“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed, what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties do not light up the world they live in. They don’t have Peter’s courage, who told that crowd where the bloodstained hands still were that had killed Christ: ‘You killed him!’ Even though the charge could cost him his life as well, he made it. The gospel is courageous; its the good news of him who came to take away the world’s sins.”
Archbishop Oscar Romero – 1978
“The Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see:
heaven on earth, earth in heaven,
man in God, God in man,
one who the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.”
A new anti-weapons lobby group called “Only Governments Should Have Weapons” issued a statement concerning the car attack on the Capitol on Thursday – “once again we are faced with the attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction against innocent people. We call on all leaders and law enforcement officials to work to enact licensing of these dangerous weapons before more people are killed. Furthermore, we want to see owners of these lethal weapons licensed as well including background checks along with the obligation of having liability insurance. These innocent looking vehicles are actually a steel & gasoline disaster waiting to happen and a threat to civil peace when hurtling along at 60 plus mph by deranged drivers. It is the height of irresponsibility that the manufacturers of these dangerous weapons continue to profit at the public’s expense. How long must these incidents happen and the toll in loss of life go on before action is taken?”
When the spokeswoman was informed that these measures had already been taken the organization had no comment except to repeat the statement with a louder volume and more shrill voice.
In the event that the U.S. government is monitoring your conversations, here are some useful phrases to insert into your phone calls, texts, or e-mails:
-I think the N.S.A. is awesome.
-I just reread “Nineteen Eighty-Four”—it actually has a lot of good ideas in it!
-There’s no such thing as a “bad” drone.
-Sure am glad that I never talk to any foreigners.
-I wouldn’t know the first thing about making ricin.
-The Fourth Amendment is overrated.
-If you ask me, Guantánamo is full of nothing but complainers.
-Just changed my Facebook status from “Single” to “In a Relationship with America.”
-I’m pretty sure my neighbor is cheating on his taxes.
(The Borowitz Report )
I recently finished an older book entitled “Blood and Fire: The Story of William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army” by Roy Hattersley (Doubleday, 2000). I have wanted to learn more about the Booths, the founders of the Salvation Army since (as family history tells it) my maternal, Scottish great grandfather, Moncrieff Galloway, signed the “Articles of War” or “Soldier’s Covenant” of belief and practice after surviving the Boer War in S. Africa in 1902. He later moved to the U.S. in 1909 and worked in a factory as he continued to preach and serve in “the Army” as a Sgt. Major. I have a small pocket New Testament of his with one of his sermon outlines written in pencil on the inside of the cover.
While best known today for their social work and the storefront Christmas bell-ringer and change bucket, in their times, the Booths were unconventional, radical and shocked the stolid church establishment. They were routinely attacked by the press and church leaders as rude, crude, and socially un-respectable even as their adherents from the working classes, once decimated by crime, poverty, prostitution and alcohol were physically attacked by mobs and gangs organized by liquor manufacturers and bar owners. Like many trailblazers and leaders they were autocratic, insensitive and demanding but worked with a clear sense of drive and mission that was almost apostolic in spirit.
Reviewer Wendy Smith writes, “They preached in the streets of London accompanied by brass bands, appropriating the methods of ungodly popular entertainment to draw working-class sinners to righteousness. They founded soup kitchens and people’s halls to feed the hungry and give them a place to congregate other than the tavern. William Booth (1829-1912) and his wife, Catherine (1829-90), outraged polite society with the establishment of their Christian Mission in 1865. Rechristened the Salvation Army in 1878, the organization challenged the smug Victorian status quo by insisting that sin sprang from unjust social conditions. British writer and Labour Party stalwart Roy Hattersley vividly conveys the political and religious context within which the Salvation Army operated without scanting the forceful (not to say peculiar) characters of its founders. William was authoritarian and self-righteous, yet he often deferred to intellectual, strong-minded Catherine, whose instinctive sympathy for the poor and belief in women’s equality before God shaped their ministry. They were hardly warm people, yet their marital love was unshakable and absolute. The Salvation Army survived their autocratic leadership to flourish into the 21st century: ‘It is not necessary to believe in instant sanctification,’ writes Hattersley in a characteristically balanced summing-up, ‘to admire and applaud their work of social redemption.”
Of course social change is always controversial these days to some – such as former-Fox News TV show hosts who reduce all issues to chalkboard comic characters and produce nothing but hot air. However, the work of mission and evangelism are false to the good news of the kingdom if they ignore the sad reality of the conditions of the real 99% and majority of the 7 billion of the world. The Booths grasped that the Gospel is truly transforming – a person who is new creation because of the Spirit of God will bring change to their family and community. The Booths weren’t the first to grasp that truth of gospel transformation and thankfully they weren’t the last. Ministries that address practical solutions to child labor, prostitution, grinding poverty & unhealthy living conditions due to substance abuse as well as economic inequality are thriving from Guatemala to Tajikistan, from all corners of the earth because sin still is the source of human misery and the atoning work of Jesus Christ, his blood brings freedom from its consequences.
