Tuesday, December 30, 2008

STYX-

a great prayer... perhaps it's worth helping to answer!

Monday, December 29, 2008

stopthetraffik


stop the traffik is a HUGE coalition campaign, global in scope - grassroots in nature... they aim to urge governments and everyday people to help end human trafficking because PEOPLE SHOULDN'T BE BOUGHT AND SOLD. Amen.
The founder of stt is Steve Chalke - a legend, theologian, extensive writer (over 40 books!), fundraiser (world record holder for raising the most money in one event - London marathon... 1.25 million pounds!)... read more here:
anyway, we've got heaps of events happening early in January to kick off this year with a huge bang for the fight against trafficking. Prayer slave chain on the 12th, GOD IN THE CITY, Mission on the edge and Australia's largest chocolate fondue party at Federation Square in the center of Melbourne... not to mention Jan. 9th (a dinner updating anyone interested in the global impact and strategy of Stop The Traffik!). If you'd like to come email me (danielle.strickland@gmail.com).
Looking forward to a new Kingdom coming soon where people won't be bought and sold... anyone else interested?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

God draws near.

It was a rag-tag crew of folks this past Christmas in the neighbourhood. All of us, gathered together in a gritty, local church for some thoughts about the day and shared together in a celebratory meal afterwards. Although there were only a few of us - we were not alone. That was the point really. We gathered around a manger scene with a 91 year old doll (gift to the paster many years ago as a young girl) as Jesus. Jesus was a girl. The carols lacked power. The talk (about receiving and giving) although a great idea, lacked polish and didn't pack a punch. Actually, as I looked around I realised none of us needed a punch... we needed hugs, turkey and Jesus Himself. The God who draws near. So, we sang, we prayed, we lit some candles for those far away, we received presents for ourselves and some for others and we ate. Strangers really.
The feeling for me was not familiar. I've served christmas dinners before. I'm in the Salvation Army for pete's sake. Serving people on Christmas day is part of the deal. But this one was different. Because we shared the day with another church it didn't feel like I was serving. It felt like I was receiving. And that is a whole other thing. Because the truth of that day for me was that I was alone. Our families thousands of miles away - our friends with their broods on the special day. Our reality this Christmas was a little closer to the authentic kind. And although it reads well in Phillippians as a demonstration of humility it feels a little, well, lonely at the time.
Now, don't get me wrong. It was the kind of experience that deepens your reflection, develops your spiritual awareness, and softens your empathy for those in that situation all year round. For me it was a morning... and even that morning was bathed in the love and company of my husband and son and the assurance of prayers and skype calls from home and the evening spent with new friends and family God provides. It was not despairing. But it was enlightening. It was deepening. And although the invitation to hang out in those places come to us - we often don't take them. They can be dangerous places where God is hiding, in distressing disguises (as Mother Theresa put it). But I want the boy in the manger stall. Even with rejection, isolation, fear and terror - even with the smell of manure, scratchy hay and the rag tag mix of shepherds and foreigners... I want to gather round the manger... the incarnation - God made flesh... messy, ugly and alone. Because somehow in that place - God draws near.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Women


Found an interesting resource online for those of you who care about the history of women and their role in the Salvation Army: Women In God's Army by Andrew Mark Eason, check it out here.
Women in God's Army is the first study of its kind devoted to the critical analysis of this central claim. It traces the extent to which this egalitarian ideal was realised in the private and public lives of first- and second-generation female Salvationists in Britain and argues that the Salvation Army was found wanting in its overall commitment to women's equality with men. Bold pronouncements were not matched by actual practice in the home or in public ministry. Andrew Mark Eason traces the nature of these discrepancies, as well as the Victorian and evangelical factors that lay behind them. He demonstrates how Salvationists often assigned roles and responsibilities on the basis of gender rather than equality, and the ways in which these discriminatory practices were supported by a male-defined theology and authority. He views this story from a number of angles, including historical, gender and feminist theology, ensuring it will be of interest to a wide spectrum of readers. Salvationists themselves will appreciate the light it sheds on recent debates. Ultimately, however, anyone who wants to learn more about the human struggle for equality will find this book enlightening.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent Conspiracy Promo Video

worth the watch... pass it on... better yet - live it out.
D

Friday, December 19, 2008

Go Norway...


Norway makes it a criminal offence to pay for sex
Friday, 21st November 2008. 3:29pm
By: Judy West.

The Norwegian Parliament has voted in favour of making payment for sexual
acts a criminal offence in order to protect vulnerable women and children.
The law passed with 44 votes in favour and 28 against and will come into
effect on January 1, 2009.

The legislation -- inspired by the success of neighbouring Sweden which
criminalised the purchasing of sex in 1999 – is actually rather more
robust than that of its next door neighbour, setting a new pace for
prostitution law reform.

Designed to reduce trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual
exploitation in Norway, the legislation is welcomed by many Norwegian
NGOs. Maya Brenna Nielxem, of Norwegian NGO ROSA project says “We strongly
support this law as it is of ultimate importance that society makes a
statement to the trafficking victims that we do not condone the sale and
rape of them. We hope that this will reduce the levels of trafficking and
other forms of commercial sexual exploitation in Norway. “

Norway is a country of destination for trafficking in women and children.
The majority of trafficking victims come from or through the Baltic
states, other Central and Eastern European countries, and Russia, as well
as from Latin America and Thailand. Recently Norwegian Government
authorities have expressed their awareness of the growing problem of
trafficking into the country. This week the UK Home Office announced
changes to British prostitution law, introducing the offence of paying for
sex with someone who is controlled for gain along with giving new powers
to police to close down premises where sexual exploitation is taking
place.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Justice War



I've been reminded today about how real wars are won by ordinary battles... everyday, ordinary heroes who do the hard yards (as we say down under) and go the distance in their own backyards. One of these ordinary heroes doing extraordinary work is Debbie Messenger and her smaller yet just as potent justice fighters at Joyville in the Philippines (some are pictured above... ready for a fight!). Make sure you remember them this Christmas - I'm praying that the Incarnation of Jesus becomes so potent in their lives that they lead us to the final victory. Let justice roll.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finishing


It was a repeated theme for me yesterday as I reflected on my own talk of earlier races at Order 614 graduation... and the spiritual learning curve over the last decade of my life: anyone can start - but who will finish? The real work is often done in the last 10k not the first. Perseverance is a rare quality of our current culture... but it is a pearl if you can find it. So, as I finished the last leg of my triathlon in one of Melbournes stormiest sundays I reminded myself of the value of finishing... I dug deep - 'soldiered up' and finished the race. It felt good. here's praying that hebrews 12 is something we don't just read but live:
Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses let us press on to finish the race. consider Jesus, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scourning it's shame and SAT DOWN at the right hand of God.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Human Rights


There is a growing debate and action around a Human Rights charter in Australia.
Get informed and active in the debate at this site: Get Up. Your Rights, Your Say
This government consultation is a once in a lifetime chance to call for a Human Rights Act to permanently protect human rights in Australia.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Youth and Justice


I've been soooo incredibly blown away by younger folks who want to committ themselves to justice. It's incredible. Actually, many of them have requested some help getting started so we are releasing (first thing in January... at INSANE Melourne) High School justice kits to get them started. If you are one you will want to check them out... they highlight four global justice campaigns and give you everything you need to get started spreading the aroma of sweet smelling justice at your school. If you are a teacher or chaplain or even a youth leader - you can use this kit to help you out!
Don't miss the revolution. We mean to change the world.
Stay tuned for more details and while you are waiting why not start yourself... host a fairtrade chocolate fondue party and stop the traffik - check out the website for more details.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

thoughts on alcohol...


