Friday, August 20, 2010
Daddy's cap with his horn and all,
Wants to go to the Army hall
To play in the Army band.
First he must practice and learn to play,
All of the musical terms obey,
That is the only proper way,
David must understand.
So he plays in his yard at home.
Loudly beating his little drum.
Calling the children all to come.
All in the neighborhood.
David's the captain of all the crew,
Telling the rest of them what to do,
Singing and playing and preaching too,
Just as the Captain should.
On Sunday he wears his Sunday clothes,
Off to the Company Meeting he goes,
Often the Golden Text he knows,
Saying it all alone.
David will treasure his childhood days,
When he was led into Christian ways,
Giving his parents grateful praise,
When he is fully grown.
Irena Arnold. Youth on the Platform. Atlanta, GA: The Salvation Army, 1947.
Youth on the Platform
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I had the privilege of regularly meeting Colonel Gariepy when he would come to the School for Officer Training in New York to teach Cadets. You could always see the love of the Lord shining through his eyes and the passion to tell the story of God's Mission through the vehicle of The Salvation Army.
Christianity in Action, which was published in 2009, could be described as a primer on The Salvation Army. It combines broad brush strokes that capture the meta-story of this movement with masterfully crafted details which connect the great characters and events of the past with contemporary illustrations of how the Army remains faithful to its primary mission. Gariepy is truly a literary craftsman!
|Colonel Henry Gariepy (OF)|
Some are of the opinion that in order for a work of history to be of value it must be filled with harsh and candid critique. This work isn't trying to be an academic history book. It is unabashedly populous - it's written so that anyone - regardless of their knowledge and experience of The Salvation Army, their age or education will be able to enjoy the adventure stories told in these pages.
I was really pleased that this book is in so many formats. You can order the book, the CD, you can read it on Kindle - it's even available on iTunes so that you can listen to this great story in your car or in the gym.
Finally, I pray that young people will read this book. This is our heritage. This is our birthright. Read it and be inspired to write the next chapter by becoming boys and girls, men and women who will embrace the forward-advancing faith of Christianity in action.
"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget... what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."
Monday, August 09, 2010
The great purpose of The Salvation Army is to save. It is for this we fight; it is for this we suffer; nay, it is for this we exist. Our Master and great Example seems to have found that the only road to achieve that great work was by the road of suffering. The whole story of His triumph seems to say: 'If you would be a saviour you must be crucified.'
How true it has been of us! Indeed, one may say that from this very beginning to the present day, in every land in which we have lifted our hands to God, this has become our experience. The Salvation Army was born crucified. If it is to remain alive and powerful, it must go on being crucified. If it is to ultimately triumph it must be from the Cross of suffering for the world that it ascends to the Throne and Crown.
Then do not let us complain because, like our Master, we are sometimes forsaken by those who would so gladly have kept with us in the struggle; or because, like Him, we are sometimes betrayed, denied, and denounced by those who promised so loudly to be true to the Cause; or because, taking advantage of our rule of silence, they sometimes say of us what is not kind or even true.
Let us submit and take care to be true to ourselves. Let us carry our own heavy cross as He carried His. It will no doubt sometimes seem in the eyes of men a weak and foolish thing to do. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
To Him be the glory!
Bramwell Booth. October 10, 1910 - The Salvation Army Canada & Bermuda War Cry, p.8
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Here are some of my reasons:
1. It grounds our kids in biblical knowledge.
2. It lays the foundation of sound doctrine into their lives
3. It connects kids to the historic Salvation Army - familiarizing them with our history, key personalities, structures and symbols
4. It relates all of this to the challenges of childhood and early adolescence
5. It approaches kids from a theology of childhood that emphasizes agency - believing children can be saved, sanctified, discipled, engaged in ministry... and that they can even suffer if needs be for their faith.
6. It focuses on a covenantal pledge (promise) that is a sacred rite of passage that helps a child confirm their faith.
7. It prepares our kids at an early age to sharpen their minds - thinking about their faith as they navigate through the pressures of today's child/youth cultures.
8. It is standardized (the curriculum in the American territories is nationally standardized) so that wherever a child were to move, they would be able to continue their training.
9. Research has shown that if a person puts 10,000 hours of practice into something, this can really define the impact they will have later in life. Junior Soldiers starts the discipleship journey on at a very young age - allowing them early on to put in the time, gain this knowledge and engage in discipleship and ministry experiences.
10. Junior Soldiers leads the child towards ACTIVE faith. It breaks the misunderstood perception that kids need to be passively kept at bay until they are 'old enough' to engage in ministry.
