Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018: 2nd Sunday, Repentance

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

To Recap: our Lenten journey thus far has included an introduction to the Lent season (Mon., Feb 12th ), a devotional about Shrove Tuesday (Feb. 13th), information about Ash Wednesday (on Feb. 14th, which was the beginning of Lent), and a meditation regarding Reflection (on Wed., Feb. 21st).

Today, Sunday, Feb. 25th, we move onto examining the concept of Repentance. But what is repentance and is it different from saying, “I’m sorry”? People often say, “I’m sorry,” but they might be sorry that they got caught versus being sorry that they did the wrong thing. Plus, individuals often say that they are sorry in an attempt to deflect attention from their immoral, unethical, and even criminal activity. Repentance differs from the use of ‘sorry’ in that the individual who repents changes their mind and demonstrates a change in behavior when they turn away from wrongdoing and are motivated to not repeat their offensive words or actions.

However, repentance isn’t a popular subject, because it entails admitting that we’ve been wrong or done something wrong. That alone causes a stumbling block to many folks. Furthermore, this is actually a phenomenon that is studied in social psychology: Once someone has publicly stated or done something that is wrong, they won’t admit they are wrong, because they don’t want to lose face. In other words, they will not back down, because they don’t want to be embarrassed and humiliated or lose the respect of their peers. We’ve seen this ‘fake repentance’ used in Biblical accounts in both the Old and New Testaments, beginning with Adam’s attempt to deflect his wrongdoing by blaming Eve and she, in turn, also passed the blame (to the serpent). But God knows precisely whom is responsible, and just as He confronted these three participants in mankind’s fall from God’s grace, He continues to hold each of us accountable for our misconduct.
Obviously, then, repentance goes far beyond saying we are sorry. We’ve already looked at a brief component of repentance (i.e., that the individual who repents changes their mind and demonstrates a change in behavior). The Oxford Dictionary notes that, “repentance is the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse. Some synonyms include contrition, penitence, regret, shame, and guilt.” As I’ve been contemplating this issue of repentance, I was reminded of 1 John 4: 20, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” This applies to the way we treat each other, and in terms of repentance this definitely applies: If we can’t repent of our words and behaviours towards those whom we have offended and ask for their forgiveness, then we can’t be reconciled to them. In that case, how can we repent and ask for forgiveness from an unseen God and be reconciled to Him?

During this season of Lent, may we examine ourselves and ask God to show us the areas or instances in which we need to repent.

Suggested Daily Scripture Readings
Sun. Matt 3: 1-12
Mon. 2 Cor. 5: 14-19
Tues. Gal. 5: 19-23
Wed. James 2:14-26
Thurs. Luke 3:  1-9
Fri. 1 John 1:1-10
Sat. Romans 2: 1-4

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor) Canada

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018: Week 2

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

The Lenten Season of 2018 officially began last week with Ash Wednesday. There were two other meditations that were posted (i.e., Introduction to Lent on Mon., Feb. 12th , and Shrove Tuesday, on Feb. 13th, the day before Ash Wednesday). In addition to the information shared last week re: the meaning of Ash Wednesday, I also posted some suggested Scriptures for daily readings to begin preparing for today’s topic: Reflection.

Life can be a whirlwind of activity filled with both positive and less-than-welcome experiences. These challenges begin at birth as parents, sure their infant is the cutest, smartest, most entertaining, etc., discover they need to impress others with these truths—even if the only thing that we can brag about is that their babies are reaching developmental milestones. But what drives this need for attention and affirmation from family, friends, and even total strangers? Have we slowed down and stopped to examine why we get caught in this energy-zapping process? Is it the result of being preoccupied with “being successful parents,” but what is our definition of ‘success’? And how does it apply to the other areas of our lives?

Without reflection we may fall into line with whatever the popular crowd is doing or without considering our own morals, values, and ethics. For example, do we define our success through the eyes of others? Remember when King Saul’s God-ordained successor, David, was chosen to be the king of Israel? The prophet, Samuel, was sent to Jesse’s (David’s father) house in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons to be the next Israelite king. As we read the account, we discover that Samuel believed that God had chosen, Eliab, the son that made a great first impression on the prophet. However, God nixed that idea and put a check in Samuel’s spirit: “ 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Sam. 16: 7).

Lent provides us with the reminder and opportunity to reflect upon our lives. A great starting point is remembering that God looks at our heart, at our inner lives, while people often judge us on our external appearances and works. Our first priority, as we examine our spiritual lives, is to meditate and act upon the most important command that Jesus gave us, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence,’”(Matt. 22: 37, MSG). ). In other words, God is not impressed by the ‘works’ that we do for status or prestige. It’s a time to ask ourselves how we are doing in our quest to love and serve God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Moreover, we need to check how we live our lives—are we living in a manner that’s pleasing to our Father? Do people look at us and notice that we will not compromise our moral values or ethics to be successful in their lives? Are we confident in our God sees us, and is our focus on pleasing Him versus the becoming accepted by the popular group?

