In need of a new read?
The Spiritual Life Development team has some recommendations.
The Common People’s Gospel
by Gunpei Yamamuro
Review by Major Young Kim
Gunpei Yamamuro (1872–1940) was the first Japanese Salvation Army commissioner. He represented a heroic example of indigenized Salvationism in a non–Western context. Yamamuro’s influence on the Army’s growth and development in that country came to fruition through his effective articulation of the message and the mission of the Army within the social and cultural context of his day.
Yamamuro’s magnum opus, The Common People’s Gospel, was considered by many to be a most applicable and relevant adaptation of the evangelical Christian message.
He wrote about Christian doctrine, such as God, sin, faith, salvation, and holiness. He brilliantly used language, metaphors, and ideas that Japanese people could understand. He also used many sources from Western religious history and thought. Japanese history, culture, and religious traditions (such as Confucian ethics and Buddhist teaching) became tools of Yamamuro who used them to illustrate the truths of the Christian faith.
As he acknowledged the cultural influences and voices around him, Yamamuro clearly illustrated how biblical revelation and Christian truth hold final authority over the highest philosophical truths and ethical virtues of any culture — including Japanese.
Although he appreciated and recognized “light” wherever it was found in Japanese culture, Yamamuro never compromised or undermined his commitment to the sovereignty of Christ’s revelation.
Dr. R. David Rightmire, a Salvationist scholar who lived in Japan at a time when his parents served as territorial leaders there, called Yamamuro a “Salvationist Samurai.” Gunpei Yamamuro was truly “God’s knight” whose “weapons were a keen mind, an eloquent tongue, a relentless pen, and above all, a saintly life and a devoted spirit,” said Rightmire.
Until Christ comes, Yamamuro’s Samurai spirit in Christ will flourish and influence the mission and the message of The Salvation Army.
May this book be a source of blessing.
God in My Everything
How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God
by Ken Shigematsu
Review by Lt. Colonel Pat LaBossiere
I recently attended a webinar. Ken Shigematsu, author of the book God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, conducted it and shared a concept.
He called it the “rule of life,” an ancient practice of having daily, life–giving rhythms. Shigematsu said it is not just about the spiritual part of life; it’s about inviting God into every aspect of life—play, work, leisure, prayer, worship, as well as tending to our body & spirit, our friends & family, and our use of money.
He challenged readers to create a personal rule of life. At first, living by a set of rules sounded a little rigid. But then, I realized that I already live according to certain patterns.
It’s not written down or formalized, but I have a routine. I brush my teeth twice a day, I go to church every Sunday, I take a vacation each year. Shigematsu challenged me to really consider what I do each day, each week, and each year. When do I pray or read Scripture? How often do I talk to my siblings? Do I worship only on Sundays at the corps? When was the last time I fasted? Am I taking 10,000 steps?
So, I began to purposely formulate a rule of life for myself. It’s likely to change as I grow in my spiritual life, but it’s a start. And I’m praying that as I strive to live a life that is ordered and intentional, I will “… grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
A Testament of Devotion
by Thomas R. Kelly
Review by Chris Stoker
“… the main point is not that a new song is put into our mouths; the point is that a new song is put into our mouths … for the Singer of all songs is singing within us. It is not we that sing; it is the Eternal Song of the Other, who sings in us, who sings unto us, and through us into the world.”
—A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION (PAGES 73–74)
The Quaker writings are always robust, hearty meals for my soul. I’ve found George Fox, John Woolman, and now Thomas R. Kelly all to be deeply refreshing in their approach to the spiritual life. Each author consistently explores the topic with equal measures of personal cultivation and ministry to others.
A Testament of Devotion follows this convention. It’s a small book with a huge heart. Although it has only 127 pages, it’s anything but a quick read. I found myself going back and reading again, a page, a section, or sometimes a full chapter so as to let more of Kelly’s humble guidance sink in.
Spend some time with this big, little book and you’ll find your spiritual journey enriched, your interactions with your church community enhanced, and your ministry toward people encouraged.
“The deepest need of men is not food and clothing and shelter, important as they are. It is God. We have mistaken the nature of poverty, and thought it was economic poverty. No, it is poverty of soul, deprivation of God’s recreating, loving peace.”
—A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION (PAGE 99)
*These books and more are available for purchase online or at your local bookstores.
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