11. The uniform and the promise unite our kids with a historic and worldwide movement of peers who are covenanted to a similar standard.
12. Hey... It's a load of fun!
What would The Salvation Army look like in eighteen years if we all committed to this?
Who are the leaders we are entrusting this sacred trust to? How are we training them?
At Railton School for Youth Worker Training, we are covenanting to do our best to train youth workers who will thoroughly understand this material and will be able to use it for the glory of God and the salvation of the world!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
GRAIN, RAVENS AND MACARONI CHEESE - Beyond the Entitled Life: Christian Leadership in the Midst of Economic Crisis
GRAIN, RAVENS AND MACARONI CHEESE:
Beyond the Entitled Life: Christian Leadership in the Midst of Economic Crisis
“We are very early in the cycle. We are going to see the fury of the Old Testament for what we have done to the economy.”
Peter Morici, Professor at Robert H. Smith School of Business,
University of Maryland
I sat with my jaw dropped as I heard Brian Williams utter these words on Tuesday night regarding the current economic crisis (to hear this broadcast: Nightly News). I am aware that at times things can be over-sensationalized and that creating a ‘culture of fear’ can ensure increased ratings as viewers await the coming apocalypse. I began to ask myself: are we on the cusp of a second great depression?
Statements like these can quickly spiral into a spirit of self-preservation. What will happen to The Salvation Army? Will I be able to draw my salary? How will I pay my bills? Will I be able to provide for my family? The actor, Arthur Sommers Roche states, “Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all of our thoughts are drained” (Roche).
It’s easy for hope to drain from our beings and sink into a spirit of despair. Just this past weekend, my family visited the Palisades Mall only to find a growing number of the stores closed for business or on the verge thereof. For generations that have grown up only knowing a culture of excess, these days of recession are hard to fathom. Jean Twenge, the social anthropologist who has studied today’s teens and twenties culture provides insight into what has been ‘normative’ for the past twenty-five years:
So many products now cater to the tastes of the individual. Instead of listening to the radio and hearing what everyone else does, we program our own special mix on our iPod, put in the headphones, and enter an individually created world. We even choose unique ring tones for our cell phones. Instead of three or four network stations, we can watch cable channels dedicated to our own interests. Instead of watching our TV live with everyone else in our time zone, we TiVo it and watch it when we want to… Individualism has driven the increasingly large universe of consumer choice in other things as well… From clothing to cars to jewelry, consumer products are designed to exhibit the wants of the unique self.
Jean Twenge, Generation Me, 2006: 101
Many of us might grieve the loss of Circuit City or KB Toys, but do we really understand what it means to struggle financially? Are we aware of what it means to be destitute? I was recently quite shocked to see how wealthy we are in the United States when I visited the website Global Rich List. I can plug in how much I make in a year to find how much money I have in comparison to the rest of the world – talk about a reality check! The truth be told, having to pull the belt in a bit pales in comparison to the destitution that others have to live with daily – and yet it is so easy to bemoan our circumstance and ask why we should have to suffer…
In Luke chapter 12, Jesus provides a roadmap that will help us to navigate through such times by providing us with clear direction on appropriate and inappropriate responses to financial crises. In light of our theme of stewardship for this month, I thought it would be helpful to explore these verses to help remind us of how now we should live.
One day Jesus encountered a man who interrupted his teaching to ask him to settle a dispute which he had with his firstborn brother. (Luke 12: 13-31). He insisted that Jesus order his older brother to give him his fair share of their father’s inheritance. According to Jewish Laws of Succession, this man was entitled to receive this. Little did this man realize that Jesus could see between the lines of this request: he wasn’t asking that Jesus decide on the merit of both claims, but that Jesus would make a decision that would favor him getting his share. I find it interesting that nowhere in this passage does it state that this man was actually wealthy – in fact it seems like he really needed (or at least wanted) his inheritance. In modern psychological terms, we could say this man had an ‘entitlement’ complex!
This encounter motivates Jesus to call this man’s bluff by telling a parable about a “rich fool”(Luke 12:16-21). In this story, we learn about a man who was consumed by greed. Already having an abundance of crops to take care of all of his needs, he tore down his barns to build larger ones in order to be able to horde as much grain as he could for himself. This man couldn’t see beyond himself. This man uses the word ‘my’ four times and ‘I’ eight times in this one parable! He had an aggressive, ingrained self-centeredness! His life was defined by what he had (or more appropriately, what he still wanted to get!). Unfortunately, his inability to see beyond himself made him myopic to seeing beyond this world. God looks at this man and says, “Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods – who gets it?” (v. 20, MSG). Obviously the rich man ‘didn’t get it’ – literally and figuratively! Gary Inrig says that, “To be a fool in God’s eyes is to have missed the point in life.” (Inrig, 1991) Eugene Peterson translates, “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” (v. 21)
How easily we can find ourselves trapped in the same foolish myopia – not being able to see beyond ourselves. What really scares me about this passage is that greed is not conditional upon the amount of money we actually have – this is a state of the heart… In other words, we are all susceptible to the disease of entitlement.