Dear Lord, help us to see ourselves as You see us, and give us understanding of how to live our lives in the awareness of Your continuing presence. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Suggested Daily Scripture Readings:

Wed.  1 Samuel 16: 1-7 Thurs. Deut. 6: 4-9; cf. Matt. 22”37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.  Fri.  Matt. 22: 34-40 Sat. 2 Corinthians 5:  14-20  Sun. Ephesians 17-24  Mon. John 15: 18-27  Tues.

Blessings and Peace,

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor) Canada

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Ash Wednesday: The First Day of Lent

Lenten Season, 2018: Week 1 Begins with Ash Wednesday

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

When I was seven years old, my 10-year old friend, Diane, invited me to join The Salvation Army Brownie pack to which she belonged. As a result, I also began to attend The Salvation Army Outpost Sunday School with her. On the way home from Brownies one evening, Diane told me that we had to stop at her church to ‘get her ashes’. I wasn’t old enough to understand why the priest put ashes in the shape of a tiny cross on Diane’s forehead. However, when we arrived back at my home, my mom opened the door, spotted the ‘dirt’ on Diane’s forehead, wet her thumb with her saliva, and quickly ‘erased’ the dirty spot before Diane could even react. When she did, she exclaimed in dismay, “Mrs. Hogan! My ashes!” That’s when it clicked for my (Prostentant) mom, who apologized to Diane and her family. Thankfully, our families were good friends, and continued to be so. 

Many Christians have had an awareness of Ash Wednesday and Lent, but not necessarily the meaningfulness of these observances. Conversely, ever since Mel Gibson produced the film, “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004, a new interest emerged surrounding the significance of including the Lenten season as part of one’s spiritual development. 
So what is the meaning of Ash Wednesday and why is it important to Lent—the time of preparing our hearts and minds before Easter Sunday?

Ash Wednesday: The First Day of Lent
The date of Ash Wednesday changes each year, because it is based on the timing of Easter. Ash Wednesday, observed on February 14th this year, signifies the first day of the Lenten Season in the Christian Church calendar. When we consider this holy season of reflection and meditation leading up to celebrating Easter, it’s very appropriate that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s day are celebrated together, because both are observances and expressions of love.

How do Christians Observe Ash Wednesday?
Many denominations, including the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican and Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, observe Ash Wednesday with special services. Participants in these services receive a blessing from the minister or priest as they use ashes to form the sign of the cross (to represent death and repentance) on the foreheads of those. Many worshippers leave the mark on their foreheads to signify that they are carrying the sign of the cross into the world. The source of the ashes that are used come from palm crosses that were blessed the preceding year. 

What is Lent?
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, and it lasts for a period of the 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter. Christians who observe Lent use it as a time for prayer and repentance. The focus of Lent is to remember Jesus' 40 days of fasting and temptation in the desert before His ultimate sacrifice of being crucified on the cross.

Because Lent is associated with Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness, fasting is also associated with Lent. For example, some Christians fast for the entire period of Lent, while others only do so on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday). Also, there are many non-going church people who choose to abstain from something for Lent, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or favourite foods. Still others commit to doing something to help others on each of the days of Lent—giving up some of their time (e.g., visiting shut-ins, allowing someone to go ahead of you in a line at the grocery store, or helping someone with yard work).

Thus, as we consider the theme of, New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God”, we will be doing so via elements such as ‘Reflection’, ‘Rest’, ‘Realisation’ , ‘Refreshing’, ‘Renewal’, ‘Resurrection’, and ‘Rebirth’.

Suggested Readings for Week 1 of Lent—to begin Reflecting upon our spiritual walk:

Wed. Ps. 51: 10-17
Thurs. Ps. 139: 23-24
Fri. 1 Cor. 13
Sat. Ps. 46: 1-11
Sun. 1 John 1: 5-10 
Mon. Ps. 132: 1-5
Tues. Luke 14: 25-34

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk 

Former Salvation Army Officer/pastor

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018:

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

Sometimes we take a compartmentalized approach to studying Jesus life, ministry, death and resurrection. However, this misses the continuity of the link between the prophecies and fulfillment of those predictions of His birth, which we celebrate at Christmas, and His mighty triumph over sin and death, which we celebrate at Easter. The Advent season is not disconnected from the Lenten season, although we sometimes approach the study of Christ’s life between those seasons as though they were independent events. Truthfully, without Advent—the period of waiting for the Messiah’s first coming—there would be no victorious Easter. Given the fact that these two occasions are eternally entwined, how do we explore and examine the Lenten season in a manner that is fresh and new? We often refer to the Scriptures as being the “living Word of God”, which means that if we limit ourselves to memorizing verses, passages, or biblical stories, then we treat God’s message in a predictive way.

