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Volume 25, No. 3

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The Salvation Army USA Southern Territory

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Feb 20, 2008


Comm. Feener | Maj. Satterlee | Maj. Duracher | Maj. Corbitt | Maj. Hood

Keinan White, Brian Bolt, Ronald White and Michaelangelo Allen, proud members of the ‘Usher Board,’ are a key part of the Peachcrest worship experience.

Standing on holy ground
Vibrant worship experience emphasized at Atlanta Peachcrest Corps

By Major Frank Duracher, Southern Spirit staff

There are worshippers of all ages in the congregation at the Atlanta Peachcrest Corps. Praise is alive and vibrant. Children and teens lift their hands in joyful song alongside soldiers who have been engaged in Christian warfare for many years.

Althea Price is the young people’s sergeaent-major, a soldier of nearly 30 years who is engrossed in all aspects of youth ministry at Peachcrest. She is passionate about teaching her youth about worship and incorporating them in the praise offered by the corps family.

Price was a soldier of the Atlanta Lakewood Corps since the 1980s but moved her soldiership when she relocated to the Decatur area a few years ago. She has been a faithful member of Peachcrest since.

"How we worship is the most important lesson we can teach our children and teens," Price said. "We teach by example, and the only way to instill in them that God is good and deserves our best worship and praise is by setting an example for them to follow."

Quality worship is also important because it shows God how much we love Him and how thankful we are for all His blessings, she added.

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After
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Hope
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Peachcrest Corps finds that dynamic worship strengthens bonds with soldiers of all age
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"When we come here to worship, we are standing on holy ground," she said. "We give God the reverence and respect He deserves. Worship is not just singing and praising - it should also include learning God's Word and serving others through acts of love and grace."

Doris McClendon, assistant corps sergeant-major, is another transplanted soldier to Peachcrest - her service as a Salvationist began as a child attending the Chicago Midwest Corps and the St. Louis Euclid Avenue Corps, both in the USA Central Territory. She said she is glad to see the same discipline instilled in these youngsters as was taught to her and sister, Peggy Randle. The sisters came to Atlanta over two years ago - in fact, the week before Hurricane Katrina struck.

"That's how we found our new corps home," McClendon shared, "we volunteered to help in the disaster relief effort, and learned about the corps here at Peachcrest. The first face I saw was Major Allan Wiltshire (an old friend) and I knew I was right at home here!"

McClendon is proud to be called a "church momma," having never borne a child of her own. She is "mother" to literally dozens of "children," many who come to Peachcrest as a refuge from difficult home situations.

"There's always something great going on, even among the smallest children," she said. "They seem always on the edge of their seats, wondering what wonderful thing is going to happen next!"

God moves among the corps members of all ages, she continued. "Even the young men, who you would think would be shy about going to the altar - they are not ashamed to show everyone how much they need the Lord!"

One such young man is Michaelangelo Allen, a 15 year-old corps cadet who considers the corps officers, Captains Henry and Benita Morris, his spiritual parents. "I love being a member of this corps, because being here makes me feel like I'm doing something good," Allen said.

Allen is also a member of the "Usher Board," a group of young men and women who take their ushering duties seriously every Sunday morning during worship. They distribute the printed program and even escort older worshippers to their seats, much like during a wedding ceremony.

"It's something they thought of, and it turns out to help in the atmosphere of worship," Captain Henry Morris said.

He and Captain Benita Morris administer tough love on their youth. They insist that the uniforms be clean and worn properly.

"When they first come, we make it clear that they don't have to ‘dress up' in fancy clothes. They can come just as they are," Captain Henry Morris said. "But after they put that uniform on, a lot more is expected of them, and that's exactly what they want!"

The youth seem to get the message that wearing their uniform is an honor worth attaining and keeping. The Morrises even insist on good report cards from school.

Other teens are coming through the Boys & Girls Club, and some by word of mouth from their peers at school. More are coming from a rather unlikely source.

Reverend Gregory White is taking classes to prepare him for Salvation Army soldiership. His Mentoring Ministry program is bringing children and teens into the corps for spiritual and emotional support among a legion of "adopted parents and grandparents-in-waiting" (see related story).

