Friday, March 30, 2018

Mark 16:1-8: Dead or Alive: what do you believe?

Presented to Nipawin and Tisdale Corps on March 23, 2008 (Resurrection Sunday), the Swift Current corps of The Salvation Army on April 08, 2012, and 614 Warehouse Mission in Toronto on April 01, 2018 by Captain Michael Ramsay

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A Resurrection Reflection - Psalm 22, Acts 2:29-31, 17:30-32, Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Corinthians 15:14-22

Presented to Swift Current Corps of The Salvation Army on Resurrection Sunday, 31 March 2013 and 05 April 2015; Corps 614 Regent Park, 27 March 2016; and 614 Warehouse Mission, 01 April 2018 by Captain Michael Ramsay.

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Christ has risen! (Christ has risen indeed!)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

1 Corinthians 1:18-31: Tribute to the Lord through the Life of Dennis Hamm

Lord, we remember DENNIS HAMM and all that he meant to us, his friends, and his family, and we thank you for all that you have done in and through his life.

We thank you for all that You meant to DENNIS and all that DENNIS means to you. Lord I thank you for the number of times that I personally have been blessed by You through my conversations and time spent with DENNIS. Thank you Lord for the opportunities that I have had and that everyone here has had to experience Your grace and love through the life of DENNIS HAMM.


1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NIV)

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Swift Current, the Swift Current Salvation Army, his friends and family and I will never be the same after having met Mr. Dennis Hamm. Dennis was a good friend.

As I was preparing for this time today I received an e-mail from Salvation Army Headquarters reminding us about an upcoming men’s camp and fishing trip this September. Dennis was already planning to be on that fishing trip. Dennis will be missed on that fishing trip and Dennis will be missed around The Salvation Army.

Again as I was typing my thoughts for today on my computer I heard the ride-on lawn mower come by my window. I stopped and looked over my shoulder almost expecting to see Dennis riding the mower like he did so many times before.

There is so much that the Lord has done through Dennis around The Salvation Army. Dennis would volunteer to do whatever he could do. I am sure that Dennis has been welcomed into heaven with open arms and I imagine that as soon as Dennis entered through the gates of heaven he must have turned to the Lord and right then volunteered - to drive the bus.

He then probably inquired as to whether anyone needed dog food and proceeded to see if there was a lawn up yonder needed cutting or a mower fixing; no doubt enlisting as many friends as he could find to help. Such was the heart of Dennis Hamm.

The Scriptures Harvey read from 1 Corinthians said in part:

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

Dennis was no more of wise and noble birth than most of us here. He was neither saddled with wealth nor a university degree.  He was no closer to the halls of power and authority than most of us here…But you would be hard pressed to find too many people who were willing to do more for God than Dennis did through The Salvation Army in Swift Current. He really was a fixture here. God used Dennis to help in many food drives and special events and you could always count on him to be there when volunteers were needed. He was a fixture at Bible study, fellowship time, men’s breakfast, fishing trips, Sunday service and just about everything else that God did through The Salvation Army here. I know God more through having met my friend, Dennis Hamm.

It came as such a shock to me when we received the news of his promotion to Glory this past Sunday. That morning he was better than I had seen him in a long time – it had been a rough couple of weeks. He was happy. He was on the door that Sunday morning covering for our usual church greeter and then, in the service, he covered for our audio-visual person who was away. Dennis pitched in everyway he could – even on his very last day here with us. If we can all spend our last day serving the Lord and our neighbour in this way! What an example the Lord has provided for us all through Dennis on his very last day here with us all.

Dennis was a part of so many people’s lives in the community. He never shied away from controversy or calamity. He had his opinions and he shared them and if someone near didn’t share those opinions, I can still hear his ‘whatever’ ringing in my ears. He could have a great sense of humour and if I made a comical remark to him, he would often raise his arm, and with a wide smile say, ‘Let’s step outside: One of these days, Captain, one of these days’. I will miss Dennis. I always looked forward to meeting Dennis and I do look forward to meeting him again in Glory.