Yet the Scriptures are filled with the essence of our awesome God, such as Creator, creativity, newness, freshness, unexpected approaches to people and their challenges. And we know that Isaiah pointed out that God was and is doing a new thing! Therefore, can we continue the 2017 Advent Theme, “New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God,” as a means of seeking the New Thing that God is doing?

I plan to post weekly meditations for the Lenten Season, similar to the weekly posts of Advent, 2017 and continuing through to Easter Sunday. However, the posts will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, February 13th, which is Shrove Tuesday, also known as “Pancake Tuesday,” “Fat Tuesday”, “Fasnacht Day,” or “Mardi Gras.” Pancake Tuesday signals that Lent begins the following day, which is known as Ash Wednesday. So, I will post information on these two days, and include suggested Scripture readings as we prepare our hearts and minds during this meaningful season.

Blessings and Peace

Elizabeth Hogan-Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Foursquare phenomenon; Founded by a Canadian Salvationist

Aimee Semple McPherson
"Never did I hear such language from a human being. Without one moment's intermission, she would talk from an hour to an hour and a half, holding her audience spellbound."
— a reporter's description.

In 1913 a 23-year-old Salvation Army daughter was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis, her life hanging in the balance. But for months the young woman had felt her spiritual life was also in peril. She'd had a deep, gnawing sense that God expected more of her.

As she later recounted, her condition deteriorated until a hospital attendant came to move her into a room set apart for the dying. She struggled to breathe as she heard a nurse say, "She's going."

Then she heard another voice: "Now will you go?" She understood it to mean she was to choose between going into eternity or going into ministry. She yielded to ministry. Instantly, she said, the pain was gone, her breathing eased, and she soon regained her strength.

Within a decade, the young woman would become an American phenomenon. Though hardly known today, during the 1920s her name appeared on the front page of America's leading newspapers three times a week. Today, as her International Church of the Foursquare Gospel carries on her legacy, historians consider her (along with Billy Sunday) the most significant revivalist in the early twentieth century.

Living in a gospel car
Aimee was born in October 1890, to James and Minnie Kennedy, a Methodist and a Salvation Army devotee respectively, in Ontario, Canada. As a teenager, Aimee was introduced to Pentecostalism through the preaching of Robert Semple, whom she eventually married. When he died two years later, she married young businessman Harold McPherson. For a few years, they shared a hand-to-mouth existence. They lived in a "gospel" car plastered with Bible verses and slogans (like "Where will you spend eternity?") and loaded with religious tracts. Slowly she began attracting crowds and the attention of the press.

Though Aimee and Harold quietly divorced, Aimee's ministry continued to expand. Using Hebrews 13:8 ("Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever") as her theme, she preached that the "full menu" of Bible Christianity was available for listeners' firsthand experience. Around the country, she spoke about the lavish feast Christ offered the faithful and summoned people with the words of a familiar gospel song: "Come and dine, the Master calleth, come and dine!"

From Los Angeles in 1919, McPherson launched a series of meetings that catapulted her to national fame. Within a year, America's largest auditoriums could not hold the crowds. She acquiesced to popular demand that she pray for the sick, and "stretcher days" became hallmarks of her campaigns.
Reporters marveled at her oratorical skills: "Never did I hear such language from a human being. Without one moment's intermission, she would talk from an hour to an hour and a half, holding her audience spellbound." Pastors from many denominations threw their support behind her city-wide campaigns. In 1922 her ministry took her to Australia, the first of a number of trips abroad.

On January 1, 1923, McPherson dedicated Angelus Temple, which held up to 5,300 worshipers. The ceremonies included hundreds of colorfully clad gypsies (who had named her their queen), a roster of prominent Protestant preachers, and thousands of adoring fans. A church-owned radio station was launched in 1924.

Christianity Today Archives

(Aimee Semple McPherson, American evangelist (one who preaches Christianity), symbolized important traits of American popular religion in the 1920s and 1930s. She was one of the first female evangelists, the first divorced evangelist, and the founder of the Foursquare Gospel church.
Aimee Kennedy was born on October 9, 1890, near Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Her father, James Morgan Kennedy, was a struggling farmer. Her mother, Mildred "Minnie" Pearce was a member of the Salvation Army (1865; founded by William Booth [1829–1912] as a religious organization with military structure for the purpose of bettering life for the poor and evangelizing the world). Soon after Aimee's birth, her mother took her to the Salvation Army and dedicated her to God's service. Aimee's training was particularly geared toward religious work.
When Aimee was in high school, she began to question her religious beliefs. At the age of seventeen she went to a religious meeting and experienced Pentecostal conversion under the guidance of Scottish evangelist Robert Semple. In 1908 she married Semple and followed him to China as a missionary (one who travels to spread religious teachings). He died soon after arriving in China, leaving her pregnant and penniless. After the birth of Roberta Star, she returned home and continued her Pentecostal work. She also worked with her mother for the Salvation Army.)