze of our lives, with God’s help seeking direction and being lead to the straight path that leads us straight to the cross.  I would love to have this imagery in the Lifehouses I minister in.

Having seen something of the life and ministry of the Corps at Tallinn, our friends then drove us to the workshop, area of where they work from the rehab centre, this is helping them to get their lives back on track and also giving them more hope of getting back into the workplace.  Here they chop logs, this is no small task as you can see from the photo, they then take them into the city to sell, or farms that exchange them for potatoes and other vegetables.  On this same sight is the shack they use for Bible Study on the edge of the Baltic Sea.

Following this they took us to the rehab centre where they live and support each other, it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere which I guess could be an advantage to them where alcohol and drugs are not so easily accessible.  Twenty six of them live here, they cook, eat and sleep together.  They pray and support each other daily through a twelve step programme.  It is possible for them to move on to their own accommodation but many of them prefer to live together in community so they still have the support and encouragement of each other. 
Every day they share prayer and Bible Study, this is part of their commitment to the programme that they have signed up for, this is not an optional extra, and every week they attend the church services at the corps.  On Sunday 17 May, 2015 one of the men was enrolled as a Salvation Army soldier and with the help of FSAOF will proudly wear his Salvation Army uniform.   As we shared a meal with a number of the residents others were telling us something of their faith journey and of how one day, they too hope to don an SA uniform.  Many have come to faith or grown in their faith through this programme and have experienced real change in their lives, others too have experienced change but acknowledge they have not got the same heart for the Gospel message as some of their friends, they hear it, believe it but do not feel it … yet.

Yulia, and her husband, the Corps Officers obviously have an important role to play in this life changing process. And it was lovely to see how the men genuinely care for Major Yulia and support her and her family in every way they can.  They seemed very protective of her and it was beautiful to see something of the love she has invested in the men being reflected back in their love for her. 

Taking time out from our holiday and visiting some parts of the work of TSA in Tallinn and meeting some very special people was an important part of God’s restoration and re-energising in Sven and my life as we recharge our batteries during this holiday to continue in our ministry.

For the FSAOF