Dennis was a soldier in The Salvation Army with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities accorded to Salvation Army Soldiers. Dennis was my friend and I will miss him. I will miss his stories. I will miss his adventures. I will miss the excitement. I will miss his ready willingness to offer his advice and his desire to volunteer with anything he could. I will miss my friend DENNIS HAMM.

I will miss my friend but it will not be forever: we can meet again. Because of this, for those of us here who do serve the Lord as Dennis did, today can be a time of celebration because Jesus has already won the victory through our Lord’s death and resurrection so that we each have the opportunity to be with Him forever. Dennis was a faithful soldier in The Salvation Army and in The Salvation Army we have a phrase for when a loved one passes on and that phrase is a ‘promotion to Glory’ and promotions, they are good things aren’t they? I pray that each of us, as we serve the Lord, will receive our own promotions and at that time, may we all meet again.

Let us pray: Lord we thank you for sending your only begotten Son so none of us need to perish and we thank you that, everyone who calls on Your name is saved. We thank and praise you for Your love that shone in and through Dennis’ life. Amen
Benediction: Now may we go now in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in joyous anticipation of the resurrection, at which time may we all meet again.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Self Denial Meal

Today after worship service we had a self-denial meal. We each bought tickets in advance to raise money for overseas mission. We had no idea of what would happen next...

Three people were chosen at random to sit at a beautiful table complete with a nice table cloth, fancy cutlery, bowls, plates, etc. They were each served more wonderful food than one could even imagine. There was so much special food that they could not even finish everything that was served to them.

The rest of us lined up and received a scoop of rice in a bowl. We did not have fancy table cloths; we did not have special drinks; we did not even have cups or cutlery. We just had a bowl of rice.

Linda and Ora (who put on this meal) informed us that the three people at the head table, who were served and had an overabundance of food, represented us in Canada and the other 'first world' countries. The vast majority of us who only had a single bowl of rice to eat, represented to vast majority of the world. The three at the head table did nothing to earn the overabundance, their names were picked at random. Those of us born into affluence here did nothing to be born into privilege and those born without food did nothing to be born without. This is what our world looks like today.

The question is what are we going to do about it?

See Matthew 25:31ff.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Devotional thought on Romans 10:13 and John 3:16 on the occasion of the ceremony to mark Ray Arnal's Promotion to Glory

Presented at Eastend Community Hall, Saturday January 10, 2015
and Swift Current Salvation Army, Wednesday January 14, 2015

Ray was a big part of The Salvation Army in Swift Current. We heard Romans 10:13 and John 3:16 read to us today. These were certainly two of Ray’s favourite Scriptures. Seemingly every Sunday Ray used to read John 3:16 out loud in church. I don’t think that I will ever hear that verse again and not think of Ray. Ray would pray with us regularly and Ray would also often read from Daily Bread or other such devotionals. He would find a good page in the Daily Bread and then he would go from office to office having each of us in turn read it aloud. As I was figuring out what I was going to say today to honour the work of the Lord in Ray’s life, I naturally turned to the Daily Bread and when I looked at the Scripture for today’s date – January 10 – providentially, do you know what it is? John 3:16 and 1-8. If that isn’t God saying loud and clear to Ray for our benefit, “Well done my good and faithful servant”, than I don’t know what is? Ray would often ask me to read the Daily Bread or other Scripture books out loud. Let me do this today one last time for our friend Ray today.

- Read Daily Bread for January 10, 2014 -

Ray knew this and lived this out in his life. He loved God and he wanted absolutely no one to perish. Ray would always pray for the salvation and peace of his daughter and his all of his family. It was so important that everyone he knew and loved, knew and loved Jesus.