So, I was chatting with John Smith this morning at St. martin's community God Squad celebration. Good times. We started to talk through the subtle differences between our communities (Salvos and St. Martin's). We have much more in common of course, rooted in the same Wesleyan theology and staunch supporters of holiness impacting tough places with light. One of the main differences is alcohol.
Now, John has a familiar take on this having come from a deeply religious home seeped in tradition and rules... alcohol was simply a pious, religious rule that kept the church people separate from the worldly people... from a missiology (thoughts on mission) base Alcohol abstinence can be a hindrance (at least that's his take). By separating ourselves from the world by abstinence he suggests that we can become holier than thou pious types that can't connect to people in culture... Our take of course is that Alcohol abstinence is about being called 'out of the world' in a Nazarite-type call to be different YET somehow we believe that our call is to the world at the same time. We believe that our message is one that is about purity lived out-loud without the religion but with the purity and impact of transformed lives being beacons of hope to those stuck in the grip of alcohol.
Is it possible?
well, i get the struggle. Sometimes it is awkward to be set apart in an extreme way like total abstinence... it can feel like we are so separate that we've lost touch with the people we are called to love... and it can lead to a seclusion or exclusion from real life that leaves us part of a holy club protected from the world but leaving little impact.
On the other hand, how can we remain pure or prophetic from the grip of excessive alcohol consumption and it's impact on the poor in society - how can we present the good news of transformation and freedom when we struggle ourselves with the same demons that assault the world... how do we proclaim the gospel with power if we are prisoners to the poison of culture and it's abuse?

I think there's still time for John to change his mind! ;-) But even if not - here's a strong Christian salute to a man who stands for Christ and serves the world with good news. I'd be thrilled to be more like him - cause he reminds me of Jesus.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The international day for the abolition of slavery

The United Nations has designated December 2 as The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, and according to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, this means slavery in all its forms. Unfortunately, despite all efforts to the contrary, human exploitation shows no sign of abating. Still most vulnerable to trafficking are women and children who may find themselves abducted from their families or in some cases sold by them into slavery—not only as prostitutes but alternatively as laborers or soldiers. Check out the vision website for some amazing articles outlining the different forms slavery takes... and then join us to stop the traffik.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

partnering


I was reminded today about the amazing global impact of The Salvation Army. Speaking with some legend officers from indonesia who both have multiple jobs including raising orphaned children (39 in one home alone). We have scores of children's homes in Indonesia and all of them need our prayers and support... not to mention the trafficking issues - there is much work to be done. Which brings me to another issue: in our movement we have developed a partnership system... matching developed world countries to developing world countries as 'partners in mission'. This has amazing potential because of course we need to learn from them more than we think. Often these partnerships have devloved into financial contractions. We simply write a check. This is a beginning forsure and we do have all the resources and we ought to share but there is much more to partnership than this.
We're developing a partnership system that is based on three things:
1. relationship. any real partnership is based on relationship not function. We aim to create meaningful relationships with our partners in mission.
2. respect. Often charity ends up being patriarchal and pedantic - we need to start fostering relationship based partnership that is based on respect. often officers in developing world countries have much to teach us about corps growth and creative, innovative ministries - including spiritual fervour and warfare... respect based relationships mean that we take the time to learn.
3. resource. Strategic resourcing is key - including sharing our fair share of the worlds resources and calling on our government to make good on it's promise to the world's poor.

that's a start anyway... any other thoughts about partnerships and global impact... the idea itself is quite exciting.
The World for God.
D

Friday, November 28, 2008

Commissioning


So, this weekend is commissioning and the onfire celebrations. This weekend in Melbourne is about celebrating our gifts and then using them for God's glory. Isn't it funny how we've elevated some gifts and not others? Preaching for example (we'll leave Music alone for now although that has to be one of the biggest Christian 'gifts'). But preaching is one of the most over-rated gifts (I think). It is a spectator sport that bears a fraction of the fruit that a relationship does... I mean, name a sermon that changed your life forever.. there are very few that are that impacting. I remember going forward to give my whole life to Jesus at a Sunday night meeting in a Corps in Toronto... I can't even tell you who was preaching or what they preached on. I went forward because of the impact the relationships with other believers had on me... I went forward because of community and service and mercy and compassion and love expressed and prayers/intercession - not because of a sermon. Now, I've heard it said that some officers spend up to 20 hours a week on a sermon. Can I just say that it is possibly the biggest waste of time in terms of fruit from ministry. My greatest fruit has not come from preaching (and I do a lot of it and love it - don't get me wrong!)... but when I've walked alongside people and showed them and told them about Jesus up close and personal... that's the stuff of the Kingdom.
In Acts. the only time they preach is to unbelievers... when did we make preaching about speaking to the body of christ... wierd.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Are you using your gifts for God's glory?
D

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WhereAreWeCalled

DEBBIE MESSENGER left this comment and I thought it worthy of a POST... some good questions here... any candidates out there that would like to apply for developing world territories?? This raises not only the 'called' question but also the capacity or 'drain' on developing world for resources... I wonder if host territories would pay the bill for their 'people' to be trained in the places they feel called... that would be even better than a month course on cross cultural mission - to be trained in the same territory as one of the 'cadets' would be a great equipping for a life of service there... hmmmm. any takers??

here's Debbie's comments on WorldWide training options:
I find it intriguing that people would apply where they 'feel called'!

I am currently appointed in the Philippines, I felt I was being called to Africa but God knew better and I LOVE my second home! I doubt many people would want to put their hand up to train here though, not because the training is any less... the OTC is fantastic, intense training from qualified leaders and there are many incredible opportunities for service!

Yet, when Commissioned you would be one of the lucky ones to live on $35 a week, you could possibly be given an appointment where you only receive 50% of that allowance and you could have a home smaller than your current bedroom with no bathroom, electricity or running water... I wonder if anyone is feeling 'called' to study here and become and officer in this country (or many others with similar circumstances)?

I have a question based on your blog entry. What places are people feeling called to train and serve in, if not their own country? Are they the 'comfy' countries where all the grants and allowances are available? I may be totally 'off base', this is purely a question of interest.

I am humbled daily by the sacrifices of my fellow officers, I am challenged over and over by the commitment of those I serve alongside, I don't write these words to lessen the commitment of anyone in ANY country, but just wonder if we are really willing to give up basic needs so we can serve where we 'are called'?

Debbie

Monday, November 24, 2008

National youth workers conference


So, I'm in Nashville at the national youth workers conference... wow - it's amazing - full of incredibly rich and cool experiences. I went to a Christian comedy show last night... hilarious... there was an image that stuck with me - someone talking about the footsteps poem but how they saw theirs as a set of footprints and then a drag mark behind them.... ;-) funny but oh so true.
I had an opportunity to talk tonight about God's huge plan of salvation - the salvation that busts out of the church and into the world... the gospel as good news to the poor... what does that mean and how often do we need to remember? Jesus exists for something bigger than my own life. It's that simple. I remembered again tonight and pledged anew to be part of the plan God has to bless the whole world. I don't want to grow a church - I want to change the world. Bring it.
And then to top the evening off I got to hang out with some War College grads and good friends with refreshing times of catching up and rejoicing with all that God is doing and has done and will do - can I get a witness??
Oh and did I mention the egg nog lattes?? heellllllooo.
grace to you as you lose your life for something greater!
D

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On the road again...