As the author Roy Hattersley points out, one does not have to agree with all the Booths believed (I certainly don’t) to applaud what they attempted and achieved. Hattersley is honest about their faults and the challenge for all strong, founding leaders – what happens when your gone. The Salvation Army survived family member defections as well as the inevitable process of a spiritual movement organizing into an institution. There had to have been something of the fire of God’s grace at work to reach a battle weary soldier’s heart in South Africa over a hundred years ago that led to a true confession of saving faith and brought blessings to his family for years to come . My great grandfather was promoted to glory in 1953. I am told that he prayed for many years for his family both born and yet un-born. I am thankful he did and I am thankful there was someone there that day in S. Africa, even if dressed in what was considered an odd & unconventional uniform, to point him to his Savior.
Some of the Galloway Family – John, Crief, Mary, Lilas and my Great-Grandfather, Moncrief
“Whatever is great and excellent in the Godhead the Father gives by giving us his Son…
(in creation) he gives the riches of the earth, in giving himself to us, he gives the riches of heaven…
by giving his Son he has given himself…for our enjoyment.”
Stephen Charnock – “The Goodness of God”
The hue & cry about the “war on Christmas” is in the news. However, Christmas was not always as popular as some believe. Under the influence of Puritan preaching and clout it was banned by the English Parliament in 1647. It was “banned in Boston” due to the same influence in its Colonial Congregational version until 1856. So while currently the villains are supposedly a nefarious cabal of multiculturalists even Christians have had “bah humbug” moments! The grievances that are listed because the U.S. is no longer a country with a monolithic unofficial civic religion don’t really add up to a significant attack upon the Christian faith. Consider the following:
On a scale of 0 to 100 how important is the public display of a tree (whether called Holiday or Christmas) to the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ? Zero
On a scale of 0 to 100 how important is being greeted with “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” at the local store to the discipling of every nation? Zippo
On a scale of 0 to 100 how important is the production of special programs (whether called Christmas or Holiday) to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the people of God? Nada
The so-called “war on Christmas” may be good for talk show ratings and for fund raising for reactionary political agendas but is “much ado about nothing” as far as God’s work in the nations. The Son of God never said his disciples would be known by their public nativity scenes or decorating a pine tree. He said they would be known by their love, demonstrated in concrete actions that will benefit others. Love is different from compiling a list of grievances because one’s own cherished traditions no longer exclusively dominate popular culture. The Gospel – the glad tidings of great joy – is more than equal share of religious advertising space. If as much energy & fervor was expended in defending the gospel by the simple preaching, teaching, worship and service of the gathered church as is wasted in enlisting evangelical market share for a war about nothing, the purpose of Christ’s incarnation might be clearer to a world in spiritual darkness.
There – my Scrooge moment is over.
Walt White is a missionary who works with a number of nations on a number of projects. Here’s an update worth thinking about:
“A hero for Christ has died.
Many times during my life, the world has wept when some “celebrity” that has lived a dysfunctional life died prematurely due to an overdose or some other preventable cause. A true hero has just died, no doubt of a heart attack. He was a close friend. His family will weep, and his friends will mourn and reminisce, but the world will utterly ignore his life and his death. His death will not be noted in the New York Times, or perhaps even in the local newspaper in his backwater corner of the world. His is a life that SHOULD be celebrated, but it will be overlooked except for a few. The world will never know his name, although heaven does, as it is no doubt written in the Book of Life.
He might have been an orphan or he might have had a powerful, rather wealthy family. He talked very little about them, either to protect himself, or to protect them from further shame because of the decision he made. Whether his family was dead or alive, he became dead to his immediate and extended family when he became a disciple of Jesus Christ and chose to follow Jesus as his Lord, his Savior. He soon developed a passion to introduce others to the Jesus that he loved. He was well educated in the religious background of his birth, and was extremely skilled in using that knowledge to help others come to faith in Jesus.
He had other gifts that amazed me too. He had traveled his country on a literature distribution team for several years as a young man. It seems that he remembered every single place that he ever had gone, and what’s more, he remembered the names of community or family leaders from each of those places! Many times I watched in awe as he met a person from another part of the country for the first time, and as soon as he identified where he was from, my friend established an instant rapport using that incredible memory to best advantage. He was a wonderful example of what can happen through a life lived passionately for Jesus. His heritage will live in the fine children that he fathered. But beyond that, the impact of his life will continue to multiply through those who came to know Jesus either directly from him or through those he touched. Perhaps no better tribute can be given to any disciple of Jesus Christ than the one that Stephen the Martyr gave to King David: “David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died…”
Thank you for your faithfulness in enabling me to serve the purpose for which God has called me, and may you too remain faithful to the purpose to which God has called you. With gratitude to God for untold numbers of anonymous citizens, yes, heroes of the Kingdom of God.”
Learn more about what Walt does at http://www.waltworldwide.org/