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
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
"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
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
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.
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."