Sitting in the Melbourne Airport waiting for my flight, I was thinking today about the incredible realities of travel. How the world is shrinking in this generation. Word has it that young people called to Officership in The Salvation Army are applying all around the world.. trying to pick the country that they feel 'called to'. It's evidence of a new generation meeting an older system when the current structure doesn't really know how to process or how to attract in this way. I know it challenges some of our existing processes - but I think it could be an amazing opportunity. It could help us use the existing 'smallness' of the world to spread the gospel, train up a generation of globe trotting leaders and advance God's Kingdom on earth.
It would force us to abandon the 'territory' model that insists on direct benefit or no deposit.. it would widen our scope to be thinking about World impact rather than plugging holes in an existing system. I don't know - I'm just thinking here... but what would be the possibilities of a global training system - connected virtually and physically by the 'pilgrim generation'... ?? nice to dream about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Demand the Brand

check out this website SLAVEFREE... it's very COOL.
I think we ought to set up something just like it in Aus. If you are in America please participate... a great idea to create consumer pressure to producers! Help change the world.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open handed


I was reminded today of the importance of being open handed with our stuff... our things are simply filler in our life. The substance is our relationships, particularly with God and then flowing to others. The way things have a habit of nestling their way into our influence and heart... when they really don't belong there. This reminds me of course of buy nothing day coming up quickly (check out the website)... it's worth keeping a close eye on your heart during this season - guard it from the assault of things - a culture obsessed with ownership and consumption - the insatiable appetite of greed. May God help us to be completely free from stuff and totally His.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FORGE and chaos


so last weekend I was in Sydney speaking at a Forge Intensive. The subject was on leadership and it was a great opportunity to dive back into the territory of Chaotic Order. This is the idea that Chaos is a tool God often uses to overthrow our own human systems and structures in order to establish His order... a Divine order. Using Genesis 1-3 as a model we can figure out what Divine order looks like:
pre-condition: Chaos (God starts with Chaos... so if you find yourself in a chaotic place don't run - hover there with the Holy Spirit and take a look at what God is going to do).
1. Light (Revelation is the sign of God's creation.... it starts with light... look for Divine revelation)
2. Expanse (God created the sky... he wants to deepen our experience right from the beginning... are you going deeper?)
3. Land (but not like a building foundation - vegetation and living land... alive with creative energy... a living foundation)
4. Seasons (God builds in consistent change... he is constantly at work... the seasons are gifts... change is a part of His order)
5. Birds and the Fish (The most complex and the most simple creation on the same day.... it's not always about linear order it's about the simple and the deep at the same time... )
6. Humans and Animals (most notably God invited us through reproduction to be co-creators - not content to hog or hide his power he shared it... are you sharing power?)
7. Rest. Part of the order... the people of God have always entered God's rest... rest didn't enter them they had to chose it.

So, it was a very healthy and timely reminder for me to look for what God is doing and join Him - not in some humanly designed system but in God's great chaotic order. Bring it on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Buy Nothing Christmas



Check out the BUY NOTHING AT ALL song and the website buynothingchristmas for more resources to fight off a commercial robbing of the meaning of Christmas this year.
While you are at it - why not give someone a gift that keeps on giving at justsalvos.com (the justgifts campaign aims to help us celebrate the real spirit of giving - it is of the course the greater gift!).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Up close and personal

At Maclead youth meeting last night we took a quick look at Jacob in Gen. And the progression of his experience with God. His first encounter of course is in the wilderness while he runs away thinking he 'stole' the blessing from his brother. While sleeping he is visited in a dream by God and reminded of the activity of something bigger... something otherworldly and the promise of his heritage. He named that place the house of God.
I'm praying for a generation to wake up to the heritage God has promised. To be children of the blessing is to understand that salvation is so much larger than our own little lives. I wish we'd stop stealing it, tucking it away and treating it like something to be 'had' and we'd get a glimpse of the boundlessness of it - and lose our lives in it... like a boundless sea (sound familiar?).
Jacob comes to recognize God's presence but not until years later does he have a personal encounter that moves him from bethel (house) to peniel (face). This encounter costs him. But it's this ecounter that solidifies him into the generational blessing of the Covenant... it will be through Jacob that the whole world is blessed. wow.
Do you see the progression?
House of God. Recognize the presence of God and the promise is for YOU.
Face of God. Costly. Recognize that through you the world is to be blessed.

I'm praying for a journey from bethel to peniel in many lives today. God grant it not that we should give a gift that costs us nothing. (King David).
Grace
D

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mandela to Obama


Text of Nelson Mandela’s Letter to Senator Obama

Published: November 5, 2008
5 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama,

Chicago

Dear Senator Obama,

We join people in your country and around the world in congratulating you on becoming the President-Elect of the United States. Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place.

We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your Presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere.

We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all.

Sincerely,

N R Mandela

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prayer for the Congo


With all the hype about the US Elections it is easy to skip over the realities facing the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Please take some time to read over and pray for them with this dispatch from Commissioners Mungates on the front lines:

Dear Friends:
Thank you for the double assurance of prayerful support. The DRC needs
that every minute.

Please, pray for:

1. Laurent Nkunda to respect human life and stop waging war against
innocence women and children
2. Pray that Rwanda should stop sponsoring and supporting an unjust war
3. Pray that the voice of the Church leaders be heard and listened to by
the rebels, Rwandese, Ugandans and Congolese armies
4. Pray for the Salvationists in the villages and corps that are caught
up between cross fires
5. Pray for our Corps Officers that are counselling and comforting
people
6. Pray for the many women and children starving for food since they
left their homes and long disturbed from subsistence farming

We are in the rainy season and people just sleep in the open with their few
belongings and children as you might have seen on the news.

Thank you for your love and support. We are over 2,000kms away from Goma
but in touch with our officers everyday. 80% of the stone the world needs
for the mobile phone is found in Goma including other precious minerals
hunted for by many powerful countries of the world. That is why the DRC is
in trouble. A blessing has become a curse for the country.

The Lord bless you.

Yours truly in Christ

Stuart & Hope

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Brand New Day


Without choosing sides in the American polarized and popular election let me just say that the election of Barack Obama is amazing. It's not amazing because of the republican versus democratic stuff, the money spent, the other running mates, the speeches, the colossal waste of time etc... it's amazing because less than 50 years ago it was impossible to imagine. It was.
Only a generation ago it was impossible to imagine a black president in America. Martin Luther King Jr. was shooting for equal votes and integrated schools. While he was shooting for measurables goals someone was shooting for him....and now... Now, it's in front of us in living colour... in a beautiful new suit - with a smooth voice and a rhetoric about dreaming... it's here. Isn't it amazing? A Brand New Day.
And so I'm somehow bolstered in my spirit - for that which we can only barely hope or imagine can stand in front of us one day... right in front of us. Jesus said don't buy it when people say the kingdom is over there or over there... because the Kingdom is right here... in you and in me. Here it is - the Kingdom of God. What are you dreaming for... let today be a witness that you should let your dreams soar and then work like made and die as seed to let those dreams live... A Brand New Day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Idea of Prostitution


I've been reading a great book by Sheila Jeffreys, 'The Idea of Prostitution' that outlines the history of feminists opinions on prostitution and the connection between human trafficking. Very enlightening. The state of victoria (where I live in Australia) decided to legalize prostitution fourteen years ago - I think in the hope that it would 'liberate women'. The reality of course is a harsh one... fourteen years later:
- more men go to more and bigger brothels
- each week 60,000 men spend $7 million on prostitution
- the number of illegal brothels is 4 times more than legals ones (400 vs 100) 2002
- legalization makes men more demanding of practices which women do not like - and makes women more powerless to resist them because of greater competition and gives more power to the brothel owners
- 80% of street prostituted women are drug users and 85-90% are homeless
- legalisation and decriminalisation lead to the growth of the industry of prostitution. The traffic in women to supply the legal and illegal brothels is an inevitable result
- trafficked women are placed in both illegal and legal brothels.. women are sold to both for $15,000 each. Police suspect they are forced to have sex with 800 men to pay off debts to the traffickers before they receive ay money (Murphy 2002)
- legalisation creates a culture where men's prostitution behaviour is normalised and takes an ordinary everyday place in the culture
- brothel owners are welcome in the Rotary Club and are profiled as role models in respectable newspapers - brothels are even listed on the stock exchange

I'm wondering how many more years will pass before we decide to treat Australian women with some dignity and stand up for their real rights by offering them meaningful work! check out this site for more info: CATW

