What You Should Know About the Salvation Army

My wife and I have been plucking cards from Salvation Army Angel trees around Christmas time for several years. We have enjoyed shopping for the needs and wishes of disadvantaged children in our community. This year, for the first time, I also volunteered, along with my fellow church elders, to help distribute the hundreds of donated Angel Tree gifts to the families of these children. In doing so, I got a whole new perspective of the Salvation Army. Here’s what I learned.

Frustrated that his church in England wasn’t sharing the gospel with most of those who needed it in 1852, minister William Booth abandoned the pulpit to preach to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute on the streets of London. Within a few years, hundreds from all over England including many converts joined his street evangelism ministry which he referred to in 1878 as the Salvation Army. As they became more structured and organized, this Army identified its management hierarchy with military officer ranks and began wearing uniforms. The top leaders were generals with a subordinate cascade of colonels to lieutenants depending on levels of responsibility and experience. In 1881, Booth’s organization launched an offensive throughout the British Isles that converted over 250,000 to Christianity. The movement spread rapidly gaining a foothold in America and several other countries.

In 1879, Eliza Shirley at age 17 pioneered the Salvation Army of the United States after serving with Booth in England. Joining her parents who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia, she began a mission which grew into peace and hope for the needy of the nation.

Today, the Salvation Army is active in almost every country in the world. It has one of the lowest administrative cost percentages of all charities at just 18 percent. All donations designated for a particular disaster relief effort go directly to that effort without any of it being used for administrative expenses.

My experience this Christmas with the annual Angel Tree project supported the Hot Springs, Arkansas, mission in distributing toys and clothing to the families of almost 500 needy children. Parents were scheduled to come by the warehouse at specific times. They would first attend a brief gospel message by a local pastor, then line up to receive their children’s gifts. My fellow church elders and I, along with several other volunteers, loaded shopping carts with bags of gifts for the specific kids as listed on the Angel Tree cards and purchased by generous donors. We were introduced to each parent or parents receiving the gifts and walked with them to their vehicles as we conversed with them. After loading their vehicles, we prayed with them and wished them a blessed and merry Christmas then started the process over again. The event was very well organized. Almost 200 families heard the gospel and received the gifts in less than four hours.

Of course, the Angel Tree project is just one of many, many projects and ministries carried out continuously throughout the year by the Salvation Army. They feed the poor and homeless. They provide shelter during the coldest days of winter and hottest days of summer for those in need of basic comforts. They are quickly on scene to help with all kinds of disasters. Their thrift stores not only supplement their revenue needs but also provide low-cost clothing and household goods for those struggling economically. They have a women’s ministry that focuses on women’s health and special needs. They maintain connection with local hospitals, nursing homes, retirement centers, and rehabilitation facilities. In all these ministries, they keep their top priority as it has been from the 19th century: evangelism.

So, when I see the folks standing next to those red kettles ringing bells during the holidays, I’m now giving them more than a smile and a nod. And let’s remember that this Army’s need for resources are year-round, not just when the kettles come out. Donate regularly including clothing and household goods for their thrift stores.

Seeking a Return to Goodness

During the Christmas season, does America’s infatuation with icons of the past, old Christmas movies, and cheesy Hallmark movies tell us something about ourselves? Maybe something positive? Does it reflect our yearning for a kinder, gentler country? I believe it does, and here’s why.

My attitude about Christmas movies is conflicted. On the one hand, I can’t get excited about the annual repeated parade of the same old classics, and I am repulsed by the tripe that passes for new Christmas releases. On the other hand, I often watch both screen categories during the holiday season. There is just something about those simple stories that gives me to a feeling of goodness and a respite from the real world. The high ratings these movies get indicate that many in our society are yearning for the values of small-town America and days gone by. Why else would millions sit for hours in front of a TV watching a poorly written, low-budget movie with amateur actors in totally predictable plots? It’s always about someone from the big city who goes to a small town and falls in love with someone who already has a love interest. The screen writers all use the same plot and just change the names and venues. Yet, people are driven to these movies because of the void in their hearts that longs for the authenticity, simplicity, and unconditional love characterized in the stories. They need to reconnect with the more peaceful, more civil, and simpler times when America was, well, just better.

Americans in general want to return to a time of goodness. Maybe it should be described as a time of godliness. We see our nation moving in a direction contrary to our ideology, yet we are caught up in the mainstream and can’t seem to escape. We find consolation in retreating temporarily to more meaningful times of the past. Realistically, those times were not as good as our memories of them, but they were heavenly compared to today’s social culture. So, how can we be influenced by these movies to become more like them–to reverse the present political and societal mess and return to better times? Cultures only change as individuals change, and we can only change one individual–ourself. To borrow a concept from Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker, we can draw a circle around ourself and change everyone in that circle.