I remember once Ray and I and some friends attended a Salvation Army men’s camp with people from all over the prairies. And it was very important for Ray that everyone knew Jesus, so he would frequently approach people and ask them to read the Daily Bread and he would ask them if they knew Jesus. One day, the person who was in charge of the whole Salvation Army on the Prairies, Major Bungay, my boss at the time; One day Major Bungay, who is the head of all these Salvation Army pastors; one Sunday, Major Bungay was going to preach to all of us men and Ray, before Major Bungay spoke; Ray has to speak to him; Ray needs to talk to him. So I interrupt my boss as he is getting ready to preach to all of these people and Ray asks Major Bungay if Major Bungay, in effect, ‘do you know Jesus?’ He asks Major Bungay to read from the Daily Bread and to pray with him because Ray just wanted to make sure that my boss, the head Salvation Army pastor for the whole division really knew Jesus. I was stunned for a moment. Major Bungay did read the devotional in front of everyone and he said the prayer. In talking to my boss afterwards I think Major Bungay had the impression that Ray wanted him to read all of this out because he thought that Ray couldn’t read. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that no, he just wanted to make sure you knew Jesus.

Ray did so much around The Salvation Army over the years. He was regularly the first one to church on Sunday. Sometimes I would pull up to the church at 7:30am and Ray was already waiting outside and Church didn’t start until 10:30. He would always put the coffee on and in gardening season he would always water the flowers in the garden. That was his job and he took it seriously. Ray would tell me they needed to be watered regularly and the water needed to be just the right temperature and everything else. Ray took care of those flowers.

This past Sunday was our first Sunday without Ray. It was tough. When I called for the ushers to come forward it was difficult not seeing Ray coming to the front. And during prayer time I kept half expecting him to appear and read John 3:16 for us one last time.

John 3:16 and Romans 10:13 were so important to Ray: Ray invited us make to cards with these written on them and then Ray would hand them out to everyone he met and every few days he would be back up at the Army asking Judy, our receptionist and his friend, to please print our more cards for him to hand out to everyone he met; so today, I asked Judy, our receptionist and our friend to make these cards for us for one last time so that we could hand them out to everyone here whom he loves.

Now for those here who do serve the Lord as Ray did, today can actually be a time of celebration because Jesus has won the victory so that we each have the opportunity to be with Him forever. Ray was a faithful soldier in The Salvation Army and in The Salvation Army we have a phrase for when a loved one passes on and that phrase is a ‘promotion to glory’ and promotions are good things aren’t they? And I am as sure of Ray’s promotion as I am of anyone’s because Ray indeed celebrated the fact that he really did have a friend in Jesus.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Christmas Campaign Opening Remarks 2014

To begin with, I would like to thank all the students of All Saints Catholic School for their wonderful donation of food and clothing and the many other ways that they are planning to give for good.

I would also like to draw everyone’s attention to the bulletins, especially the thank you section. As well I would like to thank our MP and the city for their support. It really means a lot.

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to be at City Hall for the declaration of Restorative Justice Week. That is a lot of what we do at The Salvation Army: we help heal harms done in community and restore people to a safe and a supportive environment. The Salvation Army is uniquely placed to help those who have nowhere else to turn. We have set our goal this year at $175 000. Every penny of that goes to help give hope today to those in and around Swift Current.

Tuesday, I had the privilege to address the community Remembrance Day ceremonies at the cenotaph and the comp high school. I often speak of the peace that was secured after the world wars. Many times on Remembrance Day, you hear how our veterans risked their lives and many people laid down their lives for our freedom.

The challenge for us today then - just days after Remembrance Day and as we head into Christmas - is what are we going to do with that freedom our veterans fought and many soldiers died for? Are we going to use it for self-indulgence or are we – like the students of All Saints Catholic School– are we going to use our freedom to give for good?

It is my hope that we will all live up to the challenge and the example set for us today by the students of All Saints Catholic School and give for good.

With that in mind, I would like to invite Salvationist, All Saints representatives, and our invited guests to gather in front of the student body here for a picture and then we will cut the ribbon to officially launch The Salvation Army Christmas campaign.

Let Christmas begin!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2 Kings 23:29-30: 888,246 Ceramic Poppies

2 Kings 23:29-30: 888,246 Ceramic Poppies

Presented on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #56 to the Community Remembrance Day 11 November 2014 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan by Captain Michael Ramsay

Today there are 888,246 ceramic poppies encircling the famous Tower of London; they create a powerful visual image to commemorate the centennial of the commencement of the First World War. The 888,246 poppies fill the Tower's moat. Each poppy represents a military fatality during the war. We Canadians fought as part of the empire; our family members and our countrymen lived, served, and died in the ‘Great War’, the ‘war to end all wars’, the First World War.

