Tag Archives: faith

Setting an Example

By: Elizabeth Koch, Midland Division

With Father’s Day just days away, the June issue of War Cry of The Salvation Army contained many inspiring stories about fathers’ roles and how parents influence children throughout their lifetime. Tammy Darling wrote “Dad, Someone is Watching,” focusing on how important it is for parents to live as role models for their children, reminding us that “being a parent implies that God has ordained you to lead by example.”

Darling offers several tips on how to inspire your children to grow up to be a well-rounded and faithful person, preparing them to be a role model themselves one day. Some of Darling’s advice is listed below.

Be positive: Always try to look on the bright side of situations and believe in yourself. This mindset will rub off on your children, providing them with a sense of hope and happiness.

Be curious: The desire to learn exemplifies the importance of education to your children. Showing them how you continue your education and never stop learning will inspire them to do the same, and see why you believe education is imperative to life.

Be able to admit your mistakes: Blaming problems on others or an external issue teaches your children nothing. Owning up to your mistakes and learning from them will not only help you work on correcting the problem, but also show your children that they, too, can successfully overcome obstacles in life.

Be kind and respectful: Carrying out the golden rule, treating others as you would want to be treated, is an important idea to relay to your children. This teaches them to be a kind and caring person. A respectful attitude such as this can only improve society as a whole.

Be there: Even if they might not express it, your children want to look out at the audience during their school play or sporting event and see their parents in the crowd supporting them. If you do not attend your children’s activities or performances, it only shows you do not value promises you make. Never make promises you cannot keep.

Be faithful to your beliefs and goals: Have high expectations for yourself and behave accordingly every day. Live life compassionately.

Be of service to others: Ensure your children know why it is important to serve others and why a particular cause is significant to you. Put others first, and discuss how Jesus made this a key belief, intentionally seeking out those who were lost, hurting or forgotten.

Be proactive in conflict situations: Remember you always are  setting examples for your children, so it is beneficial to everyone to be positive. If needed take a moment to yourself, pray, and configure how you can react optimistically and reasonably. This will demonstrate to your children that they also can handle problems this way, and that avoiding problems just sends the situation downhill.

Be empathetic: Be a loving parent and understanding of whatever issues your children are facing. Reassure them by offering direction to help them work through it.

Be involved with your children: Let your children help out in any way they can, as they enjoy feeling wanted. Doing activities with each other will only strengthen the bond between you and your children.

Be supportive: Instill confidence in your children by believing in them and allowing them to follow their dreams. Introduce them to new things to widen their interest level and help them learn about the world.

Be able to laugh, and laugh often: It’s important to let loose sometimes and show your children that taking life too seriously will only cause additional stress and anxiety. Find humor in something each and every day. As Darling wrote, “Life is too short not to laugh – it’s also too long not to laugh.”

For more from War Cry, visit its website.

A Physical and Spiritual Transformation

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

Today, Tommy Windom, who doctors once said would never be able to walk again, believes that it is by the healing power of God he is mobile and leading a better life dedicated to service. At the age of 45, Tommy, a retired chef, has faced many physical and spiritual feats, but has found hope and faith thanks to The Salvation Army.

In December of 2010, Tommy started experiencing problems with his hand, which ultimately led to a decline in his mobility and paralysis in his right hand. This was trigged by a closed fluid line in his spinal chord and compressed discs in his back. With this diagnosis, Tommy was convinced that he was never going to be able to walk or use his hand again.

After three weeks of physical therapy in the hospital, Tommy was released, but faced the harsh reality of not having a safe place to live. With a dampened spirit and weakened quality of health, Tommy felt lost and alone. His family had relocated to other portions of the country, leaving Tommy without a support base to rely on.

Tommy’s case manager referred him to the Harbor Light Center and enrolled Tommy into the Respite Care program, specifically for homeless people with disabilities. The first Friday night he was at Harbor Light, Tommy prayed to God. Tommy asked God “What do you want me to do?” and questioned why God had blessed him with a roof over his head, food to eat and people genuinely care for him.