I am very concerned about the lack of civility, disrespect, animosity toward others, and absence of personal sacrifice that characterize America today. There is little I can do about it other than pray and make sure I’m not contributing to it. So, with God’s help, I’m going to continue striving to be more like the people in those Christmas movies. I hope you will, too.

The Respect for Marriage Act Is Bad for America

Groups celebrate gay marriage after Senate vote

On Tuesday, November 29, the Senate passed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act. The misnamed Act passed by a vote of 61-36 with 12 Republicans voting for it. The Act, sure to pass in the House, will codify gay marriage into federal law which will further speed America’s race to the bottom of moral values and Christian principles. Let’s take a serious look at this legislation.

In the Obergefell v. Hodges 5-4 decision in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional and must be protected. That case and the earlier Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act gave robust rights and benefits to “married” same-sex couples. With these cases, the American justice system thumbed its nose at the historical sanctity of marriage according to God’s Word. The current legislation will forever enshrine into law the marital rights of same-sex couples without the possibility of reconsideration by the courts.

The House passed the bill last July by a vote of 267-157 with all Democrats and 47 Republicans voting for it. The Senate’s slight revision will now go back to the House for final congressional passage and the President’s signing. With the power of federal law and well-defined rights of same-sex married couples, businesses and other organizations including churches opposing such marriage will find their morals and values under constant threat.

It is sad when many individuals form opinions opposing biblical truth. It is worse when the majority of Americans form opinions opposing biblical truth. It is inviting God’s judgment and wrath on our nation when our government makes and enforces laws opposing biblical truth. With this bill, America is proclaiming that man’s law supersedes God’s law. In the Bible, God makes it abundantly clear that marriage between one man and one woman is His plan for His ultimate creation–mankind. Then He says those who violate that plan: …exchanged the truth of God for a lie…God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Although they know the ordinance of God, …they also give hearty approval to those who practice (such things) (Romans 1).

Romans 1 is explicit about the results of corrupting God’s one woman-one man plan for sexual fulfillment and procreation. It also condemns those who approve or tolerate such behavior. Most of our culture has become convinced that, even though they don’t practice homosexuality and gay marriage, it is okay, even commendable, to ignore it or tolerate it. That is an unbiblical lie.

Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Lummis of Wyoming were among Republicans voting for the Respect for Marriage Act. They claim that they believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that everyone’s private life should be respected and tolerated. Major religious institutions are supporting gay marriage now. The United Methodist Church, the second largest protestant denomination in America, has bought into the sham along with several other denominations. The official statement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, “Supportive (of the Act) as long as it doesn’t infringe on religions to believe what they choose.” Really? I am ashamed that my generation has let this societal disease creep into our culture. When it reaps its consequences, how will I explain to my grandchildren that my generation let it happen?

The train has left the station, and Bible-believers have apparently lost this one. I will pray often and more earnestly that God will use this as a wake-up call for America to start reversing course in our determination to test His mercy and patience. We should be constantly reminded of God’s words just before the flood that destroyed almost all of civilization: My Spirit shall not strive with man forever… (Genesis 6). We may be on the brink of national collapse from the weight of spiritual darkness we have allowed into our culture.

Thanksgiving Trivia for Family Gatherings

Even with all the chaos and evil around us, we have so much to be thankful for in America today. We should thank the Lord every day for the goodness, beauty, and love we are blessed to experience. As we observe the national holiday of Thanksgiving, let us be grateful to God for what we have above all other nations. Here are a dozen Thanksgiving trivia questions and answers for your enjoyment:

1. Which President made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

2. What President began the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey?

3. What meat did the native Americans bring to the first Thanksgiving?

4. What culture produced the idea of the cornucopia, the horn of plenty?

5. About how many turkeys are eaten in America each Thanksgiving? 120 million, 280 million, or 410 million?

6. What percentage of Americans eat turkey each Thanksgiving? 65, 76, or 88?

7. What was the first department store to hold a Thanksgiving Day parade?

8. Indians from what tribe accompanied the pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving?

9. Before sailing the Pilgrims across the Atlantic, the Mayflower was used for what purpose?

10. A native American bird, the turkey was first shipped to Europe from what state?

11. How many American Presidents were descendants of Mayflower passengers? One, three, six, or eight?

12. What popular Christmas song originated as a Thanksgiving song?


1. Abraham Lincoln declared Nov. 26th as the official Thanksgiving holiday. It was later changed to the fourth Thursday in November by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2. Although a few earlier Presidents jokingly pardoned a turkey before Thanksgiving, George H. W. Bush established the annual tradition in 1989, and it has been done by every subsequent President each year.