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adelaide and Social Justice

I've been at the One Mission conference in Adelaide this weekend.
Some very helpful things happening... with exciting reports of social justice initiatives from all different demographics and in a myriad of colourful ways! Exciting stuff really.
It's amazing the things God will do through us if we will spend ourselves on behalf of justice (check out Isaiah 58 for more details). We were talking today about the barriers to moving towards lives that are about the deeper things of the kingdom... and I had just finished some research on Elizabeth Fry who wrote 'I fear that my life is slipping away to little purpose' in her diary just two days before being invited into a women's prison which sparked the future direction of her life... it's like that isn't it - the will of God will not be forced upon us... it is as we go that we will find the sweet spirit whispering amen as we extend God's kingdom on earth. I wonder how many of us are tempted to sit inside and reflect as we write in our diaries that our lives have no purpose... all the while there are thousands of people - all around us, everyday who need to know the reality of God's Kingdom come.
Jesus said it this way, 'the spirit of the Lord is on me to preach good news to the poor...' - now that sounds like a purpose worth living for to me!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prisoner of Hope


Sharpening the Cutting Edge
John Smith has just completed a significant rewrite of this seminal book which was originally published in the UK in the early 1990’s under the title “Cutting Edge” and it is being republished by Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH) as part of their Discipleship Classics collection.
I was thrilled to be at the book launch at St. Martins Church in Collingwood last night. John Smith has been a prophetic voice to Australia and has born some incredible local fruit in social reform and local, practical initiatives dealing with poverty. What a man. Guest speaker, Wynand de Kock (Principal Tabor College) suggested that John, like Desmond Tutu described himself when someone else called him an optimist was 'a prisoner of hope'. Is there room in that cell?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Intense love does not measure, it just gives. (Mother Teresa)

The truth isn't sexy campaign launched in British Columbia


check out the website!
THE LIE | Women working in prostitution, strip clubs, escort agencies and sex massage parlours choose their profession for the lifestyle and money. They are living the “Pretty Woman” dream by setting their own terms of work and keeping all the money they earn.
THE TRUTH | The majority of workers in the sex trade are trapped in modern sex slavery. They are lured by a boyfriend or recruiter posing as a friend or potential employer. Some are sold into the industry by their fathers, brothers or husbands. After recruitment, the women are trapped by drug addiction and debt bondage to a pimp, gang or sex trade ring.

There are many more truth statements exposing the lie in the campaign (check it out). On the night of the release of this campaign I happened to be in Vancouver. Walking home in the downtown eastside along a very familiar route right across from a notorious Hell's Angel stripclub is a massive bus stop poster with an image of a woman being raped (familiarly called prostitution) with the caption THE TRUTH ISN'T SEXY.
Wow. It was powerfully placed and a powerful statement in a neighbourhood where the LIAR seems to run free. Let TRUTH begin to have it's way in the web of deceit and fear that violence against women through sexual exploitation has... may God break every chain and give us wisdom, discernment and the old fashioned guts to take on the giant!
Pray for the campaign.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wisdom, Justice and more Justice...


Well, today started with a preach on Wisdom at the fun and sacred Reservoir Salvos (hint: it's all about Jesus - the personification of wisdom) to a lecture on the connection between prostitution and human trafficking (particularly on the scene in Australia)... don't get me started but this lecture by the leading experts in Australia was fuel for the fire to stop the oppression of women in Aus. through the so called 'sex trade' (aka systemic pimping and violence against women). We really must use our heads and start mobalising our forces for women's freedom... it is no accident that women are the most persecuted people group on the planet! more on this later.
The finish was a radio interview that turned out refreshingly so, to be about the things we can actually do to make a difference in the world - some ideas?
1. choose to see (willful ignorance is largely responsible for injustice in the world)
2. do what's in front of you to do (in your own neighbourhood... in your own community... be inspired by a lady who baked some muffins and took them to the local brothel in her community... started some relationships and is walking down that road into justice lived out).
3. join a campaign (stopthetraffik.org, makepovertyhistory.org, fairtrade.org to name a few)

anyway, here's believing that the light spreads and the darkness shakes and the kingdom of God advances... Your Kingdom Come. Yes Lord.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Home.


I got home this morning after an epic adventure of travelling for over 30 hours with a six year old! good times.
And I was thinking about home. It was a bit weird because I was technically coming from home (Canada and family) to home (Australia and friends). And I got to thinking about heaven being our true home but even more than that I got to thinking about how home grows. It's natural for us in our own human capacity to think about home having to be 'a place'... like something stagnant or solid like an actual 'house'. I was reading a book on the plane that explains it like this (regarding children in families)... you think you won't have enough love to give to a child but when the child arrives your love expands and you have more than you ever had before... then you have another and the same thing happens - you wonder will I have enough to do more than one... but then more love happens... it's like an ever, growing, expanding source. Love grows. And I think home is where the love is. Being an officer's kid I had to sort that out a bit early. Visiting your folks and having to ask where the bathroom is - is a bit awkward... but I never had to ask where the love was... that was a given. Home is where the love is. So, it's larger than any one place... and it can grow. Home, sweet home. Love, home, grow... sounds like the Kingdom doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall and the beauty of death.


I was running this morning in the vibrant colours of fall... honestly, Ontario in Autumn is really a sight to behold. The picture should help you imagine. I was also listening to Jesus speaking about losing your life in order to gain it (through my ipod.. gospel of John). I had my ipod on shuffle (which I've termed 'God radio') and what followed Jesus was Lauryn Hill 'when it all falls down... basically suggesting that when everything falls you only have one thing left... love'. God is love.
It was quite a time of worship and teaching... the tendency I have (and it seems I'm not alone) is to grasp tightly to things I think I need or simply want... just now my son was telling his papa that money is not what we need... we need to share - then everyone will have enough! who made him so smart? and how awkward is it to get rebuked by a six year old?! Anyway, the point is that it isn't always about money - it's about family, time, gifts, and love... it's about being free from fear and embracing an abandoned life of wonder and beauty - it's about dying to self and then living to Christ. It's not just me - check outside in Ontario Canada right now... there is a deep, spiritual beauty in death. Yesterday I was privileged to participate at Etobicoke Corps (Court family home) and sung the words of Albert Orsborne (music by Phil Laeger):
My life must be Christ's broken bread
My love his outpoured wine
A cup o'erfilled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What love can do.


Was watching a football (Canadian game... Toronto Argos) game today and it reminded me of hearing Pinball Clements (a hugh football star) the other day. He said the thing that defines him is not all the fame, or the family (solid) or the trophies (many) or the hall of fame (huge)... the thing that really gives him value is that he is a child of God.
Raised by a single mom with many difficulties he understands his value to the Lord and lived out his life in response to what he's been given. It wasn't that long ago I heard Bono (THE Bono, from U2) kneel down on stage and recite a Psalm to heaven 'with what can I offer the Lord for the love he has showered on me...'

It seems like an impossible question - impossible response... but the truth of it is that it is also very simple. Jesus said if you love me you will do what I ask. Do what he asks. Live your life back to the one who poured it all your way... responsive living. I'm into it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who Will Deliver Us?