Thank goodness, the story doesn’t end here. I can imagine Jesus shifting his attention from this greedy brother and gazing into the eyes of his disciples. He says, “Therefore…” In other words, he directs his attention to those who have been following Jesus for some time. “Therefore” means that this entitled attitude of heart is not exclusive to rich farmers and disgruntled siblings, but can also imprison those of us who are in ministry. “Therefore” (v.22), also means Jesus is saying, “Hey everybody! PAY ATTENTION, because the solution to the problem I have outlined is hinged in what I am about to say”:
"Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
"Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don't fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” (Luke 12: 22-30, MSG)
Snap! I don’t know about you, but reading these words of Jesus is like putting on a pair of glasses and seeing reality for the first time! Sure, I’m not going to be able to pick up a latte from the Italian café that just closed (right by Bed, Bath and Beyond at the Palisades Mall…), and we could possibly feel the fury of an ‘Old Testament-like economic crisis,’ but how am I going to live and who am I going to focus my attention on? Myself, or others? My latte, or my Lord? I think when we weigh things up in the light of eternity and the mission God has invited to participate in, worry seems a bit overrated! As the saying goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
John Wesley understood this. He said, “Make all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” As a student in Oxford, he received £30 per week. Of this, he lived on £28 and gave away £2. As he made more per year (60, 90, 120), he continued to live on £28 a year and gave away the rest. He stated, “I have two silver tea spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate [Old English = possessions] which I have at present; and I shall not buy any more, while so many around me want bread.”
My Mom also understood this. When I was a child, my family lived in Zimbabwe. This was before e-mail and internet – in fact, people still sent packages on ships rather than airplanes… (I know, I’m giving away my age!) God had called my parents to serve as missionaries in Africa and He had assured them that He would supply all their needs – particularly caring for their family of five.
One day, my Mom opened the cupboards to discover that there wasn’t a single bit of food left in the house (this was a country that when there were peanut shortages would use flying ants – yes, flying ants – as a substitute in their chocolate bars!). My parents had no money to buy groceries. We went to school that day and my Mom and Dad spent the morning in prayer. That afternoon, they went to the post office and discovered that there was a package that was sent from some Home League ladies in Canada who six months earlier had sensed the Lord tell them to buy six boxes of Macaroni & Cheese and send them to missionaries serving in Zimbabwe… I have never tasted a better meal than the manna we ate that day! That day, Jesus filled our barn with exactly what we needed for that day.
Jesus concludes his talk by stating, “But seek his kingdom, and all these things will be given to you.” (v.31)
In these days of crisis, let’s throw off the spirit of entitlement. Let’s abandon the spirit of me-first. Let’s surrender our meager attempt to control the future and entrust it to our loving Father who supplies all our needs. In the midst of this storm, the world needs a Salvation Army that will place others before self and Christ before a culture of greed. Let’s throw ourselves into the arms of a God who tells us not to worry about grain, takes care of ravens and even occasionally sends us a box of Mac & Cheese.
Not a shadow can rise
Not a cloud in the skies
But his smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt nor a fear,
Not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Song 397 SASB
Friday, January 09, 2009
I would suggest that without children, The Salvation Army might never have succeeded in coming to the United States. In Dr. Ed McKinley’s book, Marching to Glory (1980), he provides an account of the ministry of the seventeen year-old, Eliza Shirley and her family – who are considered the pioneers of the Army in America. The Shirley’s came to Philadelphia in 1879 with a precondition from General William Booth that he would only officially launch the work in America if the Shirley’s mission “…was a success” (McKinley, 5).
Knowing that the mission of the Army was to “Go for souls and go for the worst,” they immediately set up a ‘Salvation Factory’ in one of the poorest neighborhoods they could find. They visited saloons and preached on perilous street corners, but were met with a spirit of apathy and failure. McKinley comments, “Penniless, friendless, and discouraged, they prayed for some sign from the Heavenly Commander that He favored their dying crusade, and would yet bless it” (McKinley, 7f.). That blessing would come – through a most unconventional means!