"We have a worship environment here that will help each young person who wants to make something of themselves," White said. "We are trying to teach them that if their lives are Christ-centered, they cannot fail!"

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Army relief units on frontlines after twisters ravage South

Salvation Army disaster relief personnel from three divisions were deployed after a wave of tornadoes swept through the South Feb. 5. Crews from the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi, Arkansas-Oklahoma and Kentucky-Tennessee divisions served food and beverages for residents and emergency workers in the days following the storms that killed more than 50 people across the region.

In Moulton, Ala., more than 1,400 meals were served in the five days following the tornadoes, and in Rosalie, Salvation Army volunteers joined with representatives of other agencies to serve more than 1,500 meals at the community center. The canteen later moved to the community of Pisgah to provide food service for workers at the disaster service center and public safety personnel working in the area. Salvation Army personnel also served in Oxford, Miss., doing emergency feeding and hydration along with disaster case work at the Oxford Service Center.

Units were active in several locations throughout the K-T Division as well. In Shelby County, Tenn., Army disaster personnel served nearly 1,700 meals and assisted 2,152 individuals. The Memphis Adult Rehabilitation Center donated 193 pieces of furniture. Meals, snacks, beverages and spiritual care were also provided in the communities of Lafayette and Jackson, Tenn. In Kentucky, the Glasgow Service Unit served in neighboring Monroe County and the Harrison County Service Unit provided meals and beverages locally. During President George Bush's visit to visit the victims of the tornadoes in Tennessee, he stopped by to thank and support Salvation Army volunteers and visited with Captain Ed Binnix, Nashville Citadel corps officer, for a few minutes.

Salvation Army relief units were active in hard-hit north Arkansas as well, providing service in the communities of Russellville, Mountain Home, Gassville, Highland and Clinton. The Army's Mountain Home canteen served more than 7,000 meals to residents of Baxter and Sharp counties. More than 4,200 meals were served in Gassville over the weekend following the storm.


VIPER principles add 5 sound Scripture to AA steps

By Major Frank Duracher, Southern Spirit staff

At first, David Sutton thought the name for his version of a Scripture-based 12-step recovery program was too negative. VIPER (Volunteers Interim Placement - Expanded Recovery) conjures an image of a venomous snake about to strike, instead of a positive image of hope and rehabilitation.

"But then I realized that addiction is indeed a deadly serpent, so the name stuck," recalled Sutton, who is shelter manager at the Army's Center of Hope in Sarasota, Fla., and serves as VIPER operational director.

"VIPER is a 10-week residential program for people seeking treatment for their addiction. Building self-esteem, self-worth and lessening denial systems are at the forefront of this program," Sutton said.

Seven local agencies work to provide regular psychiatric and health evaluations, job training and placement and classes addressing family issues during the 10-week treatment plan.

In addition to intense counseling, Bible studies and self-help classes, Tuesday night meetings-atlarge are a key component of the program. Past and present participants come together for the gatherings Sutton describes as "the heartbeat for everything else that is done in the program." Each meeting draws a standing-room-only audience. Nearly all are recovering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. Sometimes family members come along to bolster their loved one, or to witness for themselves the reason for the network support shared among the 200 or so in the room.

Sutton is an ordained minister, and the delivery of his material for each step "class" has the feel of an old-time tent revival.

"The only thing missing is the sawdust," mused one observer.

Sutton's 12-step program is similar to that of Alcoholics Anonymous, but with sound biblical principles added. "Every step has a corresponding principle," he said, "and we teach each step as an access point to gain each principle to redirect your life."

All principles can be taught from the Bible as a whole, as Sutton often does - but they are also condensed in 2 Peter 1, a passage he usually refers to in his presentations.

Each principle is themed (i.e.: honesty, humility, perseverance) and presents building blocks on which the recovering addict can break the cycle by building relationships with God and others. The principled steps are also divided into three phases: discovery, recovery and maintenance.

Sutton seems to be the voice of experience - he has been sober for over 27 years now. Part of his job description is to liaison for the Army at all AA meetings in two Florida counties. That means he is in at least one AA meeting each day, and knows "just about every member of that extended family" in this part of the state.