Had some stimulating conversation with my Dad today about the book of Judges... the pattern of God's people to expect and demand someone 'else' to help them and bring them into freedom is amazing. Then it seems once God does raise someone up (even someone from among them) instead of following their example and walking out their freedom - they tend to worship them and continue to spectate instead of participate.. sound familiar?
Commissioner William Francis suggested at the Harvest of Hope Congress in Toronto recently that the greatest thing the Salvation Army needs is your own holiness... that is to say - if only we would walk in our own victory, freedom and deliverance we wouldn't constantly be looking outside of ourselves for the answers... could it be that simple?
I think it may just be that simple.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Toronto Congress


I've just finished the Harvest of Hope congress in Toronto and was encouraged by the Word, the testimony of others, the worship, gifts and talents presented to God - not to mention the reunions with family and friends! I've been thanking God for His great gifts these days and find myself challenged again to match the outpouring of God's grace with earthy expressions of grace-filled responses... Commissioner Marilyn Frances suggested in one of her talks that people really should be heaven on two legs... I like that... the Kingdom of Heaven is within us Jesus reminds us... so as we GO we bring heaven near... have you thought of that lately? You are the holiness of God expressed on the earth... wow. We carry this glory in earthen vessels... jars of clay. May God give us grace to carry it well.
And just in case you think it's possible to be too heavenly minded to be of earthly good - let me remind you of CS Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, who wrote: ‘If you read history you will find that Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought the most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.’
I'm praying for a Harvest of Hope to invade our minds and set our eyes toward Heaven and then our hands toward bringing heaven to earth. Let Your Kingdom Come.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vancouver and flying...

I was doing a fair bit of thinking on the long trip to Canada from down under yesterday... mostly it had to do with the blessing of God showered out and over my life... today I had a chance to hang out with an old friend and again was reminded of God's great grace - it's amazing... actually, a friend of mine says it's 'ridiculous' even... it's so amazing.
What I really wonder about is why when we are so good at receiving Grace are we so hesitant to give it out freely... trapped often by this incredibly silly feeling that if we spend it we will run out - all the while knowing (if we know Him at all) that God keeps dishing out the stuff like it's the last day everyday... so, I'm finding the trick of receiving and giving a long and important lesson... and I've decided to make it a life challenge... to try and give at least as much as I receive - Grace that is... possible? Let's find out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Aggressive Christianity Conference

ACC is now going strong... some highlights:
covenant day - a reminder of the supremecy of Christ in my own covenant... to LOVE him supremely all my days... a stirring and faith-building time with Janet Munn bringing the Word alive...
Commissioner James Knaggs bringing the word with power and intimacy last night - mercy seat lined... people responding to a personal God with a personal willingness to GO. good times.
Significant silence in worship... a sweet presence filled with Holy Spirit... we lingered for a while - really beautiful.
Russell Rook delivering a beautiful and moving take on the Emmaus walk... challenging us to GO and inviting Jesus to walk with us and catch us up on the way...

I've been struck by the simple message of Jesus - His love, presence, touch and words... and I'm praying that I will not only hear but do the work of the Kingdom.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Top 10 reasons TO wear the uniform

OK so in follow-up to the last post - the top ten reasons we WANT to wear the uniform:
1. superior treatment at airport security! ;-)
2. authority of the movement (125 years plus of reputation on you in suede)
3. cleans you up well! (hattip:my mom)
4. epaulets are cool.
5. saves a lot of time on choosing an outfit.
6. public sign of covenant (I've made a promise with God)
7. solidarity with soldiers around the world
8. it's still better than camel hair (hattip: john the baptist)
9. who doesn't want a supersuit you can wear at night and fight injustice? (hattip:dh)
and the top reason we WANT to wear uniform
10. access - people's houses/jailcells/alley's/dignitaries/boardrooms/schools/cities/towns/kings/queens and paupers.... people's hearts... all for Jesus - it begs us to ask this question:
Why not wear it more?

peace out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

top ten reasons you don't want to wear uniform

had a funny conversation today about reasons you don't want to wear uniform. here's the top 10
10. replacing the metal parts after dry cleaning
9. lifting arms in worship
8. high heels
7. nylons
6. tight tunic syndrome
5. little brooch doesn't sit right
4. ironing
3. finding the perfect uniform shoes
2. wearing a tie

and the number one reason:
1. not having time to direct people at the airport

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guilty by association?

"If we are members of a privileged group that profits from structural evil, and if we have at least some understanding of the evil yet fail to what God wants us to do to change things, we stand guilty before God. Social evil is just as displeasing to God as personal evil. And it is more subtle."

I'm still reading Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger by Ron Sider... this section has been a challenge... what kind of culpability do we have for continuing to support unjust systems of economic and political power for our own benefit. Fairtrade is a solid example... why do I keep buying things I know were most likely made by children at great cost to them and little cost to me?
Why don't I demand a change in the global wealth distribution to be more equitable? Because it would cost me! that's why.

I've been thinking about how many things I do for my own benefit at the expense of others... particularly the poor. I've got to sort it out... but how?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

बित्टर Chocolate


Chocolate leaves a bitter taste
September 18, 2008
It is enjoyed by millions of connoisseurs around the world, but in recent years chocolate has started to leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Canadian author Carol Off, whose book alerted readers to the ethical quagmire of chocolate consumption when it was released two years ago, is currently in Australia to talk up the topic.

Her book, Bitter Chocolate, lifted the lid on the use of child slavery in the cocoa plantations of West Africa.

The link between slavery and chocolate is as old as history, Off said.

"There has always been a case where cocoa has been produced by people who didn't have a lot for people who do," she said.

"The Aztecs and the Mayans produced cocoa for the King of Montezuma and in Europe they produced slaves to harvest cocoa beans for the chocolate fanatics of Europe."

Things haven't changed, she says.

"We have chocolate bars today that seem to be cheap and affordable even to a child ... but the truth of the matter is we can only afford this chocolate because people who are picking the beans and cultivating it are children in West Africa," she said.

"A lot of children voluntarily go (to the plantations) because there's nothing for them in countries like Mali.

"Their crops are failing and nothing is growing in that part of the world, So a lot of the kids are sent off by their parents to get some money.

"But child traffickers see the vulnerability of these kids, there's nobody watching over them and they round them up and take them over the border into the Ivory Coast and make money from them."

It is difficult to help these children, Off says, because much of the Ivory Coast, which produces most of the world's cocoa supply, is torn by civil war.

The government uses profits from the cocoa trade to fund the war, Off says.

"The complicity here is with them and the big chocolate companies."

"There are only a handful of multinationals that control the industry and basically they are able to operate with impunity in Africa and Ivory Coast because everybody that has power over the situation is getting what they want."

Fair trade systems were having a small impact, Off said, but would never provide a full solution.

"They pay a premium to the farmer, the chocolates are more expensive and the profits go back to the farmers.

"Where I went in those situations, the kids are going to school, there was health care, clean water and all these things were paid for by fair trade premiums - but there's so few of them.

"It represents not even one per cent of all the cocoa being produced, so the vast majority is under this other system."

The CEO of The Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia (CMA), Trish Hyde, said the CMA was a part of a global initiative to eliminate child slavery and forced labour in the industry.

She said the CMA and other chocolate companies from around the world were working with the governments of the Ivory Coast and Ghana to help eliminate child slavery and forced labour.

"The important thing is from our perspective is the collaboration with government and NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) on the ground, with industry programs ... that are actually making changes in the communities."

The CMA says that in July this year it also helped implement a reporting system that would certify all labour on West African cocoa farms.
AAP
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/09/17/1221330918327.html

Monday, September 15, 2008

फाके?


Faking It: The Female Image in Young Women's Magazines is a magazine-style research paper published by independent women’s think tank Women’s Forum Australia.

In a glossy, dynamic, magazine style layout, Faking It explores issues around the objectification of women and girls in the media and popular culture, with a focus on women’s magazines.

Faking It helps young people recognise and critically assess messages in advertising and pop culture which tell them they have to be ‘thin’, ‘hot’, and ‘sexy’ to be acceptable.