Delinquent. The term originated in the 15th century and continues to be a word used to highlight those who break the law. During the 19th century, the industrial revolution helped to churn out juvenile delinquents. In 1849, the New York City Chief of Police reported on “the constantly increasing number of vagrant, idle and vicious children,” whose numbers, he claimed were, “almost incredible” (Cunningham, 145). Children would not be tried separate from adults until 1899 (Cunningham, 151). Children would have to wait until 1906 before the Playground Association of America would be formed to provide organized play activities for urban children (Zelizer, 34). One wonders whether these kids were simply depraved hooligans or whether they were good children who happened to be the byproducts of an abusive, negligent, high-risk environment that provided the fertile ground for delinquent behavior.
The Lord would answer the Shirley’s prayer for a miracle through a gang of ‘delinquent’ boys who chose to entertain themselves by setting fire to a barrel of tar. McKinley elaborates:
…the horse-drawn fire engines had arrived promptly. Fire was a desperate threat in the crowded, wooden, gas-lit cities of the late nineteenth century; fear, along with the self-important clang and bustle of fire engines, always drew large crowds to fires. The Shirleys were certain the fire was providential, and threw themselves on the startled crowd with thankful hearts, singing, “Traveler, whither art thou going, Heedless of the clouds that form?!” (McKinley, 8)
That day, a delinquent act by a group of ruffian children became a delinquent miracle that helped to spark a literal flame that sparked a more profound spiritual flame that blazed a path for an array of ministries that would seek to reclaim hundreds of thousands of children throughout America for the next one hundred and thirty years – and continues to do so today. Without these children, the Shirley’s mission might never have been successful. Without these boys, William Booth might never have officially launched The Salvation Army one year later.
Today, boys just like these young men have an opportunity to enter through the doors of Salvation Army Corps and Community Centers. The Salvation Army provides a safe space where all of their needs: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, moral – and most importantly, spiritual; can be met. It is our prayer that at Railton School for Youth Worker Training, that we raise of a generation of young leaders who will be ready to welcome such children; and be committed to developing a reclaiming environment where new delinquent miracles can spark opportunities to blaze a trail into the lives of this next generation.
· Cunningham, Hugh. Children and childhood in Western society since 1500. Essex, England: Longman, 1995.
· McKinley, Edward H. Marching to glory: The history of The Salvation Army in the United States of America, 1880-1980. San Francisco:Harper & Row, 1980/1992.
· Zelizer, Viviana A. Pricing the priceless child: The changing social value of children. NY: Basic Books, 1981.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
The historian Norman Murdoch has written in "The Origins of The Salvation Army" about the significant influence of Palmer not only upon the founders of the Army, but in forming the evangelical DNA of the movement. Palmer - a staunch advocate of the Holiness Doctrine - not only inspired The Salvation Army in terms of women in ministry, but also regarding slum work (The Five Points Mission), temperance, and abolition (I would also add Sunday School). I am beginning to sense that this movement's perspective on children at-risk in slum communities must have had an impact on the Booth's.
Read this poem from The Old Brewery and the New Mission House at The Five Points, published in 1854 (around the same time as the events portrayed in the film, The Gangs of New York:
‘Who bids for the little children
body and soul and brain;
Who bids for the little children –
Young and without stain’?
‘I bid,’ said Beggary, howling,
‘I’ll buy them one and all,
I’ll teach them a thousand lessons –
To lie, to skulk, to crawl.’
‘And I’ll bid higher and higher,’
said Crime, with wolfish grin,
‘For I love to lead the children
through the pleasant paths of sin.
They shall swarm in the streets to pilfer,
They shall plague the broad highway,
Till they grow too old to pity,
And ripe for the law to slay.’
‘Oh shame!’ said true Religion,
‘Oh, shame that this should be
I’ll take the little children –
I”ll take them all to me
I’ll raise them up with kindness
From the mire in which they’ve trod,
I’ll teach them words of blessing,
I’ll lead them all to God.’
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Thursday, April 03, 2008
PASTORAL LETTER SEVEN
CHILDREN / LES ENFANTS / NINOS
Dear Fellow Salvationists,
In this seventh Pastoral Letter I feel led to think aloud with you about the children of the Army and the children of the world. In doing so I send you warm greetings from London where Spring has come early and is now in full bloom. God's handiwork is matchless. So is God's love, a love that extends in a very special way to embrace our children and children everywhere.
We know from the words and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ that there is a special place for children in the heart of God. That is why we too as individuals and as an Army must also hold the children in high esteem and look to their wellbeing at all times. Jesus had harsh words for any person harming a child. Also he made time and space for children, letting them come to him even when those around him tried to prevent it. He prioritised the children.
