Friday, 14 June 2019

Together

- the most important word in all aspects of ecology
The title of John Donne’s meditation “No man is an island” tells what this is all about. We are in this together. The actions of every individual will in one way or the other influence all. My choices and preferences will have consequences for others, consequences that can be positive or negative. 

The kind of transport I choose for my travels, will influence the climate. The same effect will the kind of energy I use for heating my apartment have. And - if I am not given a choice, I can influence the political system that makes decisions concerning what kind of energy my nation should focus on in the future. What I do with my rubbish and waste is important for the sustainability of our globe. Today almost everything is possible to recirculate.

If I am not careful with my diet and if I do not exercise to keep fit, it is likely that I will become a burden to the health care system. It is a paradox that the health-care systems around the world have to use so much resources on treating effects of unhealthy lifestyles, which have led to over-weight, alcoholism, substance abuse, smoking etc. What if more of these resources could have been used for finding cures for life-threatening diseases instead?

When God created the world, he gave his uttermost creature in the creation the responsibility to be stewards of his creation. This calling has never been made redundant. On the contrary it means that believers, more than anyone else, should be more conscious about how we care for the nature (God’s Temple), our body (God’s Temple) and our spiritual life (God’s Temple).

In none of these fields we operate in ‘singular’. We are always ‘plural’. We are in this together.
Together with each other. Together with Jesus. 


Jesus chose to spend time together with his disciples. Many times he encouraged them to learn lessons from the nature, the seasons, the animals, the birds, crops and harvest. Lessons that also could be transferred into their spiritual life. 
It may be appropriate to ask if the ‘ecological’ challenges we face in the world today, is caused by ‘ecological unbalance’ in the life of the believers. 

Yes, it is right and good to have an individual relationship with Jesus, it is indeed very important. However, if this means that the faith only has consequences for my individual life, I have missed the target. I often quote John Wesley’s words: “I shall endeavour to show, that Christianity is essentially a social religion; and to turn it into a solitary religion, is indeed to destroy it”
Likewise, I have often said that William Booth’s most important message is captured in one word: ‘OTHERS!’.

In Acts 4 Luke tells us that the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law knew that the disciples had been with Jesus. When we are together with Jesus, ‘others’ will know that we have been together with him. Therefore, they will also notice how we live our lives – that will more and more relate to how serious we take our calling to be good stewards, which includes the way we care for the world we are all a part of.

Are we together in this?

Published in the Russian Вестник спасения (War Cry) # 3 2019
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* Illustration from the article - The bottom text = Together - the most important word in all aspects of ecology. The text-box: When God created the world, he gave his uttermost creature in the creation the responsibility to be stewards of his creation.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Dare to be different – be what you are!

A life of holiness

This material has been prepared for seminars on holiness and is meant as an introduction to the vast subject of holiness. When writing, I have had people with an active involvement in The Salvation Army in mind. 
However, as long as the readers are aware of this, I believe that the material will be interesting for all people longing for holiness. 

As well as quoting great heroes of the faith, I have tried to share from my own journey with the Spirit – it is all about Him!

As with everything else in the Spiritual world – what is written will only be ‘letters’ if the Spirit does not bring them to life (1). It is my prayer that this will happen. Without the Spirit we are just like other men. With the Spirit, we are different. We should dare to be what we are in Christ.

May God bless you as we travel on this spiritual journey together! 
©Didache - Norway 
ISBN: 978-82-997436-5-5 
Link: Dare to be different - a life of holiness

(1) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; 
for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Ground-Breaking Spiritual Leadership

a brief study of 8 Biblical leaders
and the characteristics of their leadership


Content
1. Common characteristics of spiritual leaders 
2. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Moses 
3. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Uzziah 
4. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Paul 
5. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Nehemiah 
6. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Peter 
7. Examples from the leadership-qualities of Joshua 
8 Examples from the leadership-qualities of Esther 
9. Examples from the leadership-qualities of David 
Appendix 1 - Five levels of leadership
Appendix 2 - A Theological Reflection on Officership in TSA

© ‘Didache’, Norway 2019
ISBN 978-82-997436-9-3
Link: Ground-Breaking Spiritual Leadership

Monday, 1 April 2019

Lukewarm or Luke-warm?

How Luke kept his faith and I can keep mine 

The discovery of the “skeleton” for this book goes back many years. I preached a sermon over the verse, which also forms the first chapter. In addition, the sermon had several of the other chapters as main points. After the meeting, a woman approached me and said “You should write a book about this!”