3. Deer (venison)

4. The Greek culture made the cornucopia popular in mythology.

5. 280 million

6. 88

7. Not Macy’s. It was Gimbel’s.

8. Ninety Wampanoag Indians were at the first Thanksgiving.

9. A wine hauling vessel

10. Florida. The Spaniards brought it back to Spain.

11. Eight. John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, and, therefore, George W. Bush.

12. Jingle Bells. James Lloyd Pierpont wrote the song to commemorate the Thanksgiving Day sleigh races at Medford, Massachusetts.

Midterm Elections Reveal the Spiritual State of the Union

This 2022 midterm election was supposed to be the turning point that would put America back on the path of moral sensitivity and spiritual awakening. Sanctity of life, law and order, personal responsibility, and family values were all on the ballot. Although there were gains from the Christian perspective, they were far short of expectations. Our nation that proclaims “in God we trust” showed little regard at the polls for that motto.

The recent Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade drew several states to voter referendums on solidifying abortion rights. Kentucky, Vermont, Michigan, Montana, and California each proposed various amendments ensuring abortion access. Abortion rights prevailed in all five states. Kansans had already approved an abortion rights law in August.

Crime is a crisis in America, particularly homicides and drug trafficking. Yet, crime prevention was not a winning election strategy this year. Republican Lee Zeldin of New York ran on a strong anti-crime campaign against the state’s Democratic governor, Kathy Hochul. Hochul had been strongly criticized by both parties for her liberal bail reform laws. Yet she won by more than 300,000 votes. In Pennsylvania, Senate hopeful, Dr. Mehmet Oz, ran largely on conservative crime policies. His opponent, John Fetterman, aside from his health issues, carried a lot of soft-on-crime baggage including fighting for record clemency and early release of prisoners. Fetterman won by five percentage points. Nation-wide exit polls showed that only 11 percent of voters said crime was a top issue influencing their votes.

The priorities of other moral and spiritual issues were reflected in the candidates chosen. Americans are reluctant to define Democrats and Republicans by their religious association. But it is inescapable. The Democratic platform is substantially more liberal in its alignment with biblical principles and values. The Republican platform is much more reflective of those principles and values. So, when the midterm “red wave” was predicted, it portended a trend back to the moral and spiritual traditions many believers were hoping for. It was looking like a victory for personal freedoms, family values, and general biblical precepts. Then there was last Tuesday. There were many more Democrats elected than the polls predicted. The red wave was more of a red ripple.

The Republican anticipated super-majority in the House turned into a potential razor-thin advantage. The The expected Senate majority may be reduced to 50-50 again depending on what happens in the December Georgia runoff. The perceived Christian conservative movement just didn’t materialize. Christian values are not being played out at the voting booth. The question is whether we are a Christian nation anymore. Among voters nationwide, only 4 in 10 say they attend religious services at least monthly. Only a fifth say they go once a week or more. About a third say they never attend. Most Democrats say they attend religious services even less frequently. Seventy percent say they go to church less than monthly. Among Republicans, 46 percent attend at least monthly. So, over half of Republicans have little commitment to their faith. Furthermore, voter apathy among Christians is prevalent in America with only two-thirds of registered voters voting.

From these observations, I have to conclude that Americans in general have little desire and motivation to recover from our downward spiral burdened by moral weakness and spiritual indifference. The problem is not the candidates, the strategy, or the finances. The problem is the voters. Only God can ignite the souls of His people to lead the course correction of a nation. Usually, He only does that after true repentance and desperately crying out in prayer for His intervention. Isn’t it time to step up, share your concern with others, and change the spiritual state of the Union? Aren’t your children and your future generations worth that?

Arkansans: Don’t Oppose Issue 3 by Overreading!

Many Arkansas voters who strongly support religious freedom are opposing Ballot Issue 3, the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment, for an invalid reason. Social media frenzy and distrust of government is causing a paranoia among some Christian voters that could stop a state constitutional amendment benefiting religious freedom. Let’s look at this issue more closely.

In 2015, the Arkansas legislature passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Act 975. This Act mirrors federal law and the laws of many other states protecting religious freedoms. It simply endorsed religious freedom specifically for Arkansas. It states that government cannot substantially burden a person’s religious liberty unless it is necessary to further a compelling governmental interest and the government uses the least restrictive means possible to further its compelling interest. That is on the books now, but the legislature and courts can always remove it rather easily in the future. That is why it needs to be ensconced in the Arkansas Constitution.