"God is not mad at you," Sutton often tells his "congregation" during a VIPER gathering.

"If God wanted to punish you, don't you think you've given Him enough chances to do it?

"On the contrary, the Father wants you back!"


Creative Media

The world today is a different place than it was 20 years ago.

Technology advances at such an increasing rate that it's become more than just a trend; it is a way of life.

Because technology is so influential, the Southern Territory views it as a tool to advance the mission. Radio broadcasts, websites, blogs and video podcasts are helping The Salvation Army share hope and encouragement.

Please see download for full story.

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Go deeper with God - become like Jesus

Jesus bore our sins on the cross. He saved us from hell, for heaven. But there is more - much more!

Jesus calls us to live sacrificially for Him and others. He challenges us to daily walk with Him ... work with Him ... and be like Him. If we fail to obey, we are partakers of what Bonhoeffer called cheap grace: "Cheap grace is grace without discipleship ... without the cross ... without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

John said, we know that when he (Jesus) appears, we shall be like him... (1 John 3:2). Until then we are to purify ourselves, just as he is pure (v.3).

We are called by God to be holy people - to be like Jesus. If we would go deeper with God, Jesus must become our chief desire; beginning each morning with Him, and walking in His presence throughout the day. Doing so, with the Spirit's help, we become like our Master.

In his little book "Compelled Men," Pattee tells us about a man who visited the home of the artist Hoffman. He waited alone in the reception room for the great artist to come. He soon noticed that the four walls of the room were filled with paintings of Jesus, in every phase of his life. He couldn't keep his eyes off them. A door opened, and for a moment, he thought that Jesus Himself had entered the room. It was the artist, Hoffman. Through years of contemplation of Jesus he had grown to look like Him.

Max Lucado said, "God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus."

In his second epistle, Peter wrote, (God) has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them (we) may participate in the divine nature... (1:4). Doing so will keep (us) from being ineffective and unproductive in (our) knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (v8).

The more time we spend with Christ, the more we become like Him. And the more effective we are as salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Thomas Chisholm penned the prayer,

O to be like thee! O to be like thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as thou art!
Come in thy sweetness, come in thy fullness;
Stamp thine own image deep on my heart.

May the prayer of our hearts be: "Make me more like Thee Jesus ... give me a heart that's filled with love and make me more like Thee." That becomes a reality as we "go deeper with God."


Advance!

Never in its history has The Salvation Army been more split between greatness and failure, advance and retreat, zeal and coldness. There are places in the world where the forward march is a full gallop. In other places the withdrawal is just as pronounced. In one place the sword has rusted frozen in its sheath. In another the blur of battle makes it impossible to report the full extent of the enemy's rout. What's different where the Army surges?

First, there is an utter confidence in God's Word. There is no hint of doubt as to whether it is the true Word of God, any misgiving that there might be mistakes contained in its pages, any foolish speculation about how it compares to other holy books in the world. Its words transform. Its counsel enlightens. Its commands guide. But if you are dismissing the things you don't like, when the trumpet sounds you'll miss the advance.

Second, victory is expected. No doubt, there is sin in the world and evil is afoot. No question that Satan devours all he can with an insatiable hunger for more. But he shall not have the last word; sin will not win the day. For the Lamb has come not only to bleed but to conquer. There is no iniquity greater than the blood of Christ. There is no soul beyond the reach of the One who came to claim the wayward world. When a soul is won there is no time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of victory. There are more souls and more opportunities to push the enemy closer to the abyss.

Thirdly, there is a stone-hard conviction that The Salvation Army is God's instrument in the world. Barefoot soldiers proudly wear their wrinkled and stained uniform with no concern as to how fashionable it is or worse yet, puzzle over whether to wear that or a pair of jeans or a pretty dress. The flag is not just something trotted out for ceremony but the standard that proclaims the Army's message and rallies the troops when the enemy assails. Corps buildings are not known for their architectural appeal but are judged by how effective they are at being the maternity wards of the Kingdom.

The cost is counted and it is reckoned to be a bargain. Nothing is owned that cannot be sacrificed. No place is home that cannot be forsaken should the call come to go to the next town or the next country. No limitation of ability or education or talent stands in the way of rushing forward to the war. Salvationists do not weigh their service in the Army by how fulfilling it is or whether they can find the right fit of their spiritual gifts with a comfortable ministry.