When World War One broke out Canada was a very small and sparsely populated country of just over 7 million people. Most were farmers or involved in other primary industries. Many boys and young men left their family farms here to serve in the war there. I have read stories of bankers and teachers and minors and scientists and athletes and farmers and very young men from across this country and Newfoundland who put their jobs, their careers, their parents, their girl friends, their new wives, their young children, and their whole lives on hold until they returned home from the war - only many never did return home from the war. They were never to be seen again by their wives, their children, their brothers, their sisters, their mothers, their fathers.

Almost 7% of the total population of our country - 619,000 Canadians served in this war and 66,976 Canadians never returned. That was almost 1% (0.92%) of our country's whole population: meaning that in a city the size Swift Current now, 170 people would have been killed in the war. If you lived in Canada then, you would know more than one person who did not return. I want to share one of the many stories I happened read about young people who left their homes here on the prairies to serve in the mud of Europe:

Stanley Richard Shore (Private, 27th Battalion, CEF) was born on December 16th, 1896. He received his education in part in the King Edward School, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He was employed by the National Trust Company, Saskatoon, for a short period, but in order to complete his education he resigned and returned to school. In October 1915, at the age of 18, he entered the service of the Bank of British North America in Saskatoon. He enlisted in April 1916, as a Private in the 183rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry, and headed overseas. He then proceeded to France with a reinforcement draft for the 27th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. He was killed during the attack on Passchendaele Ridge on November 6th, 1917.[1]

He was only 20. He was a banker. He lived and worked in Saskatchewan and he was killed in the mud on Passchendaele Ridge. He is just one of the almost one percent of the population of Canada who never returned from his European service. Let us not forget.

Recently in our country a couple of young service people had their lives cut short. Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who acted to save many in shooting the gunman on Parliament Hill, said “On behalf of all members of the House of Commons Security Services team, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Our prayers are with you.  Our thoughts are also with Constable Son, who … suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.” I also heard reported that Kevin Vickers when asked about his shooting of the gunman, said, “All I could think of was his mother.” Let us remember her and let us remember Kevin Vickers and all that he is going through. Let us remember the service people and let us remember everyone affected there here today.

Today in the Scriptures we read about King Josiah. Josiah was the last great King of Judah. He was a good man, used by God to do good things and he was the last significant ruler of his country. Josiah, when he was 26 years old, this young leader marched out to battle and never returned. Josiah’s life was over. Josiah’s reign was over. Two chapters later, the two books of the Kings are over. And two chapters later the two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah’s are over.[2] Lest we forget the tragedies of war. Let us not forget.

Like Josiah, so many of our Canadian soldiers of the 20th and 21stCenturies, left their families behind, left their work behind, left those who loved them behind. Let us not forget the many good people who marched out to battles from Canada all risking and some laying down their lives for God, for King and for country.

When World War 2 broke out, Canada was a country of 11 million people and we sent more than one million of our family members to serve in the military and of those more than 100,000 sustained casualties; 45,000 gave their lives. Many of us have friends and family who marched out of Saskatchewan here to offer their lives up in service to us. My grandmother’s brother who left the farm in Saskatchewan never did speak of the day they were surrounded by the Germans in the war. We who have not served in that way can’t possibly even imagine what he and others experienced on that day.

My grandfather returned home to Saskatchewan so that he could enlist to serve God, King and country in the Second World War.  I have these cards from my family members who served in both world wars. Theses are some of my treasured possessions. This one from April 2, 1917 says:

Dear Sister, Just a line to let you know that I am alive yet, and hope to continue the same. Tell Albert when he gets time to drop me a line. Bye, Bye, Love from Frank.