Issue 3 in this election, the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment, is virtually the same wording as the existing Arkansas statute. It was drafted by two of the most conservative Christian members of the Arkansas legislature and passed as a recommended amendment by a large majority of the House and Senate. The objective was to strengthen and protect religious freedom as well as make it very difficult and unlikely for the government to intervene in religious matters.

The hang-up for some voters is the exception for government to intervene. This exception is absolutely necessary. Something like it is included in every religious liberty act and amendment in the country, and rightly so. Otherwise, the government would not be allowed to act against cults, fanatics, and even terrorists who claim to be acting according to their religion. What if someone proclaimed spouse beating was a religious right. What if a group decided it was against their religion to pay any taxes? What if an entire religious sect said their beliefs do not allow pictures of themselves under any circumstances? Wouldn’t we want the government to take these “religious freedom” claimants to court or deny them other freedoms as a result of their claims? That is why the exception clause is necessary but extremely restricted by the phrases “compelling interest” and “least restrictive means possible.”

Organizations that are supportive (or FOR) Issue 3 include Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Alliance Defending Freedom. Organizations that are opposed (or AGAINST) Issue 3 include ACLU of Arkansas, The Arkansas Public Policy Panel, and The Freedom From Religion Foundation.

My concern is that we could lose a highly advantageous opportunity to advance religious liberty in Arkansas over the misinterpretation of a sentence that will always, by necessity, be a part of any religious freedom statute or amendment. Even if one remains convinced the exception clause in this proposed amendment is a red herring that negates its intent, the amendment’s defeat would just take us back to the existing statute that says the same thing but is more vulnerable to government interference.

Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face. Vote “FOR” Issue 3.

Vote Morally

Moral compass vote

All election polling considered, the top issues on voters’ minds for the 2022 mid-terms are inflation/economy, future of democracy, abortion, crime, and immigration. The common issue that overlays all of these is morality. Every voter’s moral compass should be the determining factor of how he or she votes. Votes for political candidates should not be based on any characteristic other than how they view the issues. And every issue is ultimately a moral issue. The question is: what is moral?

Over the course of my baby-boomer generation, moral principles have shifted from being rooted in biblical truth to being based on popular opinion. We as a nation must return to absolute truth and abandon relative truth, or opinion. Absolute truth has one source: the Bible. When God created everything that exists in the universe, He established an absolute truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We may misinterpret or misapply the scriptures God gave us, but they are always the truth. Yet, most people today make their own false truth based on convenience, pleasure, greed, and experience.

Problems with inflation and the economy are largely caused by greed and poor work ethic. Worries about a fractured democracy and election fraud are outgrowths of political posturing for advantage and power. The abortion issue amounts to sacrificing the life of one person to enhance the lifestyle of another. Crime is nothing less than extreme greed and hateful retaliation. Illegal immigration is blatant disregard for drug-smuggling and killing as well as human trafficking. In every aspect of these issues, truth is being subverted to the selfish needs and wants of immoral people in our country.

Governmental favor toward gay marriage, redefining gender, transgender rights, abortion, lawlessness, human trafficking, illicit drug use, open borders, frivolous spending, indebtedness, and much more is blatant disregard for absolute moral truth in America.

Christ followers throughout this country have a responsibility, an obligation, a biblical mandate to uphold moral truth. One of the most critical arenas for this action is the election process. The afore-mentioned moral issues are on the ballot this November. Some are actual proposals to be voted on while others are candidates’ partisan platforms that either support or deny biblical moral truth. Know each candidate’s political platform. Pay close attention to what a candidate advocates. Vote only for candidates that will support absolute moral truth consistently.

Only God can save America. If He is willing to rescue our great nation, much of His work will likely be though the efforts of His people to purify their leadership at every level. This is done mostly by voting according to absolute moral truth.

Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative. STOP IT!

Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative

The off and on-again Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative is on the ballot for the November 8 election. This would be an awful law and a continuation of our great state’s slippery slide into further problems of morality, safety, crime, health, family issues, and the economy. Here is a quick summary of what is at stake.

In 2016, the majority of Arkansas voters approved a similar amendment that legalized the medical use of marijuana. Many predicted this acquiescence to the THC proponents would not end there. So, here we are only six years later facing that prophetic eventuality. A group called “Arkansas True Grass” has collected over 192,000 petition signatures, more than double the 89,151 required to place the initiative on the ballot. The Arkansas State Board of Election Commission had disqualified the ballot initiative name as misleading. However, what seemed like a reprieve for opponents of the proposed amendment was reversed by the Arkansas Supreme Court a few weeks ago. Arkansas voters will vote next month for or against legalizing recreational marijuana throughout our state.