The question is never, "How can we be expected to do this?" Rather, the belief is that if the challenge has been given, then God by His grace and power will see to it that it can be done. And if we fail, and failures are quite frequent, it will mean that we regroup and attack again. If we cannot go this way, then we will go that. If we cannot speak the language, we will learn it. If we cannot stand in front of people, we will continue to get up and do it until we can. The work is too important to wring hands and whimper about the conditions.

To not advance is to die. No war is ever won on the defensive, no victory claimed when the call to arms is unheeded. We cannot win by conducting the war as we have. We have been infested with the culture of plenty when self-denial is demanded, of seeking success instead of conquest, of playing video games instead of fighting a war. God forgive us for satisfying ourselves by watching from the grandstands the victories happening somewhere else. Let's advance as the Army God raised us up to be.


The bucket list

The premise of a "bucket list" is to put on paper a number of things you want to do before you die. It is an exercise in forward thinking that some of us may already have done - just not in the form of an actual list, with numbered goals to mark off once each one is achieved.

I've never made a bucket list, per se, but even though I'm sure my life is past the halfway mark, I think I've had a full life so far. I've already done some of the things I would put down on a list. For instance, I have held the grandson who will carry my surname. I've been to the Holy Land where I visited Bethlehem, Calvary and the Empty Tomb. I've kissed the most beautiful girl in the world.

There are a couple of things I'll probably not see. Then again, if those things are not in God's will for my life then that's O.K. too.

This would not be a "Ray of Hope" without an invitation of some kind to come to Jesus, so here goes. Isn't it ironic that the most important goal we should strive for in life is arguably also the easiest?

Christ reasoned, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Knowing Him is more important than wealth, fame or status. Nothing on earth compares to being with the Father someday in heaven. The only way to do that is to acknowledge your sins through the atoning blood of Christ - that's called being "born again."

If you do nothing else, be sure to put that on your to-do (right now) list!


The Killer Table

They called it the Killer table and each Wednesday guys with military pedigrees would gather there and revel in the common brotherhood of service. Occasionally, they would allow room for me in their inner circle, if for no other reason than appreciation for the uniform I wore. They were an eclectic mixture of pilots, sailors and grunts who lived several lifetimes before I ever came to know them. Their stories were flamboyant, perhaps inflated in glory over the years, but I believed every detail, not because I'm easily fooled, but for the sake of respect. When a man looks me in the eye and recounts dancing with missiles over North Vietnam while strapped in an F-105, I have a tendency to listen and learn. The small details of truth at that point are neither relevant nor necessary. The fact that I'm free to write a story or two about these men speaks to their honor - free country, free speech, free man. I'm indebted to the Killer table.

Randolph fell from a burning B-17 and into the waiting hands of the German army. He passed the time in prison camp designing new methods of escape until he finally succeeded and crept through the back country into France. Our boys were an ingenious lot, and their desire to see home again outmatched the enemy's ability to hold them captive. Some 56 years later, I was humbled, with other occupants of the Killer table, to carry Randolph's casket to his final earthly resting place, a simple hole in the ground reserved for dead bones. From the dust I came and to the dust I shall return...What we do with the space in between is the real story, don't you think?

The pacifist finds no honor in war. He gives no accolade to its willing participants and little appreciates the lives given over for his own freedom. I know a few non-combatants and their zeal for peace at all costs is admirable if not misguided. In a fallen and free will world it is a dream to believe that all men would detest war. Selfishness and greed will not permit a lasting peace. If it were possible, we would have seen the end of conflict long ago. This does not mean that we cease to strive for it. McArthur said, "the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest scars of war."