These are some of my cherished possessions. I look at these and I remember my family. I remember all those that risked their lives for us. I remember. I hope I never forget. I hope my daughters never forget. I hope we never forget. Let us not forget their sacrifices and let us not sacrifice the peace that they won for us. Let us not forsake them and let us not forget them.

It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Today, across the ocean, there are 888, 246 ceramic poppies to remind us of the terrible price of war. Today we are wearing poppies as a pledge that we will never forget our friends, our family, our loved ones, and our veterans who offered their lives in service to us. Let us not forsake them. Let us not forget. Lest we forget. Lest we forget.

Let us pray.


[1] Norm Christie, For King and Empire: The Canadians at Passchendaele October to November 1917 (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: CEF Books, 1999), 36.
[2] Choon-Leon Seow, The First and Second Book of Kings, in NIB 9, ed. Leander E. Keck, et. al. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1999): 287 points out that salvation is not meted out on a basis of works.

Friday, September 12, 2014

CMHA Address 13 September 2014 by Captain Michael Ramsay

Address to the Canadian Mental Health Association's 2014 Jimmy Richardson Walk For Wellness

Hello, today is a great day. I am so happy to be here. I can tell you that events with Canadian Mental Health are some of my favourite. How many people here were at the corn roast the other week? I am glad the weather today is a little better than that Wednesday. One thing that I like about the annual corn roasts and when I am invited for lunch at the Centre is seeing all of my friends. It is amazing how many friends Ruth and everyone at Canadian Mental Health and we at The Salvation Army have in common. Sometimes when I look around I wonder whether an event is a CMHA event or an Army church service or event.

I wonder if everyone around here knows just how much our friends at Mental Health do in the community and even alongside The Salvation Army. I have so much thanks to offer to everyone who is a part of CMHA: Staff, clients, friends…

CMHA contributes so much to our community. On behalf of The Salvation Army I thank you. Did you know that CMHA works alongside, partners with, and helps the community in many ways?
Did you know that there have been volunteers coming from CMHA to help out with our food bank and other activities around the community since long before I came to Swift Current? To all of you who work so hard, thank you.

Did you know that both our agencies are part of the bread program where we help distribute unsold bread free of charge from stores in town to those in real need? To all of you who work along side us in this, thank you.

Did you know that our CMHA friends help in the community gardens at the Army hall?

And did you know that our CMHA friends have helped with our community kitchens? To all of you who help out, thank you.

Did you know that Ruth from CMHA has even chaired food security meetings on behalf of Canadian Mental Health? Thank you.

Did you know that our friends at CMHA help out with the community Christmas dinner at The Salvation Army? Really, to all of you who work so hard, thank you.

Also did you know that – if I’m not mistaken - Ruth was even the very first Master of Ceremonies at the community Christmas dinners when we started them up again just a few years ago? To Ruth and to all of you who work along side us and help out our community, thank you.

All of the staff, volunteers, and participants have done so much for the community. CMHA is such an integral part of the very being of Swift Current itself and I am so thankful for all the ways I personally have been blessed by the great amount of work everyone there continues to do. Thank you so much.

I can tell you that I honestly look forward to the Mayor’s Lunch and other CMHA events every year. And whenever I go to a committee or an agency meeting in town, Ruth Smith is one of the first people I look for because she is likely to be there because she and everyone at Canadian Mental Health do so much for everyone in Swift Current here.

The Salvation Army and I have been incredibly blessed by the people and the work of CMHA. I am so thankful for all of the people and ministries that we have in common. And there is one more thing that we have in common as well: the building where CMHA meets. Did you know that once upon a time it housed Swift Current’s Salvation Army corps? Our 2 organizations – The Salvation Army and CMHA - share passions, people, and buildings alike. I cannot possibly tell you how grateful I am for all of my friends at Canadian Mental Health. On behalf of The Salvation Army and all of our friends in common, from the bottom of my heart, for all the work that you do, thank you.

As I have been blessed by you and as a minister of the gospel let me bless you now. Heavenly Father, in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I ask your blessings upon CMHA and all of their members and friends and all that they do for now and evermore in Jesus Name. Amen.