Here are just a few reasons why you should vote NO on this constitutional amendment*:

  • The harmful THC concentrations in marijuana have more than doubled in the U.S. over the past decade and have increased the risk of psychosis (2022 study published in The Lancer).
  • Self-harm rates, including suicide, rose 46% among men ages 21-39 in states that have legalized recreational marijuana (2021 report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA]).
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the CDC report that, after alcohol, marijuana is most often associated with impaired driving leading to traffic accidents. Unregulated use will increase Arkansas highway accidents and fatalities. Due to the increase in traffic accidents, your automobile insurance premiums will also increase.
  • In Colorado and other states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, organized crime and drug cartels have greatly increased their distribution of stronger illicit black market pot to the growing population of users. Soon after Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, the state’s governor announced, “We are not making any extra revenue from this…we’ve spent millions and millions of dollars, and we still haven’t gotten people to realize you’re taking some serious risk when consuming marijuana, certainly as a teenager when your brain is still growing so rapidly.”
  • A 2021 study published in Addiction found that, when pregnant mothers used marijuana, their babies were 35% more likely to be born preterm, have a low birth weight, and be smaller. A 2022 study published in JAMA found that, when pregnant mothers used marijuana, their children faced an increased risk of mental disorder.
  • Since the legalization of marijuana in some states, ER visits and poison control calls have increased as a result of children accidentally eating food laced with the drug. According to CDC, secondhand marijuana smoke contains THC and can be harmful to infants, children, and others exposed to it.
  • Although industries can prohibit marijuana use in the workplace, use just before work can still cause on-the-job accidents, costly production errors, and reduced productivity.

For these and many other reasons, why would The Natural State want to add a dangerous, unhealthy, and expensive law to its constitution? Aren’t we dealing with enough problematic issues already without inviting another? Ours is a beautiful and wonderful state despite our struggles with poverty, education, health, crime, and family breakups. Legalizing recreational marijuana would seriously worsen those struggles. It would in no way improve the quality of life for Arkansans.

Go to the polls early or on November 8 and vote against the Arkansas Recreational Marijuana Initiative–Issue 4–for the future of our state.

*Some of the points of this list were extracted from the Arkansas Family Council blog.

Christians Alone Can Determine Election Outcomes

Vote biblical values

It’s a fact. There are 168 million registered voters in America. Of that number, over 90 million identify as Christians. As many as 40 million registered Christians, or more than one-third, typically don’t vote. Another 15 million eligible Christians are not even registered. If those 55 million Christians voted their biblical values and principles this November and in 2024, the aggressive drive toward socialism and decadence in this country could be abruptly reversed. Here is what we must do immediately.

Every Christian in America must pause to remember that they and their nation-wide Christian family have the numbers–the power–to be Christ’s ambassadors in salvaging our crumbling heritage. God has given us the ability and responsibility to lift this country out of the mire of liberalism, wokeness, debauchery, and lethargy. …We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us… (2 Corinthians 5:20). We shirk that providential ability and responsibility every time we fail to vote. Therefore, I believe it is a sin to not vote if able.

The Bible teaches that Christians should hold each other accountable. If we know a brother or sister is not representing the Lord boldly, we are to gently point out that failing and encourage them to be responsible. Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit. (Galatians 6:1a). If we know other believers who are not registered or are not planning to vote, it is our duty to call it to their attention and urge them to prayerfully vote their biblical values and principles as representatives of Christ.

One way to encourage other Christians to vote is to sign up to the letter writing campaign, “Write Now,” with the My Faith Votes organization. Click here to go to their website and commit to send pre-written letters to specific Christians from a data base who have neglected to register or vote. I just completed hand-addressing 100 such letters. You can do as many or as few letters as you desire. Check it out! The deadline for signup is September 29, just a week away, so hurry.

Finally, I appeal to you to share this post with your circle of friends and loved ones. The message must get out to remind all Christians that it is their biblical responsibility to represent Christ in electing leaders who will govern according to biblical values and principles. God gave us our America that, despite our failures, has historically been the most powerful, most prosperous, yet the most benevolent nation in the world. Now, we have allowed that status to degenerate and are racing toward disaster. The only hope for America is Christ. He is calling on us to revive our country according to the plan He has for us. We can rise to the call, or we can sit back and watch the demolition. Don’t fail to vote, and don’t let your brothers and sisters fail to vote.

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