Although General McArthur was not a theologian by trade, I think he understood the spiritual significance of giving one's self for the sake of another. Is it not the image of God in a man that enables him to die for his country? This is, of course, in direct conflict with the philosophy that purports killing for the sake of ideology. These are two different forms of sacrifice. One is driven by selflessness and love, the other by selfishness and hatred. I know, you've already discovered holes in the premise and consider it risky at best to equate war with Imago Dei, but perhaps a kernel of truth will surface. Maybe you should ask a soldier. Go to the airport sometime and you will see them, dressed in khaki, returning from or on their way to a distant land. I idealistically believe they are there for one true purpose - to shield us from harm, no matter the cost. I choose to believe that the innate morality of the living God is demonstrated daily by what MacArthur called the "greatest act of religious training - sacrifice." Call me naive, call me ultrapatriotic, but always call me grateful.

I had never seen a flag folded with such precision. They handed it to Randolph's dear wife while I struggled to keep my emotions in balance. The brave men from the Killer table didn't care who saw their tears. Tonight, before you rest your head in peaceful sleep, say a prayer for those who will not rest until they know you are safe and free.


They get it

About a week before Christmas I was invited to do an interview with National Public Radio. The theme was toys and the impact that the toy recall was having on The Salvation Army. After the interview, as we were leaving the studio, Michele Martin, who hosts "Tell Me More" on NPR, began to talk to me about "Doing The Most Good." She expressed how the phrase clearly identifies The Salvation Army and moves her personally. In her words, "This is a perfect tag line for The Salvation Army; it is appropriately definitive of who you are." She admitted that she cries every time she sees our "bell ringer" television commercial.

I was elated, but she wasn't finished. "I had a guest in here last week who has posted a blog about his deep appreciation for your branding promise, "Doing The Most Good." I was stunned as she told me about her interview segment with him on her show and their discussion of our branding and promise. That guest was Richard Harwood, who operates the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, encouraging people to imagine and act for the public good. Here's a brief transcript of their broadcast conversation:

MARTIN: ... You took the Salvation Army tagline, doing the most good, and you broke it down into its component parts. I'd like you to take me through that exercise of how to think about ways we can do good in this holiday season. First of all, do.

HARWOOD: Do.

MARTIN: What does that mean?

HARWOOD: Well, first, let me say that I just absolutely love this tagline: doing the most good. Do, to me, is one of the, you know, it's a short word. It's the shortest almost that you can have - two letters. And it says to us, be active, be engaged, make of yourself something. It's a very active word.

The most, which is the second part of this, says to me that we should distinguish between the things that we think about doing, that we should make choices and our choices matter.

And lastly, the word good. I wrote in the blog: I love the word good because it's almost like smiling at you. It's anchored by two strong letters G and D. It's got these two little Os in the middle, they're almost like wheels that make the word propel forward. And good suggests that it's more than just about me and what I want as a giver or as someone who's donating to something or giving of charity. It's that - it's for something larger. There's a kind of moral imperative in the word good. There's kind of a civic compass there that we want to face in a certain kind of direction, and that direction is to bring about goodness for society - not just benefit for ourselves.

Harwood had written on his blog, "For me, ‘Doing the Most Good' asks each of us to engage; to reach for something beyond what we might ordinarily deem to be ‘good enough.' It asks us to look beyond the relatively quick (though important) ways of giving - like writing a check or donating an hour here or there, or even helping to build a single house - and to exert ourselves further. In this way, ‘Doing the Most Good' says to me that each of us should come to see, understand, and act on a larger aspiration: that our efforts should seek to repair the breaches in our society. This requires change, not simply more charity ... "

Harwood and Martin get it! It's for something larger. There's a moral imperative. There's a civic compass. It's about making a difference. It's about change, not simply more charity. They get it. I remain mystified as to why some of our own continue to reject it.

In Paul's letter to Titus he articulates a dynamic truth that orders Christian life in the church, the family and the world. Paul isolates six ingredients of salvation - its need, its source, its ground, its means, its goal and its evidence. Evidence is how it proves itself. We are the most powerful catalysts for evidence that there can be. We either help people get it, or we confound them in our self-content. Doing the most good is the consistent portrayal of a lifestyle that every Salvationist is called to live. It is an intentional commitment to consistently live a life of integrity, compassion, passion, humility, sacrifice and disciplined faith. To reject the lifestyle that God's great gift of salvation has brought to me and to you would be to casually dismiss the very theology we embrace within our name. We honor His gift of salvation by doing the most good.

I hope you get it.

 

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