At that time, I worked as a Bible-teacher in a Salvation Army school for youth. Some of the young people knew Jesus Christ as their Saviour before they came to the one-year school-course – others found the faith during the year. Having seen the young people coming to the Lord, I very much wanted to have a book to put in their hand. The encouragement from this woman made me take the challenge.


© Didache, Norway First published in English 2008
Picture: ‘Strokkur’ – Iceland 1982

Published as E-bok (PDF) 2019
ISBN: 978-82-93720-05-8


Thursday, 14 March 2019

Equal rights to serve

Eighteen months ago, Easter Europe Territory held a seminar for employees and members of The Salvation Army (TSA). The purpose of the seminar was to give the delegates a better insight into what TSA is all about. In the final gathering, I had challenged the delegates to answer the question “Why did I choose TSA?”. Afterwards, I followed up with answers to the question: “Why did God choose TSA?”

I believe God chose TSA because he needed not only the prophetic voice of those whose hearts were fully committed to him, but also their prophetic actions. When you read ‘their prophetic actions’, maybe you immediately think about the social ministry of TSA. This is of course very important, but in the field of humanitarian work we are far from being lonely activists. Down through the history, many Christians from different traditions have had focus on the diaconal side of Christian living, and in doing so, they have contributed to the mission by making the faith credible.

I believe God chose to strengthen and bless William and Catherine Booth, because he saw the potential of Catherine’s prophetic voice and action, and that William would be ready to support her. So I think the third answer to the question above is:

God chose TSA because everyone who receives the call has the same right to ministry!

This view is closely related to holiness simply because there is no holiness outside of Christ. Paul describes our status in Jesus Christ in this way:

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28
In other words, it is contradictory to holiness and to the essence of what Jesus is all about if people in a church are limited because of their race, social status or gender. In our movement a saved person from the gutter or the prison, should be worthy the same trust as a saved person with a spotless record and university degrees. In fact, sometimes it has taken longer for representatives from the latter group to be accepted in TSA, however, no-one should be excluded on such grounds.

The same attitude of equality relates to ethnic background and to gender. When we read the history of the Church, a general observation is that women have not been treated as equal to men with regard to the right to ministry.

I am convinced that it has been in the devil’s interest to keep it this way. Therefore, God chose to bless TSA because he wants to mobilize women, single or married. This is still a challenge even in our own movement. There is a tendency to give the leading positions to men rather than women. This tendency becomes particularly evident when appointments are given to married couples. So, for the sake of the mission and a desire to keep God’s blessing upon our movement, we are now making efforts to ensure that our rules and practices are in line with the rules and practices in Christ.

What is right in Christ, is right in the church! 


Published in the Russian 'War Cry' (Vestnic Spasenya) # 2 2019
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* Text in illustration = 'Equal rights to serve'

Monday, 14 January 2019

Where do you live?


In the Western tradition, Christmas and carols are like identical twins. I guess that there will be a lot of discussions if we were to agree on which Christmas carol is the most important. Around the world, Carol-services and Christmas concerts still attract a lot of people. Also in my home-country I am frequently asked to share some Christmas thoughts on such events. It is already a couple of years since I took part in a Carol festival at our local church in a small village in Norway. In the last concert I jokingly said that I had always missed the most important Christmas song in the repertoire of the excellent local singers.

Then I burst into singing some bars from a Norwegian Christmas-tree dance with a very shallow content. It is about coming from ‘clapping land’, ‘hobbling land’, ‘dancing land’ and so on. 
However, the ‘silly’ song repeats the question “Where then, do you live?” over and over again.

So even though the song may not be the most important Christmas carol, I think it raises the most important question.

When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said: “Look, the Lamb of God!", two of his disciples immediately followed Jesus. When Jesus discovered his followers, he asked: “What do you want?” They answered with a question: "Where do you live?" (John 1:38)

For a long time, I thought that this was a meaningless question to ask. However, that was before I understood how John had composed his gospel. The question "Where do you live?" is far deeper than a mere reference to a physical residence. It is about where you have your roots. It is about where your values are. The Christmas mystery is all about coming home to where you belong. Because Jesus came and said and still says: “Come and see!”

One evening almost 50 years ago, Jesus saw that I was following him from a long distance, and when he said: “Come and see!” - I came and found my roots. From that moment I knew where I belong. I had come home. The miracle is that I am home in Him and He is home in me. 

That also make me part of the Christmas miracle, because it is about God becoming man through me. Every born again believer is part of Christ’s body in the world today. The most important Christmas-question is therefore:
 
“Where do you live?”

Published in the Russian War Cry - Вестник спасения - issue #1 2019 - PDF
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