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Where wholeness begins

For the next three months we will be considering the top priority of every Christian: worship. Commissioner Max Feener has identified worship as a priority for every Salvationist in our territory, and rightly so. While The Salvation Army is known in the community for service, that service can never stand apart or be separated from our worship. We cannot navigate the Great Commission without the Great Commandment providing our moorings, both corporately and individually.

Jesus stated that we are to "love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and strength."

The psalmist cried out to God, "Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Thy Name." Dividedness, duplicity is pathological. David longed that his outer world would be consistent with, and a true reflection of, his inner world. At face value, we would love to think that this is the case for ourselves. Unfortunately, we are all too aware that, at times, we speak what we do not truly believe and cover the disjointedness of our person.

Parker Palmer asks the question: "How shall we understand the pathology of the divided life? If we approach it as a problem to be solved by ‘raising the ethical bar' - exhorting each other to jump higher and meting out tougher penalties to those who fall short - we may feel more virtuous for a while, but we will not address the problem at its source. For, the divided life, at bottom, is not about failure of ethics. It is a failure of human wholeness." The divided life is a wounded life and somewhere deep inside we hear the faint call to wholeness.

In worship we begin to glimpse God for Who He truly is. We gaze upon the beauty of His Person, the holiness of His character and the Love that is Himself. There is no disintegration in the Godhead - no dividedness of purpose, relationship or values.

In worship the ugly idols we have set up in our hearts - those things we inappropriately pursue and embrace and those things which contribute to our dividedness - are exposed for what they are and torn out. "You shall have no other gods before Me," was the very first commandment. Far beyond the gods of stone or wood or iron are the manifestations of the god of self - selfishness, pride and control to name a few.

One of the questions we must ask ourselves is what illegitimate pursuits continue to claim our energies and affection? Take time to name them, for they are the "golden calves" of our heart. As a young girl growing up in a very small corps, I would sing with the rest of the congregation - a capella and out of tune - "Lord, Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole, I want thee forever to live in my soul; Break down every idol, cast out every foe, Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Those words and sentiment echo David's plea for an undivided heart.

Perhaps at the beginning of this New Year we can make it our priority to worship in spirit and in truth, not only as an affirmation of the highest priority for all Salvationists, but in obedience to the first commandment written in stone by the finger of God Himself.

 

Gaither biography a testimony of God's grace and love

 

The latest title from the family of Crest Books is the anticipated biography of "Israel L. Gaither: Man With A Mission," by Colonel Henry Gariepy. Commissioner Gaither is the current USA National Commander, with prior service as Chief of the Staff at The Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London.

The latest offering from Gariepy is not a hagiography chronicling the lifelong journey of a successful Salvation Army officer. It is a testimony of God's grace and love, and a tribute to what Gaither calls "the ‘blessing of gifts' in my life" - his parents, children, grandchildren and, most of all, Eva, "my partner in life and ministry. The most treasured gift a missioner could ever desire!"

"Mission matters most," a Gaither axiom, succinctly describes what "Man With A Mission" is really about. More than the story of a man's life, it is an account of how God used one man's willingness to serve Him within the ministry of The Salvation Army.

In the foreword, General John Larsson described the reasons why Gaither was the only choice he could make for Chief of the Staff - a difficult decision considering the Gaithers had just assumed leadership of the USA Eastern Territory five weeks earlier.

"The story of Israel Gaither is the story of a man who at each turn of his life has taken the demanding decision," Larsson wrote. "He has been an overcomer. And he has come through triumphantly."

The author segments Gaither's story into five parts, each detailing a pilgrimage of Christian faith and maturity from formative youth to leadership of a global ministry. History buffs will take special note of America's turbulent civil rights era in part two, "Beginnings of the Journey - 1956-1992." The writer skillfully weaves events of the country's changing convictions to coincide with Gaither's steadfast trust in God's will for his life and the Army.

A Scripture verse opens each chapter, setting the mood for the continuing life story that follows.

The book is laid out in a manner that is appealing to the reader's interest and a style that is easy on the eye. Vintage black and white photos and two impressive sections of color photos break up the text nicely.

"His story profiles a fellow leader whose mission focus has impacted the world for God and the Army," said Commissioner Lawrence Moretz. "I welcome this volume on one of the great hearts of our Army, whom I call brother."

Our current international leader, General Shaw Clifton, adds, "Here is a life used by God to challenge, bless and inspire countless others for Christ. Gariepy gives us the real Gaither: man of God, family man, man on a mission, a man worth knowing."

Major Frank Duracher

 

 

 






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