Read more - I'm sick and tired of the messages that girls/women are only valuable or significant if they look a certain way... I'm wanting to see a generation released who are confident in their character, gifts and skills - not their 'surface - level' attraction... let's dig deeper.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WOMEN in leadership


So, lots of talk these days about the vice president candidate Sarah Palin. Commissioner Joe Noland raised the comparison within the existing Salvation Army system - is it even possible to imagine:
44 year old women leader, mother of five, fiercly maverick - being made the chief of staff?
I think it's a good question - why do we disqualify some of our best leaders because of their marital status and/or motherhood?Surely being a good wife and mother is evidence of good character if not some leadership essentials. The real question is why on earth we would ever limit ANYONE with leadership gifts when the Kingdom needs desperately to keep advancing?
Frankly, I'm getting tired of simple asking the questions - it's time for some action. Here's some ideas:
1. if you have a gift - get it ready and start using it - cultivate it, shape it - challenge yourself (VOLUNTEER)
2. if you don't know your gift.. find some people who will speak into your life and help you discover the place you should serve
3. if you've been limited by the 'system' - get back up and start leading the kingdom to advance in whatever capacity you have to do so... just keep on... get people saved, discipled - lead from wherever you are..
4. challenge the status quo - refuse to accept mediocrity...
5. if you are man in leadership - actively look for able women who have leadership gifts and LET THEM LEAD.. figure it out.. cheers to those of you who have been doing this already!

those are just a few ideas- and I'm simply thinking outloud... but God help us figure it out soon.. for His Kingdom come!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Benediction

May the Lord disturb and trouble you,
May the Lord set an impossible task before you,
And dare you to meet it.
May the Lord give you strength to do your best;
And then - but only then -
May the Lord grant you peace.
Amen

Monday, September 8, 2008

MIE


The Australian Southern Territory trains leaders for future Mission Immersion Experiences to our Partner Territories (DRC (Congo Kinshasa), Liberia, Mexico, Caribbean, Mozambique, and Indonesia)... check out justsalvos.com soon for more details on getting involved.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Prostitution - the truth...


The legalization of prostitution is at best an attempt to bandage up a societal problem... at worse it's the systemic oppression of women and the widening of potential for more!! Thankfully, The Salvation Army understands that the exploitation of women (sometimes named the 'sex trade') simply encourages trafficking and oppression... let's dig in and stop it. Here is IHQ's official statement about it: stay tuned in and read more for convincing evidence!

'The Salvation Army believes that women and men in prostitution should not be seen as criminal offenders by virtue of their activities in the sex trade industry. Many are drawn into prostitution by reason of poverty, ignorance or coercion. However, The Salvation Army does not wish to see prostitution treated or regarded as a normative or acceptable practice, or as a socially or morally legitimate career choice by any person. Legalisation of the sex trade unintentionally but inevitably creates a social climate in which those engaged in human trafficking can expand their industry, making it difficult for the police to intervene, even though advocates for legalisation claim that licensing gives more safety and protection. The Salvation Army has not campaigned publicly on the issue of prostitution laws because it wishes to maintain its position of trust with persons, especially women, in prostitution. However, the Army takes a stance against decriminalisation of any commercial exploitation of women or men for sexual purposes. The Army also supports measures to criminalise the activities of clients in the sex trade industry.'

Salvo doctrines... young warrior style.

check out how well you know your doctrines.
Click here for 3:28 minutes of 11 doctrines of The Salvation Army.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Urgent request for prayer - India Northern Territory

The Salvation Army
International Headquarters
Office of The General

To:- Active and Retired Commissioners,
Active and Retired Territorial Commanders,
Officers Commanding

Dear Colleagues in Christ,

Urgent request for prayer - India Northern Territory

I am asking on an urgent basis for prayer for our Salvationist comrades in the India Northern Territory. Salvationists in the State of Orissa have been directly impacted by recent civil disorder and are in need of our loving thoughts and earnest prayers.

Following the deaths of local Hindu leaders, some fundamentalist Hindu citizens have been offering violence to their Christian neighbours, including Salvationists. Two corps halls have been destroyed together with a quarters building, and 100 Salvationists are now hiding in fear in the nearby forests. Please pray that God will protect them.

Also our Boys' Home has been destroyed. Thirty children and the officers caring for them are now in police protection. Please bring this situation to God in prayer. Efforts are being made to relocate the children to another of our homes.

Please pray for Colonels Kashinath and Kusum Lahase, territorial leaders, and all their staff, and especially for the divisional leaders in Orissa.

God grant a swift return to normality and a restoration of tranquility in these communities.

To date there are no reports of Salvationists injured or killed.

Thank you for your fidelity in prayer. God bless you all.

Yours in Christ,

Shaw Clifton
GENERAL

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Curse


A few things happened yesterday that lead to this blog.
1. I was reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider (which, I highly recommend)
2. Commissioners Mungate were over for tea.

Among the things we spoke at about a tea was the point raised by Sider in his book that wealth is not simply a neutral product that we deal with in different ways - but that it is a curse and robs us of the joy of living in the Kingdom.
He demonstrated this in several ways in his book but one that struck me was that following world war two giving from developed world to developing worlds was at an all time high... but as we began to get richer our giving decreased... the more we have the less we give and the worse off we are... suicide, obesity, depression - those rates soar in the developed world... it's like we refuse to hear the words of Jesus to the rich young man who pointed out the thing he lacked... being free of his possessions.

The god we serve in developed countries is wealth. As we chatted about the fervent, aggressive and able army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the dynamic leadership of the Mungates - ready to open 'fire' in at least 8 other countries around it... we were struck by the need for Australian Salvationists to catch the Kingdom readiness... and also deeply aware - personally as well - that we are slowed down most by our own trappings...

How do we fight off the 'fat spirit' of wealth, comfort and spiritual apathy?
1. live a different way (embrace simplicity)
2. live in a different place - if you constantly surround yourself by wealth and comfort.. then you will forever be comparing yourself to those with more... this will lead to the inevitable pursuit of more and you are trapped again... move in beside some poor neighbours - there are many areas of the city where this is possible..
3. give extravagantly - just keep giving it away - not so much to save the world - just to be free from the lure of wealth - when you give it away it kills the spirit of greed... do it today. Phil Wall offers this test in his book I'll Fight against materialism to test to see if you are in it's grip - take the most valuable thing you have and simply give it away. Do it.
4. Spiritual disciplines - this is a raging debate right now... do we have to pray and read the bible everyday etc... isn't that just legalism etc... I think spiritual discipline (including fasting) is one way to stay spiritually alert in a deadened culture... it's a tool against wealth and excess to train hard spiritually - I say stop debating and just get to it... bottom line - it certainly can't hurt!!

anyway, I'm just thinking outloud - but I'm aware again more than ever of wealth and it's strangle hold on the church. Ron Sider says if just the rich christians would give generously we could solve world hunger THIS YEAR... just the rich christians... oh, and in case you feel like you are off the hook - that's you!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Courtcases


I was at Urban Conversations last night in downtown Melbourne (614 hosted) with Judge Jennifer Coate speaking.

Jennifer is currently the State Coroner for Victoria. She is the first woman to ever hold this position. Before taking on this role, Jennifer was the President of the Melbourne Childrens Court, a person of great passion and intellect and she spoke on, "Justice and the city". It was quite fascinating to hear her speak of her work on youth justice (keeping youth under 18 out of jail as much as possible) and many other fascinating things about her work (particularly the hard situations of children coming before the court).

We were all struck deeply however, by her final comments - prompted by a brilliant question from General Eva Burrows... 'what's the thing that makes the most difference?' - Judge Jennifer said it was without a doubt, love, compassion, kindness, community, inclusion and relationships... she encouraged the Salvos to do what we do best and keep creating those relationships with the 'excluded'. She said that a high risk youth offender who finds a positive community decreases their risk of re-offending by 30% just by joining it. I'm thinking to myself... more Lord - enable us to be available for more... she also stated that 80% of the re-offenders (high risk of constant offending) were kids who had been removed from their own homes... she said good foster homes are urgently needed...

so, by way of reminder:
1. be friends with an excluded young person (maybe that homework club volunteering in a rough part of town is worth it after all?)
2. be a foster parent (hard reality - incredibly impacting change).
3. create an inclusive community (stop hanging out with everyone you already know - find some people who need new friends).