The following Sunday, Tommy attended the service at the chapel in the Harbor Light Center. Captain Moore asked the congregation, “Is God calling you to do anything?” It was this moment that Tommy realized doors started opening in his life.

“As soon as I said yes to God, everything else fell in line,” says Tommy. “Everybody has a purpose and their own free will. My will is to serve the Lord now.”

Tommy began to develop a closer relationship with God due to the ministry and The Salvation Army captains.

While living at Harbor Light, Tommy applied for disability coverage that would allow him to receive payments because of his inability to work. His request was approved. Two weeks later, Tommy also was granted social security benefits. Additionally, he was able to reconnect with family members, who had moved away from the St. Louis area.

Due to all of these blessings, Tommy felt a desire to help others that were in places of hardship and loneliness and to call them to seek refuge in the Lord.

“The more I gave, the more the Lord was giving to me,” says Tommy. “I spread God’s mission by challenging others to give their burdens to the Lord because He is always there, even during the hard times. The Salvation Army changed my life. The Lord showed me how he wanted me to serve and opened my eyes to my spiritual gifts.”

Recently, Tommy has completed his training to become a Salvation Army soldier and enjoys his time as a member of the Praise Team gospel choir.

“Joining as a soldier, I can give back and I can help,” explains Tommy. “The Salvation Army truly cares about people in all that they do. There is no better place to serve the Lord and people who cannot help themselves. This place has opened my eyes to have compassion and to be a free-giver. The love and good news he has given me is my duty to spread.”

This March Madness, Join God’s Squad

By: Major K. Kendall Mathews, Columbia Salvation Army

K. Kendall Mathews played high school basketball in Detroit. This worn picture is of Mathews when he was a member of the varsity for the Detroit Mumford Mustangs in 1978.

March madness is upon us and many NCAA basketball teams are looking to extend their season to include the NCAA tournament. I know many players have worked hard in an attempt to be the superlative team in college basketball. For them winning is everything, as each team plays like it’s the last game.

God wants us to be focused on more than winning the basketball playoffs. He wants us to be a conqueror in our battle against sin and humiliation and to live each day as if it were our last. To prevail, we can’t be on God’s All-Glory team one moment, and be a bench warmer the next moment, just because life is not going our way. We must be on His team and playing by His rules that are found in the Holy Bible. “For all have sinned and fallen short of his glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

The question is, “Whose team are you on?” I hope you are playing on God’s squad. There is no losing while you’re practicing Christian standards or living out your salvation on God’s side. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that Satan will leave you alone. He will not, so be prepared to work through the tough times of life. We are Christian winners because of the salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ. He promises to be a very present help in the time of dilemma. Because Jesus whitewashed sin by dying on the cross, rising from the dead and promising to return, we have a greater hope for eternal life.

God is our spiritual coach and we should surrender to his ways because He knows what’s best for us when life seems to overtake us. God compensates those who are submissive to his teachings. Playing on his team is saying, “Yes, Lord,” to his ways in all practical life situations. Our calling is to trust and obey Him, even when we don’t want to, because He is an everlasting-life coach. Jesus surrendered his life graciously when He relinquished it on that old rugged cross. You see, humility and “teachability” on God’s squad is responding to his voice without resistance, and being open to learning from his Son, Jesus Christ, as our supernatural team captain.

Playing on his team is our willingness to be taught by God, to put aside what we think and erasing from our heart any preconceived notions when we consider the possibilities that God might be taking us in new directions on his winning team. Winning isn’t everything, but being on God’s team surely has greater value and an everlasting benefit that will stand the test of time. With God as our coach, Jesus as our captain, and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we can not lose in this game of life. I don’t know about you, but I want to be undefeated on God’s squad. It may be March Madness, but for me it’s Mission Madness – my relationship and teamwork with God is first and foremost.