We must do so too. General William Booth visited India twice and published a clear-headed strategy for winning India for Christ. A key part of the strategy addressed our attitude to the children of India. Booth said that for India to be won for Christ we must pay, not just 1,000 times more attention to the children than to the adults, but 10,000 times more attention! This was a bold statement but it applies still today and not only to India. It would break the Founder's heart to visit corps that have no work for children and where throughout a whole Sunday you will not meet a single child. What a tragedy!
Our Junior Soldiers are infinitely precious. Every child is a gem for Christ. A child who loves the Lord with a simple childlike heart can be used by God in turn to win the parents for the Kingdom. Also, the children are our role-models in simplicity and trust, just as we are their role-models in loving and caring for one another. As I write I offer up an earnest prayer for all who teach the children of the Army, for theirs is a very great and privileged responsibility.
In today's world we must protect the children from all kinds of evil and harm: impure literature, the temptations of the internet, drugs and alcohol, those who would prey upon them seeking to damage and abuse them, materialism, low self-esteem, peer pressures of every kind, premature sexualisation - the list could go on and on. Every Army centre in the world is expected to have clear and effective child protection procedures in place. These procedures are not an optional extra.
Let us take a step back and ask ourselves if we are fulfilling our duties to the children within our influence. Do they sense that we respect them? Are we supportive of their family life? Do we teach them, at a suitable age, about the importance of marriage and fidelity? Do we have imaginative, effective programmes for them? Is our teaching for the children sound and true? Are we settling merely for entertaining them or are we intentional about leading them to Christ?
I know that the Lord speaks into the lives of children because he spoke to me when I was only 12 years old. He told me what he wanted from me for the rest of my life. No one else knew what he had said to me, until I was ready to share it. So today this still happens and we who are adults have no idea what God is whispering into the souls of our children. For this reason we must respect them as tender plants growing up for Christ to do his holy will in the world.
God bless the children! Thank you for looking after the children! They are beyond price in the eyes of their Creator.
This comes to you all with my strong love in Jesus Christ and my ceaseless encouragement in the great Salvation War.
I commit you to the perfect love of Christ.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
As I walked into the chapel, the worship team was singing an absolutely beautiful song, "Lord have mercy." As I walked through the doors, it became apparent that there was solemn awareness of the transcendence of God as cadets, faculty and students didn't simply sing these words, but cried them to the Lord. Shouts of "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" echoed through the chamber. There was something unusual happening.
After a beautiful time of worship and prayer, Young preached a wonderful sermon focusing on the theme of Ash Wednesday. He delved into the the reasons why this day is so important in the church calendar - particularly as this is a day in which we stop to ponder our humanity.
It dawned on me as he spoke, that we have become a culture in which there is great temptation to construct gods in our own image. In many ways, we construct mirrors that are able to reflect back to us who we ultimately worship... it seems what we worship the most is ourselves. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is an individual, egocentric quest in which we seek to place our will above others. What are the outcomes of this focus? Narcissism, entitlement, pride, self-absorption - let alone innoculation from hearing the suffering cries of 'the other,' the marginalized... in many ways, those who are the victims of our own self-indulgence.
Ash Wedensday is a day when we are called to pause and to reflect on the fact that we are dust - that we are ash. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." A life that is void of the breath of God is nothing more than an exercise in hopelessness... and yet I often find myself on the course of pursuing such vain goals.
However, dust is also a symbol in Scripture of humility, repentance and malleability. Young reminded us that ashes in Hebraic culture were used to express grief and humility; that it was a symbol of repentance from pride; and that it is dust or ash which forms the base of clay - which, when surrendered to the potter's hand can be molded and shaped into new possibilities.
The German theologian, Jurgen Moltmann in his theology of hope, discusses the concept of 'creatio ex nihilo' - that God 'created out of nothingness' - that He breathed meaning and life into dust and ash to create us. Similarly, if we are willing to tear down our idols of self - what the apostle Paul referred to as 'the old self' or 'the flesh' (i.e., 'ash and dust') - then out of the ashes can emerge 'a new self' - a self that considers others first, that places Christ's will above ours...
I can't help but think this morning of the image of a phoenix - that God would have me on this Ash Wednesday surrender the dust and ash of my life to His sacred will - that every facet of my being would be humbled, forgiven, molded and formed into whatever God would have me be - that the Holy Spirit would breathe His breath into me. This act of complete consecration is the essence of holiness - the surrendering of self over to God's sacred will. Holiness, then could be described as the ashes of self-sacrifice being reforged into a new self that has reformed purpose and possibility - as determined by the will of God.
Thank you, Young, for being a vessel through which the Spirit spoke to me today.