JUST thinking really.
Grace

Thursday, August 28, 2008

हाई कोर्ट Decision


HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA
Address: PO Box 6309, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 6998 Fax: (02) 6270 6909
Email: fhamilton@hcourt.gov.au
28 August 2008
THE QUEEN v WEI TANG
The High Court of Australia today upheld the slavery convictions of a Melbourne brothel owner and overturned the orders of the Victorian Court of Appeal for a new trial. Ms Tang was convicted in 2006 of five counts of intentionally possessing a slave and five counts of intentionally exercising a power of ownership over a slave, contrary to section 270.3(1)(a) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. She was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of six years. Ms Tang was the first person convicted under the anti-slavery laws, introduced in 1999. The charges related to five women, all Thai nationals.
read more here.

Freedom Fridays...


Writing out a few prayer directives for the Freedom Friday network members today... it reminded me of the importance of God's people asking God to intervene and bring about justice for the victims of trafficking in our world... a million of them currently being enslaved. Have you considered joining the network?
every friday we fast and pray (lunchtime) in solidarity with the victims of trafficking and we pray for God's intervention. Some young people do this in groups at school - others meet at the corps - others still do it quietly and intentionally at their jobs... justsalvos@aus.salvationarmy.org is the place to email with freedom friday in the subject line... we'll sign you up!
Today we are asking all Australians (and anyone who will join us) to pray for the high court's decision on the definition of slavery - key to advancing the fight against traffickers in Australia.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Immeasurably more...


Ephesians 3:20 and following was the theme for unlimited this year - in Sydney and in Brisbane.
Both events proved to be an exploration of God's love and power for mission.
I've been thinking about the theme and it's impact on the world.
Often times we think that the immeasurably more of God's love and power is for us... but clearly, if it's more than we could ever even ask or imagine - then it's MORE than enough for us... it's enough for the whole world.
This is something to pray and think about... how can I get the message of the immeasurably more love and power of God to a world struggling with poverty, slavery and heaps of economic oppression?
Well here are some ideas:
1. spread the word. Believe that the Word of God has power... and start speaking this out. This will matter - because it's much easier to despair than to hope for a better world...
2. live the word. Live as though there is more than enough - shake off the inclination to accumulate more 'stuff' in the world to make you feel better and get rid of some stuff - share it with those who need it... and free some stuff up to give away - in a fierce demonstration of the more than enough God we serve.
I'm going to give it a go.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Time to tell MPs unborn are 'alive and kicking'



Tail-docking a dog would be illegal, putting a lobster in boiling water would be illegal, but it will be legal to abort a six-month-old child if this Bill passes. – Victorian Liberal MLC Matthew Guy

If the Government is going to decriminalise the process, we need to do it with our eyes wide open and demand modern legislation that spells out a standard of care for our women. I am determined to get support from all MPs to pass amendments, whatever the outcome of the conscience vote. – Victorian Labor MP Christine Campbell

With 20,000 abortions performed in Victoria each year, the Victorian Government this week introduced abortion law reforms which provide virtually open slather access to abortion, ignoring calls for protection of women and unborn children.

Set to be debated on September 9, the Abortion Law Reform Bill will, if passed, give unfettered legal access to abortion for any reason up to 24 weeks’ gestation, without even the need for a doctor’s agreement. After that, women will also have easy access to late-term abortions - including brutal partial birth abortions, with no criminal penalties for either the woman or the doctor.

Needless to say, ACL is strongly opposed to the abortion bill which sells out the unborn children of Victoria and does nothing to assist women facing unsupported pregnancies. Pro-abortionists, however, are celebrating.

ACL Victorian Director Rob Ward has been lobbying hard against the bill and speaking to the media. The bill is likely to increase Victoria’s high abortion rate, departs from the Government’s plege not to change current clinical practice, does nothing to support women, and ignores major ethical concerns about the killing of unborn children – some of whom would be old enough to survive outside the womb.

With the abortion bill set to be debated in less than three weeks, it is vital that you make your opposition to the bill known to Victorian politicians. Several commentators are already suggesting the bill will be passed, even though thankfully there are a number of politicians who are strongly opposed to the bill and are making their concerns known. While strongly opposed to the bill, Labor MP Christine Campbell is working on ammendments to provide at least some protection for women and children.

If you live in Victoria, we urge you to go to our ‘Alive & Kicking’ campaign on our Make A Stand website and sending off an email to your local Member and Upper House representatives urging them to vote against the bill. But don’t stop there, please also consider ringing your local MP or visiting them in their electorate offices to let them know your concerns. Contact details can be found by clicking here. If you live outside Victoria you can still help. Please also join our campaign and your email will be sent to the Victorian Premier.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Discipleship...


Between hearing Commissioner Linda Bond at Unlimited in Sydney and then Commissioner Hope Mungate at the Eastern Divisional meeting last night I'm convinced that God is speaking to the Salvation Army about authentic discipleship.
What this means to us isn't some new idea - it's an old, simple truth that simply needs to be enacted... we just need to 'do it.'
I was able to spend some time with Commissioner Mungate's who are champion officers currently leading The Salvation Army in the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and they tell of the hard realities of being officers in the Congo and yet they are filled with joy. They personally have opened at least two other countries for The Salvation Army and have plans for more!!! yeah God.
The thing is their methods are not rocket science... it's evangelism, visitation - practical support, hard work - meeting together... the standards for a Corps in the DRC are hard (check out armybarmy.com for details) and yet they are growing them all over the place!!

I've talked with people in 'the west' and they insist that those 'old fashioned' things don't work anymore... but I beg to differ. Visitation and evangelism still work - we just don't like doing them. In our new Corps Plant some folks went door to door in our neighbourhood last week (and again today) and the reception was amazing with over 60% of homes being open to visits by people from our community... many of them receiving prayer... the same was true of a godly woman who decided this week to take some muffins to the legal brothel in her neighbourhood... they let her in - she met all the women, took their birthdays down so she could send a card and asked if she could come back... the answer? yes!! I've prayed with two people on planes in the last month - one to receive Christ who took a Bible to read and the other a young student who wants to start The Salvation Army in East Timor (we aren't there yet!!) who is a catholic by birth but wants to learn to love Jesus more... he wants to be a disciple.

Add all this to my accountability partner telling me about her conviction to be more spiritually disciplined so to be ready for the war and it resonates deeply within me... not just as a judgement but as a need and desire... so here's a quick list of why that doesn't happen in my life:
laziness
apathy
comfort
excess
lack of discipline
pride

So, I'm repenting of those things - changing my mind about how the kingdom advances... and applying myself to simple disciplines rigorously - wholeheartedly... may God's Kingdom come. Want to join me?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Westcare rocks...


I was privilege to get a small look into what Westcare Salvation Army does in the western suburbs of Melbourne today... it's incredible.
And it makes a lot of sense... often The Salvation Army works with those at the end of their rope - who are at the bottom of the barrel - in drug addiction and the like... but we don't often enough look at the root causes of that rejection and intervene earlier to prevent the end of the road... Westcare is primarily a youth services program that really tries to target those kids who are at risk of social exclusion...
foster care
residential services
education
and much much more... they need foster parents.. i met with a couple of carers this afternoon - and they are people with a practical hope of redemption who are willing to embrace kids... in all shapes and sizes.. perhaps one thing you can do right now for social justice is to apply to be a foster parent... who knows the kind of impact you can make in a life... stay tuned for more details..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

20% increase in fair-trade chocolate worldwide!!


BREAKING NEWS—CHOCOLATE CAMPAIGN SUCCESS
20% increase in fair-trade chocolate worldwide
This month, one member of the Chocolate Industry took a landmark decision that will result in a 20% increase in fair-trade—Traffik Free—chocolate worldwide.