I recall a high school basketball game in Detroit, where there were three seconds left in the game. The coach called timeout and worked out a play where I was to take the last shot. I thought to myself, “I can win the game and be the hero.” Well, the ball came to me and I took the last second shot, only to miss it. We lost the game. I felt so bad, thinking that it was all my fault. In the locker room all my teammates reassured me that we lose as a team and win as a team.

Unlike that high school game, for those of us who are on God’s squad, we win every time; losing is not a part of this game of life. Although the Christian life is not a cakewalk, we will have our temptations and trials just like Christ. So, rejoice that our Christly captain took that last second shot for the world when he said to God our spiritual coach; I’ll surrender my life, I’ll give my all, so the unsaved may obtain salvation from sin. This fearless victory over death secures a win for those who receive it. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

Healthy competition is a good thing when it is kept in the right perspective and proper intention. From a Christian point of view, however, it’s a competitive fight between good and evil, God and Satan. We have to play both offense and defense. We know that Jesus overcame Satan when He defeated death on the cross, but too many times we have to be reminded of that fact. In the game of life, our souls are being influenced by what’s around us and whether or not God is our spiritual coach. Our eternal future is on the line making it essential to come to blows with Satan and stay on God’s squad, truly connected to him. We read in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.'” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let’s team up with our Lord and captain Jesus Christ where losing is out of the question, but winning over sin becomes our eternal goal of Christian life.

Jesus did not tell us that all our drives to the basket will be easy, but He did tell us that He will show us the way. We know that sometimes we will need to use a full-court press, but we can’t lose if our daily practice includes keeping the faith and keeping our eyes on our captain. As March Madness begins, think of whose team you will play on from a Christian perspective. Will it be on God’s squad or Satan’s losing lineup? It’s your call, but I would strongly encourage you to pick Christ to be your captain and allow God to be your coach and a victorious life is but one shot away. Have you heard the song, Victory in Jesus by Eugene M. Bartlett (1885-1941): “I heard an old, old story, how the Saviour came from glory, How He gave life on Calvary to save a wretch life me; I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning, Then I repented of my sins and won the victory. O victory in Jesus, my Saviour, forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood; He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him – He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.”

So, when the final buzzer sounds, whose team will you be on, God’s squad or Satan’s losing lineup?

 

Have Hope and Be Holy

By: Captain AmyJo Ferguson, O’Fallon (MO) Community Center

1 Peter 1: 13 – 2: 3

Last year at The Salvation Army food pantry in O’Fallon, MO, about 25 to 35 families would come in every month.  This year, that number has increased to 250 to 350 families each month.  It is a sad statistic, one which my husband and I share a lot.  Without fail everyone blames the economy.  While the lack of jobs, the loss of retirement accounts, and the inability to pay off creditors is certainly partly to blame, I have seen another thing.  The food pantry used to be a place of last resort, a place that folks only visited after every other resource was expended, because there was always the hope that things would get better.  Folks would let their cupboards dwindle to nothingness, cut down on meals, spend money reserved for other bills on food because in just a few days, with just the next paycheck, things would get better.  Things were always bound to get better.  Today, this is not true.  For many of our clients, the food pantry is a regular weekly or monthly visit, a part life, because things are not going to get better.  The job will never be found.  The hours lost will never come back.  The bills never seem to get paid.  Although I am not sure we can quantify this so easily, it would seem that the food shelf has experienced a tenfold increase in need because there has been a tenfold decrease in hope.

It occurs to me that the same thing often happens in our Christian walk. We lose hope and as a result, we are not willing to give our all:  unwilling to share Christ with one more person because so many others have not listened, unwilling to give a tithe because we might not have enough left over for our needs, unwilling to take on any other responsibility because we might get burned out.  What’s the matter with us?  We have lost our hope:  the hope that God will be true and faithful to his promises.