Royal Verkade, a Dutch household name and subsidiary of United Biscuits, announced that they will be using 100% Fair Trade cocoa and sugar in their products from the autumn onwards. This is the first A-list chocolate producer worldwide to make the transition to Fair Trade production on a large scale and STOP THE TRAFFIK CONGRATULATES ROYAL VERKADE FOR TAKING THIS DECISION.

Though many players were involved, a major turning point occurred during STOP THE TRAFFIK NETHERLANDS and local NGO Fairfood's 'naming and shaming' campaign, linking Verkade with the worst forms of child labour in Ivory Coast. "Within a day we had a phone call from Fair Trade", states Antonie Fountain of STOP THE TRAFFIK Holland, "saying that Verkade had just called them to talk about the possibility of Fair Trade sourcing for their cocoa".

THIS IS BIG NEWS but It is critical we keep pressure up on this issue. We are making a difference. We will not stop until the trafficking has been STOPPED.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Humility

Prayer of Humility
(accustomed to be said after celebration of Mass, 
by Merry Cardinal del Val, secretary of state to 
Pope Saint Pius X)

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, 

Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being extolled, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being honored, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being praised, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being preferred to others, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being consulted, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the desire of being approved, 

Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, 

Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the fear of suffering rebukes, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the fear of being calumniated, 

Deliver me, O Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the fear of being ridiculed, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the fear of being wronged, 

Deliver me, O Jesus. 

From the fear of being suspected, 

Deliver me, O Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may be esteemed more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That, in the opinion of the world, 

others may increase and I may decrease, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may be chosen and I set aside, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may be preferred to me in everything, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 

That others may become holier than I, 

provided that I may become as holy as I should, 

Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

http://www.ainglkiss.com/prayers/hum.htm

Polygammy - an article

source:http://www.wfsnews.org
Australia - Polygamous Marriages: Multiple Reactions
By Neena Bhandari

Sydney (Women's Feature Service) - Aamina was 27 when she married Ayoub to become his second wife in Tripoli, Lebanon. While Aamina viewed her marriage as something that fate had ordained, the family's decision to migrate to Australia meant that Ayoub had to divorce his first wife, as polygamous marriages are not legally recognised in Australia.

Like Ayoub, who ensured that his first wife was sponsored to Australia by their son, there are Muslim men from countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Sudan, who have migrated with more than one wife, but their multiple marriages don't have the legal sanction in their adopted country.

The issue of polygamous marriages is causing a furore in the country with the government categorically stating that polygamy shall remain forbidden. However, some Muslim leaders argue that such marriages exist and should be recognised on cultural and religious grounds to protect the rights of women.

Recently, two senior leaders of the Islamic community in Sydney called on the government to recognise polygamous marriages, or men marrying more than one woman, in order to protect the rights of women in such marriages.

One of the most vocal advocators of changing the Australian law to accommodate the multiple marriages is Keysar Trad, the president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, who grew up in a home with a mother and stepmother. "There was nothing out of the ordinary in our extended family. My mother and my stepmother were best of friends. Even though a polygamous marriage was not the norm, the Lebanese society even in the 1960s was very open-minded," recalls Trad.

"My father's first wife was ill and could not look after their five children when he married my mother. For the children my mother was a godsend and they addressed her as 'khaala', or maternal aunt, and made her feel tremendously appreciated and respected," he says, "It's a solution that our faith offers to social problems."

As marriages in the 21st century go beyond the traditional to encompass de facto relationships and recognition of gay and lesbian alliances, some are arguing for polygamous marriages to be protected and granted equal rights under the law.

According to Sheikh Khalil Chami of the Islamic Welfare Centre in Sydney's Lakemba suburb, polygamous marriages, although illegal, exist in Australia. He reveals that he has been asked almost weekly to conduct polygamous religious ceremonies. But while he refuses, he knows there are 'imams' (clerics) who do not.

Those seeking legalisation of polygamy cite that in traditional indigenous Aboriginal communities in Australia's Northern Territory, unofficially, such marriages exist and that these relationships are even recognised when the government grants welfare benefits.

In fact, in February this year, the United Kingdom ruled that it would grant welfare benefits to all spouses in a polygamous marriage, if the marriages had taken place in countries where polygamy is legal. Nearly 1,000 men are said to be living legally with multiple wives in Britain.

Polygamy is also common in Indonesia, but remains a controversial lifestyle choice. In the United States, polygamous sects such as the Mormons and practicing polygamists have conflicts with the law constantly.

"For religious men, polygamy essentially protects them from committing adultery. Adultery in Islam is strictly prohibited. If a man decides to have a sexual relationship with another woman, he has to marry her. In countries like Saudi Arabia, where polygamy is legalised, adultery or extra marital affair is rare," says Faten Dana, 45, President, Muslim Welfare Association of Australia.

"In Australia, one of the benefits of legalising polygamous marriages would be that men would openly talk about their relationships rather than under the garb of secrecy. Making these relationships formal will also grant the women and children in such relationships certain rights as men would have obligations and responsibilities towards them," says Dana, who migrated to Australia from Lebanon 19 years ago.

In 2006, there were 114,222 registered marriages, but there is no figure for polygamous marriages. The author of 'Islam: Its Law and Society', Jamila Hussain says, "The origin of polygamy dates back to the early days of Islam, to the battle of Uhud, when many men were killed. Men marrying more than one woman was a social welfare measure, ensuring that widows and fatherless children were looked after, as during those days there was no government social support system."

Citing similar situations that still exist, Hussain explains, "If we look at the massacres of men in Srebernica and Bosnia, polygamy can be justified on the grounds of providing material and emotional support for the women left behind. However, polygamy is and was never meant to be an excuse for men to indulge their sexual fantasies. Some men over the years have abused this right and maintained harems, but that doesn't affect the original rule which imposes a restriction of a maximum of four wives to be treated equally."

Hussain further adds, "In Australia there is a great deal of hypocrisy. The government recognises de facto relationships as legal. According to some estimates, as many as 75 per cent Australians are living in de facto relationships, which has become normal and acceptable. Even married men may be living in de facto relationships and, in some cases, in more than one de facto relationship. These are perfectly legal - no fuss. There is also a push for homosexual relationships to be legalised. But there is an outcry if Muslims want to marry more than once."

"A polygamous marriage is like any other marriage with trials and tribulations. It is not always a burden for women. In the current scenario, given the rise of HIV and STDs, in any sexual relationship one must tread with caution," says Hussain, a lecturer in Islamic Law at the University of Technology, Sydney.

The Qur'an allows Muslim men to have four wives as long as they can support and treat them equally. However, evidence shows that polygamous men cannot always adequately and equitably feed, shelter, educate, and emotionally cherish all their spouses and dependents.

The Australian Muslim population, at 340,400 or 1.7 per cent of the total population, is noteworthy for its diversity in terms of ethnicity, national origins, language, and class and not all in the community want polygamy to be sanctioned by law. The National Imams Council says, "As Australian Muslims we recognise that the Marriage Act 1961 prohibits polygamy and we are not proposing any changes to this law."

The government is in no mood to take a liberal view on the issue. Australia's Attorney-General Robert McClelland says, "There is absolutely no way that the government will be recognising polygamist relationships. They are unlawful and they will remain as such. Under Australian law, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. Polygamous marriage necessarily offends this definition."

But what do the ordinary Muslim women have to say on this issue. Safiya Husain, 75, who migrated to Australia in 1981, feels polygamous marriages are not in the interest of women and children. She says, "In the times we live today, no man can treat all his wives equally. The women in such relationships can never be happy. The worst affected are the children."

Silma Ihram, an Anglo-Australian convert to Islam and one of the pioneers of Muslim education in Australia, believes most women are smart, educated, financially independent and don't want such relationships.

Courtesy: Women's Feature Service