Unfortunately, it is during these times of uncertainty and trouble that hope is even more important.  Peter wrote to people like us, people who were not sure what tomorrow would bring.  To those people, he said, “set your hope fully” (1 Peter 1: 13), hope perfectly, hope to the very end.    This was not a polite suggestion or a devotional thought thrown out to his readers.  It was an imperative, a command.  Do not doubt.  Do not waiver.  Hope.  Hope like a child who goes to bed on Christmas Eve with the absolutely certainty that Santa Clause will have arrived by morning.  Hope like the bride who stands at the back entrance of the church knowing that her groom awaits her in the front.  Peter is talking about a brave hope, a hope that creates action.  This is hope founded upon the assurance of our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Since he has saved our very souls, how could he ever let us down?

When we possess this kind of hope, it allows us to throw ourselves with abandon upon Jesus’ promises and to be the Holy people that God wills us to be.  Allow me to be bold here, because Peter certainly was.  If we are people of God, people with an eternal hope, then Holy people need not fear the next step, whatever next step God may be asking us to take:  feeding ten times the number of people that we fed a year ago, witnessing to a friend, giving whatever amount God has laid on our heart to give, agreeing to a new ministry.  Just as Peter challenged his readers to “love one another deeply” (1: Peter 1: 22) and “rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.” (1 Peter 2: 1); God is challenging us today.  Will we meet those challenges with a sort of resignation that we will do merely what we can or what we must? Or, will we step forward boldly and declare our hope to the world?

Who is Jesus? What has He done?

This is the second blog in our series answering the question “Who is Jesus?”. This is presented by Major Dan Jennings, Senior Kroc Officer at our Quincy, Illinois Kroc Corps Community Center.

This is a question that has echoed through the canyons of time. The historic Jesus has proven to be a bit illusive for researchers. As an example no image of Jesus has survived form the first century of Jesus. There is simply no representational art depicting Jesus. It is not until the third century that we are given an impressionistic image of Jesus.

Who is Jesus? In the biblical narrative of Matthew, King Harod convenes a committee to determine what the significance of Jesus’ birth was. Even Jesus’ own disciples, after surviving a sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee ask, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41) Even the Psalmist, in anticipation of Jesus, asks “Who is this King of Glory?” In an attempt to answer this question, it is important to understand that this question has been inaccurately answered many times. That is to say that when we attempt to convey who Jesus is, that we very often fall short of conveying the entirety of his being and nature.

There are some who suggest that our attempts to answer the question of who Jesus is actually misrepresent him. Anton Wessel has said that “…we cannot help asking whether we are dealing with so many legitimate representations of Jesus Christ and facets of his work and significance, or whether at times or even more frequently he is misrepresented, caricatured, or even betrayed.” Some qualify their answer to say that this is who Jesus is to me. The danger here is that we begin to create of own personal notions of who Jesus is.

The orthodox view the Church has held of Jesus actually focus more on what Jesus has done rather than who he is. Consider the Apostle’s Creed which confesses that Jesus “…was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty…”

Perhaps the better question is what has Jesus done. It may be that we have to confess our inability to convey all that Jesus is, however we are able to convey with much clarity what Jesus has done. As an example, Jesus Christ has died for my sins so that I might be forgiven. I do not have to understand the full scope of the nature of Jesus, to understand what he has done for me and what he is able to do for you.

Who is Jesus?

This blog by Major Wood is the first in a series of blogs that tackles the question “Who is Jesus?” Read, enjoy and share – and give us your feedback and thoughts as you consider his interpretation of this question.

“Every Time My Heart Beats”

By: Major Kris Wood, Officer Maplewood

I was driving in my minivan the other day, the radio was off, the only sound I needed was the sound of my 4 year old daughter humming to herself.  She was creating a tune that was not quite musically accurate but there had never been a more beautiful sound to reach my ears.  The sound of children singing makes the hardest hearts quake.  It was a beautiful day. The trees were in the process of turning from the green of summer to the colors of fall.  The sky was as clear and cloudless; the blue reflected off of my daughter’s eyes as she gazed with amazement at the glory passing her side window. 

“Daddy, Jesus is talking to me,” she said.  She said it as if it was a common occurrence, not something supernatural or incredible.  I got the feeling that she was used to Jesus talking to her.  “What’s he saying?” I asked.  I wanted to encourage her so that I could understand where her mind had wandered as we drove in the minivan and she hummed her tune.  “He told me not to drink alcohol,” she said.  I was surprised.  I expected her to repeat what she had heard in church; “Jesus loves me.” 

“That’s a good thing to remember,” I said.  I have to admit to being at a loss for words.

She hummed her tune for a moment, contemplating something profound.  I watched her through the rear view mirror.  Her right hand was twirling her light brown hair in circles.

“Jesus talks to me every time my heart beats,” she said.  Again, there was a frankness to her statement that made me feel like she was in constant conversation with Jesus.

I had to ponder what she was saying and still focus on safe driving.  Her last statement hit me as something more profound than a four year old should utter. 

“Does he talk to you all the time?” I asked.  I saw her shake her head in response; as if I were a total idiot.

“No, Daddy.  I said; ‘Jesus talks to me every time my heart beats.’  My heart goes, ping, ping, ping; and Jesus talks to me.”  I had been scolded by my daughter; put into my place.  How could I be so slow as to not understand that obvious truth? 

I turned the corner and drove a block farther down the street where my office is located.  There was nothing that I could think to say or ask, so we rode the remaining distance in silence.  Then, she spoke once again; “Daddy, do you talk to Jesus?”

“Yes.  I talk to him all the time,” I said.  She thought for a moment.

“Does he talk to you through your heart beat?” she asked.  Great question indeed. 

It is obvious to me that my daughter talks to Jesus.  She knows that he is real.  Somehow she has made the connection with him, yet so many ask the question, “Who is Jesus?”  They do not seem to know what my daughter understands; Jesus is real.  I recently asked people on Facebook to answer the question:  “Who Is Jesus?”  I have received responses from all over theUnited Statesfrom people I know well and people I do not know at all.  I have heard over and over the standard answers that Christians around the world give for that question:  “The Son of God, My Lord and Savior, Lamb of God, Emmanuel, God With Us, The Human Manifestation of The Creator God, God’s Gift To The World.”  All those are true Biblical statements about who Jesus is, but they do not reach the place where a personal connection is made, like when my daughter said, “Jesus talks to me every time my heart beats.”  She seems to have tapped into the mystery that goes beyond definition.  In some miraculous way, Jesus is real to my daughter.  She does not know or understand any of those descriptions that people have given of who Jesus is; but she knows Jesus. 

Who do you say Jesus is?  Is it a standard answer that comes to mind or is it the unspeakably personal feeling of being connected, in touch, with the eternal?  Jesus asked his followers who they said he was.  Simon Peter answered by saying, “The Christ, the Son of God.”  (The Messiah).  Yet, later when Jesus spoke to Peter he asked Peter personal questions that probed to the heart of the man.  “Do you really love me?” he asked Peter.  Peter replied, “You know I love you.”  It was a personal, even painful interaction for Peter since only a short time before he had publically denied knowing Jesus or being one of his followers.  To Peter, Jesus was more than just the Messiah, he was his friend.  Is Jesus your friend?  Many people know about Jesus.  Many others have heard about Jesus, but Jesus desired to have a personal relationship with each of us that goes beyond labels and titles.  Jesus longs to speak to you through the beating of your heart.  Every beat, every breath, every thought, every movement; they are all a gift from God.  They tell us that we are still alive; they allow us to live.  At the very center of living we find a person, not distant and unknown but close and caring.  We find someone who loves us in ways that cannot be put clearly into words.  We find acceptance, caring, love, peace and hope.  Most of all, we find a forgiving and welcoming friend.  It is time to move past the religion of Jesus, the things done in his name, the impact his life had on the world and all that those things imply, and find a personal friend.

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